Are “Team Blogs” the “Anti-Blog”?


I used to feel this way.  If someone had asked me a few months ago if I thought their team should start a blog that represents their collective team; I probably would has told them that it wouldn’t go over that well.  Now, however, I’m of the opinion that it can be done right and that they can even do some things that you can’t do well with an individual feed.  Recently we’ve been thinking about having a team blog for MSBuild so I’ll use this as an example.  Here is a quick dump of the pros and cons as I see them. 


Pros



  • Only one feed to go to for consistent MSBuild content

  • The feed will be there even when every single member of the team has turned over for the new team members to use as they come and go

  • Team members that might not want to start their own blog, because they may only want to write a few entries over the entire year would have it as a resource without having to upkeep their own. 

  • It could also be an entry point for people who contribute and then decide… “I should start my own blog“

  • It becomes a collaborative effort that can even be extended to MVPs (Some of the C# FAQ blog posts are from MVPs.)

Cons



  • You lose a bit of the personal touch that comes with a 1-1 reader writer connection.

  • It might discourage team members from starting their own blogs that might be good at it and benefit people even more than their contributions to the team blog. 

I think most people who are against it fall into the trap of feeling that you lose the personal touch that can only be had with a 1:1 blog.  I think there are some good mitigations there that can still make it work.  Having biographies, signing posts, still encouraging the posting of personal flair, and highlighting team morale events can all help.  It also depends on the people who contribute as well.  I might be biased, but from the feedback I’ve seen people still feel a connection to Gretchen and Zoe (Jobsblog) or to team members like YAG on the VSData team blog. I’ve also seen the readership numbers.  I know that people not only do people still read most team blogs, but generally read them more than they read the equivalent number of team member individual blogs when combined.


What do you think? Personally I don’t think it should be the only communication vehicle a team uses, but I think it can be a successful part of a larger community strategy that also includes individual blogs, newsgroups, wiki’s etc. 

Comments (9)

  1. Sean says:

    I think its a decent idea, or atlease a rss feed that groups the team together. Currently, other then Cryus and Eric Gunnerson, I read all the Microsoft Blogs off the main rss feed anyways. Same with most the other tech blogs I read.

  2. I think the first thing is that every team’s news page should spit out an RSS feed.

    The fact that Team blogs are happening is because people want to have a relationship with the teams via RSS.

    I’m enjoying the team blogs that are being done.

  3. Ryan Farley says:

    I’ve liked the "team" blogs I read. One of my favorite ones is the C# FAQ http://blogs.msdn.com/csharpfaq/, which includes posts for multiple people (well, mostly Eric, but there’s posts from others too)

    Usually when I subscribe to a team feed, I subscribe because I want info about the specific topic the team deals with. For those feeds I don’t really want any of the personal touch, just the info.

    -Ryan

  4. jledgard says:

    Thanks for the feedback so far…

    Sean: Glad you picked mine to stop on. 🙂

    Robert: I agree that each dev center page should have a main RSS that encapsulates everything on that page. Some teams though, don’t have a dev center presense. Like the MSbuild guys.

    Ryan: Yeah, sometimes the team blogs end up being really driven by one person. Its been hard getting people to post entries to the powertoys blog… and I’m giving away free espresso or dove bar tickets!

  5. Kevin Dente says:

    There are certainly times when I think a team blog can be well used. For example, when I reading the 46 different MS blog postings announcing the RC of XP SP2, the idea of a shared communal blog sounded pretty appealing. 😉 In other words, it’s at least useful for making announcements, even if each member also has their own blog for their personal perspective.

  6. jledgard says:

    I think one thing that will help coral the individual blogs and the main feed is some more catagorization beyond "MS blogs and Customer Blogs". I think Scott has mentioned it’s coming.

  7. Joku says:

    I agree on that categorization thing. A possible way could be to have invidual blogs and team blogs, then use some tag in the invidual blog entry that tells the engine to pull that particular entry to the team blog and when you click the entry at the team blog it sends the browser to the invidual log. This would allow to concentrate the team related content and if someone doesn’t want to put his own blog, he can still post just on the team blog without the redirection.

    But let me guess, there are simpler/better ways to achieve this 😛

  8. jledgard says:

    Joku: This could be easily done through pulling feeds from specific catagories together. We don’t currently have a good way to do this, but I have seen others do it. IT’s not rocket science, but it is another alternative. 🙂