Got a Dynamics CRM blog? Like to tweet about all things Microsoft Dynamics? You’re in luck, because Microsoft is providing you a steady supply of topics in the form of CRM Update Rollups (or UR’s if you prefer acronyms). Right now Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 is on level 13 and will certainly continue to receive plenty more until the end of its support lifecycle. In January 2009 Microsoft stated that they aim to release a new update rollup every 8 weeks. If you multiply 13 x 8, that gives you 104 (two years), which means the actual release schedule is even tighter.
When a UR comes out, you’ll be certainly well informed about it through the Dynamics CRM community, as this tends to generate a massive number of blog posts, tweets and retweets in celebration of the event. Having new hotfixes is of course important for anyone working with CRM, but has the whole UR phenomena gotten a little bit out of hand by now? The recent tweet by Jerry Weinstock from CRM Innovation highlights the issue perfectly:
Let’s make one thing clear: there is no newsworthy content in just posting that “Update Rollup X has been released”. Nada. It’s like stating that a new copy of Wired is now available at the news stands.
I’ve seen a countless number of practically abandoned Dynamics CRM blogs where the author no longer has the time or energy to produce original content. Yet they see it as their duty to keep posting UR notifications one after another. Wow, writing a blog has never been so easy! Ok, so you guys may have way more posts than I do, but do you really think you’re contributing to the CRM community in a meaningful way?
I’m not saying that UR’s cannot be meaningful topics for a post, but you absolutely must provide some editorial content of your own, in addition to the KB article cut&paste. Tell about your experiences with the update, what was the reason why a particular hotfix was significant for you, what possible problems the UR installation may cause etc. Say something that not every one of us CRM geeks out there wouldn’t already know through their RSS feeds and Twitter lists.
The amount of great information you can acquire just by following a Twitter hashtag like #MSDYNCRM is truly incredible and I don’t want to play down the value of an active Dynamics CRM community in any way. Quite the contrary, that’s the one thing we should all celebrate. All I’m asking is that the next time you see the news about a new UR, think for a moment how likely it is that all your followers and readers have already received the news through their own channels. And if you RT, at least put a funny twist on it!
As for the UR release process in general, I propose that Microsoft registers the @UpdateRollup account on Twitter and we can all just start following it. Or better yet, replace the old Announcements section inside Dynamics CRM with a dashboard of all the official MS Dynamics CRM tweets in one convenient place. Of course in CRM 2011 we’ll already be able to configure those dashboards ourselves.
I made the mistake of mentioning a rollup on my blog ONCE almost 2 years ago, but I deleted that post and later felt guilty for even wasting electrons on it!
I think my best blogs articles are the ones that involved some pain on my part to figure something out that isn’t documented very well. It is interesting that a good percentage of the hits on my blog center around 4 topics that I blogged about early into CRM 4.0’s life that are still not documented well to this day!
Your experience summarizes quite well the difference between blogging for attention vs. blogging for passion. In today’s real-time web it’s far too easy to gain followers and readers in short term just by repeating what everyone else is saying or by rephrasing press releases. Yet when I think about the CRM writings that have truly delivered value to me in my work, like the ones by Ronald Lemmen or Michael Höhne, it feels absurd to even put them in the same “blogging” category as all the UR type of posts.
I wouldn’t want to discourage people from writing about whatever topics they come across in the same line of work that I do, as you never know when that piece of information might provide valuable answers to another colleague. I’d just appreciate it if everyone would consider if they’re really publishing the kind of content that they’d want to consume themselves, and then push things a little bit further still.
I generally get bored quite quickly if I find a blog which is simply an “echo in the blogosphere” which only has posts such as “John Smith wrote an article over here about X” with no follow-up, commentary or additional material or information of their own. I soon drop such things from my RSS feed (if they even get on there in the first place). I’m not even including the so-called splogs which rip off people’s content for their own ad-laden sites, but people who genuinely seem to think it is adding to the world of knowledge by providing links to other things with no added value.
Like Mark, my most popular posts are about topics which were either not well documented or largely unknown, such as my recent article about the numerous errors in the national holiday dates supplied and installed with Outlook 2010. ( http://wp.me/p2I5L-65 )
I admit, I did post about UR11, but with lots of comment about some of the included fixes, Outlook 2010 support and notes about the upgraded help (or rather the fact that it was not new at all – some bloggers seemed happy to repeat the mantra that the rollup had updated help despite the fact that this was just boilerplate text and referred to help files which were newer than “out of the box” but still 18 months old).
I also posted about the Outlook client with UR10 slipstreamed in, as this came between URs and largely seemed to have been missed by most commentators.
I did also mention UR10, but that post was more about the SDK 4.0.12 which was released at about the same time.
Right, I’m off to write an article linking to this one now…