Credibility isn’t equal to authority

Who’s to be believed about the 60% Windows Vista code rewrite story which has been a lively discussion topic in a number of blogs during the past few days?

According to Robert Scoble, it’s flat-out not true. He says his view is backed up by a number of other Microsoft employee bloggers.

I posted on this story last week and that post attracted some discussion over the weekend, in which Robert was a lively participant. The thrust of that post was to do with the FUD surrounding the Vista story and the need by Microsoft, rather than an employee blogger, to squash the story flat if it isn’t true.

In one of Robert’s comments, he makes a remarkable statement:

[…] if ANY Microsoft employee signs their name to a denial, it’s official. Why is that? Because you can quote it. […] I’m an official source for the company now (if I say anything that doesn’t match the truth not only do my readers jump all over it, but so do my coworkers).

The ensuing conversation – a little heated in part (words IN CAPITAL LETTERS usually signify shouting) – to’d and fro’d over the credibility of the journalist who wrote the original story about the Vista rewrite and what Microsoft the company needs to do, if anything, when Robert says that the only place anything about this issue will be discussed is in blogs.

My view remains as it was yesterday. Blogs can be a highly credible source of information. But in a situation like this, with so many different opinions about Vista, some kind of code rewrite (or not), what it means, etc, I wouldn’t rely solely on blogs (and employee bloggers) as my only outlet for clarity in a consistent Microsoft message.

In a comment overnight, Shel Holtz expresses it well:

[…] Who has the authoritative statement of record for Microsoft, as a business, to which all can point and say, “That’s the authoritative statement of record”? Not a bunch of employee bloggers, because to some degree, they’re all saying different things. While the value of employee bloggers is indisputable, they’re not the source of the authoritative statement of record.

Shel and I will be discussing this issue in today’s edition of FIR: The Hobson & Holtz Report which we’ll be recording at about 6pm Amsterdam time.

What do you think? If you have a view that you’d like included in today’s show, please leave a comment here (or in the other post), or email it to fircomments[at]gmail[dot]com.