Friday, August 6, 2004
HP's New Rules for Enthusiast Sites - And Why I Resigned from the Program
Posted by Jason Dunn in "THOUGHT" @ 07:00 AM
The above text is taken from a post on Ipaq HQ, written by Chris Leckness. Chris also runs AximSite, and is a great evangelist for the Windows Mobile platform. Chris and I have been talking about this for the past month, and I decided that I should post on this and take a public stance on it myself (I meant to do it a week ago). First, go read Chris' post and the requirements that HP was asking of him. I received the same letter. Here are my reasons for resigning from the program...<!>
For the past year and a half, I've was a part of HPs enthusiast program. I worked with some really great people, and they did their best to provide me with early information and hardware for review. I got a chance to talk to the product manager for the 6300 earlier this year, get some good info about the unit, and give him some feedback about how I felt they could improve the product (on paper at least - I still haven't seen a 6300 in person). A good example of this arrangement was the iPAQ 2215 review that I did a year ago last month. HP sent me the unit about a week before they were in the stores, and I was able to get a long, detailed review published within 24 hours of it being fully public.
What did I give HP in return? My agreement with them was not to publish NDA information that was sent to us. That means that if someone had sent me a PowerPoint slide deck a month earlier with details on the 2215, I wouldn't publish it. However, if that information was public to the general community and other Web sites were posting on it, I was allowed to link to it, as long as I didn't add any of my own NDA knowledge to the mix. This is the same NDA I have with Microsoft as an MVP. It wasn't perfect, but I felt it was a good balance between giving HP something they wanted (plugging one hole in the leaky wall), yet still allowing me to point all of you to hot rumours and news on other sites. The worst thing would be to have to pretend I'm off in la-la land and not be able to even post a link to a new device that the rest of the community is buzzing about.
Yet that's exactly what HP was asking me to do with this new agreement - and, worse, they were asking me to delete posts made by you that mentioned a non-released product. Could you imagine what a hostile place this would become if my team and I had to nuke every post that mentioned something that wasn't fully public?
There's much more I could rant on here, such as why a certain employee of HP involved with this evangelist program is seemingly posting supportive comments in the forums of a site that signed up for the program, and posting derisive comments in the forum of a site that didn't sign up. There's also the issue of sites only following some of the rules HP laid out...but I won't get into that. :wink:
Ultimately HP can run their business any way they want. This enthusiast program was a perk to me, and to this site, not something that I have a right to. They changed the rules, I don't like the new rules, and I quit. HP owes me nothing more than that.
Yet as someone who has a post-secondary degree in public relations, and teaches public relations and technology at a college level, I firmly believe HP couldn't have picked a worse PR tactic. Their new approach to interacting with the people who support their product is both short-sighted and ultimately damaging. It reeks of 1990's thinking. HP's new management doesn't understand community, and it's only going to hurt their efforts in this market. Alienating your biggest supporters is not the way to build relationships.
engadget also weighs in with their opinion - I'd be interested in hearing yours.