Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Weblogs Hit Corporate Spam Filters: Time For a White-Listing Service?

While much of the online world crows on about the benefits of interactivity and community building, the plain truth is that such openness punching through from the open Web to intranets gives most corporations nightmares. A Wired News article points out that it's common practice for many corporations to filter out weblogs using many of the same tools used to eliminate email spam and access to entertainment sites. But of potentially greater concern to companies than someone sneaking a peak at their favorite time-wasters online is the tendency of people to post comments on weblogs that may reveal corporate secrets that would pose both competitive and compliance nightmares. Today's corporations are publishing entities more than ever, with both legal and regulatory interfaces to the public as well as sales and marketing front ends via Web sites and other collateral that reaches many audiences. As David Meerman Scott points out in a recent MarketingProfs article such online presences are about a lot more than just gaining a basket of sales leads from inquiry forms: online publishing provides corporations channels through used to build relationships with multiple audiences that are crucial components to strategic selling and maintaining relationships. So although individuals may yearn to reach out via weblogs to the outer world it's not likely that they're going to be encouraged any time soon in corporate circles focused on building coordinated online communications.

But such trends should not stop serious weblogs from being a key component in corporate content infrastructure any more than email is likely to be turned off as a communications channel into public networks. The issue is not weblogs as a channel but rather how weblogs are managed as content channels. Services such as Newstex provide via their subscription service packaging and indexing for quality weblogs that meet their own criteria for quality content along with premium news sources. This corporate-friendly channel provides weblogs the equivalent of a "visitor's pass" through the corporate infrastructure, in which form they may be consumed with fewer of the security and disclosure concerns that may worry corporations. What's missing from this equation, though, is a filterable online "white list" of weblogs that corporations and other entities can refer to that would provide some level of assurance on the quality and focus of specific weblogs. Such a mechanism would allow corporations to subscribe to white-listed weblogs fed into their corporate infrastructure via RSS feeds or other channels and then sanitized as need be. Individual corporations maintain their own white-listing infrastructures any way, to this would seem to be "low lying fruit" for those trying to add another layer of channel management to weblog distribution.
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