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blogging gets you fired
October 28, 2003 9:43 PM   Subscribe

Another day, another blogger gets fired (from Microsoft, in this case) for posting something harmless to their blog.
posted by mathowie (82 comments total)

 
I'd like to form a comment here but all those G5s are just too distracting.

Did the guy who fired this poor soul _not_ think that this was going to spread like wildfire around the net, where otherwise it would ahve stayed in some obscure corner?

Hell, Microsoft has had a picture of a PowerBook on their .Net home page for Christ's sake. They've had so much embarrassing publicity this is hardly even close.

Did they fire that dancing, shrieking moron yet?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:48 PM on October 28, 2003


I'm confused. Why woul,d microsoft be embarassed about buying macs? They have a legit excuse.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:56 PM on October 28, 2003


Why would Microsoft be embarrassed about buying some G5's? They do still develop Mac software, don't they?
posted by Sxyzzx at 9:57 PM on October 28, 2003


Ok, that's just creepy.
posted by Sxyzzx at 9:58 PM on October 28, 2003


If you guys read all the links and comments, it sounds like MS was concerned that he said the loading dock was near the print shop. As if that would help someone breaking into MS or wanting to attack it or something. But the guy mentioned he kept everything out of the photo aside from the computers and the truck, specifically so he wasn't giving away any corporate secrets.
posted by mathowie at 10:02 PM on October 28, 2003


I assume that he was an at-will employee? If so, what exactly is the issue? If he violated MS's policies by taking and publishing the picture, it's certainly their right to fire him. There's no first amendment protection for employees in the private sector.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:02 PM on October 28, 2003


Wow...how did they know what he was blogging? Does MS really have time to track every employee's web sites on the off chance they say something embarrassing?
posted by dejah420 at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2003


There really needs to be a "Dummy's guide to blogging." What your company might consider a secret or private and you think is no big deal will get your fired. As a general rule, don't blog about your job or go 100% anonymous.
posted by skallas at 10:05 PM on October 28, 2003


dejah420, I would think MS unloading a truckload of G5s might get lots of attention. I doubt MS had to ask, they were probably told by a few hundred people asking "What's this then?"
posted by skallas at 10:08 PM on October 28, 2003


While this is sad for the person concerned, I would imagine that his contract includes a clause relating to publishing anything to do with the workings of the company. Probably a bit on the pedantic side, but rules is rules. As someone said on the comments on his site, "You can't be paranoid *enough* when they really are out to get you. And everyone *is* out to get Microsoft."
posted by dg at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2003


Probably a bit on the pedantic side, but rules is rules. As someone said on the comments on his site, "You can't be paranoid *enough* when they really are out to get you. And everyone *is* out to get Microsoft."

Whoa, whoa. That's a bullshit excuse. No company should do anything that it wouldn't cop to in front of its customers.

If this story were to spread, I think MS could only consider it a PR disaster. What assholes.
posted by Pinwheel at 10:18 PM on October 28, 2003


Anyone who uses microscopic white text on black background deserves to be fired. Sheesh.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 PM on October 28, 2003


This is why (occasionally) I'm happy to be my own boss. Terrible pay, no benefits — and I only have a G3 instead of a G5 — but I'm (reasonably) sure that I'm not going to call myself into the office and lay myself off without warning.

Come to think of it, I don't even have a loading dock.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:25 PM on October 28, 2003


PrinceValium - I think he was actually a temporary employee, based on this quote:
So, I'm unemployed. I am somewhat lucky in that I'm not technically unemployed — I am still on the roster for my temp agency
I worked as a vendor/consultant at Microsoft for three years, and temps came and went all the time. Even the slightest proof that a temp had revealed Microsoft internal information would be more than enough reason to let them go. I would expect that a full-time employee would be given a little more consideration, though.
posted by Schnauzer at 10:26 PM on October 28, 2003


First off: man am I glad that I moved my site off of my personal server before all this happened.

Anyone who uses microscopic white text on black background deserves to be fired. Sheesh.
Good point — it was a temporary stylesheet for Halloween that went up a couple days ago. The normal black-on-white has been put back.

I'll be back later on to respond to some more of the points that are being brought up — right now, I've been in the house working on my resume and crusing job sites all day, and need to get out. In the meantime, some of the points that have been brought up were addressed in a later post on my site (blatant self-link, but relevant).

Back in a couple hours — have fun roasting either Microsoft or me, depending on where your sympathies lie. ;)
posted by djwudi at 10:32 PM on October 28, 2003


This is really too bad and seems like an excessive reaction from MS. Though I'm not sure I would have posted that photo -- it seems that at some subconscious level I'd suspect someone might get all worked up over it.

The manager's comments -- if quoted accurately -- are puzzling. Why ask where the site is hosted? Just to set up this line?: "Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus." What would he have said if it *was* hosted on an MS server? Seems a bit mean to ask a question with two wrong answers, especially when the outcome is predetermined.
posted by Tubes at 10:40 PM on October 28, 2003


I'm sorry to hear about this whole situation. I don't see how that post is a such a big deal, and certainly not a fireable offense. I wonder what the outcome would have been if he had just posted without mentioning his department.

Maybe companies should start incorporating a blogging clause into their contracts when hiring workers so there is no ambiguity. Has it come to that?
posted by nyukid at 10:52 PM on October 28, 2003


maybe it should come to that nyukid. who knows what's a fireable sort of post or not? can they fire you for posting about your political beliefs? sexual content? things they deem offensive? or is it only about posts related to your place of employment/co-workers what have you? and then could you only be fired if it was negative? what if it was positive stuff about work?
posted by jodic at 10:54 PM on October 28, 2003


who knows what's a fireable sort of post or not?

When you're an at-will employee, any post is fireable.
posted by kindall at 10:59 PM on October 28, 2003


When you're an at-will employee, any post is fireable.

And, in Washington State, everyone is an at-will employee. Either employee or employer can terminate the employment at any time for any reason (that's not illegal).
posted by samw at 11:07 PM on October 28, 2003


he identified the building where one goes to steal freshly arrived computers right off the truck. seems pretty simple to me.
posted by quonsar at 11:09 PM on October 28, 2003


Well, not everyone; union contracts and civil service rules do help some of us.
posted by calwatch at 11:09 PM on October 28, 2003


Information wants ... nay, needs ... to be free deleted exploited.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:17 PM on October 28, 2003


let me say, i don't mean to condone the firing - it just seemed to me people were jumping to conclusions about embarrassment over the brand, while the blogger himself said that they told him "...because I also mentioned that I worked at the MSCopy print shop, and which building it was in, it pushed me over the line."
posted by quonsar at 11:19 PM on October 28, 2003


djwudi, are temps at MS the same thing as "a dashers?" or are those separate classifications (contractors, I would guess)
posted by mathowie at 11:19 PM on October 28, 2003


but quonsar, was that really sensitive info? I can't see how any of it is damaging to MS. It seems the negative PR around this is worse than where the loading dock by the print shop is located.
posted by mathowie at 11:21 PM on October 28, 2003


This one of the reasons I've set up my websites to redirect all addresses from my company’s IP range to a blank page.
posted by Tenuki at 11:26 PM on October 28, 2003 [1 favorite]


absolutely top drawer eyes only classified security data, delivered right in the hands of the evil old internet, where agents of terra could obtain and make use of it and potentially wreak havoc on the packaging for Microsoft Virtual PC 1.0. i mean, there are so many loading docks in so many industrial parks with valuable goods sitting on them in every part of the country that just thinking about them is probably a violation of the patriot act. and now, i'll have to kill you all.
posted by quonsar at 11:29 PM on October 28, 2003


quonsar, you're so fired from MetaFilter.
posted by mathowie at 11:35 PM on October 28, 2003


Did they fire that dancing, shrieking moron yet?

Space Coyote, you are the shiznit! :-)
posted by quonsar at 11:36 PM on October 28, 2003


Are we still surprised that common sense doesn't go hand in hand with rampant greed and paranoia? Or are we just going through the motions now because we long for our lost ideals, our stolen innocence?
posted by rushmc at 11:45 PM on October 28, 2003


The McMicrosoft of the worlds, what can you say. It's all about the power and sucker supervisor who, it seems, didn't have any wiggle room for discussion and mediation.

As a full time temp, your in the shits as to any rule breaking. Luckily, your temp employer didn't shit can you either. Consider yourself lucky and in the future when spying, do get a nick. Better yet take tenuki's advice.

I'm wondering if the Apple dealer can make a claim about those possibly damaged in transit G5's in the truck though. Say they were damaged in transit and McMicrosoft wanted reparations on the goods, the Apple dealer could point to that site and say "see"? Case closed. Say someone surreptitiously emailed the Apple dealer the photo.....you know..... then McMicrosoft would possibly have more trouble on their hands than some blogger. er sorry, djwudi.

The fact they didn't want to negotiate shows the incredible stupidity of some rules or one dancing, shrieking moron. Better to do more damage than control what has already been done and stay low about it? Great! That's brilliant. I may add, that shitty management starts from the top down. Yeah, it flows downwards. Exhibit A. WooooHa! Then again, we always knew that anyways.

Now someone please post this to fucked company, because I'm betting it could be up for the fucked co., award of the year!

It's corporate knowledge that the CIA isn't the only "agency" which spies. Corporate spying is pretty serious shit, really.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:10 AM on October 29, 2003


Or you could get fired for typing the same opinions what everyone else is saying on the day.

Sorry. Still bitter about that. A bit.
posted by Katemonkey at 12:32 AM on October 29, 2003


The manager's comments -- if quoted accurately -- are puzzling. Why ask where the site is hosted?
The quote is, admittedly, a paraphrase — I've never had the gift of perfect recall — but it's fairly close. Apparently, I would have been in more trouble (would they have fired me twice?) if I'd had the picture or the weblog hosted on Microsoft's servers. Had that been the case, I would have had MS security standing over me, supervising me as I deleted the offending information from MS's servers.

Because the post was on external servers, though, apparently they felt that my right of free speech trumped their right to declare what I could or couldn't post in regards to the company or the campus. However, their right to allow me to remain a MS vendor employee trumps everything.
let me say, i don't mean to condone the firing…
Didn't think you were — heck, your "…where one goes to steal freshly arrived computers right off the truck…" line got a laugh out of me. Security's a bit tight for that, but the point is well taken.
are temps at MS the same thing as "a dashers?" or are those separate classifications (contractors, I would guess)
Yes and no. I don't believe it has anything to do with one's temp status, rather, it's who one is actually employed by: Microsoft (usernames with no prefix) or one of it's contractors (a- or v- prefixes, depending on the type of contractor). To be honest, I never did find out just what the 'A' stands for in a- usernames, but I was a v- — a Vendor. My temp status didn't really play into any of this at all — I'd have received the same treatment were I an actual employee of the vendor, rather than a temp, contracted to the vendor, working at Microsoft.
Luckily, your temp employer didn't shit can you either. Consider yourself lucky…
Oh, believe me, I do — very lucky that neither my temp agency, nor the vendor I was contracted to see this as reflecting badly on me (at least, as far as I have heard).
I'm wondering if the Apple dealer can make a claim about those possibly damaged in transit G5's in the truck though.
I don't believe that the machines were actually damaged at all, possibly beyond some scuff marks on the cardboard. The packaging of the G5 is unusually slick, and I think they slid off while they were being loaded in to be delivered to their final destination on the campus — the delivery guys were grumbling at the boxes and re-shrinkwrapping the pallets when I took the photo.
The fact they didn't want to negotiate shows the incredible stupidity of some rules…
That's essentially where I've ended up after all this. Annoyed, frustrated, and concerned about money matters, sure, but mostly resigned. I made a misjudgment, and MS (over?)reacted. Not much I can do about it now 'cept carry on with life, and see where things go from here.

That, and keep my big fat mouth shut. ;)
posted by djwudi at 1:19 AM on October 29, 2003


Somebody hijacked Quonsar's station and started posting discussion material. My whole world has been torn asunder and coated in a thick mucus membrane.
posted by The God Complex at 1:22 AM on October 29, 2003


Need a hanky?
posted by djwudi at 1:53 AM on October 29, 2003


Hmmm...I think I'd fire anyone that started their first para with an indent.
posted by i_cola at 2:04 AM on October 29, 2003


I can think of two explanations:
1) This was just an ill thought out decision or some equivalent form of dickotry.
2) A pure and simple example. See this amazingly trivial case? Yes, we will term over it. Sun Tze cutting off the heads of the mistresses who joked about a martial exercise to ensure compliance.

Either way, ugg. Hopefully, the publicity and notoriety will help staunch the loss of paycheck.
posted by rudyfink at 2:39 AM on October 29, 2003


Does Microsoft still own the securities it purchased in 1997?
posted by anathema at 2:53 AM on October 29, 2003


No anathema, they sold them at a handsome profit.
posted by machaus at 5:08 AM on October 29, 2003


In any event this is hardly unique to MS. If you don't smile the smile and drink the Kool Aid the company is likely to fire you at some point. Seems to me only unions give the workers any rights at all and we all know how unions are perceived by Americans.
posted by infowar at 5:10 AM on October 29, 2003


As a general rule, don't blog about your job or go 100% anonymous.

Unless you have tenure, then they have other ways to make your life miserable.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:13 AM on October 29, 2003


this was going to spread like wildfire around the net, where otherwise it would ahve stayed in some obscure corner?
Negative PR? For firing somebody? Or, for using Macs?

Either way, Microsoft has weathered much bigger shitstorms than this minor squall among an inconsequential bunch of swelled-headed self-important bloggers.

The firing is a non-issue, and really no big deal in the larger scheme of things. As for the Macs, I would be surprised if MS didn't have any, if for no other reason than to check out the competition. You can bet movie execs watch other studios' movie and music execs listen to other labels' CDs. Why wouldn't a software company keep tabs with other software? Conversely, if MS WAS reverse-engineering something, well, again, so what? It's not like that doesn't happen every day around the world.

C'mon people, crawl out of your blog caves once in a while and take a whiff of the real world.
posted by mischief at 5:26 AM on October 29, 2003


/me *dons gas mask*
posted by anathema at 5:33 AM on October 29, 2003


Well said, mischief.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:44 AM on October 29, 2003


real world - who wants to live in the real world?
posted by johnny novak at 6:22 AM on October 29, 2003


Welcome to the desert of the real.
posted by ed at 6:44 AM on October 29, 2003


Hey Tenuki - How does one go about doing that?
posted by kgasmart at 6:46 AM on October 29, 2003


"some equivalent form of dickotry" -- rudyfink

dickotry? (snicker)
posted by Tubes at 7:03 AM on October 29, 2003


This one of the reasons I've set up my websites to redirect all addresses from my company’s IP range to a blank page.

If they're savvy...and looking for something, they can still pull up the google cache.
posted by dejah420 at 7:22 AM on October 29, 2003


Frankly, while I sympathize with people who get fired for dumb reasons, at my employer, I'd have been fired just for taking the picture. Having published it would have been a secondary consideration to the fact that we're not even allowed to have cameras in the building without prior management approval of the specific purpose. I don't think it's a particularly unreasonable policy. I don't think it's particularly unreasonable to enforce such policies where they exist, even in cases where no real harm appears to have been done - makes it a whole lot easier to enforce them when actual harm has been done.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:41 AM on October 29, 2003


I can't speak for Microsoft, but cameras themselves aren't allowed at my employer and many other places I've worked or visited. I notice that alot of places are also cracking down on camera phones. I suspect that the main reason for the firing is the photo/camera aspect, not blog writing. People may poo poo at corporate espionage, but it's real and it tends to be a zero tolerance sort of thing.
posted by jonah at 7:49 AM on October 29, 2003


Negative PR? For firing somebody? Or, for using Macs?

Uh, you do realize that Microsoft develops software for Macs, don't you? How could you even think the issue could be Microsoft having Macs?
posted by mcguirk at 8:05 AM on October 29, 2003


Man, you people who think this is fine because MS has the "right" to do it are really something. I have the right to cheat on my wife—it's not against the law any more—but I'd be an asshole if I did it. This is one more step along the path to "Anything that isn't required is forbidden."
posted by languagehat at 8:12 AM on October 29, 2003


languagehat, it is their sandbox, so if you want to play in it, you have to play by their rules, it's that simple, right or wrong.

If you don't agree, then do not collect $200 and do not advance to Go. Welcome to McGlomerates.
posted by alicesshoe at 8:32 AM on October 29, 2003


Yes, and if I want to live in the US, I have to play by the rules of whoever currently runs the place, and accept the risk of losing everything I have in some stupid depression, war, or plague they manage to start. That doesn't mean I have to like it, or think highly of people who tell me "Hey, they're running the place, get used to it."
posted by languagehat at 8:46 AM on October 29, 2003


Here's an interesting read: "Corporism: The Systemic Disease that Destroys Civilization."
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on October 29, 2003


Apparently, I would have been in more trouble (would they have fired me twice?) if I'd had the picture or the weblog hosted on Microsoft's servers.

Fired twice? Of course not! It's off to Microsoft Security's (a phrase better than military intelligence) holding cells. Of course, in your MS Security cell the window would be wide open and conveniently adjacent to state route 520.
posted by pitchblende at 9:04 AM on October 29, 2003


This is merely something to think about, I'm not exactly sure how I would answer the question yet, but here it is:

What if the picture and caption wasn't posted on a blog, but rather on a single page website? Sometimes I think that I interpret things differently if they are written on blogs because they are constantly updated. Sounds weird, but for some reason this popped into my head.
posted by jonah at 9:08 AM on October 29, 2003


djwudi, why do you think your v- status had nothing to do with it? Or, rather, why do you think even a Microsoft Employee would have been given the boot?
posted by daver at 9:13 AM on October 29, 2003


I read elsewhere something that makes sense.

Here's a person who violated Microsoft's rules. His violation wasn't serious, and it wasn't likely damaging (but since I'm not an employee of Microsoft's security division, it would be silly of me to think I can second guess a company's internal security strategy). But it existed and the company could've done a number of things about it. They could've had his manager call him in and talk to him, ask him to remove it, and kept him on as an employee.

Or they could've taken the tact that many companies take -- it's better to err on the side of caution and get rid of this employee who thinks nothing of violating Microsoft's rules. This time it was harmless, but what might happen next time, or the time after that? It's paranoia, sure, but folks at companies like Microsoft sleep better at night when they're fairly certain information isn't leaking from their employees.

Now, everyone can see how out of proportion Microsoft's behavior was to the actual action and possible damage caused. But as a temporary employee, and in this kind of economy, I would go to super extra lengths to ensure I wasn't doing anything my employer says is against their rules. Otherwise I wouldn't bother working for that employer. An employer can't determine what makes an employee think that some rules are okay to be broken (e.g., for information that employee deems as unimportant) while others are not. When given actual behavior to base their judgment on, however, it's really best for them to act.

I'm sorry it happened, tho. It always sucks when you get fired from a job you like.
posted by docjohn at 9:27 AM on October 29, 2003


Having both a weblog and a job in a big corporation is something you have to manage very carefully. I almost never mention my company, unless it's something that's in the news and it can't be construed as a comment from an insider. Recently, there was a very bad incident on the campus involving a credit union holdup and a fatal shooting. I blogged it (and subsequent events) knowing that it could be used against me if I wasn't careful. I guess I was lucky, in that I'm still employed.
posted by tommasz at 9:31 AM on October 29, 2003


But the guy mentioned he kept everything out of the photo aside from the computers and the truck, specifically so he wasn't giving away any corporate secrets.

May I take photos showing the contents of your home and publishing them for all to see?
Sincerely, The Cat Burglar
They are too a public company, maybe my reasoning is wrong behind my thought.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:46 AM on October 29, 2003


djwudi, Add you took your firing well, sorry & may your future be better.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:54 AM on October 29, 2003


First: my sympathy to djwudi, and I second the admiration for your attitude as the MeFi crowd makes your misfortune the meat of the day.

Languagehat is, I think absolutely right: this is one of those (increasingly common) cases where the company had lots of reasonable options (including censure, warn, suspend, etc.) but went (in terms of the employee) nuclear immediately. Why? Because a corporate culture has set in -- and not just at Microsoft -- that prefers the "safety" of draconian regulations and contractural agreements to a realistically human response to human needs.

As for this argument:

Now, everyone can see how out of proportion Microsoft's behavior was to the actual action and possible damage caused. But as a temporary employee, and in this kind of economy, I would go to super extra lengths to ensure I wasn't doing anything my employer says is against their rules. Otherwise I wouldn't bother working for that employer. An employer can't determine what makes an employee think that some rules are okay to be broken (e.g., for information that employee deems as unimportant) while others are not. When given actual behavior to base their judgment on, however, it's really best for them to act.

The problem I see with this is that we're now living in a society where it is become increasingly difficult for most people to "opt out" of working in the corporate environment. We have an economy that depends on the giant businesses -- and we've turned over basic things like health care to them. On the whole, we're not as a group really free to do anything but sign on the dotted line as they demand more and more control over what we do and say. Sure, I can decide not to go to work for one company or another. But on the whole, they are ALL moving in this direction.

A small example: To get my current job, I had to sign documents which imply they own everything I write during the period of my employ. They refused to accept a reasonable clarification to indicate that this meant that I simply don't own the rights to what I write for them. Now, they don't intend, I think, to claim that my private creative writing belongs to them. But they weren't going to budge when I asked them to let me make that clear legally with a one-sentence revision to the contract. The counsel for the company controls risk by avoiding any exceptions to a sweeping rule. I was desperate enough for a job to capitulate. Sure, I'm responsible - I didn't have to do it. But it was an irresponsible, needless demand for them to make.

In this case, one can argue that MS has an interest in controlling the information that was published on the blog. But the idea that it was reasonable for them to require automatic termination in response: we'll, that's alarming. That we should all go to "super extra lengths" to avoid displeasing our employers is, perhaps, a necessity. But I believe it's an evil necessity, dangerous to the health of a civil society of reasonable people, and a step on the way to normalizing open-ended corporate control of your worklife. And since there ain't no way for most of us to get by in this country without getting a corporate job, that means, effectively, the public sphere.
posted by BT at 10:11 AM on October 29, 2003


jonah: I can't speak for Microsoft, but cameras themselves aren't allowed at my employer and many other places I've worked or visited. I notice that alot of places are also cracking down on camera phones.

I work for a very, very large engineering company whose name I never, ever mention on the Internet, and our policy is the same.

ironically, a couple of months ago, news broke that even Samsung, world largest manufacturer of cameraphones, was banning cameraphones from their factories. [as seen at Gizmodo]
posted by JollyWanker at 10:12 AM on October 29, 2003


I've lost a job in part because of concerns I wrote about online. I had a very adversarial relationship with an individual who directed me to input data into blank fields and I wasn't comfortable with asking her why. Instead I wrote on my site about my concern--in very general terms--and how I was going to wait for our mutual supervisor to get back into the office to ask him about it. That happened to be the day she googled my name and found my site.

That three line post started a two month shitstorm which culminated in my firing three weeks after being transferred out of this woman's department--and the day before the board of directors was due to visit (this was a tiny non-profit). I could go into the gory details, but let's just say that it barely skirted the edge of legal, what was done to me.

I don't write about my current job on my site, except in the most general terms. Like, I work on financial stuff for a big company. I'm not even comfortable mentioning what company I work for or what product is produced.
posted by eilatan at 10:19 AM on October 29, 2003


docjohn: An employer can't determine what makes an employee think that some rules are okay to be broken (e.g., for information that employee deems as unimportant) while others are not. When given actual behavior to base their judgment on, however, it's really best for them to act.

If you just extrapolate that idea into a somewhat wider context, the implications are totally chilling. I will forever and always be a person who decides for myself when some rules can be broken, and I think that this comes from the same extra good stuff that makes me valuable and desirable as an employee, employer, friend or lover (in other words, a person).

Life should not be run by lawyers, insurance companies, and security consultants. Progress will never be achieved by lawyers, insurance companies or security consultants. Each of these professions has its own useful purpose, but regulating my day to day life should not (and will not) be one of them.
posted by taz at 10:40 AM on October 29, 2003


A couple things, people;

1. If it was hosted on company computers, it would be theft of services, both form the hosting angle and from usign company time to update and maintain his blog.

2. I think it's some of a security issue, but also a 'talking about the company' issue. While it wasn't a 'this company is doing bad things and I'm going to bitch about it to everyone' post, he did identify himself as a Microsoft employee.

He most likely did not have apporval to speak on the company's behalf. But idenitifying himself as an employee, anything he says can be considered coming from the company.

I think it was an overreaction, but not unfounded.

As for me, I've been through a similar issue before - after I resigned. I had three days left in my two-weeks notice and some upper level guy I always had problems with broguht HR in and told them I linked to the company site from my personal site, as well as linking to porn from my web site (untrue, of course, but when I told him to prove it he said he didn't have to). Silly, petty thing to do after I already resigned, but..

So, now if anyone in my company asks if soemthing is mine, just deny it. Make them prove it's your website. "Hey, there's tons of people with my name out there. How do you know it's MY site?"

And don't write about work!
posted by rich at 11:41 AM on October 29, 2003


JollyWanker -- ironically, a couple of months ago, news broke that even Samsung, world largest manufacturer of cameraphones, was banning cameraphones from their factories.
These kind of policies should be fun when the default phone includes a camera and you have to special order one that doesn't. Hmm, there's a possible market niche: repackaging the phone de jour to remove the camera and then selling it to security minded companies.
posted by Mitheral at 3:30 PM on October 29, 2003


People may poo poo at corporate espionage, but it's real and it tends to be a zero tolerance sort of thing.
Exactly. I agree that MS has overreacted to some extent in this case, but am inclined to think that it was not a case of where the information was published or what it was, but that it was published at all. Nor is it a case of being sensitive information, but any company has designated channels which information given to the public about it must go through. Sacking someone for a minor breach of these rules is not a decision I would support, although he deserved to be at least given a virtual slap around the ears, but I imagine that MS has a zero-tolerance policy on this matter, as they are entitled to.

The issue of whether it was on an MS server would be, I imagine, one of whether they could force him to remove the information or not.
posted by dg at 4:00 PM on October 29, 2003


The UK's Register picked this story up today, and it was written up this afternoon by their writer in Chicago. Thought you would find that interesting.
posted by djspicerack at 5:09 PM on October 29, 2003


It is unfortunate that he has lost his job, particularly in the current US economy. But let's clarify something. He was not an employee of Microsoft. He is an employee of his employment agency. The employment agency did not contract him to Microsoft. The employment agency contracted him to an outside vendor who does work for Microsoft. He is at least two companies away from being a Microsoft employee. As such he is an outsider who is invited in to provide a service. It is not surprising that Microsoft would not think twice about expelling an outsider about whom they had a question of integrity. It may not seem fair but as an outsider you are obligated to be extra polite. After all, most people cut some slack to members of their own family, but you expect guests to be on their best behavior.

As to posting the picture, that was a serious lapse in judgement. What could have possibly been his motivation? Presumably it was to poke fun at or embarrass the company where he worked. You make fun of a company and expect them to invite you back in? Which is incredibly stupid anyway since most people know that Microsoft is the largest seller of software for the Mac.

And you may be interested to know that, due to its worldwide profile, Microsoft is on Homeland Security's list of possible targets of terrorist attack. Microsoft wants to protect their employees and they take their security very seriously.
posted by JackFlash at 5:24 PM on October 29, 2003


The UK's Register picked this story up today

"Wrote in a fresh globule"? "Globbing tendencies"? Jesus.
posted by rory at 1:41 AM on October 30, 2003


Just wanted to toss in some sort of closure for all this — my final (unless something else explodes) followup post on the whole thing (yes, one last blatant self-link).

Essentially, I can sum it up this way: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. ;)

Thanks for the discussion, and for not ripping me apart too badly for pulling a stupid.
posted by djwudi at 1:50 AM on October 30, 2003


I'm not even comfortable mentioning what company I work for or what product is produced.

What a society we have created where we live in fear, cowed and afraid to speak, or sign away the rights to our very thoughts.

Is everyone proud?
posted by rushmc at 3:18 AM on October 30, 2003


Like rich said, don't write about work. You're really asking for it if you do, and your boss isn't totally cool with the blogging thing. I've seen this happen numerous times, almost got fired myself, as did a few friends. It's silly, but the rest of the planet doesn't quite yet view blogging as innocent as most of us do. "Putting something on the Intarweb" carries connotations to most people, and discussing where you work, your nasty coworkers, and calling in sick to go on interviews (yes, that was me) are all ways to make your coworkers very uncomfortable and put yourself in a bad position.

It might make a blog a tad more boring, but not blogging anything that you wouldn't want your boss to see is a pretty simple rule to live by. Sure, that guideline doesn't fit this case, but large corporations seem to be a little more sensitive to how their employees act in public (when they are clearly identifying themselves as employees).
posted by adampsyche at 4:23 AM on October 30, 2003


What rushmc said.

It might make a blog a tad more boring, but not blogging anything that you wouldn't want your boss to see is a pretty simple rule to live by.

Uh-huh. It might make life a tad more boring, but not doing anything that you wouldn't want the government to know about is a pretty simple rule to live by. Let's all start today and avoid the rush!

djwudi: Don't apologize; there's no rule about self-linking in comments, and your contributions here have been extremely valuable. And your "mea culpa" post is the work of a real mensch. Best of luck to you!
posted by languagehat at 9:54 AM on October 30, 2003


I think there's a huge difference between that and putting something up on the Internet that you wouldn't want your boss reading. Not a good comparison. "Not doing anything" and "not blogging anything" are two entirely different things, primarily because of the very public nature of blogging.

Unfortunatly, and I'm not saying I agree with it, most states are at-will employment states, meaning your boss can fire you for not liking the way you look, for your choice of post-it notes, for anything. As long as it doesn't violate a contract and is not a result of civil rights discrimination, your employer can end your employment for whatever reason. Like it or not, that's what the reality is.
posted by adampsyche at 11:07 AM on October 30, 2003


Like it or not, that's what the reality is.

In the seventeenth century, those who felt like that stayed in their oppressive European autocracies; the others came to America. This is supposed to be the place where we don't just accept the reality of being shat on. Don't tread on me!
posted by languagehat at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2003


Like rich said, don't write about work. You're really asking for it if you do

That assumes that "work" is more important than "writing" or "blogging," an assumption I would find questionable (though everyone has to make their own call there).

Let's all start today and avoid the rush!

Now that's just mean.
posted by rushmc at 7:47 PM on October 30, 2003


That assumes that "work" is more important than "writing" or "blogging," an assumption I would find questionable (though everyone has to make their own call there).

Ummmm. Well, most people need to work more than they need to blog.
posted by kindall at 8:45 PM on October 30, 2003


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