Who gets to post on office intranet?
May 1, 2014 12:29 PM   Subscribe

A co-worker felt that the policy of only allowing Managers and administrators to post stories to our office intranet was not fair. We're willing to post other people's news tips if they're relevant. This person has repeatedly sent out all-office emails rather than sending them in as tips to the website team, and has been warned before. He complained that some of his tips were not acted on promptly and were only posted after he made a second request. I don't set the policy, but I might be swayed by the idea that such gatekeeping is not fair, at least if it's not implemented consistently. Is anyone else convinced? How do you handle it at your office?

Anyone in the office is allowed to comment on stories, so long as they do not do so anonymously.
posted by larrybob to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Is anyone else convinced?

No. It's your employer's policy to make. It's their intranet. You should have no expectation that your employer is "fair".

To be quite honest, it strikes me as silly to get upset over intranet editing, so I think the problem here is something other than what you're stating it to be. I think some further detail is in order. To a naive outsider like myself, this sounds like "my employer doesn't let me stick whatever I want on the office refrigerator - is that fair?".

How do you handle it at your office?

Different portions of the intranet have different access restrictions - front pages are not editable by normal users; department-specific pages are editable by people in those departments.
posted by saeculorum at 12:35 PM on May 1, 2014 [5 favorites]

At our office everyone is allowed to post anything. We also have an internal listserv that anyone can send anything to. People use it judiciously and if someone were misusing it their manager would privately let them know.
posted by amaire at 12:37 PM on May 1, 2014

This is bizarre. No, it's not "fair" in some sense that managers have more authority than their subordinates, but that's how it works. I mean, it's also not "fair" that some people get paid more than others! The world is not fair.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:37 PM on May 1, 2014 [7 favorites]

The office intranet isn't a bulletin board. It's there as a resource for the employees, and it is monitored and edited by people with a vested interest in keeping it relevant and easy to use.

So no, only the people who are vetted to add things to the intranet should be allowed to do so.

Remind "co-worker" that life isn't fair. If he wants, he can start his own website and run it exactly how he likes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:38 PM on May 1, 2014

What is the rationale for the policy? Does it seem likely to you, given your office, that inappropriate material would get posted? What kind of moderation is available?

IME with this kind of thing, what usually happens is either that the dude with the complaints posts a couple of times and then never again (because it was the complaining that was giving him energy) or else posts a lot of totally unsuitable stuff all the time and it all ends in tears. (It is rare that people who are really kicky-screamy about this kind of small stuff transform into polite enthusiasts.)

I think there's good reasons for moderation on such a site - it means that things are less likely to end in tears.

If the gatekeeping is producing widespread bad feeling and you have enough staffing to keep an eye on the site, it would be reasonable to let everyone post just as a gesture of goodwill. But merely as a matter of convenience, I think it's good to have channels for submission.

I think it isn't fair - but so much is unfair in capitalist systems that starting with "I want to be able to post unspecified and potentially problematic stuff on the intranet" seems like a funny place to start. What is being kept off the intranet by this policy? Is this some kind of "management won't let anyone say anything except smiley nonsense" or is it more "most things get posted as long as they are relevant and everyone pretty much keeps it professional on their own"?
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on May 1, 2014

Do you have published guidelines or is it just a person's judgment? My employer has guidelines such as 'must be business related,' 'must be of interest to the general employee population,' etc. They also recommend submitting the items one week before desired publication date.

We also have a social media area of our intranet where employees can post anything they want.

I'm a fan of things being spelled out, so I'd make sure the web team has a turnaround goal. If submitted by Monday it'll be published on Thursday or whatever.

There's a chance that employee is just trouble and it won't matter either way whatever you do, he'll still complain about the process and email everyone whenever he feels like it because no one else can possibly understand just how important that tip is!!! I hope that's not the case, it was just a feeling I got from your question.
posted by cabingirl at 12:44 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Another option - produce some clearly written guidelines for submission with clearly outlined consequences for posting unsuitable material or posting every ten minutes, let this guy post as much as he wants - and either he'll follow the rules and you win or he posts his every grumpy thought all day and you can apply the consequences. (Which, I mean, would probably be "you can't post on here any more" not "we will apply the knout and then fire you".)

I have encountered many situations where unhappiness over policies can be solved by a better, clearer policy with a built-in "and this is when you have to stop" part.
posted by Frowner at 12:47 PM on May 1, 2014

The office intranet isn't a bulletin board. It's there as a resource for the employees, and it is monitored and edited by people with a vested interest in keeping it relevant and easy to use.

Hell, even if it was a bulletin board, the company can still tell you not to put anything up on it or something specific up on it or let some people have free thumbtack privileges and some not based on rank, seniority, or whatever they want that isn't a protected class. Not entirely fair, but not entirely unusual either.

That said, here in my highly-regulated corporate environment, those guidelines are pretty well defined, so that even though the regulations might not seem "fair", they do have some sort of authority behind them. (On preview, cabingirl said the same thing better.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:47 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

At my organization (5000+ users) we route all web updates through a form, same mechanism as the Help Desk uses for incident and service requests, but these requests go straight to the Web Team, and bypass the Help Desk completely. Same goes for org-wide emails. This might be harder to implement in an org where there are few enough users that a person could add them all manually, but we have the "all users" email alias locked down to a few specific people.

We have a pretty firm policy on what is and what is not allowed. Stuff that comes from a boss, stuff for charities, and urgent things (Heartbleed, say) move to the front of the line.

For a troublesome submitter we show them the rules and assure them we are treating their requests just like everybody else's, show them the rules and then make sure we enforce them consistently.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:27 PM on May 1, 2014

In our organization, the web team posts to the front page, and trusted departmental users edit their pages.

I'd route this person's requests through management. If management approves, they're posted. I'd also remove the ability for everyone in the company to send to the "All Users" list. I've seen some inappropriate stuff mistakenly sent to a whole company because that list wasn't limited.
posted by cnc at 1:36 PM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

An alternative I've seen at larger companies is to have multiple opt-in internal lists, some of which are unmoderated. This way, people who like to talk about playing pool after work can subscribe to poolplayers@company.com, people who want to buy/sell stuff can use forsale@company.com, and sometimes various random nonsense groups form (which sometimes end badly). This assumes that management is ok with a general atmosphere of emailed non-work correspondence among the office, which may well not be acceptable in a more hierarchical or risk-averse employer.
posted by zachlipton at 1:40 PM on May 1, 2014

He complained that some of his tips were not acted on promptly and were only posted after he made a second request.

Well was he right? And were the things he sent via email the kind of thing that would have otherwise been posted to the intranet?

If the answers to those questions are 'yes' then it sounds like he has a point. Maybe don't make it a free-for-all, but figure out how to fix the problem. Maybe just give this particular guy access.

If the answers are 'no' then the problem is this guy, not the system.
posted by mullacc at 1:46 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have only worked at one place with an Intranet, and it was very different than what you seem to be describing. It was more just information that we all needed on a regular basis (phone numbers, guidelines, forms, etc).

It sounds like the problem is with this one guy, not the Intranet itself. All-office emails are obnoxious. My current company restricts the ability to send emails to everyone - I think only managers and the office admin can send them.

However I think guideline (and enforcing them) is the way to go.
posted by radioamy at 2:01 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks, some great ideas here. I like the idea of having written guidelines, and also a submission method. Also the idea of locking down all-office emails to restrict to managers or administrators.
posted by larrybob at 2:49 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

We don't allow non-managers to post site-wide things or department-wide emails because the information is frequently wrong. (I spend a surprising amount of time disabusing people of notions they got from some misguided 2009 e-mail.)

Your situation doesn't sound exactly analogous, but everyone should be able to understand the wisdom of vetting something the whole company can see. (Also, people using "fair" in this manner don't sound ready for an adult job.)
posted by spaltavian at 4:10 PM on May 1, 2014

A possible reason his tips aren't posted is that they aren't in the form required. If it requires editing or lots of work to post his tips, then it might not happen. If he is requesting to post many things, some might also slip through.

If you're his manager, I'd start by looking at why exactly some of his tips aren't getting posted; even if the problem is him, maybe it's easy for him to fix (e.g. "don't send more than 1 tip every 7 days" or "check spelling and etc before submitting" or "we're not gonna write a paragraph about this, you should do that yourself" or "send us your reference for this so we don't have to work hard to factcheck").

Clear guidelines and a submission method would help with these problems, too.
posted by nat at 4:16 PM on May 1, 2014

I work in the public sector and am surprised by some of the "tips" other employees choose to pass along to hundreds and sometimes thousands of other employees. Sometimes they're as bad as the forwards your great uncle Stu sends you complete with GIFs, etc. Just this morning I was shaking my head over a particularly egregious one that was sent out to tens of thousands of employees.

I think more limited access is better and having a gatekeeper that screens postings would be really great. Definitely on the list of little things that would make my day better, not having to exercise my delete key as often.

I'd also mention - the more useless your intranet page is, the less likely people are to visit it. So by being selective about the tips that are posted you're probably increasing viewership (or the number of people that pay attention) and thus increasing your intranet's value to individual employees and the organization.
posted by arnicae at 4:27 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

We have the main site/department pages saeculorum describes. We also have a "news you can use" bulletin-board-like page and a wiki.

The department pages are for frequently used reference information like conference room calendars, phone lists, special instructions in effect, etc.

The wiki, anyone can put whatever they want, and the reader is expected to take anything there with a grain of salt. Hardly anyone ever uses that.

The "news you can use" is the tricky one. We're a pretty big organization, 10,000+ employees. That's mostly used for non-mission-critical general announcements that would otherwise have to be given to each manager to pass down to the supervisor, to announce to the employees. Blood drives, parking lot closures, a word from the commander, etc. In theory, anyone can submit an announcement to the public affairs department to post on the page. They're pretty reluctant to do that in practice, though, because there's an implied endorsement by the organization of anything posted there. Public affairs WILL fact-check it, screen it for sensitive information, make sure it aligns with the corporate vision and message, think about whether it will offend anyone, and a thousand other things. Even then, it might not get posted if they don't think it will be applicable to enough people. Since everyone is responsible to keep up on the posted information, they don't like to clutter it up with 10,000 people's nonsense.
posted by ctmf at 10:55 PM on May 1, 2014

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