UK blogger sacked

A UK blogger, living in France, was sacked (Roland Piquepaille, famous technologist blogged that).

She won’t be the last one. Blogging is like hopping on stage at a major conference. You wouldn’t do that and start talking smack about your boss, would you? Would you honestly expect to stay employed?

If your boss doesn’t know you’re doing it, that should set off alarm bells right there. Talking online WILL get back to your boss. Unless you are so freaking careful to make sure you stay anonymous (like MiniMicrosoft, Microsoft’s anonymous blogger, has so far). This person obviously didn’t stay anonymous enough. It’s why I don’t advise anyone try the anonymous route: either be straight up with your boss and everyone, or stay off the Internet.

The lawsuit that springs out of this will be interesting to watch. If it succeeds it’ll set back corporate blogging in Europe because corporations will just adopt a zero tolerance policy toward any blogging out of school. I hope she gets kicked out of court.

Here in California and Washington we are an “work at will” state. I can get fired for pretty much any reason, especially when I talk about my workplace on stage in public (my contracts with all my recent employers says that and rubs it in). Such a lawsuit would be laughed out of court here.

Anytime you are identifyable with your company you’ve gotta be professional about your behavior. It’s why at Microsoft we said the policy was “be smart.” That roughly translated to “don’t piss off your boss.”

Comments

  1. Can’t possibly agree, Robert. Did you actually read any of Petite’s blog? I’ve been following it for ages and her employer’s action is a huge over-reaction (which will, ironically, undoubtedly do her a huge favour if she has any clue at all).

    Your attack on her here sounds like you think everyone on MSN Spaces, LiveJournal et al should get the sack. If she was a business blogger, you’d have a case, but she wasn’t. Blogging isn’t just about business, you know. I sincerely hope she wins her case.

  2. Can’t possibly agree, Robert. Did you actually read any of Petite’s blog? I’ve been following it for ages and her employer’s action is a huge over-reaction (which will, ironically, undoubtedly do her a huge favour if she has any clue at all).

    Your attack on her here sounds like you think everyone on MSN Spaces, LiveJournal et al should get the sack. If she was a business blogger, you’d have a case, but she wasn’t. Blogging isn’t just about business, you know. I sincerely hope she wins her case.

  3. ERM what are you smoking robert

    Why do you want her to lose if the company looses would be better for bloggers in general – not realy in your new employers interest is it.

    She kept it completely anonymous and didn’t id her employer. Of course theer may be a real reason behind it interesting she’s a brit working for a French company *nudge* *nudge*

    All this will do is give another stick for unscrupulous lawyers a stick to frighten cash out business.

    Are you sure about ca being a right to work I have a dim recollection that ca and ma (both it industry hubs) arn’t right to work I know wa state is (which puts mini in a difficult position if he ever gets made) IANA(American)L (but ime not a total Civilian in this area either)

  4. ERM what are you smoking robert

    Why do you want her to lose if the company looses would be better for bloggers in general – not realy in your new employers interest is it.

    She kept it completely anonymous and didn’t id her employer. Of course theer may be a real reason behind it interesting she’s a brit working for a French company *nudge* *nudge*

    All this will do is give another stick for unscrupulous lawyers a stick to frighten cash out business.

    Are you sure about ca being a right to work I have a dim recollection that ca and ma (both it industry hubs) arn’t right to work I know wa state is (which puts mini in a difficult position if he ever gets made) IANA(American)L (but ime not a total Civilian in this area either)

  5. Actualy as a follow up

    i just noticed she’s actualy not fired Just yet just a discipline meeting in 10 days time.

    Could be an interesting meeting to be a fly on the wall on.

  6. Actualy as a follow up

    i just noticed she’s actualy not fired Just yet just a discipline meeting in 10 days time.

    Could be an interesting meeting to be a fly on the wall on.

  7. “Anytime you are identifyable with your company you’ve gotta be professional about your behavior.” Yeah, but she wasn’t. Nobody knew who she was, let alone where she worked. Her employer’s actions are egregiously stupid; they’ve made sure that a fact perhaps guessed at by one or two insiders is splashed across the pages of the newspapers. This is a PR disaster for them, and I hope the French courts turn it into a financial disaster too.

    Let me turn Robert’s advice around. Employers: If you discover that one of your employees is blogging anonymously, have a discreet private conversation with them advising them that they have a responsibility to exercise judgment, and that should their blog be connected with their employer, they will bear responsibility for the consequences.

    The world Scoble is trying to steer us toward seems awfully boring and colorless.

  8. “Anytime you are identifyable with your company you’ve gotta be professional about your behavior.” Yeah, but she wasn’t. Nobody knew who she was, let alone where she worked. Her employer’s actions are egregiously stupid; they’ve made sure that a fact perhaps guessed at by one or two insiders is splashed across the pages of the newspapers. This is a PR disaster for them, and I hope the French courts turn it into a financial disaster too.

    Let me turn Robert’s advice around. Employers: If you discover that one of your employees is blogging anonymously, have a discreet private conversation with them advising them that they have a responsibility to exercise judgment, and that should their blog be connected with their employer, they will bear responsibility for the consequences.

    The world Scoble is trying to steer us toward seems awfully boring and colorless.

  9. Tim: someone figured out who she was: her boss.

    So she wasn’t anonymous.

    This isn’t new behavior on part of employers. If you tell all your friends degrading jokes about your boss and it gets back to your boss, do you think you’ll stay employeed? In my experience, no.

    I think it sets back the world of blogging if we expect to just be able to write whatever we want on the Internet without consequences.

    That’s like saying “you should be allowed to get onto the stage at Gnomedex, say whatever you want, without consequences.”

    That’s not good advice to give people. It’ll cause more people to get fired, not fewer.

    Here’s another thing to think about: people get fired every day for lots of reasons. Do you know why Martin Taylor was fired from his executive job at Microsoft? I do, but I’m not allowed to tell you cause of non-disclosure policies. He didn’t have a blog, so it wasn’t for that. But it was justified.

    We don’t know the company’s side of the story here. They aren’t allowed to tell you their side of the story, but the fired employee is certainly allowed to give her side of the facts.

    I find it interesting that we always attack corporations here in the blogosphere.

    Another thing? I hate anonymity. If you aren’t able to write and sign your name to it, and explain who you are that probably is a sign that what you are doing is incompatible with something else in your life.

    Look up the meaning of the word “integrity.” I like reading bloggers with integrity. Who I can get to know completely.

  10. Tim: someone figured out who she was: her boss.

    So she wasn’t anonymous.

    This isn’t new behavior on part of employers. If you tell all your friends degrading jokes about your boss and it gets back to your boss, do you think you’ll stay employeed? In my experience, no.

    I think it sets back the world of blogging if we expect to just be able to write whatever we want on the Internet without consequences.

    That’s like saying “you should be allowed to get onto the stage at Gnomedex, say whatever you want, without consequences.”

    That’s not good advice to give people. It’ll cause more people to get fired, not fewer.

    Here’s another thing to think about: people get fired every day for lots of reasons. Do you know why Martin Taylor was fired from his executive job at Microsoft? I do, but I’m not allowed to tell you cause of non-disclosure policies. He didn’t have a blog, so it wasn’t for that. But it was justified.

    We don’t know the company’s side of the story here. They aren’t allowed to tell you their side of the story, but the fired employee is certainly allowed to give her side of the facts.

    I find it interesting that we always attack corporations here in the blogosphere.

    Another thing? I hate anonymity. If you aren’t able to write and sign your name to it, and explain who you are that probably is a sign that what you are doing is incompatible with something else in your life.

    Look up the meaning of the word “integrity.” I like reading bloggers with integrity. Who I can get to know completely.

  11. Can’t say I really follow you here, Robert. She took care to remain “discreet” (ie, no name, no company name, no collegue/boss names). Her photo was on her blog, and that’s what made her employer tick because she was “recognizable”. It wasn’t a “trash your employer” blog at all.

    And she’s being sacked for “gross misconduct”, which is a pretty serious reason for which to be fired.

    The Telegraph article and her latest blog entry should be read, IMHO. I’ve known her blog for a long time though I didn’t read it religiously, and she mainly talked about her life in France, the French, her daughter, IIRC.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/18/wblog18.xml
    http://www.petiteanglaise.com/archives/2006/07/18/things-fall-apart/

    This is not a case where I would say “serves her right” and “should have seen it coming”.

    Read Guillermito’s post:

    http://www.guillermito2.net/archives/2006_07_18.html

    And for the French speakers:

    http://maitre.eolas.free.fr/journal/index.php?2006/07/18/404-petite-anglaise-viree-pour-son-blog
    http://padawan.info/fr/blogueur_dentreprise/dixon_wilson_se_ridiculise_en_virant_une_salariee_a_cause_de_son_blog.html (now we know the name of her employer…)

  12. Can’t say I really follow you here, Robert. She took care to remain “discreet” (ie, no name, no company name, no collegue/boss names). Her photo was on her blog, and that’s what made her employer tick because she was “recognizable”. It wasn’t a “trash your employer” blog at all.

    And she’s being sacked for “gross misconduct”, which is a pretty serious reason for which to be fired.

    The Telegraph article and her latest blog entry should be read, IMHO. I’ve known her blog for a long time though I didn’t read it religiously, and she mainly talked about her life in France, the French, her daughter, IIRC.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/07/18/wblog18.xml
    http://www.petiteanglaise.com/archives/2006/07/18/things-fall-apart/

    This is not a case where I would say “serves her right” and “should have seen it coming”.

    Read Guillermito’s post:

    http://www.guillermito2.net/archives/2006_07_18.html

    And for the French speakers:

    http://maitre.eolas.free.fr/journal/index.php?2006/07/18/404-petite-anglaise-viree-pour-son-blog
    http://padawan.info/fr/blogueur_dentreprise/dixon_wilson_se_ridiculise_en_virant_une_salariee_a_cause_de_son_blog.html (now we know the name of her employer…)

  13. My first comment got moderated (too many links in there, I suppose) — thanks for setting it free ;-)

    I hope Petite wins her lawsuit, because I think the consequences are going to go in the opposite direction than what you predict. I think it’ll set back business blogging way more if she loses, because it’ll just give confirmation that blogs are dangerous things that get you into trouble, and that employees can get trampled by their bosses for no good reason. If she wins, it says that as an employee, you are allowed to have a voice, and that you can speak without risking the sac as long as you stay within boundaries.

    Again, go and read Petite’s blog. What she said about her job has nothing to do with the stuff currently being posted on http://nestlesuisserealnews.blogspot.com/

  14. My first comment got moderated (too many links in there, I suppose) — thanks for setting it free ;-)

    I hope Petite wins her lawsuit, because I think the consequences are going to go in the opposite direction than what you predict. I think it’ll set back business blogging way more if she loses, because it’ll just give confirmation that blogs are dangerous things that get you into trouble, and that employees can get trampled by their bosses for no good reason. If she wins, it says that as an employee, you are allowed to have a voice, and that you can speak without risking the sac as long as you stay within boundaries.

    Again, go and read Petite’s blog. What she said about her job has nothing to do with the stuff currently being posted on http://nestlesuisserealnews.blogspot.com/

  15. Robert, I think you have been guilty of not doing what you praised some time ago in journalists – some basic research. Petite Anglaise was blogging mainly (with perhaps the exception of the post above and a few others) about her private life. She and everyone else has the right to free expression, anonymously or not. It would be different if she were using the anonymity to attack someone (her employer, for instance) – but she was not. It’s up to the reader what they make of it, and I certainly take with a bucketful of salt anything written anonymously, entertaining or not. If she is fired for this and there is a court case and she is ‘kicked out of court’, then there is something wrong that perhaps .. and maybe you are alluding to it .. that we don’t know. So sure, let’s wait until all the facts are in the open. With open minds.
    Meanwhile, employers that do not have a blogging policy that covers employees should have a word with themselves.

  16. Robert, I think you have been guilty of not doing what you praised some time ago in journalists – some basic research. Petite Anglaise was blogging mainly (with perhaps the exception of the post above and a few others) about her private life. She and everyone else has the right to free expression, anonymously or not. It would be different if she were using the anonymity to attack someone (her employer, for instance) – but she was not. It’s up to the reader what they make of it, and I certainly take with a bucketful of salt anything written anonymously, entertaining or not. If she is fired for this and there is a court case and she is ‘kicked out of court’, then there is something wrong that perhaps .. and maybe you are alluding to it .. that we don’t know. So sure, let’s wait until all the facts are in the open. With open minds.
    Meanwhile, employers that do not have a blogging policy that covers employees should have a word with themselves.

  17. Didn’t you vigorously criticize minimicrosoft for blogging anonymously?

    Now it turns out he was just smart.

  18. Didn’t you vigorously criticize minimicrosoft for blogging anonymously?

    Now it turns out he was just smart.

  19. I have been reading your blog for a couple weeks now, and had never followed it or corporate blogs before. But very clever of you for making this post come up if someone searches your blog for “dooce”.

  20. I have been reading your blog for a couple weeks now, and had never followed it or corporate blogs before. But very clever of you for making this post come up if someone searches your blog for “dooce”.

  21. Robert,

    Thanks for raising the profile of this story. (check out the coverage on The Independent (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article1185350.ece)!). It’s sad her employers are so a**l and orthodox. Their business decision!

    P.S.: I hate to have to be pedantic, but in the interest of accuracy, you will note that she’s in fact English. (“Petite Anglaise” is French for “Little English woman” (word for word translation- actually the meaning is closer to “cute little English girl”)

  22. Robert,

    Thanks for raising the profile of this story. (check out the coverage on The Independent (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article1185350.ece)!). It’s sad her employers are so a**l and orthodox. Their business decision!

    P.S.: I hate to have to be pedantic, but in the interest of accuracy, you will note that she’s in fact English. (“Petite Anglaise” is French for “Little English woman” (word for word translation- actually the meaning is closer to “cute little English girl”)

  23. I certainly think you jumped the gun on this one, Robert. If you read her blog it was innocuous about her employer. They certainly over-reacted.

    As far as the employment law is concerned, I’m glad there are many parts of the world where employees have greater protection than in California and Washington. The American model isn’t necessarily right for everyone.

  24. I certainly think you jumped the gun on this one, Robert. If you read her blog it was innocuous about her employer. They certainly over-reacted.

    As far as the employment law is concerned, I’m glad there are many parts of the world where employees have greater protection than in California and Washington. The American model isn’t necessarily right for everyone.

  25. [...] A secretary working for Dixon Wilson in Paris was fired for her 3,000 reader a day Petite Anglaise blog. Allegations of bringing the firm into disrepute and all that. Dixon Wilson audited a company I worked for many years ago. They were sticklers then, locking up the green and purple ‘tick’ ink at lunchtime. No progress there then. Scoble gets a central fact wrong but has interesting opinions about corporate blogging. [...]

  26. Maybe I misread this one, but I don’t yet know all the facts. In previous “blog firings” when I actually learned the facts I agreed with the decisions. For instance, remember that Delta flight attendant? Did you know she held up a plane while she took those pictures? That’s what she told Shel Israel when he finally met her face-to-face.

    I have yet to find a blogger who wasn’t fired for good reasons.

    Maybe this is the case, but I’m not gonna stick up for an anonymous blogger who now is using her blog to tell her side of the story when I can’t hear her boss’s side of the story.

  27. Maybe I misread this one, but I don’t yet know all the facts. In previous “blog firings” when I actually learned the facts I agreed with the decisions. For instance, remember that Delta flight attendant? Did you know she held up a plane while she took those pictures? That’s what she told Shel Israel when he finally met her face-to-face.

    I have yet to find a blogger who wasn’t fired for good reasons.

    Maybe this is the case, but I’m not gonna stick up for an anonymous blogger who now is using her blog to tell her side of the story when I can’t hear her boss’s side of the story.

  28. Reminds me of a large company I worked for once. On the factory floor, there was one telephone for a couple of hundred union shop workers. Their making an appointment with a physician, or a lawyer, or conducting a discussion with their kid’s teacher, was technically allowed, but difficult, embarrassing, and unofficially frowned upon. It was difficult to be a good parent working on the shop floor.

    Meanwhile, one floor up in the executive offices, executives used their company phones to set up lunch dates, discuss their portfolio with their stock brokers, and just call friends to shoot the breeze — “keeping up with the industry.”

    Sometimes people don’t get it. A friend said that, years ago, he was in a redneck bar in the deep South when “All in the Family” came on. He was surprised when the locals all cheered. But then it dawned on him: When Archie Bunker spoke, they cheered. “You tell ‘em, Arch,” one guy yelled. Archie Bunker was carrying their views to millions of American homes.

    I fear some watch “The Office” to learn how to be a boss.

  29. Reminds me of a large company I worked for once. On the factory floor, there was one telephone for a couple of hundred union shop workers. Their making an appointment with a physician, or a lawyer, or conducting a discussion with their kid’s teacher, was technically allowed, but difficult, embarrassing, and unofficially frowned upon. It was difficult to be a good parent working on the shop floor.

    Meanwhile, one floor up in the executive offices, executives used their company phones to set up lunch dates, discuss their portfolio with their stock brokers, and just call friends to shoot the breeze — “keeping up with the industry.”

    Sometimes people don’t get it. A friend said that, years ago, he was in a redneck bar in the deep South when “All in the Family” came on. He was surprised when the locals all cheered. But then it dawned on him: When Archie Bunker spoke, they cheered. “You tell ‘em, Arch,” one guy yelled. Archie Bunker was carrying their views to millions of American homes.

    I fear some watch “The Office” to learn how to be a boss.

  30. So, robert, you admit you don’t know the story, but the employer’s right? Come on – point to some evidence… your post, and your comments here, insinuate that she was saying things about her employer that were inappropriate. So… put up. Link to those posts. Or admit that you are wrong.

  31. So, robert, you admit you don’t know the story, but the employer’s right? Come on – point to some evidence… your post, and your comments here, insinuate that she was saying things about her employer that were inappropriate. So… put up. Link to those posts. Or admit that you are wrong.

  32. Rick: I didn’t say she said things about her employer that were inappropriate. But I certainly saw communications on her blog, and images, that would raise eyebrows in companies that I’ve spoken to. Are they fireable offenses? Not in my eyes, but then I’m a pretty liberal guy.

    I doubt she was fired because of her blog solely, though. Even she doesn’t claim that.

  33. Rick: I didn’t say she said things about her employer that were inappropriate. But I certainly saw communications on her blog, and images, that would raise eyebrows in companies that I’ve spoken to. Are they fireable offenses? Not in my eyes, but then I’m a pretty liberal guy.

    I doubt she was fired because of her blog solely, though. Even she doesn’t claim that.

  34. so, first you imply she fired for blogging and her employers found out about it. Then you say you doubt she was fired for her blog? Do you even know what your position is? Robert, you look a bit like National Inquirer on this one.

  35. so, first you imply she fired for blogging and her employers found out about it. Then you say you doubt she was fired for her blog? Do you even know what your position is? Robert, you look a bit like National Inquirer on this one.

  36. Robert – you are wrong, and by now you know it. Read through the tone of some of your comments – a bit whiny, aren’t they?

    I have yet to find a blogger who wasn’t fired for good reasons indeed … The smart thing now is to admit you were wrong.

    On the face of it, i.e., going by the information currently available, Petite (shame you didn’t read closely enough to spot that she isn’t actually French) has been badly treated by her company.

  37. Robert – you are wrong, and by now you know it. Read through the tone of some of your comments – a bit whiny, aren’t they?

    I have yet to find a blogger who wasn’t fired for good reasons indeed … The smart thing now is to admit you were wrong.

    On the face of it, i.e., going by the information currently available, Petite (shame you didn’t read closely enough to spot that she isn’t actually French) has been badly treated by her company.

  38. Peter: I still don’t get what I’m wrong about. Can you please be specific about what I’m wrong about?

    OK, I will fix the thing about being French. I was definitely wrong about that.

    As to how she was treated by her company, I don’t know the facts of why she was fired. You don’t either. So, how can I be wrong there?

  39. Peter: I still don’t get what I’m wrong about. Can you please be specific about what I’m wrong about?

    OK, I will fix the thing about being French. I was definitely wrong about that.

    As to how she was treated by her company, I don’t know the facts of why she was fired. You don’t either. So, how can I be wrong there?

  40. Robert, with all due respect, when you say “I don’t know the facts of why she was fired. You don’t either. So, how can I be wrong there?” it begs the question of how you can be right.

    You say you feel her firing was appropriate. But you also say you don’t actually know why she was fired. How, then, can you state that her firing was justified?

    Blogging pseudonymously (which is different from ANonymously) is not subject to employer approval, any more than speech is. Have you said things your bosses wouldn’t necessarily approve of? Shouldn’t they have fired you, then? Our words and our thoughts are not subject to direct corporate control by law; that is what is really on trial here. When they pay a salary, that doesn’t rent your soul for the whole year, it’s just compensation for labour.

    She didn’t slag her company. She may have behaved unprofessionally in her blog, but then who among us has not behaved unprofessionally when not actively practicing our professions? There are things you do in your house that your boss wouldn’t want “representing his company” but surely he understands that he has no place poking around your house in the wee hours in the first place.

  41. Robert, with all due respect, when you say “I don’t know the facts of why she was fired. You don’t either. So, how can I be wrong there?” it begs the question of how you can be right.

    You say you feel her firing was appropriate. But you also say you don’t actually know why she was fired. How, then, can you state that her firing was justified?

    Blogging pseudonymously (which is different from ANonymously) is not subject to employer approval, any more than speech is. Have you said things your bosses wouldn’t necessarily approve of? Shouldn’t they have fired you, then? Our words and our thoughts are not subject to direct corporate control by law; that is what is really on trial here. When they pay a salary, that doesn’t rent your soul for the whole year, it’s just compensation for labour.

    She didn’t slag her company. She may have behaved unprofessionally in her blog, but then who among us has not behaved unprofessionally when not actively practicing our professions? There are things you do in your house that your boss wouldn’t want “representing his company” but surely he understands that he has no place poking around your house in the wee hours in the first place.

  42. You are wrong about her ‘talking smack about her boss’ – I have tried to find where she did, and I can’t. Even more, I have tried to find where her employer is identified – I can’t. They did that for themselves. You are also wrong, IMO, to suggest that any employee can expect their employer’s intervention if they blog. There is a distinction, here – I work, and after work I blog, and that is in my private space. My employer only gets rights if I start talking about my work – or I blog during working hours from my office.

    But you are 100% correct when you say, “Anytime you are identifyable with your company you’ve gotta be professional about your behavior.”

    If there is indeed a court case, it would be tried in either France or England; the outcome will have no impact on corporate blogging in the ‘corporations blog’ sense. It may well have a limited impact in that country – not in Europe – on employees’ rights when they blog.

    I hope that companies wake up to the pressing need to make sure that blogging is covered in the contract of employment by the time this case is settled. And I know nothing about the law in California or Washington, but I suspect that such a lawsuit would not be laughed out of court there.

    I think it is fair to say that you were the most envied person among the bloggerati while you were at Microsoft: how DID he get that gig? Paid to blog …. wow! … and as such, you have a great deal of influence, and you should not forget that with it goes responsibility; no-one wants to accuse you of exercising the ‘prerogative of the harlot’. I think you are wrong in what I saw as an immediate leap to the defence of the corporation.

    But the main thing I refer to is a line you wrote on June 12: “Bloggers rarely call before writing. It’s something I hope we can change. Call before running the story. It’s what great journalists do.”

    I’m not suggesting you should have called. What I am suggesting is that you should have taken some time to read a little more deeply into the story.

    And a final point – you know how on some blogs, posts are not corrected, they just cross the original out and replace it, so that you can still see what was written in the first place? I think this might be a convention worth adopting in the name of transparency.

  43. You are wrong about her ‘talking smack about her boss’ – I have tried to find where she did, and I can’t. Even more, I have tried to find where her employer is identified – I can’t. They did that for themselves. You are also wrong, IMO, to suggest that any employee can expect their employer’s intervention if they blog. There is a distinction, here – I work, and after work I blog, and that is in my private space. My employer only gets rights if I start talking about my work – or I blog during working hours from my office.

    But you are 100% correct when you say, “Anytime you are identifyable with your company you’ve gotta be professional about your behavior.”

    If there is indeed a court case, it would be tried in either France or England; the outcome will have no impact on corporate blogging in the ‘corporations blog’ sense. It may well have a limited impact in that country – not in Europe – on employees’ rights when they blog.

    I hope that companies wake up to the pressing need to make sure that blogging is covered in the contract of employment by the time this case is settled. And I know nothing about the law in California or Washington, but I suspect that such a lawsuit would not be laughed out of court there.

    I think it is fair to say that you were the most envied person among the bloggerati while you were at Microsoft: how DID he get that gig? Paid to blog …. wow! … and as such, you have a great deal of influence, and you should not forget that with it goes responsibility; no-one wants to accuse you of exercising the ‘prerogative of the harlot’. I think you are wrong in what I saw as an immediate leap to the defence of the corporation.

    But the main thing I refer to is a line you wrote on June 12: “Bloggers rarely call before writing. It’s something I hope we can change. Call before running the story. It’s what great journalists do.”

    I’m not suggesting you should have called. What I am suggesting is that you should have taken some time to read a little more deeply into the story.

    And a final point – you know how on some blogs, posts are not corrected, they just cross the original out and replace it, so that you can still see what was written in the first place? I think this might be a convention worth adopting in the name of transparency.

  44. [...] Scoble gives his take on the British blogger fired in France.  I don’t think it’s as black-and-white as he makes it out to be.  While most of us work in the US ”at will” and we do represent ”the company” even after hours, we do have freedom of speech laws in the US to protect just this right don’t we?  I totally agree about being upfront with your boss and recognize we can’t take the stage at a major conference and smack-down the boss.  But what about attending political rallies and conventions during the weekend in a non-work related function (leave that MSFT shirt at home)?  Surely, we would never ask our boss for permission to attend would we?  But, can you still be fired?  What about attending church?  Can they let you go for attending certain churches during non-office hours?  Or joining certain groups like the NRA?  What if you ran for political office while still employed?  Can they fire you for that?  Blogging – and how it relates to freedom of speech – is a very difficult issue and still in its infancy.  While most of those terminated to this point in the US blogged about their workplace or (and most often negatively) about their boss.  What if you did only blog after hours on your personal machine, and never talk about work?  You are still not safe from retribution – and this is the part of the law that needs to be fixed.  [...]

  45. >You are wrong about her ‘talking smack about her boss’ – I have tried to find where she did, and I can’t.

    OK, I was wrong there. I saw that she was scared of her boss learning about her blog, so I assumed she had something to worry about.

    As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation.

  46. >You are wrong about her ‘talking smack about her boss’ – I have tried to find where she did, and I can’t.

    OK, I was wrong there. I saw that she was scared of her boss learning about her blog, so I assumed she had something to worry about.

    As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation.

  47. Robert,

    Here’s what I think is setting many of us off:

    “Blogging is like hopping on stage at a major conference. You wouldn’t do that and start talking smack about your boss, would you? Would you honestly expect to stay employed?”

    Well, of course not. But there’s not really any evidence of that, is there? Your post clearly implies that you thought she was doing this. If so, provide examples. If you can’t, then insinuating that she was talking smack about her employers (which is what I meant by “inappropriate” above) is simply a distortion of the known facts.

    Re your freedom of speech contention – that’s completely wrong and I’m very disappointed you’d support such a position. Corporations should not be able to take punitive action against an employee for things they say or do outside of work unless such communications are either a disclosure of secrets or directly hurt the company. Saying “I work at XYZ Company, and let me tell you, drug use is rampant there, and by the way, managers are boffing subordinates all over the place” is likely to get you fired. But it’s far to Big Brotherish to get fired for talking about what you did in Vegas, for example.

    There was a recent NYT article on employers googling kids out of college and being shocked, shocked, that these kids binge drank and had sex and posted it on the web. Now, you can question the wisdom of the kids posting that stuff, but really… do employers think that all we are are corporate drones? Do they think that previous generations didn’t do some of this stuff? Why should it be a fireable offense if the company’s image is not involved?

    Easy Answer… it shouldn’t. I’m getting tired of companies demanding that my personal time and thoughts are somehow subject to their oversight. Sorry… I’ll work my ass off for you… but my personal time and my personal activities are not subject to your approval. I’ll take care to not besmirch the company image… but that’s as far as it goes.

  48. Robert,

    Here’s what I think is setting many of us off:

    “Blogging is like hopping on stage at a major conference. You wouldn’t do that and start talking smack about your boss, would you? Would you honestly expect to stay employed?”

    Well, of course not. But there’s not really any evidence of that, is there? Your post clearly implies that you thought she was doing this. If so, provide examples. If you can’t, then insinuating that she was talking smack about her employers (which is what I meant by “inappropriate” above) is simply a distortion of the known facts.

    Re your freedom of speech contention – that’s completely wrong and I’m very disappointed you’d support such a position. Corporations should not be able to take punitive action against an employee for things they say or do outside of work unless such communications are either a disclosure of secrets or directly hurt the company. Saying “I work at XYZ Company, and let me tell you, drug use is rampant there, and by the way, managers are boffing subordinates all over the place” is likely to get you fired. But it’s far to Big Brotherish to get fired for talking about what you did in Vegas, for example.

    There was a recent NYT article on employers googling kids out of college and being shocked, shocked, that these kids binge drank and had sex and posted it on the web. Now, you can question the wisdom of the kids posting that stuff, but really… do employers think that all we are are corporate drones? Do they think that previous generations didn’t do some of this stuff? Why should it be a fireable offense if the company’s image is not involved?

    Easy Answer… it shouldn’t. I’m getting tired of companies demanding that my personal time and thoughts are somehow subject to their oversight. Sorry… I’ll work my ass off for you… but my personal time and my personal activities are not subject to your approval. I’ll take care to not besmirch the company image… but that’s as far as it goes.

  49. > As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation.

    Huh?! WHAT?

    You’re seriously suggesting that as soon as a person has a job they lose the right to free speech? There’s absolutely no way I can buy that. There is no way that an employer should have the right to control your own personal views. If there is then your employment laws are seriously screwed up, and need reworking.

  50. > As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation.

    Huh?! WHAT?

    You’re seriously suggesting that as soon as a person has a job they lose the right to free speech? There’s absolutely no way I can buy that. There is no way that an employer should have the right to control your own personal views. If there is then your employment laws are seriously screwed up, and need reworking.

  51. Rick, OK, I take it back. I read into it after reading press accounts of her blog and poking through it. It looked like she might have said something in the past that made her boss look bad. After all, why worry if your boss will find out about your blog if you’re behaving in a way that he or she will approve of?

    As far as your personal time. If your personal time includes hopping on stage in front of people who may include coworkers, customers, and others interested in your business then it is NOT your time anymore.

    Companies hire you for you. And if you write on your blog something that your company doesn’t agree with you gotta be prepared for the consequences.

    If you want your private time to be private then don’t spend it writing in front of a public audience.

  52. Rick, OK, I take it back. I read into it after reading press accounts of her blog and poking through it. It looked like she might have said something in the past that made her boss look bad. After all, why worry if your boss will find out about your blog if you’re behaving in a way that he or she will approve of?

    As far as your personal time. If your personal time includes hopping on stage in front of people who may include coworkers, customers, and others interested in your business then it is NOT your time anymore.

    Companies hire you for you. And if you write on your blog something that your company doesn’t agree with you gotta be prepared for the consequences.

    If you want your private time to be private then don’t spend it writing in front of a public audience.

  53. I agree with Rick on parts of his posts. When you blog, you have to compartmentalize. Make sure that you don’t blog about work. I don’t, even if I wanted to know, I know I won’t. Even if I am self-employed. If I want to rant about something, I find something that is in the media or mainstream so that I can have an opinion and not have any problems come out of it.

    The case of Heather Armstrong, Jessa Jeffries and other bloggers who got dooced should make everyone aware of the dangers of blogging about work.

    You have to be able to restrain yourself. If you can’t , blog create a pseudonym and blog anonymously.

  54. I agree with Rick on parts of his posts. When you blog, you have to compartmentalize. Make sure that you don’t blog about work. I don’t, even if I wanted to know, I know I won’t. Even if I am self-employed. If I want to rant about something, I find something that is in the media or mainstream so that I can have an opinion and not have any problems come out of it.

    The case of Heather Armstrong, Jessa Jeffries and other bloggers who got dooced should make everyone aware of the dangers of blogging about work.

    You have to be able to restrain yourself. If you can’t , blog create a pseudonym and blog anonymously.

  55. Robert,

    I’m surprised at your attitude. Here I thought all of this blog stuff was about self-expression and a new way of doing things. Seems like it’s the same old command and control, 1950s grey-suited conformity. New media? Fah…

    Is this really the world you want to champion? is this what you want to help create? Because I don’t see the value in millions of blogs that don’t say anything because we’ve created a world completely without personal space. Look at the just-release Pew study… most people who blog are doing it… for self-expression.

    Look, of course one has to be smart… blog about work, your company or your company’s partners/customers/execs and you’re taking a risk. But, well, let’s take an example…

    I’m a wine geek. Love the stuff, collect it and even post online about it with others who share my interest. If I blog about a wine dinner and talk not only about how great the wine, food and people were but finish with something like “And we all drank WAY too much.. must have been 2 bottles a person. Thank God for taxis” should I really have to worry that my ‘alcohol is evil’ boss might fire me? Do we really want to have a world where there’s no tolerance for diversity and no personal time or space and my only recourse is to be silent and hide?

    Because, if that’s what you’re advocating, you’re advocating a society that is taking the first steps to totalitarianism… Read Arendt… the atomization of society and the elimination of personal space are prime characteristics of totalitarian societies. Yes, that’s a bit of hyperbole. But a few decades of this and it may well not be hyperbole, but nascent reality.

    Don’t, I really mean do NOT talk about open conversations and how we’re empowering people with communication technologies and then argue for a position that says we should all hide any part of ourselves that is the least bit controversial – and if we don’t, that persecution and firing is just fine, thank you.

  56. Robert,

    I’m surprised at your attitude. Here I thought all of this blog stuff was about self-expression and a new way of doing things. Seems like it’s the same old command and control, 1950s grey-suited conformity. New media? Fah…

    Is this really the world you want to champion? is this what you want to help create? Because I don’t see the value in millions of blogs that don’t say anything because we’ve created a world completely without personal space. Look at the just-release Pew study… most people who blog are doing it… for self-expression.

    Look, of course one has to be smart… blog about work, your company or your company’s partners/customers/execs and you’re taking a risk. But, well, let’s take an example…

    I’m a wine geek. Love the stuff, collect it and even post online about it with others who share my interest. If I blog about a wine dinner and talk not only about how great the wine, food and people were but finish with something like “And we all drank WAY too much.. must have been 2 bottles a person. Thank God for taxis” should I really have to worry that my ‘alcohol is evil’ boss might fire me? Do we really want to have a world where there’s no tolerance for diversity and no personal time or space and my only recourse is to be silent and hide?

    Because, if that’s what you’re advocating, you’re advocating a society that is taking the first steps to totalitarianism… Read Arendt… the atomization of society and the elimination of personal space are prime characteristics of totalitarian societies. Yes, that’s a bit of hyperbole. But a few decades of this and it may well not be hyperbole, but nascent reality.

    Don’t, I really mean do NOT talk about open conversations and how we’re empowering people with communication technologies and then argue for a position that says we should all hide any part of ourselves that is the least bit controversial – and if we don’t, that persecution and firing is just fine, thank you.

  57. Hahaha, and then you have bosses like mine, who don’t give two shits about employee ativity inside the network. Doesn’t much matter I guess, considering my boss is awesome.

  58. Hahaha, and then you have bosses like mine, who don’t give two shits about employee ativity inside the network. Doesn’t much matter I guess, considering my boss is awesome.

  59. In response to “Honarium on Tuesday,” the post seems to misunderstand freedom of speech. The first ammendment states that Congress shall make no law regulating speech, the 14th ammendment extended that prohibition to the states and local governments, but that’s it as far as freedom of speech goes.

    To answer your other arguments, other federal and state antidiscrimination laws do protect other specific non-work activiteis like attending religious services, and in some states political activity (I think.)

    None of this says an employer can’t fire you for saying bad things about them. In my mind it really doesn’t matter if you intended to disclose who you’re employer is or not or if you wanted to be completely anonymous. I do believe, contrary to the prior posts, that an employer buys a certian ammount of loyalty when they buy my time.

    The freedom of speech never was, and should never be, the right to speak without consequences; it merely eliminates certian governmental responses to certian types of speech.

  60. In response to “Honarium on Tuesday,” the post seems to misunderstand freedom of speech. The first ammendment states that Congress shall make no law regulating speech, the 14th ammendment extended that prohibition to the states and local governments, but that’s it as far as freedom of speech goes.

    To answer your other arguments, other federal and state antidiscrimination laws do protect other specific non-work activiteis like attending religious services, and in some states political activity (I think.)

    None of this says an employer can’t fire you for saying bad things about them. In my mind it really doesn’t matter if you intended to disclose who you’re employer is or not or if you wanted to be completely anonymous. I do believe, contrary to the prior posts, that an employer buys a certian ammount of loyalty when they buy my time.

    The freedom of speech never was, and should never be, the right to speak without consequences; it merely eliminates certian governmental responses to certian types of speech.

  61. Rick, OK, let’s back up. Yes, I’m for all that stuff. Free expression for all. And everything.

    But when you work for a company you are joining your brand, er content, er face, er “attitude”, in with other people’s. You don’t get free speech, sorry. If free speech is important to you then you better make sure your speech will be accepted before you accept a job there.

    I am not going to tell my readers to do whatever they want. That’ll get them fired and will be bad advice.

    If you’re speaking in public, you’ve got to represent your company professionally.

    If you don’t like those rules, then either don’t speak in public or choose a company that’ll support your ideas and your way of communicating.

  62. Rick, OK, let’s back up. Yes, I’m for all that stuff. Free expression for all. And everything.

    But when you work for a company you are joining your brand, er content, er face, er “attitude”, in with other people’s. You don’t get free speech, sorry. If free speech is important to you then you better make sure your speech will be accepted before you accept a job there.

    I am not going to tell my readers to do whatever they want. That’ll get them fired and will be bad advice.

    If you’re speaking in public, you’ve got to represent your company professionally.

    If you don’t like those rules, then either don’t speak in public or choose a company that’ll support your ideas and your way of communicating.

  63. Robert,

    I think it’s fine to tell people “here’s the status quo, this is how the world is, so you need to think about what you do and say online.” In fact, I agree with you that it’s the responsible thing for someone like you to do.

    But the message I was getting from your post and subsequent comments was that this status quo was just fine… that there’s nothing wrong with people being judged on things they say outside of work, even when those things are not related to work at all. That’s what I don’t agree with, and I think we need to start having a discussion around what employers can reasonably expect. Much of what people post now, they have always done – their employers just didn’t know about it. And, unless it affects work, there’s never really been a problem,

    Now, all of a sudden, employers CAN find out this stuff. Does that mean it should matter? If it didn’t when then did not know about it, why does it now (again stipulating that we’re not talking passing company secrets, etc.)?

    Throughout everything I see from you above, I get the feeling you’re comfortable with this state of affairs… that’s what disappoints me, and what I can’t agree with. We need to start talking about just how much intrusion into out non-work lives corporations should expect… not as a matter of law, but in the process of building a new social contract.

    Right now, corporations seem to think that they can expect you to be available by cell/email/IM outside of work hours… but you can’t do any persona surfing inside of them. And now you can be fired for writing things that some manager objects to which has nothing to do with your performance. Sorry, but that’s a worldview I can’t help but question.

  64. Robert,

    I think it’s fine to tell people “here’s the status quo, this is how the world is, so you need to think about what you do and say online.” In fact, I agree with you that it’s the responsible thing for someone like you to do.

    But the message I was getting from your post and subsequent comments was that this status quo was just fine… that there’s nothing wrong with people being judged on things they say outside of work, even when those things are not related to work at all. That’s what I don’t agree with, and I think we need to start having a discussion around what employers can reasonably expect. Much of what people post now, they have always done – their employers just didn’t know about it. And, unless it affects work, there’s never really been a problem,

    Now, all of a sudden, employers CAN find out this stuff. Does that mean it should matter? If it didn’t when then did not know about it, why does it now (again stipulating that we’re not talking passing company secrets, etc.)?

    Throughout everything I see from you above, I get the feeling you’re comfortable with this state of affairs… that’s what disappoints me, and what I can’t agree with. We need to start talking about just how much intrusion into out non-work lives corporations should expect… not as a matter of law, but in the process of building a new social contract.

    Right now, corporations seem to think that they can expect you to be available by cell/email/IM outside of work hours… but you can’t do any persona surfing inside of them. And now you can be fired for writing things that some manager objects to which has nothing to do with your performance. Sorry, but that’s a worldview I can’t help but question.

  65. One more thing… You say

    “If you’re speaking in public, you’ve got to represent your company professionally.”

    Yes… if you’re known as an employee of the company or are speaking on its behalf. Certainly. But what about the case when someone doesn’t advertise their connection with a company and nothing they say on their blog is related to their work or their company? Should they still be subject to firing for what they post? See my wine example above…

  66. One more thing… You say

    “If you’re speaking in public, you’ve got to represent your company professionally.”

    Yes… if you’re known as an employee of the company or are speaking on its behalf. Certainly. But what about the case when someone doesn’t advertise their connection with a company and nothing they say on their blog is related to their work or their company? Should they still be subject to firing for what they post? See my wine example above…

  67. Rick: in my mind? Yes.

    When companies hire you they are hiring you for your reputation. If you do something to harm that reputation (like taking off your clothes on stage at a conference, or smoking dope in front of a customer) then you should get sent onto do other work. I don’t care whether this is on “your time” or “company time.” In my mind there isn’t a difference.

    I saw people get fired for how they behaved at a party (they were hitting inappropriately on someone I knew). I thought that was totally justifiable. How you behave in public DOES reflect on the company.

    If you don’t like those rules, either work for a company that doesn’t care or work for yourself!

    But to say that you should be able to do whatever you want without consequences seems to me to be a fairly dangerous road to go down.

    The blogging policy is “be smart.” I don’t see any reason to change that.

  68. Rick: in my mind? Yes.

    When companies hire you they are hiring you for your reputation. If you do something to harm that reputation (like taking off your clothes on stage at a conference, or smoking dope in front of a customer) then you should get sent onto do other work. I don’t care whether this is on “your time” or “company time.” In my mind there isn’t a difference.

    I saw people get fired for how they behaved at a party (they were hitting inappropriately on someone I knew). I thought that was totally justifiable. How you behave in public DOES reflect on the company.

    If you don’t like those rules, either work for a company that doesn’t care or work for yourself!

    But to say that you should be able to do whatever you want without consequences seems to me to be a fairly dangerous road to go down.

    The blogging policy is “be smart.” I don’t see any reason to change that.

  69. The thing about this is I don’t know why this girl REALLY got fired. It might have had nothing to do with her blog. But I did find some adult photos on her blog and some adult language. I know many people who would fire you for doing that kind of stuff in the public square. Which is what blogging is.

    When you’re employed you are loaning your reputation to the company. If your company doesn’t like your reputation they’ll ask you to find another company to loan it to.

    What you do in public has a GREAT impact on your reputation.

  70. The thing about this is I don’t know why this girl REALLY got fired. It might have had nothing to do with her blog. But I did find some adult photos on her blog and some adult language. I know many people who would fire you for doing that kind of stuff in the public square. Which is what blogging is.

    When you’re employed you are loaning your reputation to the company. If your company doesn’t like your reputation they’ll ask you to find another company to loan it to.

    What you do in public has a GREAT impact on your reputation.

  71. Robert, have you not used adult language yourself? Could you have been fired for it? According to your stated position, you should have been. Or for telling jokes that your boss doesn’t find funny. Or pretty much anything else. Is every aspect of your life subject to corporate approval?

    Also, please let us not forget that only a person who worked closely with her at that company was able to determine her identity and connect the blog with the company. This is in no sense publicly-available information; it is insider information. The public had no way of determining where she worked, and from the way her blog looks, wouldn’t be particularly interested. Her identity does not come from her corporate association at all. She was obviously more of a force as a blogger than as a worker. As an individual she was onstage. As a worker, she was not.

    As the labour market continues to invert (giving the power to the sellers of labour, rather than the purchasers) we’ll see a correction. Your attitude, Robert, that “As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation” has been very strong throughout the last twenty-five years or so, but that is changing, and this case is going to be an important precedent. I don’t want to get all Business 2.0 rah-rah about it, but it’s true.

  72. Robert, have you not used adult language yourself? Could you have been fired for it? According to your stated position, you should have been. Or for telling jokes that your boss doesn’t find funny. Or pretty much anything else. Is every aspect of your life subject to corporate approval?

    Also, please let us not forget that only a person who worked closely with her at that company was able to determine her identity and connect the blog with the company. This is in no sense publicly-available information; it is insider information. The public had no way of determining where she worked, and from the way her blog looks, wouldn’t be particularly interested. Her identity does not come from her corporate association at all. She was obviously more of a force as a blogger than as a worker. As an individual she was onstage. As a worker, she was not.

    As the labour market continues to invert (giving the power to the sellers of labour, rather than the purchasers) we’ll see a correction. Your attitude, Robert, that “As to freedom of speech: sorry, you have none if you work for a corporation” has been very strong throughout the last twenty-five years or so, but that is changing, and this case is going to be an important precedent. I don’t want to get all Business 2.0 rah-rah about it, but it’s true.

  73. “I saw people get fired for how they behaved at a party (they were hitting inappropriately on someone I knew). I thought that was totally justifiable. How you behave in public DOES reflect on the company.”

    I’ll top that.

    I know a guy who got fired (at least threatened with such) for not “voluntarily” giving to the United Way campaign that the company (fortune 50 or less at the time and still) sponsored. He turned in his resignation the next day, had a new job the day after. Within a year half a dozen colleagues left to go to the same much smaller company, and I’m sure all got nice pay increases in the bargain. I’d say that a dozen people had their triggers pulled to leave in the long run by this one incident, myself included. It wasn’t that we disliked United Way, it was that we finally saw our local management (particularly the HR department) for the total nincompoops that they were (how many people do you know who drive a Winebego to work every day?). This was the 70s by the way, a time when companies were begging for programmers, and these were systems programmers that commanded the highest salaries in the industry (most of us made more than our managers).

    In other words, the decision to threaten this guy cost the company huge bucks in replacement costs for all those people, disruption in the technologies they supported, and the small company that got all that talent ended up taking a lot of business away from them too. I doubt anyone in that incompetent management structure ever figured out what hit them or why. But they did subsequently close down that local Washington Division. Today things would probably be different. News of that event would have been all over the place and would spread faster than any number of lawsuits could handle. Not only would they lose the original disgruntled employees but might lose their ability to replace them AT ALL.

    I don’t know what the laws in this area are for a company disclosing reasons for dismissal, but in this particular case they would be well advised to get as much out there as they are allowed, even if they had to do it in a round-about way. A simple “Her dismissal had nothing to do with her blog” would be helpful, if that is the case, otherwise they could state that they do not allow blogs of any kind, as a general policy statement. As I pointed out in my own (related) entry, blogging is just a buzzword for a particular publishing technology, so if they are going to ban blogging, they are implicitly banning any public admission that you work for the company. What follows is the realization by the public that all statements about such a company by company insiders are filtered, and possibly untrustworthy. That, IMHO, is a dangerous position for any company that sells products to the general public to be in.

    I guess what remains to be seen for these “naked conversations” is whether all of the participants will be disrobing voluntarily.

  74. “I saw people get fired for how they behaved at a party (they were hitting inappropriately on someone I knew). I thought that was totally justifiable. How you behave in public DOES reflect on the company.”

    I’ll top that.

    I know a guy who got fired (at least threatened with such) for not “voluntarily” giving to the United Way campaign that the company (fortune 50 or less at the time and still) sponsored. He turned in his resignation the next day, had a new job the day after. Within a year half a dozen colleagues left to go to the same much smaller company, and I’m sure all got nice pay increases in the bargain. I’d say that a dozen people had their triggers pulled to leave in the long run by this one incident, myself included. It wasn’t that we disliked United Way, it was that we finally saw our local management (particularly the HR department) for the total nincompoops that they were (how many people do you know who drive a Winebego to work every day?). This was the 70s by the way, a time when companies were begging for programmers, and these were systems programmers that commanded the highest salaries in the industry (most of us made more than our managers).

    In other words, the decision to threaten this guy cost the company huge bucks in replacement costs for all those people, disruption in the technologies they supported, and the small company that got all that talent ended up taking a lot of business away from them too. I doubt anyone in that incompetent management structure ever figured out what hit them or why. But they did subsequently close down that local Washington Division. Today things would probably be different. News of that event would have been all over the place and would spread faster than any number of lawsuits could handle. Not only would they lose the original disgruntled employees but might lose their ability to replace them AT ALL.

    I don’t know what the laws in this area are for a company disclosing reasons for dismissal, but in this particular case they would be well advised to get as much out there as they are allowed, even if they had to do it in a round-about way. A simple “Her dismissal had nothing to do with her blog” would be helpful, if that is the case, otherwise they could state that they do not allow blogs of any kind, as a general policy statement. As I pointed out in my own (related) entry, blogging is just a buzzword for a particular publishing technology, so if they are going to ban blogging, they are implicitly banning any public admission that you work for the company. What follows is the realization by the public that all statements about such a company by company insiders are filtered, and possibly untrustworthy. That, IMHO, is a dangerous position for any company that sells products to the general public to be in.

    I guess what remains to be seen for these “naked conversations” is whether all of the participants will be disrobing voluntarily.

  75. Raincoaster: I don’t work for a company that bans adult language. Hope that helps! :-)

    Translation: If using a certain type of language is important to you and your boss isn’t letting you use it, then leave and get another job! I’m all for that. Just like MacBeach just demonstrated.

  76. Raincoaster: I don’t work for a company that bans adult language. Hope that helps! :-)

    Translation: If using a certain type of language is important to you and your boss isn’t letting you use it, then leave and get another job! I’m all for that. Just like MacBeach just demonstrated.

  77. “When companies hire you they are hiring you for your reputation.”

    No. Wrong. Absolutely, completely WRONG. The company and I are engaging in a trade of my time, talent and work skills for a compensation package. That’s ALL. Yes, there are some peripheral responsibilities such as not disclosing trade secrets.

    If a corporation wants to control my life 24 x 7, pay me for that. But that is NOT what current employment does – it is a trade of my labor and time for financial consideration. Period.

    You keep bringing up examples of inappropriate behavior that you think support your position – but they don’t. On stage at a conference? Uh, of course you are identified with your company. At a corporate party? Same thing. I’m NOT arguing about those.

    You seem to want to live in a society where corporations can penalize me for saying or doing things completely disconnected from the company, that cannot be tracked to the company and that don’t involve the company in any way. I don’t want to live in such a society.

    Finally, there’s no way you’re going to sell business blogging with this as a basic tenet – sure some people will blog and you’ll have marketing ‘blogs’ that are as personal as a press release. But there’s no way most employees will blog with any openness if they have a reasonable chance of getting disciplined or fired. If companies want to reap the benefits of the new openness, they need to embrace a little more tolerance and realize that employees are free agents, not their childern, wards or servants.

  78. “When companies hire you they are hiring you for your reputation.”

    No. Wrong. Absolutely, completely WRONG. The company and I are engaging in a trade of my time, talent and work skills for a compensation package. That’s ALL. Yes, there are some peripheral responsibilities such as not disclosing trade secrets.

    If a corporation wants to control my life 24 x 7, pay me for that. But that is NOT what current employment does – it is a trade of my labor and time for financial consideration. Period.

    You keep bringing up examples of inappropriate behavior that you think support your position – but they don’t. On stage at a conference? Uh, of course you are identified with your company. At a corporate party? Same thing. I’m NOT arguing about those.

    You seem to want to live in a society where corporations can penalize me for saying or doing things completely disconnected from the company, that cannot be tracked to the company and that don’t involve the company in any way. I don’t want to live in such a society.

    Finally, there’s no way you’re going to sell business blogging with this as a basic tenet – sure some people will blog and you’ll have marketing ‘blogs’ that are as personal as a press release. But there’s no way most employees will blog with any openness if they have a reasonable chance of getting disciplined or fired. If companies want to reap the benefits of the new openness, they need to embrace a little more tolerance and realize that employees are free agents, not their childern, wards or servants.

  79. Rick, I’ve seen people get fired for things they did at a private party. Oh, and ever watch a baseball player get fired for doing drugs? I have. It has nothing to do with their on-the-job performance. It has EVERYTHING to do with their reputation.

    And, sorry, anytime you write something on a public blog it’s the same thing as if you stepped on stage in the public square and said it.

    That said, I totally agree with you on what employers must do to be “clued in.” I will only work for employers that let me speak my mind openly and without prior restraint. If that ever changes I’ll expect to go find another job.

  80. Rick, I’ve seen people get fired for things they did at a private party. Oh, and ever watch a baseball player get fired for doing drugs? I have. It has nothing to do with their on-the-job performance. It has EVERYTHING to do with their reputation.

    And, sorry, anytime you write something on a public blog it’s the same thing as if you stepped on stage in the public square and said it.

    That said, I totally agree with you on what employers must do to be “clued in.” I will only work for employers that let me speak my mind openly and without prior restraint. If that ever changes I’ll expect to go find another job.

  81. Steph: what did the analysis say? I can’t read French.

    One thing, no matter how clueless my position is, note the huge PR hurt that this company is in. They’ve been in newspapers around the world and now look like jerks everywhere.

    If it were me I’d never fire a blogger for her blog. I’d find some other reason and have it well backed up.

  82. Steph: what did the analysis say? I can’t read French.

    One thing, no matter how clueless my position is, note the huge PR hurt that this company is in. They’ve been in newspapers around the world and now look like jerks everywhere.

    If it were me I’d never fire a blogger for her blog. I’d find some other reason and have it well backed up.

  83. Scoble saved by Range, the Quebecois blogger!

    First off, he says that the letter was written by a lawyer who had a clear plan defined. It’s a long one, over 4 pages long.

    It starts off by saying that they were surprised to discover a blog that she was doing, that included comments and articles on the company. Even though she never mentioned names and used pseudonyms, it is easy to identify her and therefore identify the company. Also, you had an advert running in a Paris newspaper with a photo of you as well as the URL of the blog. They say that this blog is destined for a large audience, so does not fall under the privacy laws of France. It says that she dissed and denigrates here bosses, which is unacceptable. This causes harm to the people employed and to the company, attacking them this way. Potential clients will see that their company name has been sullied.

    It continues saying that she had posted information that she had deleted, this had been mentioned in some comments. She had deleted them because she thought they were to risky. The company doesn’t know what they were, but since they were too risky, they couldn’t have been good. And these were published to a large audience.

    She blogged from work, which is a no no. She also used excuses to not go to work, to pretend that her kid was sick, when in effect the kid wasn’t.

    It says that she was disloyal and that the company has lost trust in her because she aired her opinions this way, to the public at large. She tarnished their reputation. She made it impossible for her to continue working with the accountants.

    It mentions that they are not considering suing her yet, but if she isn’t careful with what she says, they might.

    In the meantime, she is suing them for 56000 pounds, about two years worth of wages.

    http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/002628.php

    It’s looking bad for the company, they should have just given her some money and sent her off on vacation.

  84. Scoble saved by Range, the Quebecois blogger!

    First off, he says that the letter was written by a lawyer who had a clear plan defined. It’s a long one, over 4 pages long.

    It starts off by saying that they were surprised to discover a blog that she was doing, that included comments and articles on the company. Even though she never mentioned names and used pseudonyms, it is easy to identify her and therefore identify the company. Also, you had an advert running in a Paris newspaper with a photo of you as well as the URL of the blog. They say that this blog is destined for a large audience, so does not fall under the privacy laws of France. It says that she dissed and denigrates here bosses, which is unacceptable. This causes harm to the people employed and to the company, attacking them this way. Potential clients will see that their company name has been sullied.

    It continues saying that she had posted information that she had deleted, this had been mentioned in some comments. She had deleted them because she thought they were to risky. The company doesn’t know what they were, but since they were too risky, they couldn’t have been good. And these were published to a large audience.

    She blogged from work, which is a no no. She also used excuses to not go to work, to pretend that her kid was sick, when in effect the kid wasn’t.

    It says that she was disloyal and that the company has lost trust in her because she aired her opinions this way, to the public at large. She tarnished their reputation. She made it impossible for her to continue working with the accountants.

    It mentions that they are not considering suing her yet, but if she isn’t careful with what she says, they might.

    In the meantime, she is suing them for 56000 pounds, about two years worth of wages.

    http://fistfulofeuros.net/archives/002628.php

    It’s looking bad for the company, they should have just given her some money and sent her off on vacation.

  85. “If it were me I’d never fire a blogger for her blog. I’d find some other reason and have it well backed up.”

    Oh, good… that’s a very ethical, upfront position… “We don’t like her blog, but firing her for that would be bad PR so let’s fake up some other reason.”

    And this fits in with your ideas that companies should be more transparent and honest with their public… how??

    Oh, and this is pretty much what the second reason in this letter does, incidentally – they allege that, since she worked on her site during work hours she violated a section of her contract that commits her to 35 hours per week. Note that they don’t say in this section that her performance suffered… but it’s a legalistic point. Rather like what your quote advocates, actually…

  86. “If it were me I’d never fire a blogger for her blog. I’d find some other reason and have it well backed up.”

    Oh, good… that’s a very ethical, upfront position… “We don’t like her blog, but firing her for that would be bad PR so let’s fake up some other reason.”

    And this fits in with your ideas that companies should be more transparent and honest with their public… how??

    Oh, and this is pretty much what the second reason in this letter does, incidentally – they allege that, since she worked on her site during work hours she violated a section of her contract that commits her to 35 hours per week. Note that they don’t say in this section that her performance suffered… but it’s a legalistic point. Rather like what your quote advocates, actually…

  87. Eolas’s conclusion (well, the gist of his comments) about the firing letter is that they’ll have trouble defending it in court.

    Non-French speakers (and French speakers alike) might enjoy the Google translation of Eolas’s post:

    http://tinyurl.com/q3xxo

  88. Eolas’s conclusion (well, the gist of his comments) about the firing letter is that they’ll have trouble defending it in court.

    Non-French speakers (and French speakers alike) might enjoy the Google translation of Eolas’s post:

    http://tinyurl.com/q3xxo

  89. “Non-French speakers (and French speakers alike) might enjoy the Google translation of Eolas’s post:”

    Translating software is getting better, but there are always those few words or expressions that don’t work.

  90. “Non-French speakers (and French speakers alike) might enjoy the Google translation of Eolas’s post:”

    Translating software is getting better, but there are always those few words or expressions that don’t work.

  91. Range: which is why I said French-speakers might enjoy it too ;-)

    Let me know if there is an important part which is not understandable. I don’t mind translating a sentence here and there, but the whole post is a little long!

  92. Range: which is why I said French-speakers might enjoy it too ;-)

    Let me know if there is an important part which is not understandable. I don’t mind translating a sentence here and there, but the whole post is a little long!