Yesterday I tweeted about Coca Cola’s new corporate blog Coca Cola Conversations. I was deeply impressed by the notion of a company like Coke having a blog open to the public. Then I discovered the House Rules, which went like this:
We want you to leave comments and ask us questions on this blog. However, we will review all comments before they go live, and will not post any that are inappropriate or offensive. We will only post comments that relate to the subjects covered by this blog, and may need to edit some of the comments from time to time. Please understand that comments posted to this site do not represent the opinions of the Company.
After reading my tweet, Luis Vieira over at Think Lola sent me an email, which went like this:
I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with moderating comments – sure in an ideal world you wouldn’t and I strongly believe that online communities once they reach a certain size and critical mass can quite effectively police themselves. When a blog is starting out, especially one as visible as this one, it will attract its fair share of cranks right out of the gate before the more thoughtful and sober amongst us (the majority) start to make their presence felt.
Leaving the comments unmoderated would likely open them up to unforeseen liabilities and almost act as a challenge to unscrupulous individuals. Just because it’s a big bad brand ie: Coke, Nike, McDonalds it seems everyone taunts them to get all new-agey web 2.0.
People forget that these are business that contribute significantly to the economies they touch, they employee large swaths of the population, sponsor cultural events, and donate huge amounts of money to what most people would consider good causes. Of course there’s always the flip side of this – after all slagging the Big Bad Brands has been in vogue since oh…. at least 1998
My take on Coke’s House Rules is very simple: it’s like communism.
When I visited Budapest during the iron curtain days, friends and family told me what “it” was like. “It” meant pretty much everything that centred around the censorship that comes with communism. “You can’t say this… can’t say that. You could to jail if someone heard you.”
What you read in the newspapers or saw on the state run TV (there were 2 channels to choose from) wasn’t necessarily the truth: it’s what they wanted you to hear.
This is still happening in many countries unfortunately.
I lived in Budapest for 3 years after the curtain came down. “It” was still engrained in most of the people I met; the fear of someone over hearing what you really wanted to say. I remember going to underground (literally) pubs where the young aristocrats, many of them in advertising, would gather to speak their minds. At times it was like being in the Factory with Andy Warhol et al, but it was always a place where censorship did not exist. People spoke freely and listened freely. It was totally open. No rules.
Perhaps I’m being too literal here, but for a blog to have House Rules goes against the whole reason of listening and conversing.
It shows that a company/brand is not confident in what they are doing, which leads me to ask “Why did they even bother creating a blog?” To play the part? “Look at me… I’m all web 2.0. Ain’t I great?”
They’re doing it on their terms to benefit themselves. No one else.