Tech Industry

Poll: Should IT vendors be involved in online discussions of their products?

Most of what we discuss on TechRepublic involves the latest IT products. Should tech company representatives be part of the conversation? Take our poll.

Geeks chatting
 Image: iStockphoto/nesharm

As part of my job, I come in contact with a lot of technology companies--the same companies that we write about and discuss in the forums every day. I often encourage them to follow the threads in the forums and the general feedback from TechRepublic members when we write about their products. 

For years, I've been encouraging product managers at these technology companies to get involved in the conversation. They usually know their products inside and out and have deep knowledge of the market category that their product covers. As a result, I think they a valuable perspective to add. 

I also don't mind when they respond to criticisms and defend their product, as long as they are transparent and forthcoming about it and don't just copy and paste from their marketing material. I simply request that they identify themselves as official representatives of their companies. In many cases, they can help clear up confusion, explain product features (or missing features), and provide valuable insights about the future roadmap of the product.

As a result, I think technology companies can add useful information to product discussions on TechRepublic and I'd like to encourage more of it. Very few companies take me up on it, but I will continue to encourage them. However, I'm also interested to hear what TechRepublic members think about this topic. Take the two polls below and add your thoughts in the comments.

If you have trouble taking the poll above, you can go to this link to respond directly. Click here to see the poll results.


Here are a couple examples where representatives of IT companies played a constructive role in TechRepublic discussions:


Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks.


I'm farily certain that tech exectutives are already in the forums, whether you invite them or not. Every large company has someone who's job is to go to social media sites and tip the scales a bit in their favor. It's nothing new, and it won't ever go away. The ones who identify themselves are only a small minority of these commenters. 

Check out my experiment with driving internet traffic, it will open your eyes to the difference between traffic, and quality traffic):


I think that the products representative should clearly identify themselves when participating in open forums.


I agree that company representatives can add a lot to a civil discussion.  I do wonder about the mention of "official representative of the company" because often times the employees who are so technically oriented that we don't let them meet the public have the most insight.  I do agree they should identify themselves.

I do object to the "paid trolls" those people who are either unpaid fanboys or some how compensated "social media reputation managers".  I don't have any idea how many are zealots or paid shills but when someone pounces (usually in a rude and uniformative manner) on anything negative said about their product the discussion deteriorates into useless babble.

wizard57m-cnet moderator

I don't mind if a company representative takes part in the discussions, except when (as is too often the case) they resort to reading the sales brochure and defending the service/product without addressing anyone's concerns.  That's when they become more of a spammer or troll, and less helpful


They normally have their own forums to deal with feedback but I find it is usually moderated by volunteers. One forum in question had someone solving problems using XP style solutions... not for the faint hearted..

Still it would be an interesting exercise to see what happens. First the quality of the articles need to be in place.


It depends upon how they handle themselves.  Those who can handle the trolls while providing good information help perceptions of their company a great deal.


@areeda I agree with you, Areeda. Far too often, the persons with the expertise and sound technical knowledge in many companies are not the persons who make public pronouncements about their products and services. The ones who are the "official representatives" are often reading from the script, and are not prepared to respond to criticism or tough technical queries.

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