When blogs attack

As the line blurs between traditional and new media, bloggers and independent analysts are becoming increasingly influential. So what do you do when one of them posts something less than flattering about your project?
Written by Ed Burnette, Contributor
Your product or pet project comes under fire from a blogger,
Eric Clayberg
perhaps one who works for a competing company. What do you do? Instantiations VP of Product Development Eric Clayberg recently ran into this situation when a blogger printed inaccurate information about his Eclipse-based Window Builder product on a private blog.

His solution? First, you have to correct the inaccuracy.Most experts agree you should take the high road when being attacked. In this day of rapid information proliferation, inaccurate information can get around just as well as accurate information, sometimes better. So it's important to nip it in the bud, as close to the source as possible. Normally, blogs have a comment area where anyone can post rebuttals, but in this case comments were turned off. RJ Lorimer, co-editor of EclipseZone says allowing comments is standard practice. "[The blogger] would do right by himself and this community," writes RJ, "just by turning comments on in his blog".

What if the site does not allow comments? If you have your own blog you can always post your corrections there. Eclipse evangelist Wayne Beaton writes "I have avoided confronting [bloggers] head on and have instead gone to my own blog to refute". Sometimes a standard blogging feature called trackbacks will cause a link to your rebuttal to be inserted underneath the offending article. But due to abuse by spammers, more and more bloggers have this feature turned off too.

How about complaining to the blogger's employer? This is almost always a bad idea. Chances are that those involved will weather the complaint unscathed and simply harden their position against you or your company.

Before things get out of hand, consider a simple email to the blogger explaining clearly what is wrong with their post. Often that is enough to get a correction, especially if there are factual errors involved (as opposed to just differences of opinion). In addition to posting his "open letter", Eric sent an email at the same time. Within a few hours, he reports getting a "very nice, surprisingly pleasant" reply from the blogger, who amended his original blog entry to correct the mistakes.

Whatever you do, most experts agree you should take the high road when being attacked. Today's competitor might be tomorrow's merger partner. "I don't even see how in-fighting helps anyone," writes EclipseZone co-editor Riyad Kalla. "While we are all busy punching each other in the face," he predicts, "our market can move on to TheNextBigThing and we'll all be sitting around wondering what happened".

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