Monday, December 7, 2009

The CMSWatch Emperor has no Clothes

Carl Tyler set the cats among the pigeons when he blogged about CMSWatch's article on 'The Difference between SharePoint and Lotus Notes'. The original CMS post had stated
" ... the fact that IBM is slowly phasing out Domino in favor of newer platforms ... "
and they were quickly smothered by a plethora of Yellowverse comments deriding their lack of knowledge. CMSWatch quickly backpedalled and admitted that they just 'mis-spoke', however it was interesting that it wasn't the original author who issued the retraction and apology (providing you accept that using the weasel word 'mis-spoke' is actually an apology).

So do you think those antics are good enough for a professional advisory service? Most of us get paid nothing for our blogs and that's a fair wage. Now and again one of us generates something of real value (Declan's X-Pages tutorials come to mind as does every second or third post from Nathan Freeman) but the majority of PlanetLotus feeds are just the day-to-day technical soap operas of a bunch of us IT folk - and that's fine by me.

However these CMSWatch people expect you to pay for their opinions. They will sell you an intranet site licence for all of their reports for a cool $16,000 per year or only $950 if you just want to read the Basic Sharepoint Report. But how the heck can their Sharepoint report be of any value when they obviously know so little about the main competitor to Sharepoint?

The list of people featured on their webpage who recommend the Sharepoint report made for interesting reading:
  • Barb Mosher, (Senior Editor, ) ... would she be the person who reviews their work for publication under the CMSxxx brand? If so, then her comments do not constitute an independent review.
  • Hugh McKellar, (Editor, KMWorld Magazine ) ... who had just held a joint webinar with CMSWorld about Sharepoint so there is an existing commercial relationship with that reviewer.
  • Two quotes each from Michael Sampson ( President, The Michael Sampson Company Ltd) and Paul Culmsee, (IT Consultant, Clever Workaround) ... doubtless they are highly skilled people but their respective websites show that both of them are one-man band consulting outfits who sell Sharepoint consulting services, so once again we don't see evidence of independent review.
There were two other endorsements that I didn't check beyond the ten second scrutiny I gave to the people listed above, but when you combine their demonstrated lack of knowledge about Notes/Domino with the thinness of the Sharepoint Report reviewer's credentials then IMHO CMSWatch have a looooooooooong way to go before they can be taken seriously as 'impartial reviewers' in the collaboration space. These guys seem like Sharepoint Fellow-Travellers who just jumped aboard the 'Let's-bash-Notes' wagon before checking their facts. The problem is, people are probably buying and reading and believing their stuff these guys write.

'mis-spoke' ... what a great word!


Sean Cull said...

Your comments on Michael ( and his web site ) are interesting.

My recollection of him was as much respected supported of Lotus or at least someone who took a balanced view which often led to praise for Lotus

Graham Dodge said...

Michael Sampson contacted me to clarify that he is an advisor (who helps people decide on technology direction) rather than an implementer (who installs/configures/builds with the software). I asked Michael whether he felt sufficiently experienced with the technical capabilities of Notes R8.5 to be able to compare it to Sharepoint and his response drew a clear line between the value of the Sharepoint report (which he endorsed) and the later comments made by the authors of the report. My impression was that he doesn't want to be drawn any further into the conversation.

So I stand by the main point of by blog post which wasn't that Michael wasn't qualified to have an opinion on the Sharepoint Report, but rather that CMSWatch's list of endorsers seemed pretty thin if they needed to double dip into Michael's comments.

Carl said...

Just to add my $0.02. Michael Sampson is someone I greatly admire. I have known him for a number of years, and he is always someone that does his research before making sweeping statements. I do not associate Michael with this article, and continue to respect Michael's opinions.

Paul said...


Just to clarify my own position in relation to this post.

I was contacted by CMSWatch to review their report, which I did. I have no relationship with them beyond this review and was not compensated it in any way. (and if I didn't think their report was any good I wouldn't have published a review as I frequently get asked to review stuff that doesn't make the cut).

ALso that review was not in relation to Lotus Notes, so this is all news to me as I specialise in SharePoint in any event.

Also for the record, although it was reviewed by my blog, my company is a small business and I am not a sole operator.

kind regards


Michael Sampson said...

Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you earlier today Graham. I will respond further (on my blog), so I failed to communicate that appropriately to you during our phone call. You were in a meeting when you took my call, so I understand that you needed to get back to business at hand.

And to Sean and Carl ... thanks guys! I appreciate your support in respect to Graham's comments in the original post. Although I have written a number of SharePoint centric things during the past few years, I still maintain that I offer independent and impartial advice.

Michael Sampson said...

Graham, here's the promised blog post ...


Brice Dunwoodie said...

Your post seems to imply that the publication is somehow linked to CMS Watch. Though we share some acronyms, I do want to clarify that these are two totally distinct entities.

I would encourage a little more homework as well. For example, I'm not sure that the people who "mis-spoke" are even the authors of CMS Watch's SharePoint report. From what I know, Apoorv is a new hire and Adriaan typically focuses on WCM and search.

Brice Dunwoodie

Graham Dodge said...

Hi Brice,

Thanks for your comment and correction. I did point out that I had only given each reviewer a ten second scrutiny and my general impression was that the structure of the endorsements had been unnaturally padded. Why split Michael's and Paul's comments into two separate sections and place them at opposite ends of the list of endorsements (thus apparently getting four separate endorsements from only two reviewers)?

For now, let's get rid of this nonsensical 'mis-spoke' rubbish. I can accept that description when a visiting dignitary stubs their toe and involuntarily lets out a four letter word. In this case one of your analysts with permission to publish on your web-site wrote a reasonably detailed opinion piece that was just plain wrong. After that post was duly hammered into the ground one of the blogger's colleagues makes a weasel-word pro-forma third person apology on the blogger's behalf. That wasn't misspeaking - the guy just didn't do his homework. If I make a mistake on my blog then I personally write the apology and correction and I did expect that Adriaan would do the same.

The big difference between my blog and CMSWatch is that I don't sell my opinions for cash. You guys DO sell your opinions (for a five-figure sum at times) and so yes, you are held to a higher standard.

So do you have any analyst there that does understand Notes in-depth? If you don't, then how can you claim to comprehend what is happening in that part of the market. If you do have such a person then where is their blog?