I found a blog post entitled Called Out… by Al Billings who just left the Microsoft Internet Explorer team which is excerpted below in its entirety [in case it gets altered later]

Oops, looks like I made someone cranky

I could respond to this in some detail but it isn’t worth the effort. Let’s just say that Dare has worked closely with the IE team on our RSS features. He was consulted, at least for his opinion, on much of the work. In spit of this, he makes a consistent public effort to talk shit about IE7 and its RSS support while the people that I have worked with, who care passionately about RSS and its role in IE, keep on talking to him internally since Dare works on a partner team affected by the work.

I find Dare to be a whiner and an unconstructive partner who burns bridges with people that he should be building them with instead. The fact that he gives little direct feedback (or confrontation) to coworkers on the IE team but will then turn around, the same day, and make snarky comments in his blog is not cool. In fact, I’ll be slightly bold and say it makes him look like a complete asshole.

Since I no longer have to work professionally with him in any capacity and this is my personal opinion, I don’t see a reason to pull any punches. With his attitude, he really should go get a job for the competition. He certainly doesn’t help the company he works for…

I have issues with how Microsoft has done many things but I have the utmost respect for the people that I have worked with, especially on the IE team. There are a lot of very intelligent and talented people there and I am glad that I had the opportunity to work with them.

For myself, it is time for a change. Part of it is motivatated by the desire that my wife and I have to live in the Bay Area and part of it is that I’ve worked at Microsoft for a month shy of nine years. It isn’t the same company that I started at but I don’t doubt it will survive. I’m at peace with that. I’m not so sure that Dare can say the same and, as was commented to me, it seems more likely that Dare is crafting his exit strategy and trying to make a name for himself. He’s no Scoble though so this seems a doomed adventure.

Last week, I got mail from some exec at Microsoft complaining about my blog. Today I read this tripe from Al Billings who has the gall to criticize my corporate loyalty as he ditches Microsoft for [supposed] greener pastures.

I'll write here the same thing I wrote to the exec that complained about. My blog is a personal weblog that precedes my time at Microsoft which will likely outlive my time as a Microsoft employee. In it I talk about things that affect my life such as my personal life, work life and interests. Since I work at a technology company and my interests are around technology, I sometimes talk about Microsoft technology and working at Microsoft. Since everything about Microsoft's technology and work life aren't perfect, sometimes these posts are critical.

If you don't like my blog then don't read it. If you think my blog is so bad for Microsoft, then [please] go ahead and complain to my management. They get enough complaints about my blog as it is, I'm sure there must be some threshold where they'll decide that receiving mail about my blog is more work than keeping me around. Then I'm sure you'll get your wish that I work at some competitor. :)


Categories: Personal
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Tuesday, May 9, 2006 7:37:33 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Cranky Al is leaving microsoft - http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2006/05/acronyms-attack-that-faq-upcoming-fam.html#c114714803905013707

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:04:56 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, you write one of my favorite blogs about MS. I even like it better than Scobleizer, because I think, it's more informative. To me Scoble is doing good pr for MS. He doesn't comment on really unfavorable subjects (like the Vista delay), and criticizes MS only after everybody outside has already done it. That's okay for pr (or evangelism), but it doesn't help learn a lot about MS.

You present many insights I need for my work (journalist). It doesn't seem to me, that you are unconstructive in any way. Please keep going!
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:12:38 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"My blog is a personal weblog that precedes my time at Microsoft which will likely outlive my time as a Microsoft employee. In it I talk about things that affect my life such as my personal life, work life and interests. Since I work at a technology company and my interests are around technology, I sometimes talk about Microsoft technology and working at Microsoft. Since everything about Microsoft's technology and work life aren't perfect, sometimes these posts are critical"

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:20:16 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I can kinda see where the IE team is coming from-- if you work at Microsoft, you should make a special effort for the team (eg, stick with IE7 as much as possible).

But the unconstructive comments left in your Firefox/Sharepoint psot like "when do you start work for Google" and "thanks for lowering morale on the IE team" are really shocking.

1) Don't these people have anything better to do? Like.. say.. work on IE?

2) You'll always get a lot more flies with honey than vinegar. Yelling at and berating your teammates is not helpful.

3) Getting tetchy and defensive implies there are actual problems.

4) It makes the posters look unprofessional. At BEST.

Anyway, good riddance to that Al guy. Personally, I want people around who have the balls to criticize stuff.. not a bunch of wishy-washy corporate drone yes men.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 8:36:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yeah, because I get called a "corporate yes man" every day. Hah.

Dare would rather piss in someone's cornflakes than give feedback in a forum where it will be taken. The court of public opinion isn't a good way to get coworkers to respect you or to be receptive to your feedback.

At the end of the day, Dare can do what he wants but I will still have an opinion entirely formed by my experiences with him and watching how he interacts with my peers.

Oh, and Dare? I can give any opinion that I want on my blog (just like you). You can't simply dismiss it because I'm leaving the company. I'm leaving for a number of reasons but much of it is family (the desire of my wife to be with her parents) and much of it is simply a desire for large scale change.

It doesn't make me less right.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 9:12:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"He's no Scoble"

Atleast that part is right. There's none of that trash here that you see on that blog and I'd say that If Scoble was emailing his "content" to people, most of it would end up being classified as spam / junk mail.

Some of the team blogs from Windows Division have been bad PR in my view. It is a shame they did not start blogging earlier or atleast learn from what succesful blogs have been doing, now the expectations are already at a certain level and seeing these couple new attempts at blog from Windows Div just gives you a miserable feeling of what to expect in Vista.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 12:31:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It's funny that Scoble always claims to be critical of Microsoft, but always seems to put a nice spin on it. If I want the truth? I come here.

Keep it up Dare. I think it is about time your manager got a good email about how refreshingly honest your blog is. Could you mail me his address?
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 1:51:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, I love your blog and you come across as a sharp, interesting person.

But i would never want you on my team. Or any team i am working with.

If you have problems in your family - would you go write about it in your blog or would you try and sort them out?
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 2:25:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
a.) Al Billings is an assbag, no disagreement there.
b.) Yes, we get your unvarnished opinions here--this is both interesing and way better than Scoble's self-esteem performance art.
c.) Dare is extremely smart and sharp, we can all agree on that.
d.) But I too would never ever want him on my team. Solo artist. Kobe-like.
e.) Post your management's info so more than just folks on corpnet can weigh in.
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 4:29:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hi Dare,

You know what they say about kitchens and heat.

The fact that your blog is controversial just shows that it's relevant and sometimes painfully on target.

When a person lambasts you for something, most often it's something they're personally struggling with. Al makes a cheap parting shot at you (saying he's doing it "just like you"), instead of having the conviction to attack you while he was still an employee or the courage to approach you in person at work.

It seems Al, and probably other remaining members of the IE team, did not receive your (mild!!) constructive criticisms of IE7 in the spirit they were given. Instead of being spurred to do better, they're filled with acrimony (and apparently a little envy at your influence outside Microsoft's halls). One way to deal with criticism you don't like is to reject it and try to squash it.

Last week Slashdot readers wrote plenty of hateful and unflattering things about me, just because I had the gall to stand up and say Microsoft isn't evil and that the people who say that are idiots. The world's filled with people like these.

Unlike Mini-Msft, you've got the integrity and accountability to put your name behind the things you write. You're smart and hardworking, and I know from working with you that the criticisms you level against others pale compared to the self-criticisms you apply to yourself.

Personally, you and the things you write here motivate me and energize me to do better at my work. Anytime you need a Microsoft employee to vouch for the value of your blog with your management, give me a call. Voices like yours need to be heard more, not less.

Your friend and colleague,

P.S. I'm tempted to start blogging myself, just because of the great example you've set. :-)
Tuesday, May 9, 2006 5:13:27 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I agree with Michael 100% here Dare.

However, I do agree with Al on one thing: "You're no Scoble". Thank goodness for that.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:17:10 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Jesus! I hadn't heard of Al Billings specifically before now but he is one whiny loser.

It seems to me that Dare made a valid point about a prominent bug in IE7. Just because he did it publicly doesn't mean he doesn't care - in fact, the opposite - it means that his pet bug gets expedited. Is it good for MS - well, its better that your triage is screwed up rather than Neowin or Digg or one of the news networks picks up on it instead when this mess is shipped.

If the IE team can't take it then they should grow a thicker skin. If his unprofessionalism is typical of IE then I feel very very sorry for Microsoft. People who want to be insulated in cottonwool leads unescapably to crap product.

To MobiTV: you've hired a dud who is obviously weak-willed. Maybe he's an excellent codejockey, but he'll learn soon enough that open source is a REAL meritocracy and conversation, no holds barred - how long before he starts whining about how unfair some random code flamewar is?

But what worries me more is, why quit in the middle of the cycle? IE7 will be released soon, and I've worked on enough shrinkwrap to know that you do everything you can to see your baby delivered. All it would have taken is a few months. Something about this smells rotten.

And while I appreciate his honesty on the link in the 1st comment on MiniMicrosoft about Vista and its dependencies - its pretty crap to say it all just when you're quitting. Billings is the one burning bridges. People who actually care (of which Dare seems a fine example) give their criticism when it can actually make a difference.

Remember Al, warts and all doesn't imply nonconstructive. Stop whining.
John Drakefield
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 12:33:58 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Oh, your weighty rhetoric has convinced me of the error of my ways, John. Where were you when I needed the light of truth before now? How could I have been so wrong?


I'm quitting because my wife and I have been looking at moving for a while and I was offered a good opportunity and the chance to move. Nothing more, nothing less. My wife is from the Bay Area and we've decided on a change of scene and to be with family and friends down there. I'm considering doing PhD work once my MA is finished as well.

Where IE is in the product cycle is immaterial to this. The product will ship without me given the amount of people working on it. I've worked on four versions of IE and numerous security patches over the last nine years. Somehow, the team will survive without me and manage to ship the product with quality and style, as always.

Burning bridges is when you go to an open blog and the court of public opinion to rant about how a group that you've worked with isn't doing what you want instead of constructively working with them within the SAME company that you both work for... What good comes of pissing on coworkers in public when you want to continue to work with them? This isn't about a pet bug of Dare's unless you can point to where Dare lists one. This is about alienating the people that are putting their hearts into shipping something by disrespecting their work in public when you have an obvious opportunity to work with them in a constructive fashion. I suppose Dare would rather rant here instead of actually solving problems. I've spoken to him privately about this before but he seems not to care. He'd rather make a name for himself as that edgy Microsoft guy (or something).

As to your comments about me personally, whatever. Since you don't even know enough about me to understand the work I do or what skillset I may or may not have, I feel no problems in disregarding your opinions. You don't know me and you certainly aren't in a position to call me a "dud" or "weak-willed" and a "whiner" based on a couple of blog posts. Grow up.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 1:22:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I guess you don't like it when the shoe is on the other foot and people cast aspersions on your character based on a couple of blog posts.

To address some of your points...

(i) You keep talking about me working closely with the IE team on their RSS features. Since you didn't work on the RSS features I wonder how you came to this conclusion. Besides working on a one-off RSS Bandit demo for Gnomedex and some questions I got about parsing RSS feeds in RSS Bandit a year ago, I didn't have any special contact with the folks working on RSS in IE.

Even if I did, I don't see why this precludes me from criticizing the product. I criticize Windows Live products, I criticize Google products and I criticize stuff I helped ship.

If you can't accept criticism of your product then maybe you are too thin skinned to work on software used by anybody but you.

(ii) You seem to be overly sensitive to criticism. My Firefox post which raised your ire was more of a criticism of SharePoint than IE. Yet I got favorable comments from an Office Live PM while I got was flames from the IE team for daring to say I use Firefox because I had a corrupted install of IE.

That makes you guys come off as being unable to accept even the hint of criticism. Quite frankly, I'm glad people like you are leaving Microsoft.

Good riddance.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:26:34 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I'm going to call "Bullshit" on you here. You are lying and we both know it. We both know that you have met with IE team members within the last few months, either in person or on the phone.

How do I know this? Because I work with these people and they talk to me. The test group for RSS is part of the test org that I managed until last year. The people working on the feature are either close friends of mine or ex-direct reports of mine in QA.

Are you saying that the last time I called you on your bullshit, you didn't call a key team member on the phone like they told me you did that very day in response to what was said? They certainly told me you did and that day.

I work just down the hall from these guys, I went to Seattle Mind Camp with one of them, and I was an early proponent of RSS in IE7. I'm not off in the weeds somewhere making stuff up.

They have made an active effort to constructively engage you. When you posted about IE issues recently in your Firefox post, the Dev Manager of that team contacted you hear and offered to work with you on the issues. Of course, there turned out to be no bugs there, right?

You didn't "work closely with them on the RSS features" and I've never pretended you did. You don't work on IE. As the creator of RSS Bandit, a popular aggregator, you were informed and consulted on RSS plans at a variety of points in order to get feedback on what the IE team was doing. I heard about it on several occasions as it happened.

You can pretend all you want that you don't have regular contact with the members of the RSS feature team in IE but we both know that is a lie. They are a phone call or e-mail away and you know them personally.

Given that you do have regular contact with them, the fact that you will be nice to people's face and the same day that you meet with them, go to your blog to post about how the RSS Platform in IE sucks doesn't make you any friends. Being professionals, they normally let it go but I somehow doubt it is forgotten because people are people.

Are you forgetting the several internal e-mails that you and I exchanged about this very issue over the last six months? None of this back and forth today is happening in a vacuum.

Did you issue a retraction after your Firefox post where you stated that you had unspecificed problems with IE that turned out to not actually be bugs? Do I need to point out to everyone reading this that as highly critical as you are of IE's RSS implementation, you've never bothered to log a single bug on it internally? Where is your official feedback that you logged in product studio before posting public comments on how IE7 sucked? Is it more important to have fodder for your blog or to improve IE (as a Microsoft employee)?

Hypocrisy doesn't serve you well and Microsoft would clearly be better off without an anti-cheerleader like you. You're a boat anchor.

Tell me, how many e-mails have you gotten from IE team members in the last month that have called you on your BS? I can think of several that were forwarded to me after the fact by the authors.

It isn't that the IE team isn't open to criticism if you were willing to log bugs and constructively work with people but you don't bother...you just bitch on your blog and when you are called on it, you never retract your errors. It's pretty sad. Since I don't work for the company anymore and only represent myself, I'm not afraid to give my opinion on the matter. I don't speak for them but I do come out of a specific context which is people trying to do quality work on IE7.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:29:24 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
It seems you are confused about my job role versus that of the IE team. My job is too make the Windows Live communications platform a world class platform. I bust my ass to do that including coming into work at wee hours of the morning and answering mails about work even when in vacation across the world. My job isn't to make Internet Explorer not suck. That was your job and that of the IE team.

I've found that certain Microsoft product teams like to dodge responsibility by blaming the messenger instead of admiting or fixing problems. Funny enough, this isn't much different from members of the Open Source community who berate people for offering criticism instead of submitting patches. Either way, the sense of user-hostility is the same.

I'm glad that you have at least retracted your implication that I worked closely with the IE team on RSS features. As for whether I know members the IE team personally, so what? I can't criticize IE because I've gone out for drinks with Walter, Jeremy or Jane? Whatever.

You need to grow up. Seriously.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:33:28 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Yikes, any chance you two can grow up and atleast pretend to be professionals here? If there was any doubt about why MS is executing like the keystone cops, this dialogue and the lack of respect shown on both sides goes a long way towards answering that. Very dissapointing.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:51:03 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I've been trolled and like a fool I've bitten.

I'm done with this thread and any further interaction with Al Billings.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 4:41:54 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I think this is where Jerry Weinberg's 10th commandmant of Egoless programming is particularly poignant.

10 - Critique code instead of people. Be kind to the coder, not to the code.

-- http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/

An far as I can tell, Dare's played by this rule is his criticisms of IE etc...

Unfortunately, not everyone does play by this rule. It seems a personal attack of Al Billings in the comments of mini-MSFT understandably raised his ire. That really sucks. Unfortunately, Al chose to personally attack Dare and not just the content of what Dare writes.

Thus it escalates into a flame war. Am I missing something here? Dare takes the right approach though. To death with this thread.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 5:20:41 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Haacked, the part you are missing is where people go out of their way to work with Dare and be open to feedback and then watch Dare flame their work in public. How do you think that makes people feel? Is it being overly sensitive to criticism? I don't think so. People make a good faith effort to be open to Dare and to listen to him only to watch him then immediately turn around and slap them in the face. It's two-faced on his part. He's received e-mail privately before from more than one person telling him this but he keeps doing it and then acts surprised when people react. Personally, I told him that he should work constructively with people and not burn bridges months ago and I thought he had changed his tune but it seems that I was wrong.

Dare can call me a troll all he wants but I've never been less than 100% honest with him. I've brought all of this up with him in private before only to watch him blow it off. I'm completely consistent in my response to him about it. The only thing that is different is that, like him, I'm doing it in public now using the vehicle of my personal blog (just like him).

You'll notice that Dare doesn't refute any of the things that I said earlier. He just chooses not to respond to them and redirects instead. Why don't you respond directly to what I said, Dare?

Dare, how many bugs have you logged on the RSS Platform that you find such great fault with? You can't claim it isn't your job to make IE not suck when you have the chance to do just that and then complain about how it sucks. It isn't the responsible action of a co-worker or partner. Maybe you don't care about that.

Dare claimed the other day, here on this blog, that he had a corrupt IE install and he was running Firefox because of it. He said:

"Somewhere along the line it seems like I downloaded one too many internal builds of Internet Explorer 7 and hosed my browser setup."

It turned out that this was simply not true and Dare had made a simple n00b error in installing the browser (or was it uninstalling and failing to reboot, Dare?). There was no bug and his IE was fine... Did Dare issue any public acknowledgement of this? No. Did he retract what he said? No. He refuses to admit that he made any error even now.

If you look at the tone of every post of his on IE7 over the last year, you see nothing but criticism which Dare thinks should be given here in public instead of logging bugs like everyone else using Vista or IE7 internally and working to make a better product.

Why is Dare more interested in being critical of IE in public than improving it by working with the team, who he admits to having drinks with on occasion and knowing? (Though I tend to doubt he's had any drinks lately...)

I have no incentive to bullshit here beyond my personal dislike of this behavior. I despise hypocrisy, especially in people who should know better. In three days, I won't even work on IE anymore or for Microsoft. Dare thinks that it is a good thing. Personally, I think Dare would be better off leaving too. He's already discussed his plans to do so in a couple of years on ths blog before. Why wait, Dare. Google calls...
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 5:31:06 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Oh Dare, the next time you don't want to be bitten, don't quote a post off of my blog (acting like I'd be the kind to simply delete it, already an insult) in its entirety and then use it as a launchpad. It takes two and I already don't like you so why wouldn't I respond?
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:25:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"It turned out that this was simply not true and Dare had made a simple n00b error in installing the browser (or was it uninstalling and failing to reboot, Dare?). There was no bug and his IE was fine... Did Dare issue any public acknowledgement of this? No. Did he retract what he said? No. He refuses to admit that he made any error even now. "

Yeah Dare, you gotta be consistant man. Anyways interesting discussion.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:27:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
From my post at http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=ba7af992-4795-4496-9d2e-af95c2cfc490 which was written two weeks ago I see the following text

"Unfortunately, as noted by Mike Arrington in his post Microsoft Live Shopping Launches - But No Firefox the site doesn't support Firefox...Luckily some folks from the IE team helped me fix my IE 7 problems and I got to try out the service."

I apologise that I didn't create an entire blog post to announce that uninstalling and reinstalling IE fixed the issues I was having.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006 5:30:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
You must be doing something right...I swear it Dare - to get that reaction, you must have hit the nail on the head big time.

Your Loyal reader,

Thursday, May 11, 2006 4:00:24 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

I won't take sides (this debate is ridiculous and childish), however you are not doing yourself any favor quoting the line of your post. I mean an issue with IE7 deserves a full article but telling you were doing something wrong (actually you do not even say what neither how you got to solve the issue) does not deserve more than a foggy line.

This is not really honest. As Joel says, be consistant at least.

For the rest... bah just 30 minutes of my time wasted.
Thursday, May 11, 2006 5:54:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Thanks for lecturing me on how to use my personal weblog. My original post was about a cool thing I found out about Firefox. The only reason I mentioned the IE thing was because I didn't want stupid people making a big deal of the fact that I was using Firefox. I didn't expect that these same stupid people would instead start flaming me about issues I had installing too many releases of beta software.

I'm done with this stupidity. Comments on this blog post are now closed. Go find some other entertainment.
Comments are closed.