MSN Search Team Blogs, Admits Bugs

In perhaps Microsoft’s quickest ever response to a product flaw, the MSN search team has apologized for intermittent errors in the beta MSN search engine launched today. The format? A new blog.

By debuting a blog, the search team is following in the footsteps of Google and Yahoo, both of which use their own blogs to communicate with users and Webmasters. It’s also taking a page from Microsoft bloggers like Robert Scoble and the Channel9 team, credited with putting a human face on the software behemoth.

“It’s something we’d been talking about for quite a while, but the fact that we decided to turn it on last night was just decided last night,” Justin Osmer, product manager of MSN Search, told ClickZ News. “We wanted to open more lines of communication with our users and thought that this Weblog would be a good way for us to do that.”

Osmer said the team was trying to reach other search industry bloggers, those interested in MSN and Microsoft, and Webmasters and programmers concerned about how their sites are crawled.

The msnsearch Weblog, at blogs.msdn.com/msnsearch, has only three entries thus far: an introductory note, the announcement of the search beta launch, and an apology for technical difficulties many experienced today. The apology in particular highlights a benefit touted by blogging proponents — blogs provide an informal means of communication to acknowledge errors and solicit feedback from the community. So far, readers have submitted 32 comments.

“It’s a beta so we were expecting some problems. But we weren’t necessarily expecting problems out of the gate,” said Osmer. “Because a lot of the initial feedback [to the blog] was related to the beta site, we thought it was important to get that information up there.”

The new blog links to both Google’s and Yahoo’s blogs, along with other search-related sites.

Osmer said he didn’t have any data on how much traffic the blog has gotten on its first day. Updates will continue at least weekly, he said, with daily updates initially. Osmer said the blog, like MSN search, was a work in progress.

“Certainly we’ve seen the popularity of blogs growing. They’ve been a great way for our development teams to communicate with their audiences,” he said. “As far as long term goals, we just want to provide this forum and see how it goes.”

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