Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Mark Jen, fired Google blogger, helps Plaxo draft a blogging policy

Posted by Richard Koman - April 1, 2005


Bloggers with jobs were all a twitter when Mark Jen, the "Google blogger," was fired from his job because he posted some complaints about Google's compensation package, compared to his previous employer Microsoft. Mark has landed at Plaxo, a privately held company that offers electronic address book updating services.

Mark is taking the lead on drafting a blogging policy for Plaxo, the current draft of which has been released for public comment. "We want community comment," Mark told me in a phone call. "One of the draws of blogging is to connect directly to the community and open lines of communication. If companies want to use our policy or modify it, that's great."

Plaxo's policy supports blogging but takes clear steps to protect the company against communication that might cast the company in a bad light. For instance, the policy says, "We expect and insist that such communication does not substantively demean our environment. This means that constructive criticism — both privately and publicly — is welcome, but harsh or continuous disparagement is frowned upon."

Mark says that he and Plaxo management both realized the need for a formal policy, something he learned the hard way at Google. "After the incident I became aware of the issues involved in blogging in a corporate setting. You need sensitivity to corporate culture and climate."

In the blogosphere, Mark said, information travels in a "very interesting way" -- it can move extremely quickly or be completely forgotten. "Personally, I treat my writing as if my identity is blended into my employer's. I try to remember that it's known who I work for," Mark said. "Even if people don't disclose who they work for, that information isn't hard to come by."

Companies shouldn't be afraid of blogging, though, Mark cautions. It's an extremely powerful way of connecting with customers and partners. "Businesses can aggregate information across blogs and learn what customers are thinking."

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