Wednesday, September 20, 2006

done with the bickering

Debate is a healthy part of any relationship. I have participated in a number of debates brewing in the Domino blogosphere:

  • Websphere vs. Domino
  • Workplace vs. Notes
  • Java vs. LotusScript
These are internally focused within the community and the debates generate a lot of good input from all sides. It is generally a healthy discussion that is passionate but not heated and even though it doesn't necessarily resolve anything, it is good to see.

However, some people use the platform of debate as a platform for attacking. Even more ridiculously, many of these same people formed the basis of their attack from second-hand information rather than personal experience. A common tactic of this group is to use convenient half-truths and hypocrisy to land their blows. In surveying the Microsoft blogosphere I can't find anyone who routinely attacks IBM, Lotus, Notes or Domino. By contrast I read a number of Notes and Domino blogs that have at least one article a month bashing Microsoft or Exchange.

For example, a Google search on Ed Brill's blog shows 3660 posts containing "Lotus OR Domino". The same search of his site for "Microsoft OR Exchange" returns 3640 results. Granted this does include both main topics as well as responses, but it is still pretty incredible that it is as close as it is. I read blogs of IBM'ers to get more information on what Domino can do for me but this shows I'm hearing about Microsoft and Exchange as often as I am Lotus or Domino.

Ed isn't alone in his bashing of Microsoft and I don't mean to single him out, he's just the most visible. I could name half a dozen more bloggers of note in the Domino arena who routinely attack Microsoft. Interestingly enough, I can't find anyone associated with Microsoft who ever does the same with regards to Notes or Domino.

Peter de Haas does write about IBM fairly frequently, but his postings are more about integration pieces between Microsoft products and Notes and Domino, with very few focused on competitive situations and he rarely says anything negative about Domino. Alan Lepofsky is one of the few Domino bloggers who takes a similar approach. Even when he does tread into the area of criticizing Microsoft, Alan's approach is fair, insightful and based on hands-on experience.

I think I'm writing all this because I'm disappointed. I have been hoping that the Domino blogosphere would at least reduce the attacks to focus on Hannover and Domino Next. With Exchange 2007 and Vista coming closer to release, though, it seems that the Domino community would rather pull Microsoft down than focus on keeping IBM on track. We've been letting IBM slide with little in the way of substantive updates for a very long time. If you aren't outraged you haven't been paying attention.

Does anyone want to take the high road with me?


  1. There's not much bashing coming from the Exchange world, in part because the Exchange product group has made a conscious decision not to engage in the kind of public bashing that so energizes the faithful over at Ed's blog. They believe-- as do you and I-- that putting out factual technical information on their team and individual blogs will do more to highlight the value of their products than will random bashing. Most of the MVPs and other influentials in the Exchange, SharePoint, and LCS worlds follow the same basic principle, which is refreshing.

    Good luck-- I hope your call for increased civility catches on. Today the Notes community; tomorrow Slashdot :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Paul. I agree with some of the bashers that there is a lot coming out of Microsoft that is just plain wrong. Some of Ballmer and Gates' comments in interviews were blatant lies and I don't mind seeing them refuted and corrected.

    However to see posting after posting, week after week, that take pot shots at Exchange's memory requirements, or lack of active/active clustering, or reliance on a flavor of Jet.. it just gets extremely tedious. Not to mention it's absolutely hypocritical in light of the problems Notes and Domino have.

    Where is the information about Domino 7.02? I found a posting in Susan Bulloch's blog that it will include a setting to let us finally search the server address book *before* the local one. That's HUGE! How many more subtle things like this are there that we'll have to stumble upon ourselves?

    Ed Brill? Nope. Alan Lepofsky? Nope. Chris Reckling... Rocky Oliver... Jeff Eisen... all relatively quiet about what's going on for Domino 7.02. Since they know what's happening do they assume we do, too?

    P.S. I'm not saying the people listed above are bashing Exchange, just that they aren't talking about Domino 7.02.

  3. Yep Paul's right...MS leaves the bashing to Paul rather than engage in it (for the most part) themselves. But there are plenty of MS people who have bashed Lotus on their blogs, and most notably they are usually ex-Lotus employees. Also MS's hands are far from clean overall -- I've seen presentations that the very same MS employees you laud have given to customers, and they have plenty of half-truths and mis-information. MS has the goods, they just aren't public -- where they can be dissected and corrected.

    I've been occasionally writing about MS competitive issues because the vast majority of my readers tell me -- usually privately -- that they appreciate the reality check and the ammo it gives them to defend/sell Lotus inside their organizations. I was here when Lotus exclusively took "the high road", and watched as we let MS take sucker punch after sucker punch. Now they don't try it as often, because they know it will be deflected rather easily.

    For an example of the way the game used to be played, see this Microsoft press release. I doubt the Lotus response (which I authored) is still visible anywhere anymore, but we discovered so many problems with this "study" that it should have been a firing offense to even publish it. I have a long memory, what can I say.

  4. Hi Charles, thank you for the nice comments about the way I try and conduct myself on my blog, other's blogs, and in person. I try and be fair, and most importantly honest. I agree with you, that our competition does not always follow this code of ethics. I spend a lot of time with customers correcting lies that have been told to them by certain other companies. As for 7.0.2, there is a lot of information available today, but there will be even more when we ship and start doing press interviews. For now, please see here:
    Lotus Notes 7.0.2

  5. @Ed - Thanks for chiming in. I really didn't mean to single you out, as I said you were just the most visible example of this. At the time I posted it you had a couple of posts running about Microsoft or Exchange, and there was a lot of focus on that discussion.

    I understand your role is primarily a sales and marketing one and you necessarily need to respond to competitive issues. That's fine, I have no problem with it. (Not that you needed my permission or approval.)

    What I'm stupefied by is the frequency with with many people in the Notes community ignore the trash in their own backyard to point fingers at their neighbor, and you are sometimes guilty of that. In your post about Exchange 2007's hardware requirements I asked where similar information was for Domino. The answer is it's not available. So not only were you revelling in a negative attack on Microsoft, you were doing it from a position where you don't even provide the same level of disclosure. You acknowledged that on your blog, and I appreciated the humility you showed.

    I am glad that Lotus is responding to the FUD and blatant falsehoods being spread by Microsoft. You're right, their hands are far from clean and I didn't mean to present the image that I thought they were. From what I see they are very tight-lipped on their own sites but don't hesitate to chime in on others. Rather than shying away, you give them ample opportunity to dig their holes.

    One of the things that bothers me is that you will post about an analyst report and provide your commentary, then it devolves into feeding frenzy of ripping apart the analyst, the analyst's firm, and the competitor. That's not so much a commentary on you as the way your blog is a vehicle for such activity. If I saw more people speaking openly about Notes and Domino's issues it wouldn't bother me so much. What I do see is a group of irrational zealots using just about any excuse to focus attention somewhere else. I'm seriously disappointed there isn't more objectivity out there. I do what I can to lend a voice of reason to the debate.

    @Alan - You're very welcome. I had seen the 7.02 site before and it still seems like it's all high-level information. I'll check back after 7.02 is released.