Have you ever wondered what happens if you give 10.000 people access to an open-beta that is supposed to be under NDA?
Firstly, the NDA is no-go from the get-go. There is no way you can claim that you actually expect 10.000 people to not talk about something they know about. VMware vSpere 6.0 was the worst kept secret ever, for a reason. It might have been planned that way all along for all I know, but if that was the case, the NDA should never have been in place to begin with.
Secondly, what happens when said product finally gets announced, and scores of people have pre-made blog content about all the new, and presumably secret, features? A lot of it is wrong, because people have been writing about features that have either been dropped or changed come release time.
So, now what do you do? Well, VMware decided to “Clarify the misinformation”. I’m sorry, but all of this reads as a text-book way of not handling things.
So, here is my own personal advice to VMware for the next round:
- Decide on a beta format. If you do an open beta, drop the NDA and have people discuss it. If you do a closed beta, that’s fine too, invite people and slap a NDA on it. No problem. You can’t really have it both ways.
If you solicit blog posts for publicity reasons during a launch event, do the bloggers a favor and tell them, beforehand, if something has changed or been dropped since the beta. If you don’t trust them to not leak information, what was the NDA worth to begin with?
- Don’t solicit blog posts, and then call it misinformation if things have changed, and you haven’t informed anyone of it. That’s just plain rude.
Come on VMware, you have been able to do things like this before, without this kind of problems. I’m sure you can do it again. As for the title for this post? Have a look at The misinformation effect.