Oracle Bloggers, Take Down This Wall

The public discussion re: Oracle blogging continues, with insightful posts today from Brian Duff (employee) and Doug Burns (nonemployee).

I'm pleased with myself that I brought this up because I've been getting a lot of good feedback and advice from the community. I still stand by my original point - which is essentially that Oracle's blogging community is largely ignored (often for the wrong reasons) -- but am also fully aware that we have our own work to do.

This AM, Paul Vallee sent me a formula that based on his experience could really help us break this wall down. Here it is; if you are an Oracle blogger (employee and nonemployee alike), you should take it to heart:

  • For every 3 blog posts you write about your own stuff, write one that
    links and discusses another blogger's post.
  • For every blog post you write, post two comments in the comments
    section of another blogger's post.
  • Maintain a blogroll linking to external parties with your favorite
    blogs.
I, for one, will try to follow that advice.

Update: Vince McBurney has done a very interesting analysis of Oracle Blogs (which I mostly agree with). I commented that we are in the process of migrating the blogs.oracle.com homepage to otnsemanticweb.oracle.com, which will make for a much cooler homepage.

Comments:

"For every 3 blog posts you write about your own stuff, write one that links and discusses another blogger's post." Mmm, I'm not sure, actually. I think the key point here is 'discusses', and with your own peculiar perspective, otherwise blogs just become some self-perpetuating navel-gazing. A pet hate of mine is a blog which is just a bunch of links to other blogs. "Who can't decide what book to read, Unless the paper sows the seed" http://www.tremolocowboys.com/Lyrics_N/New_Order_Lyrics/Run_Wild_Song_Lyrics.html

Posted by Doug Burns on April 30, 2007 at 08:45 PM PDT #

"Everyone is their own little monster," as a high-school friend of mine used to say. This formula isn't for everyone, but if half the community takes it to heart, we've opened things up considerably.

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on April 30, 2007 at 08:57 PM PDT #

I like the "For every blog post you write, post two comments in the comments section of another blogger's post." Since I started my blog a few months ago I'm more sensitive on this topic. From my experience comments help and give immediate feedback about the stuff I blogged about and can help to get new sights on that topic. But it doesn't always have to be a long comment, sometimes a "That saved me hours" or something like that is also fine. It's a nice recognition of the time the blog author spends to write the postings. Before I started blogging I was just a passive reader of other blogs and didn't really often comment on other blogs, but now I like it to get into some interaction with other bloggers! I would really wish more people would comment. Patrick

Posted by Patrick Wolf on April 30, 2007 at 11:15 PM PDT #

Hmm. I think a decent blog should discuss and link to other blogs as a matter of course. A prescriptive formula reminds me of when the UK adopted 'dress-down Friday' when employees were allowed to don slack and lose the tie. Much rejoicing everywhere until geeks rocked up in jeans and torn T-shirts. I used to deliberately continue to wear a suit and tie because as I told my colleagues 'a uniform on a Friday is the same as a uniform on a Monday'. Also, my wardrobe is devoid of 'smart casual' attire.

Posted by Andy C on April 30, 2007 at 11:30 PM PDT #

Let's just enjoy in what we do. The rest will follow... http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/peter+gabriel/signal+to+noise_20107558.html

Posted by Marco Gralike on May 01, 2007 at 01:58 AM PDT #

I think one of the problems is that the Oracle blogging community is still relatively closed and controlled (not only is, but also appears to be). The blogs home page is little more than a telephone directory, with no info about how to get listed. Addressing the "listing" aspect is important if the community is to be dynamic and fresh. The only information I can see about how new blogs can be created or listed is in the member forums. For example this post on Creating a blog, where the basic answer is "email us and we'll consider". That kind of process just bogs everything down. The "telephone directory" aspect also needs to be fixed, as many have already pointed out. The most interesting part of the blogs page is the "recent posts" section, but it is only a secondary item. I don't think migrating to the "semantic web" is automatically the answer, but if it helps get there then great. For my money, think something more like slashdot...

Posted by Paul on May 01, 2007 at 09:54 AM PDT #

Paul, I agree with you. When we deployed, we frankly had no idea that the blogging community would get so large. At the moment this directory is managed manually, with the idea being that emmployees who have a track record of regular blogging will be "rewarded" with a listing (that is, a listing serves as an incentive to regular blogging). There used to be a "Request a blog (employees only)" link but frankly we were getting a lot of people requesting accounts and then never using them. IMO it's best if we let motivated employees find this info on the intranet (where it is available).

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on May 01, 2007 at 07:32 PM PDT #

I think Andy C hit it on the head, you don't need to force yourself to post an entry about someone else's content. As part of your research for a blog post you should see what other people have said on the topic (via Technorati) and by adding a link and a comment you improve your own post and potentially make a connection with another blogger. They in turn may link back to you in a future post or at least add you to their RSS reader. A link from a post carries greater weight than a blog comment. Sometimes rather than leave a long comment on another blog you can write it up as a new blog entry and link it. You should always link to the blogger who gave you the idea for a post or broke the news you are posting about. The link post is a matter of choice. I don't like writing them, they remind me of email chain letters or forwarded jokes. They are useful in very busy blog niches like blogs about blogging or blogs about gadgets where it is hard to keep up with all the posting.

Posted by Vincent McBurney on May 02, 2007 at 08:33 AM PDT #

There are some really interesting blogs on the Internet about how to blog some of the best are listed under blogs about blogging on this page http://dfinitive.com/category/blogging that include tips like the ones you mentioned. I think that because the Oracle blogging community is still young that the full power of blogging is not understood by some of its members. I for one continue to learn. If you add to much structure to a blog I feel it may remove the creativity. Each and every blog on the Internet, Oracle or otherwise, is written to serve some purpose and all are very different. If you wish to drive readers to your blog leaving valuable comments on other blogs is said to be a good thing. (Although it is difficult to remove a comment once left.) If you wish to drive readers away from your blog links are good things. Many including myself like to think the reader will return for more links. In my opinion if you want to write a good blog you write what�s important to you (within the bounds of your current employers restrictions) and include links that you feel of value and comment only when you feel driven too unless you�re monetizing your blog which is a complete different kettle of fish where traffic and content becomes far more important. I do agree with Marco Gralike that blogging should be enjoyable.

Posted by Fiona L Brown on May 02, 2007 at 03:31 PM PDT #

Some great discussion here. The point I was trying to make about blogging guidelines vis � vis posting articles discussing other bloggers' posts, posting comments, is that as far as I can see, Oracle runs a great blogging program but it is completely unintegrated in the larger technology blogosphere. We at Pythian run a widely-read review of database-related blogs called Log Buffer, for instance. To date, not once has an Oracle blogger hosted a Log Buffer, or even for that matter submitted an article they wrote that they felt got little attention for inclusion. This is easy to do. Linking and discussing, while adding content and insight as Doug helpfully reinforces, helps as well to engage the community in a conversation - it evidences that you're reading their stuff - that you're thinking on it - that you're talking about it - and that you're welcoming their feedback on what you wrote. This is what makes for Oracle to be a part of the community, as opposed to a vendor on the outside of it. Same goes for comments on blogs, and I agree that if you have something meaty to say, it's better to blog about it on your own blog if you have one. As for Fiona's comment, again I agree wholeheartedly. In private conversation with Mark Rittman we discussed the same thing - blogging will be most successful when it's pleasant for the blogger, and linking to others and commenting on their stuff comes naturally when you're reading their stuff and you're engaged with it - there's no need for the rules of thumb under normal circumstances. So perhaps the essential problem here isn't that the rules of thumb aren't being followed, but rather that Oracle bloggers don't read our stuff and aren't really engaged in a conversation with us, on the blogosphere or outside it, about what we're working on. If this is really true, it will be a more difficult problem to solve no doubt. But I am not convinced. I think what's really going on is a lack of clarity from executive management whether there will be penalties or problems for Oracle employees who, in those conversations, agree with criticism (providing competitors evidence of weakness!), participate in brainstorming on how they might be fixed (possibly telegraphing strategy!) etc. After all, we all remember what happened to Howard Rogers when he engaged the community openly, including criticism of Oracle. Meanwhile, Tom Kyte has had the opposite experience in his outreach initiatives - next thing you know he's a VP. These are different personalities, and different approaches, and maybe one works and one doesn't. But has Oracle provided clarity to their bloggers as for what will be permitted and encouraged? Are Oracle people comfortable blogging about Oracle stuff? Best wishes as always, Paul

Posted by Paul Vallee on May 03, 2007 at 07:05 PM PDT #

Oracle has a rather standard blogging policy, which all blogging employees abide by. I think the main issue is the commitment of time and effort. Culturally, most Oracle bloggers do not consider awareness of external blogs to be part of their job (as employee or blogger). That's why I like your guidelines - because they force one "out of the box."

Posted by Justin Kestelyn on May 03, 2007 at 08:52 PM PDT #

I think Oracle employees not reading blogs is the core problem. If people read more blogs, including Oracle blogs, they would be much more likely to comment and participate, and when one does that for a while- you get the urge to blog. Meanwhile the current blogs tend to be overly technical making them seem like lectures rather than conversations.

Posted by Anshu Sharma on May 04, 2007 at 05:16 AM PDT #

This has been a great discussion Justin. At least its got us blogging;) .... says he adding his own gob: http://tardate.blogspot.com/2007/05/no-respect-should-justin-care.html But when I look back at what you _actually_ said in your original post I think we've all diverged from your complaint that Oracle gets zero credit from the (Web 2.0) community. The OTN team - and you in particular - have been doing a great job cranking up the blogsphere and podcasts. But is that enough to impress the Web 2.0 scene? Sorry, its mid 2007 and just all too routine now. To make a splash and get some respect in the Web 2.0 community, Oracle needs to be showing much more leadership and innovation in building social networks and inventing/applying cutting-edge Web 2.0 techniques and technologies. But (ask you asked in your post) ... should you care? I say NO!, forget what the Web 2.0 community thinks. Just focus on serving the real constituency first - the Oracle community of employees, users and developers. Do that well, and if OTN is indeed pushing the boundaries, then the Web 2.0 cred will be the just reward.

Posted by Paul on May 11, 2007 at 08:58 AM PDT #

How about a game of blog tag http://pulverblog.pulver.com/archives/006087.html?

Posted by Fiona L Brown on May 18, 2007 at 10:25 PM PDT #

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