On probation

I got an email today from the owner of all the MSDN columns, telling me that if I wasn’t able to produce a column every other month, my column would be put on probation, and then cancelled.

I’m frankly surprised it took this long – the whole essence of a column or any other periodical is that it is just that – periodical. The combination of me writing a blog and spending a lot of time doing PM stuff has meant that my column has been neglected. June, September, and February does not a periodical column make.

I’m looking for some comments on how to spend my time. If I decided to try to keep the column alive, it would definitely take away from the time that I spend blogging. If I let the column go, I still have the opportunity to write articles for MSDN, but I wouldn’t have to do it on a schedule.


Comments (25)

  1. RichB says:

    Just blog.

  2. Jeff says:

    I say, let the column go and keep up the blog.

  3. Simon says:

    Your column would probably not make up for the ~20 posts you produce a month…

    Why not post the best blog posts as your column.

  4. DavidC says:

    In the era of new media journalism, I would say that even the term "column" is losing its meaning. I would default and say drop the column and keep blogging, but I also believe MSDN should adapt to the new media paradigms as well.

    The problem as I see it though, is that "columns" tend to be densely technical solutions to common theories or problems that can provide an enormous benefit to people on the line.

    I guess if you can still offer a densely written "article" on an ad-hoc basis, and blog for the more informal items, that seems to make everyone happy.

    But I still think the entire idea of a "column" is probably something more associated to print (as in paper) journalism, and may become a thing of the past in new media journalism…

    Eh, I could be wrong…


  5. marko rangel says:

    death to all columns!

    seriously, I agree with Simon, you could choose the best of your blog topics and comments to make up columns that deal with more than one subject.

  6. Why not do the logical thing and link the blog to something on the MSDN site, give it priority? The content in your blog is definitely ample enough to be of use on the main MSDN site.

  7. Dave Thomas says:

    Keep up a varied blog, and the odd in depth article on MSDN, that would seem the baest of both.

  8. Len Weaver says:

    I enjoy reading your columns, but not as much as I enjoy your blog. Your columns tend to explain things I already know about, while your blog sometimes tells us about new stuff from VS2005.

  9. AT says:

    I prefer you to spend more time on columns.

    Weblogs are not easy to search for definite answer and have high (over regular MSDN page) noise/valid ratio.

    Blog messages are usually short and may have a little bit different assumptions on technical level of reader.

    Also columns can be included in MSDN Library – this will benefit a lot more users compared to number of your blog readers.

    BTW, Nothing prevent you from making a link to your recent column from your blog. But writing a column force you to focus on one subject and cover it in details.

    So – IMHO, You should consider continue writing a column. If you wish – you can start your column in blogs, get feedback and then post aggregated results as MSDN column.

    Thanks in advance

  10. KW says:

    Keep the blog going!

  11. I think you should blog. I think many developers have caught to RSS,Atom and RSSBandits. I dont think they will miss a column.

    Also, Is been a while I have been to http://msdn.microsoft.com to read a column. Its mostly as a Googled result or a pointer from someone’s RSS feed.

    I guess if you can make a column out of the blogs you have (like a collection of essays) that might be pretty cool.

  12. Luc Cluitmans says:

    This is a tough one. I’m not sure which option I would prefer. Just my 2 cents worth:

    Blogs and written media are somewhat different in how they are perceived and used. The articles make for good reference and learning material, nicely searchable. Blogs are a bit more volatile in nature; I have spent more than once trying to search for ‘something that I saw in a blog a month ago’, and was simply unable to find it back.

    I think AT has a few good points (though I do not agree with his ‘technical level of the reader’ one, I think that one actually would make blogs better than articles).

    Especially the concept of using blogs to get ideas and feedback for articles may be of use.

  13. Paul Jackson says:

    I agree with the majority – and Len in particular – I love your columns and I originally put the MSDN Just Published feed in my aggregator specifically to keep an eye on when your articles were published, but IMHO I think blogging is more important and as much as I enjoy and look forward to your column your blog is a much more instant fix for the ericgu fix I require 🙂

  14. Have you considered guest columnists?

  15. D. Brian Ellis says:

    I would rather see you continue your blog and dump the column. However…I would like to see a more robust post in your blog now and again (one to impersonate your old column I guess). The reason is I enjoy your columns due to the depth of them. Blog posts are usually "By the way… 3 lines of code … Later". The blog is periodical as was the column. Simply absorb the column and put out a longer post every month or two.


  16. Jeramie Mercker says:

    Stick with the blog.

  17. Mark Levison says:

    Blog on, sadly I hardly ever read MSDN any more.

  18. I’m going with the majority here, concentrate on blogging.

    Sites like MSDN should really be more like an RSS aggregation of the dev team’s blogs anyway, so maybe you’ll start a trend.

  19. John says:

    Stick with the blog.

  20. G Mladenov says:

    + 1 for blogging. I also hardly ever read MSDN any more, except for knowledge base articles.

    It’s also a very good idea to publish links to selected posts (best of:) on MSDN.

  21. Stephen says:

    Perhaps write another column for MSDN, and at the end ask the same question (columns or blog entries). You might get a different balance of opinion from a different audience.

    Also, even if you drop the column, you’ve boosted awareness of the blog…

  22. Louis Parks says:

    I read your blog far more often than I ever read your column. I agree…. +1 for blogging.

  23. Jean-Claude Manoli says:

    You ask your blog readers if you should spend less time on your blog? Have you asked the column readers what they think? 😉

    I’m that olf-fashioned guy who would prefer that you write less blog entries, and more columns.

  24. Doug says:

    Blog – immediate, but transient.

    Column – for the record. When I research a problem I like to look through the past few years of MSDN mag. Would you be able to republish relevant material from the blog in the column?