I have long criticized the coverage of web sites, blogs, and other outlets that take press releases from technology companies like Microsoft and recycle the content. A good example of how this happens is the January 2, 2019 release covering advanced security and compliance options for Microsoft 365. In truth, there’s not much news here unless you consider repackaging of existing technologies into new ways for Microsoft to extract monthly fees to be news.
Nonetheless, the release was picked up and repeated by a wide range of outlets (Microsoft’s PR is very effective). The laughable thing is that the majority of the repeats were very lazy and didn’t bother to correct the howling mistake (see “Advance Compliance” above). As easily found with a simple web search, among those who recycled Microsoft’s text included well-regarded technology sites like windowscentral.com and neowin.net.
Too Little Time
The problem is compounded by the seeming unwillingness or inability of blog authors to revisit and correct content after it is posted. Although it is impossible to retract a printed error in the world of newspapers and books, the same is not true for electronic media. The inability to patch printed copy is one of the motivating factors that drove the decision to make Office 365 for IT Pros a purely electronic publication.
We update Office 365 for IT Pros monthly in an ongoing drive to eliminate inaccuracies and increase the value of the information in the book. We still make mistakes, but at least we can fix the mistakes and make the accurate content available to our readers. A glance at our change log tells a story.
Of course, the problem is that the pursuit of accuracy requires time. Authors have time to write the original text, pass over the text in a cursory edit, and post it. They don’t have the same time (or perhaps interest) to review in the light of new developments, like when Microsoft updates something in Office 365 or fixes a bug. A click and page access is worth the same whether the page holds out-of-date or erroneous content or is accurate. The net result, as I discussed at an Ignite 2018 session, is that too many blogs are like dead fish – their content begins to smell three days after posting.
Too Much Information to Handle
In one respect, we should expect the kind of coverage we see, even in reputable sites. Technology companies like Microsoft pump a continuous selection of news to journalists in the hope of getting coverage. Looming deadlines and the need to keep sites populated with new material mean that those who receive the press releases often don’t have the time or the technical background to understand the difference between terms like Office 365 Advance Compliance and Office 365 Advanced Compliance. The upshot is a lot of very flawed reports.
The example I’ve cited above isn’t very important. Anyone can make a mistake in a press release and Microsoft has since corrected the online version of their text. However, the same thing happens in technology blogs, where authors take flawed content and recycle it without ever asking themselves whether something is right. It’s sad, but that’s the way people work at the speed of the cloud. Information is shared faster than ever before, and so are mistakes
The Office 365 for IT Pros writing team makes mistakes all the time. But we do our best to correct any errors as quickly as we find them. If you find something that’s not quite right, let us know by posting a comment here. We’ll figure out what’s gone wrong and correct it for the next release of the book.