Publishing is too hard for many Microsoft employees. Blogging makes it easy. Would Chris even bother if he needed to figure out who was responsible for publishing stuff like his over at MSDN? Would Chris bother if he needed to have three meetings just to get his stuff approved to post up? I wouldn't. I'm not gonna publish on microsoft.com or msdn.com unless I have to. The process is just too daunting...Think that most of Microsoft's 55,000 employees know how to get something through the publishing system at MSDN? I don't think so. Blogs take up the slack.
To which Pete Cole responded:
Errr, as a stupid sap paying $1000s for MSDN subscription I would rather that a company the size of Microsoft SORTED ITSELF OUT - please explain to me why I should even have to answer the question of which I would rather he do? If the MSDN people are a pain in the butt, then management should sort them out.
The trouble for me is that the API surface I write against is documented neither on MSDN nor the Web - I spent my life in a haystack of needles looking for the right one to put the thread through.
That's interesting. It's really just an extension of what's been going on in the world of newspapers and publishing - why buy the New York Times, for instance, when you can read it here free? That's now expanded out - developers are asking why they should pay for content, when they get better answers from blogs. It's hardly limited to blogs. A question recently arose at Cincom related to support - people regularly ask questions on comp.lang.smalltalk, on the vwnc mailing list, and on the Smalltalk IRC - and if the right people are looking, they get answers fast. Does that take away from support?
I think the answer to both is no. Yes, you can get good answers from non-traditional support channels, or good information from blogs. However, it's catch-as-catch can. You may get an answer when you need it, you may not. Paid support is a guarantee that someone will pay a attention to your problem right now. Of course, if support doesn't respond quickly, then the why am I paying? question will gain ground - in the more connected world we live in now, paid support needs to hop to it or be seen as obsolete - which will impact revenues. On the publishing side, it means that the paid content had better have something compelling that the free content doesn't have. If it doesn't, watch people stop paying...