Grrrr, Can’t Participate in Tags from MSDN Blogs

I've been trying to figure out a way to let people join forces on their blogs with combined categories. Ideally anyone could post a Visual Studio tip and developers could consume one feed.  (Everyone wants in on Sara's Visual Studio tips category.) Why not use the Microsoft Blog portal?  Well, VS Tips aren't exactly a mainline taxonomy and too many fragment categories would be a bad thing I guess. Strike one.   

I figured that we could just use the technorati tagging system. This way anyone could contribute their own VS tips.  Hell, this was probably a better idea than the first one.  Unfortunately our version of Community Server doesn't support categories in the RSS feed. Sure, we have "catagories", but not the real kind.  Strike two!  Well, you can manually enter TAG links with the "rel" attribute... Strike three... we're stripping everything but the most basic HTML from the posts.  Back to square one. 

On a somewhat related note... what would my readers think about my jumping off the msdn blog ship onto my own URL?  I've got a few in mind. 

Comments (14)
  1. Jim Holmes says:

    Jump ship if it’s what you need to do in order to get your blog as you’d like it.

    Just be sure you post the new URL!

    [But what if he doesn’t want you following him? — ed.]

  2. Joku says:

    Well its your blog but I’d like if some active blogger who also sees the blogs from the point of the reader/customer would keep both the community and the Community Server & in atleast some touch of what’s the direction of things and so on. I may be entirely wrong (probably), but the overall view of things seems to be that CS maybe mostly developing features and improvements that in no way helps the people who use and read The current version of from a reader perspective is that it was a step backwards from the previous platform and it’s not easy to find news or blogging about what is being done about the "mile long" list of things to do about it.

    While diversity is good you must also think why RSS is good.. Its cause everyone talks the same language (almost). Perhaps a bad analogy but if every "high profile" MS blogger have their own setup and minor feature improvements, those will just benefit the minority. I’d rather see the MS bloggers with mile long feature lists push those actively to and where suited to Community Server itself..

  3. Joku says:

    – Forgot to add, that of course if you plan to help in improving the directly, it might make sense to have a hands on approach (own place to try the ideas). But I am a bit cautious about implying such, you probably have much more important things to do as a "community stick-wielder"!

  4. admin says:


    This post represents matters as though you never spoke to members of the communities team or myself in mile-long email threads about this tagging topic. This post represents the dialog as a stonewall – that no one from listened to a lengthy list of requirements that you sent. This post also suggests that *you* never listened to the blog portal product manager or myself when we talked about practical considerations, dates or schedules. You work in Visual Studio so I know you understand software development life cycle issues.

    And the kicker kills me – I’ve personally been busting my butt working with Telligent to get that HTML scrubber isssue dealt with – solved it even, and we had to roll back from that build for reasons that have nothing to do with denying you the right to tag or what our future tagging direction is.

    This to me is an example of something that even Robert Scoble has had to apologize for – criticizing a team you are not part of is a very dicey thing to do respectfully. Do you really want other people (like me) to blog about the things that went wrong in the Visual Studio Beta 2 schedule or projects you have specifically worked on? If that makes you feel uneasy, then you understand my situation.

    I have always valued and respected your creative input on matters community, but I have to question how constructive you are being here. Microsoft doesn’t make ANYONE blog on or and there are plenty of other places to choose from. But besides MSN Spaces these two sites represent the one platform where employees like you can actually influence how we develop it from the inside. So you have to decide – do you want to help the Microsoft employee blog sites win, or not?

    I’m up for a healthy debate on tagging (and you left out completely the horrors of taxonomy which social tagging doesn’t really solve). But this, bah! I know you Josh – you can do better posts than this.


  5. So I will admit my Blog Queen dander is up. Mostly because I haven’t had a sane work week since last…

  6. Tobin says:

    Betsy, I completely understand how you feel when your "product" is given a poor review by someone. I read this post briefly and wouldn’t have thought anything of it other than "Josh doesn’t like the current blogging atmosphere, and is encouraging change." I understand a healthy defensive attitude, but honestly, why bring this out in the public when I would venture to say that most people agree with Josh on this. I think it would be so much easier for me, as someone interested in security, to simply subscribe to a "developer security" topic instead of filtering through blog posts like "here’s my dog" or "today, the weather was …". I respect the both of you for your roles, but honestly, why get into an argument about something like this in public comments?

  7. MSDNArchive says:

    I apologize to anyone who felt offended by this post. It honestly was not meant as an insult to a product, your team, or Telligent.

    I have a lot of faith in the people at Telligent. From what I’ve read a lot of issues will be addressed in upcoming releases that focus on simplicity. This 1.0 release felt more focused on beginning to merge three distinct community apps into one cohesive package. Hard to do that and improve on all three products in the short amount of time they had. So yes, I do believe that some things went backwards. Sometimes this is a necessity in software in order to go forward several more steps in the future.

    Regarding the mainline taxonomy issue… I agreed in the internal mail AND here that there are some things that just don’t have a place in official categorization methodologies. My comment was not meant to imply that we hadn’t had a conversation on it. I agreed with your teams reasoning on the issue of blog portal inclusion.

    The goals I had in this post where:

    1. See if any smart readers could suggest alternatives.

    2. See if any readers felt that I shouldn’t be striving for the inclusion of social tagging on our blog sites. It’s possible that some readers could have read this and said “why do you care… we wouldn’t care” then I would know I should drop the feature request and pursue something else.

    3. An outlet for frustration. I was honestly frustrated when I realized that my last alternative failed and my hands were completely tied on the subject. A big part of my success is determined by how well everyone else in the developer division is involved in the community. From my perspective teams are coming to me and saying “Hey, how can we collaborate on something like this” and I want to have good answers for them. I’m sure I don’t get the number of mails you do about blogs, but I do get my fair share from people and teams that want to connect with customers and think that I’ll come up with solutions for them. I feel like I’m letting them down in several ways on this issue.

    4. Test the water and see what people would think if I did stop posting on MSDN.

    If the frustration leaked through too much then I apologize. I know you work your ass off for this site and I want to believe I’ve been helpful in the past and could continue to be helpful to you in the future if you trust me.

    I know the last line about leaving the blog site made it feel as though these issues are pushing me away. However there was no sarcasm intended in the words “somewhat related”. I honestly have several of my own personal reasons for wanting to move my blog and its content to my own site. These reasons extend far beyond any minor technical limitations. They’d have to in order to make it worthwhile for me to do so.

    In fact, I’m pretty confident if I had my own site I’d still be using the same version of Community server. Sure, I’d probably tweak and prototype s few things for you guys, but that wouldn’t be the primary reasons for having my own URL.

    So, are we still on for drinking next Tuesday?

  8. admin says:

    One thing that perhaps is missing but Josh alludes to in his reply is that Josh and I are 1) community drinking buddies 2) both from the East Coast and also, 3) Red Sox fans since BEFORE they beat the Yankees. This tagging stuff will no doubt be further debated over beers this week. Do not cue the techno strains of "Mortal Kombat" over this exchange.

    For the fellow who commented about "is this back and forth appropriate for a technical blog" well, I guess I’d say yes, provisionally. I will be discussing the HTML scrubber code in CS at TechEd Amsterdam and if you are a developer interested in coding Web applications you may be interested in the social computing aspects if not the coding.

    Both Josh and myself do want to hear more from the community about the blog sites and the Community Server software so nothing I posted is meant to dampen the enthusiasm of the people who have ingenious plots and suggestions for a better world. The blog team and I will do our level best to keep up.


  9. RonO says:

    If you decide to move from, I most likely won’t follow. I must wisely choose which sites I "visit" from my corporate network. If your new destination can be seen as questionable (even if it isn’t so), then I won’t subscribe.

  10. Scott says:

    Lol, oh no. He’s on to your plan to leave, bringing your readers with your, and start an online gambling site Josh!

  11. MSDNArchive says:

    Yup, I’m all about online gambling… and pr0n, don’t forget all the pr0n, warez, and tv show torrents!

  12. Joku says:

    I was writing about the tagging alternative but remembered then that MS research already has similar ideas used for ranking emails.. I just took that idea unkowingly and glued it to a dictionary/synonym web service for getting similarity for keywords in post categories and blogs to create a RSS feed search where you’d had a keyword and it would find categories with keywords of similar meanings and somehow rank them. So I’ll stop here with this over-engineered idea 🙂

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