March 09, 2005

Regarding Technorati's Community Manager, Niall Kennedy

Well, this has been an interesting and stressful few days, with a lot of charges thrown around the blogosphere about Technorati and Niall Kennedy, our Community Manager. As sometimes happens in the blogosphere, things have gotten a bit overblown.

For those of you who haven't been following the conversation, I suggest you read Niall's own words first. I think he eloquently explains what happened from his perspective, and it is a must-read if you want to get the context of this post.

http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/archives/2005/03/whose_voice_is.html

We at Technorati support Niall 100%, and as his post above shows, he is publicly working through the issues of understanding that in his role of Community Manager, putting trademarked logos of companies in our industry into provocative images - on a Nazi soldier helmet, and in a pool of blood next to a dead soldier - those actions have repercussions on the company, not only to his own personal reputation. We all make mistakes - and we in fact are trying to build a culture where trying new things is encouraged, which means we're going to make more than our fair share of mistakes - but we hold ourselves accountable, take the criticism, and then move on. As Esther Dyson likes to say, "Always make new mistakes."

To address the censorship charge that was thrown about head-on: we do not censor people's blogs, and we take the censorship allegation extremely seriously. I actively encourage our employees to blog, and to express their opinions. However, many readers do not make as clear a distinction between personal and work lives as many experienced bloggers do, and will view a provocative image on a blog in the worst possible light, especially when presented by the company's Community Manager. Niall made the decision himself to post the things he posted, when he posted them. Other than the clear case of trademark violation (we asked him to remove the pictures that violated trademark, in order that we not be sued) his actions and postings have been completely his own, including his decision to take down his original post.

I am truly sorry. My mother is a holocaust survivor, so I understand how emotionally charged and easily misinterpreted these images can be. To those of you who wrote objecting to the content of the images, I'm very sorry that we let you down. I assure you that these are not Technorati's official positions or feelings about the companies and projects mentioned, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness. To Technorati employees: I'm very sorry that we didn't communicate quickly enough and well enough with you about all of this, it has taken a bit of time to get to the bottom of things, and to give Niall the time he needed to think things through.

We really value Niall's contributions. He started the first Technorati Users Group, he's attended every developer's meeting, and then as Community Manager, he helped organize and lead the recent spam summit, answers feedback email, comments on blogs, and he's a hard worker who has done a great job representing Technorati in the world. We're treating this as a learning experience for everybody and putting it behind us, and hope that the rest of you do too.

Posted by dsifry at March 9, 2005 12:12 AM | TrackBack | View blog reactions