So long, MSDN blog

UPDATE 3: Rock stars Scott Hanselman and Dan Fernandez and their colleagues have gotten my MSDN blog back up, and will also restore the late cbrumme’s blog as well. Thank you both, and everyone else at what I can only assume is the Microsoft Content Migration Disaster Mitigation Team for your prompt attention. I very much appreciate it.

I’m still going to migrate all my content over to ericlippert.com though. 🙂


UPDATE 2: The awesome Scott Hanselman informs me that there has been a “hiccup” during migration, and that the intention was to archive the MSDN blogs in a read-only format with the same links; they should be back soon.


UPDATE 1: I see this has been linked from HackerNews; welcome, new readers. Normally this blog is not me complaining about Microsoft corporate decision making blunders. I’m currently on part 15 of a series on basic probabilistic programming in C#, so if that interests you, stick around!


For reasons unknown to me, my MSDN blog has been deleted without warning. (Microsoft, I would have appreciated a heads-up. It’s not like you don’t know how to reach me!)

This is unfortunate, since there are literally thousands of links to it spread over the internet that are now dead. And there was a lot of good historical content there. This is very disappointing.

Fortunately I have a backup of all the text, and the graphs and images can be recreated.

I’ve started putting up the old content here, but it will take some time to get it all formatted correctly and whatnot. So far I’ve made it through September 12, 2003, so one day down, many hundreds more to go.

Apparently all the old MSDN blogs are being taken down, which is a great loss. I relied upon old blogs like the late, great cbrumme’s blog to archive the early design decisions for .NET, and there are many others that will be missed.

 

 

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28 thoughts on “So long, MSDN blog

  1. What if you put all your articles as Markdown-formatted documents to a Git repository published elsewhere so everyone could clone and have a mirror copy? I believe you use a static site generator on your site, and it might be probably a good idea to integrate your articles “source code” with your site.

  2. Raymond Chen went through the same thing, for his The Old New Thing blog. If I recall correctly, he got a lot of assistance from the Microsoft staff to port his old content to his new location and even remap and redirect links. The situation is slightly different, because the new location is still hosted by Microsoft. But they might still be able to assist in some fashion, assuming that part of the work is simply a matter of extracting the old content into some easily importable format.

    I would not expect that kind of service to be provide for 100% of the blogs they deleted. But on MSDN there are (uh, were) just a handful of highly-trafficked blogs with a large volume of valuable, highly-useful content, and your blog is unquestionably one of those. If nothing else, the value it provides to those who wish to continue using, or newly adopt, Microsoft technologies should provide them some motivation to streamline the process for you.

    • IIRC at the time I left Microsoft, mine was the second-highest-traffic MSDN blog representing an individual voice; Raymond’s was obviously first. (There were I think eight or ten “team blogs” that were higher traffic.)

      But at the time I left Microsoft, I was told that .NET management no longer considered my blog a valuable asset, and that I should stop working on it on company time, and that they had “community PMs” who would be owning the relationship with the programming community.

      Around that time I was also told, funnily enough, that I should never mention Windows on my blog, because the Windows marketing team wanted to own all communications with developers about writing software for Windows.

      I really enjoyed my time at Microsoft; the people I left behind were amazing, and I miss working with them. And none of the above is high on the list of reasons why I left Microsoft. But middle management was *weird*, man, *weird*.

      • But at the time I left Microsoft, I was told that .NET management no longer considered my blog a valuable asset, and that I should stop working on it on company time, and that they had “community PMs” who would be owning the relationship with the programming community.

        Wow, that sucks. Very disappointing behavior from Microsoft.

        • I was not impressed with the explanation I was given, but I obey the will of my corporate masters. They’re the ones who asked me to build a successful blog that engaged the community, and I did exactly that; when that was no longer a strategic need, they told me to stop, so I did.

          • I think blogs from developers are viewed very differently from blogs by community PMs. For example, I think https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20190225-00/?p=101068 (“That time the CEO of a company complained to Congress about Windows file extensions”) is helps Microsoft’s image when released by an “impartial” developer, but is probably a PR disaster if released as an official statement.

          • This is a good point. When I was initially asked to write a blog back in 2003 it was made very clear that the whole point of this thing was to work against the “faceless corporation” image. Every Microsoftie I’ve worked with has been a real person with real interests, who was super-focused on making great software for real customers, but that was not at all the image Microsoft had with developers. They wanted Microsoftie developers to talk directly to real developers, to be human, to be personable, to be frank, and honest and direct and all of that. This mission really resonated with me, and I think I delivered on what was requested.

            As I noted in another comment, that pendulum swung way back in the other direction a few years later, when Windows and other teams wanted to more tightly control their messaging to customers.

  3. Shame on them!
    Have you ever considered to make a book (or a series of books) out of selected articles from your blog?
    It would be like TAOCP for the working programmer of today.

    Anyway, thanks for keeping up good content! It’s really educational for me!

    • I have considered it — Raymond did such a book and it seems to have done reasonably well. But writing and editing books is a *lot* of work, and the “ink on dead trees” business model is one that I am feeling is of decreasing resonance to programmers. As far as the business goes, I make a lot more in royalties on my beginner C# videos that O’Reilly distributes than I do on all my book royalties and editing fees.

      • I guess video is the way to go these days. Most industry experts are going that route now. However, I think for the diversity of topics on your blog, doing video would be almost impossible (or a lifetime kind of project). I don’t think that financially speaking, it would be a sensible option for you.

        I haven’t heard about Raymond Chen before. I’m going to check his work out. If is it as good as yours, I have a couple of years worth of reading material!

        Cheers.

        • Raymond writes about the many fascinating details of Windows programming, but occasionally also delves into C#. But be warned, he is incredibly prolific. There are thousands of posts on his blog!

  4. This isn’t the first time this has happened. The late Michael Kaplan, the i18n expert, had his MSDN blog pulled a long time ago. Years of posts and comments were deleted.

    This was all because (reading between the lines) of a couple polite yet mildly critical posts in the archive. Deleting the whole blog was a complete overreaction.

    His blog was, somehow, substantially recovered, using RSS feeds, browser caches, the Internet Archive, luck, and with hard work by a fellow fan.

    • I hadn’t heard that Michael had died, but I am not surprised; he was of course sadly very ill for a long time. I’m sorry to hear that he passed.

      His blog was indeed very good; he was a world-class expert in his field. He and I had a couple of “run ins” over the years in our early days at Microsoft — he occasionally drove outside his lane, so to speak — but I very much respected his commitment to his work and his enthusiasm for programming.

      • Ah, sorry to break the news.

        I’ve never met either of you, so I definitely can’t judge. But your politely phrased “drove outside his lane” made me laugh a little. What’s done is done now, but hopefully he did not cause too many accidents! . .

        • In retrospect, it was nothing serious. In our very early days at Microsoft, Michael was let’s say “overly enthusiastic” about answering questions in areas where he had less expertise than was required; it’s a common affliction amongst developers, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of the same. And of course he soon became the go-to expert in his area.

  5. The problem is not only with blog posts but with comments as well. Yours and Raymond Chen’s blogs had a lot of interesting and valuable ones. And it is much more difficult to restore them 😦

    • Indeed, I do not have an archive of the comments, and there was a lot of good content and good humour there.

      Apparently one of the sticky issues is that privacy protection rules require that the authors of those comments be able to delete them at will at any time in the future, and that’s a difficult invariant to maintain across a back-end migration.

  6. Hey Eric, Dan Fernandez from Microsoft. We have been migrating blogs since 2017 and enabling employees to export / migrate their blog. To your specific issue, ex-employees that want their blog posts can email me dan(dot)fernandez(at)microsoft(dot)com and I’ll route to the team. This does not include comments as the MSDN/TechNet blogs are not GDPR compliant (aka the right to be forgotten).

    As for why, other community sites like TechCommunity (https://techcommunity.microsoft.com) are driving blogging at Microsoft for individuals, while product teams are looking to group official blogs (Windows, Office, and Visual Studio), and for blog posts that were really tutorials, moving them to open source documentation on https://docs.microsoft.com on GitHub. Customers ran into a number of issues where blogs provided out-of-date content/guidance that lead to support issues. For example, of the 16k+ blogs, 86% had not been used in 18 months and thousands were created with no posts or only a single blog post.

    • Thanks for the update Dan, I appreciate it!

      I don’t think there is any argument that the thousands of blogs with a single post in them could safely be deleted. (How Microsofties were incentivized to create and then quickly abandon technical blogs is an object lesson in the unintended consequences of corporate initiatives, but that would take us far off-topic indeed.)

      I do however think that content that is heavily linked from StackOverflow and elsewhere is in a different category than one-off abandoned blogs.

      I very much appreciate the offer of help, but I’ve got it. I made a copy, and I’ll migrate the content here myself when I have time.

      I think the reason people are piqued by the whole thing is that it was unexpected. I’ve been chatting with Scott this morning, who kindly apologized for the randomness.

    • Yes, “the late X” is a polite way in English to refer to a person who has died; I’ve always thought it was an odd turn of phrase. I didn’t know Chris personally and I don’t know the details, but it was several years ago now, and if I recall correctly, he died relatively young of a rare autoimmune disease. I might be misremembering that though.

  7. Pingback: Dew Drop – March 25, 2019 (#2925) | Morning Dew

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