Monday, October 24, 2005

Two Microsofties Depart and Bloggity Thoughts

Two more big departures from Microsoft: Hadi Partovi and Don Gagne.

(1) Hadi noted via Sanaz's blog:

hadi partovi leaving ms

hadi, one of the main reasons for's existence is leaving microsoft to start his own venture. i'm very bummed to see him leave - but i'm glad i got a chance to work with him while he was here.

more details in seattle times article: Key MSN Manager is leaving to launch startup...

(2) Don via email that I posted in comment section:


A friend in Office forwarded me a Friday Steven Sinofsky email that Don Gagne is leaving Microsoft in December. This is a super huge loss for Microsoft and a colossal loss for Office (DonGa is in charge of development for all of Office). It's been a while since I've been on a team with Don, but he is an engineer's engineer, a voice for reason, and a champion of what is best for Microsoft's customers. While some Microsofties scream and preen and use politics to advance their little agenda, Don has always used quiet reason, common sense, and intellect to make the best possible decisions. And he's never been shy to break out the code or icecap or such to prove what's the right thing to do based on reality, not agendas.

You ask about greatness forged within Microsoft itself? That's Don. There is no replacement for Don. The only good news is that Don is not going to join a competitor like Google but rather leaving to chase his non-software passion. Microsoft, and the company's shareholders, are in a much better place now thanks to Don's contributions. I can only hope that everyone working closely with him have been paying close attention and have learned well to carry on in his absence.

I hope that he one day returns.

Speaking of comments: one way or another, I plan to turn on comments again next week. As I've lamented in the past, this blog is pushing the limits to what a blog can do as a community space. You really need something evolved... something like a... hmm... bloggity. Some simple features (which I realize some blogging software already provides) that I can think off of the top of my head that a bloggity should have are below. The thing is... I think it's more about adding features that promote good content and not trying to outsmart or outwit people gumming up the works with bad content or noise. I expect that I'll need to dedicate a certain amount of maintenance here if the level of focused contribution continues forward.

Comments feed: Blogger really needs to have a comment feed you can turn on to catch what people are saying in response to posts or other comments. People sometime add comments to really old posts that I doubt too many people ever get to read.

Comments view: it would be great to have a view that just shows recent N comments or comments over the past N days, grouped by time or by associated post, over the entire blog.

Batch delete: right now, for this blog, I have delete comment spam and crappy comments one by one. It takes forever and I'd rather be reading my new Wired magazine. I'd much rather have a batch delete so that I could just put a check box by each comment and say, "Kill it!" This would also reduce the number of times a page is republished.

Signal booster for comments: here's a hard one. As I've noted in the previous post's comments, both Tom Peters and Steven Sinofsky have been dealing with comment problems over the past week. Scoble just calls his comment area The Mudpit to set expectations. A few weeks ago, Scoble had to break out the chainsaw on Channel9 due to a bunch of trolling (which, I'm embarrassed to say, this blog was used as bait). Ideas around trying to boost signal?

Moderated comments: this is just short of what I'm doing right now as a comment monkey. Let people submit comments and allow the blog owner to let through the ones that meet the bar. I'd be happy with an option that if a comment is not approved within n-hours, let the comment through as auto-approved. That would at least cover things if I slip into a lazy mode (or if I'm out of town) and allow the comments to continue to be posted and not pile up.

I'd expect a sharp drop in comments under the moderated model. Perhaps a dozen a day. A batch approve / disapprove would be essential, especially if it went back up into the dozens-upon-dozens comments a day again. This, too, would reduce the number of times a blog page had to be republished.

Throttled comments: sort of mentioned above, but basically a model where comments go into a queue and the queue is batched published on a given schedule. I think this would help avoid the back-and-forth nyeh-nyeh posts. But you'd probably need a duplicate detector for those folks who keep hitting the publish button and wondering where their comment is...

Trusted commenting: a mechanism where certain posters could just outright comment. Given trust (see below), these people don't have to be moderated or throttled.

Semi-Anonymous commenting: your posting can be made as anonymous but through an established identity. This would allow you to delete (or edit) your own comments later.

Karma: an established identity, even if semi-anonymous,  could also be used to grant (or deny) trust. Mostly grant. E.g., if I an anonymous person was making a very reasoned argument or posting and I saw I could grant some trust or karma to them, I would (without having to know their established identity). That way, if commenting was throttled or moderated, I would be happy to let their post through untouched (until they made a big boo-boo and I revoked my level of trust towards them). And provide the same level of granting trust for those that posted through a public established identity, too.

Elevated commenting: a way for the blog owner to call out worth-while to read comments. In Slashdot this is done by setting a threshold and only showing comments that meet that threshold. Still sort of noisy. I just want a simple way to give a gold star to a comment so that if there are, say, 150 comments someone could scan through to find the ones worth reading. Right now, the only way I do this is to flag them in Outlook and then use that as a way to repost interesting comments.

Big Idea discussion areas: so in all the linear postings a blog provides, occasionally big ideas or agenda items pop forth. Rather than being lost in time, I'd like to be able to call these out into their own areas. For instance: what to replace the performance review system with as a Big Idea post. It could be living, undergoing revision and morphing itself from the comments and discussions off of it.

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