People often ask about Microsoft's internal email culture and how decisions get made. 

Recently we had a great discussion as a team and asked ourselves the following questions:

1. How many videos should we post each day?

2. Should we broaden our scope of content?

3. How can we give more visibility to our team to the publishing process?

The end result was:
1.  We're increasing the number of videos we post each day
2.  We're raising the quality bar of what we post
3.  Our entire team is going to now give feedback on what videos go live


Did we make the right decision? 

You’ll notice many more videos online today than usual.  Our entire team helped select them from our inventory.  We still need to figure out a better way to organize them and would love to have your feedback on that.

Here’s the complete thread…



From: Lenn Pryor
Sent: Tuesday, May  18, 2004 11:03 AM
To: Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: Channel 9

So more and more requests from teams are coming in asking to be a part of Channel 9 or to see if they can build off of our base and ship their own site.  

We need to discuss how we want to  handle these situations and be consistent on our response.  

I am not sure what to do here.  What are your thoughts?


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:06 AM
To: Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core  Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

I think it all comes down to “What is our mission for Channel 9?”  We’re about communication / evangelism.   If we can tie it back into our mission (which needs further clarification) we should work with them.
 
Bryn had a great idea of having the concept of a “Series” on Channel 9.  Each product could be a series and it would help give people a better view into the site.  I think with  some careful thought it could help with requests from other groups.  This could also help us scale too.
 
Anyone else have thoughts?


From: Charles Torre
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:08 AM
To: Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core  Team
Subject: RE: channel 9


Why not create specific forums for these teams to monitor? Not sure why a specific product group would need to have a full C9 implementation of their own. We give them a forum and it can grow from their (meaning Wikis can emerge that target their technologies from conversation that happen in their specific forums).
The question, of course, is how much can our infrastructure handle? Anyway, just quick thoughts…
 
C


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:13 AM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 -  Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

I am not a big fan of creating a bunch of new forums on our site that are product focused.   Instead I prefer broader themes like Coffehouse, TechOff and our upcoming Citizen Engineers forum.   
 
Bryn and I had a hallway conversation yesterday about how it is very cool that our Videos are an anchor point and not the random forums.  It is very powerful when the  conversation is around the context of a video.  It gets the product group involved and its less random and not duplicative of other community sites.
 
I think Bryn’s series idea will help make our site easier to navigate for people looking for videos across specific products and technologies.
 
Bryn can you expand on your anchor point comments yesterday?  They really resonated with me.


From: Bryn Waibel
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:30 AM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 -  Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9


It was just an observation that I really think that the video’s on channel 9 are an effective way for our customers to have a personal relationship with  Microsoft. It’s incredible to watch a video post go up and some comments come  in, then the interviewee talking directly with the customers about the topic.  I think customers will really appreciate this and it will be really effective.  I think we need to get way better at this, focus on it.
 
The second point was that I think we are a really horrible place for technical support type questions. I think that if we move in this direction, trying to  be the end all be all place for Microsoft technical content, for conversation,  and for support, then we’re going to get nailed from both sides and twice on  Sunday. There are many ways out there for customers to get their technical content. Many ways for them to get there support issues resolved. Many ways for them to collaborate on their problems. I think that just about all of them are, while extremely deficient, much better at the task than we are. If we try to tackle this problem, I can only see us fragmenting the space more and getting our asses handed to us by the people who own the space.
 
The series idea is quite simple. I think we should allow groups in Microsoft to assign two or three or five people to own their own  video production and put it up on the site. It would be really cool if they could create their own identity, maybe have their own forum (maybe not), their own branding/skin, and their own crew. We could possibly provide them with rental equipment to get started, I don’t know. It’s not fully hashed, the general theme is that we should get better at introducing customers to MS and NOT let customers expect to find answers to their product and technical questions here. We’re a great place for discussion, let’s keep it that way.
 
-Bryn



From: Robert Scoble
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:38 AM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 -  Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9


Exactly.

And an argument for posting more videos. More chances to start  conversations.

Robert

From: Lenn Pryor
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 11:47 AM
To: Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Jeff Sandquist; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: Re: channel 9

I agree with Scoble here.  I think our number 1 metric over time will be how effective we are at starting conversations between us and our customers.  Bryn is right, they ARE the right anchor for the site and not the coffeehouse O randomness.

This is not a ratings game so we don’t need to worry unless we start posting crap.  Some will be more popular than others as has already proven true in the past.  What matters to me is the gestalt of the bigger picture.  The more conversations that bring us together, the more value the site has to all of us.  My only concern is the volume of our back log padding so that we don’t get screwed when studios is backed up or there is an event or vacation where filming slows down.  Scoble claims a 5 week backlog at 4 a day.

I am more in favor of more conversations than less.  If you think the quality of our videos is not perfect, neither is the quality of every blog post you read, but in the end the gestalt of the blog is what keeps em coming back.  


From: Robert Scoble
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:48 AM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 -  Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

The question, then, is should we put only the best one or two videos on the home page, and put the rest just in the video area?

We can link in the others too, from a single post on the home page (like, after all the Tablet PC videos are up, we could put up a post linking in all the Tablet PC interviews).

In fact, I was gonna do that on my own blog. Not a single SQL Server blog, for instance, has linked to any of Euan Garden's interview. That'll change soon. Smiley

Robert


From: Lenn Pryor
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 11:55 AM
To: Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Jeff Sandquist; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: Re: channel 9


My vote is put em all on the homepage.  There is no reason for them not to hit the homepage RSS feed.  I suspect that 40-50% of our readers view them because of the RSS feed notifying them.  The joy of RSS is you can quickly decide what you want to watch and what you want to skip.  

From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday,  May 18, 2004 11:57 AM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 -  Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

Ok.  Let’s just make sure we have good quality stuff up there, rather than a jump a dump of everything we have.  
 
Scoble show me the plan for today, tomorrow and following through the rest of the week.   
 
Monday
Video 1 – link
Video 2 – link
Video 3 – link
Video 4 – link
Video 5 – link
 
Tuesday
.. etc..
 
I still disagree with this, but will give up the fight.   Just show me you have five amazing videos for each day and you’ll win the argument
J


From: Lenn Pryor
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:05 PM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: Re: channel 9

I actually think you and I are on the same page and don’t realize it yet Jeff ... If it is not good stuff then don’t post it.  If we have a ton of good stuff then no reason to not post more really.

Some will be hit or miss.

So let’s talk about the bar for the descriptor of “good” vs. “excellent” vs. “crap”


From: Charles Torre
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:25 PM
To: Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Jeff Sandquist; Bryn Waibel; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

Clearly, basing what we show on what one person thinks is worthy of posting is just wrong. It’s easy to sit back, let one person do all of the video content stuff, then * about how we don’t like what he’s come up with. This is not fair to Robert.

 

We need to be much more of a team when it comes to this stuff. We need to all provide feedback to Robert regarding specific clips then have consensus for what’s good and what sucks before clips are posted.

 

Capice?

 

Carmine

 


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:28 PM
To: Charles Torre; Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Bryn Waibel; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

I am *not* bitching about Robert’s work.  I am providing feedback, we all submit video ideas to be filmed.   What I am asking for is (and have asked for it in the past) is a simple email that shows what’s going live on Mon/Tue/Wed so we can work through it, provide feedback and juggle the videos around.

 

Robert, please don’t think I am bitching about what you do.   I am just trying to get the right content up on the site.

 


From: Charles Torre
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:31 PM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Bryn Waibel; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

I said “We”. Not “You”. There’s a big difference. I * about it. I’ve heard all of us at one point or another complain. I’m just trying to be constructive, like you are. And I am assuming part of the responsibility of why we sometimes ship out shitty content.

 

Sorry if you thought I was pointing the finger at you. I was pointing 5 fingers, not one.

 

Charles

 


From: Bryn Waibel
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:35 PM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Charles Torre; Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

I certainly don’t see it as bitching, but I also think Charles’ point is valid on an even broader scale. I think it’s difficult for any of us to point out the “bad” before we post it. It may be true that some of our content just sucks, but I’d expect that to be true from a technical standpoint rather than a topical one (i.e. we just didn’t get the right answer, the message isn’t clear) in this way, I think that when we send out the content for review, we have gotten surprisingly effective feedback. On the other hand, it’s not so hard to pick out the “great” stuff. Anyway, all I’m saying is that I think pretty much everything that hasn’t been trash canned by the PR/Marketing/Product people has been good, and that this is a better indication of good vs. bad than any of us can come up with.

 

I sort of like the idea of not posting everything up to the homepage when posted, but it’s definitely arguable. In other words, I think it would be good to post maybe, just great and better than average to the homepage, and post everything approved to the video forum. Maybe we should take a poll.

 

-Bryn

 


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:36 PM
To: Bryn Waibel; Charles Torre; Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

Why not just take this whole thread and make it public on Channel 9 :->

 


From: Bryn Waibel
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:37 PM
To: Bryn Waibel; Jeff Sandquist; Charles Torre; Robert Scoble; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

Also, instead of a dead content number per day, I’d prefer if we did something more mathematical, goal being to keep a 4 week buffer rather than a certain number of posts per day.

 

-Bryn

 


From: Robert Scoble
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:44 PM
To: Bryn Waibel; Jeff Sandquist; Charles Torre; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

I like flexibility too.

 

Yesterday Jeff told me "don't post anything else" because we were seeing huge response on the first video we posted.

 

I like not having rules. It keeps everyone on their toes and keeps expectations from being built up.

 

Robert

 


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:48 PM
To: Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Charles Torre; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

>I like flexibility too.

 

Me three J  I believe in guiding principles and breaking the rules as necessary.   Why did the Tablet PC video get so much buzz?   I suspect it did because you did an awesome job of it by evangelizing it through your weblog (building hype) and using your community contacts.   This is another recent aha for me, we need to engage more with the influentials again.

 


From: Robert Scoble
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:55 PM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Bryn Waibel; Charles Torre; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

It's not on my blog.

 

It's all about invisible influencers.

 

I IM'd Christopher Coulter and Creamhackered over at Neowin. Christopher emailed 400 press and analyst types. Within 50 seconds it was up on the home page of whatisnew.com; tabletquestions.com; tabletpcbuzz.com.

 

By this morning it was up on all Tablet sites, and activewin.com and neowin.net.

 

Plus Lora Heiny posted it in the newsgroups and I sent it to the Tablet PC alias internally.

 

All kicked off by two IM's. Smiley

 

Robert

 


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:56 PM
To: Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Charles Torre; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

Its not on your blog but you did pre-hype it on your blog J

 


From: Charles Torre
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:52 PM
To: Jeff Sandquist; Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

I want to get more involved with tracking down developers to talk to. Starting today I am going to aggressively get some interviews set up with devs that nobody knows about and who are also able to speak well. I do not want to leave the content conceptualizations up to one person anymore.

 


From: Jeff Sandquist
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 12:58 PM
To: Charles Torre; Robert Scoble; Bryn Waibel; Lenn Pryor; Channel 9 - Core Team
Subject: RE: channel 9

 

Glad to have you want to get more involved, these are going to be great videos.   I want to correct the myth that one person is conceptualizing the videos.  Many of us seed Robert with video ideas and also redirect email inquiries from Microsoftees looking to get on Channel 9.   You do, I do, Lenn does and so does Bryn.  

 

Robert is the person who has the most open time and bandwidth to execute on the videos.  This is why I have high expectations about regular email notifications from him showing what’s on deck for videos and I know that he’ll put a great straw man schedule for us to give feedback on as a team.

 

Your video idea with Anders was great and I really look forward to the videos below.

 

-Jeff