I read about a blogger by the name of Mark Jen a little while ago. He posted some very dodgy posts about his new job at Google and what they pay. It wasn’t terribly tactful and for a little while the posts disappeared and there was a rumour that Google cracked the whip and had him close his blog (which was hosted on Blogger). Soon after the blog returned. Now it seems he has been fired.
The blogosphere has been
slightlyabuzz with the story of new Google employee Mark Jen being axed. Just use Technorati or Feedster to find bloggers talking about this story.
does this matter? Because Microsoft has Robert Scoble and over a
thousand others blogging about their job and what they do. Yahoo! has
the often outspoken and sometimes brazen Jeremy Zawodny. Is this a sign
that Google is afraid of transparency in their operation? Is Google
starting to turn … [gasp] evil?
Here’s the short of it: Mark Jen blogged
about what it was like being hired by Google, complained about the pay
(complaining how it was below industry average) and other very specific
things about his job at Google. About five or six days later, his blog
mysteriously disappeared from the web and the blogger conspiracy
theorists we’re out calling Google "evil" for the cover-up. It seemed
like Google wasn’t living up to their corporate mantra: Don’t Be Evil.
However, a couple days later Mark’s blog came back with an apology from
him about what he had written on his blog being unacceptable and he had
edited the prior entries to be more politically correct. Sites like
Bloglines, however, kept a cache
of the original offending entries and people started linking to that. A
couple weeks later the rumour started anew that now Mark Jen had been
fired by Google. Today Jeremy Zawodny posted he spoke to Mark and confirmed it:
First off, nothing Mark said surprised me. Yes, he was
fired from Google. It was directly related to his blog. He was employed
there for just a couple of weeks.
Jeremy goes on to discusses the current Yahoo! position on blogging:
Aside for the normal agreements that one signs as a Yahoo
employee, we have no additional policies or rules about blogging. But
we’re working on something: a set of guidelines that are very much in
line with those used by Sun Microstems. The idea is to let all employess know that it’s okay to blog about life at Yahoo, as long as you’re smart about it.
So was what Google did evil, or were they legitimately reprimanding
an employee who wasn’t being "smart about it [blogging about his job]?"
IMO, it was the latter, but as you can tell from this blog entry, I’m
going completely off the words of others, I have no empirical evidence
either way. More importantly, I think this is something we’ll continue
to see happening until these major companies develop an official
blogging policy. Once enough of these stories are out, it will be like
being fired for surfing pr0n on the job. Imagine that, you get hired at
a company and get the employee handbook and they start talking about
smoking areas, breaks, internet surfing habits and … blogging!
For my part, I don’t think it is ever really a good idea posting malicious or derogatory comments about your employer, especially where you identify your employer. If you are going to pass comment on your employer, make sure you don’t identify your employer, directly or indirectly. It is just the smart thing to do.
TDavid lists a couple other bloggers who have been talking about this:
- John Battelle pinged a Google rep who confirmed the termination, and John ponders: "Is this such a clear case of violatoin to merit firing?"
- Nicole Simon’s podcast: "Mark Jen fired – but Google is not Microsoft and Mark Jen is not Scoble"
- Nathan Weinberg from BlogNewsChannel regrets following the Mark Jen story
so closely: "Sadly, I wouldn’t be much of a reporter or a blogger if I
ignored it, but I just wish Mark hadn’t lost his job over it."
- Gregg at neurobashing compares this to the Apple/Think Secret lawsuit:
"Apple needs to take heed of this. Don’t rely on tradition, culture,
and the threat of a lawsuit to keep things quiet. Either
compartmentalize and investigate – run your company like the CIA – or
just accept that things are going to leak."
- The Papal Bull has a list of 12 supposedly fired for blogging bloggers
including: Michael Hanscom, Troutgirl, Mathhew Brown, Penny
Cholmondeley, Ian Murray, Steve Olafson, Daniel P. Finney, Jessica
Cutler, Heather B. Armstrong, Amy Burch, QueenofSky.
- Secular Blasphemy:
"Based on some of the comments, I’d say that if the postings on the
blog was not the direct cause of being fired (which I hope it wasn’t),
the comments themselves tell us something about this particular
employee that is not very attractive…"
- Jape thinks "Blogging is dangerous!"
- Roland from blogworkers looks at the situation internationally:
"There are many legal differences about job protection between the U.S.
and Europe, but even in France, I bet Jen would also have been fired."