The Problem with Corporate Blogging

Looks like HP is currently taking it on the chin. They got caught removing negative customer comments from their corporate blogs. From the linked blog post:
Earlier this week, an HP customer posted a comment about his experience upgrading a media center PC. His experience was not good and he let us know. We pulled the comment. This was a bad decision and we have reversed it.
While I'm glad they reversed their decision, I don't think that's necessarily enough. Evidentially, they have been caught removing negative comments before. What's to say it won't happen again? Unfortunately for HP this incident made Slashdot, ironically after they had already reinstated the comment.
This brings up my larger problem with so called corporate blogs though. You don't know how much of the positive comments are astroturfed and you don't know how many negative comments have been pulled. There are times when I read them and wonder if the CxO that is alleged to have written the post even did. Obviously, some corporate blogger have gained a huge amount of trust and respect. Jeremy Zawodny and Robert Scoble come to mind, but there are many others. If you notice though, both those blogs are not done in an “official” corporate capacity – neither are even under a domain that their employer owns. I don't think that is a coincidence. Yet both gain their respective companies a huge amount of positive PR and exposure. Both Jeremy and Robert get it and both have been critical of the company they work for (of course they have both also said positive things also). By letting them be honest, it shows that at least their bosses within the company get it too. The fact that corporate blogs are being installed just as another PR outlet is a shame, since it dilutes the blogosphere IMHO.
For my part, I never remove negative comments from this blog or even from LQ itself. Honesty and openness in a community like LQ is paramount. The only things we remove are spam, extremely offensive material and things of that nature – and all that is in the TOS. I'm glad to see some of these cases drawing public attention. The negative PR will likely offset any of the fake positive PR that was drummed up. NOTE: This shouldn't be taken to mean that I think all corporate blogs are bad – they aren't. In fact, some are quite good. It just means that you should take what you ready on them with a healthy dose of skepticism (but that's probably true about most of what you read on the Internet).
–jeremy

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