What’s the point of seeking ideas and feedback if you’re going to delete ”merge” the ones you don’t like? That’s exactly what Dell is doing with its IdeaStorm web site, which has been set up by the company to solicit ideas and feedback.

Someone using the alias Beer28 (who is not affiliated with TECH.BLORGE.com) posted a negative ”idea” with a link back to my article Dell makes excuses for backing off Linux on IdeaStorm. Both Beer28′s post and my article criticized Dell for back tracking on its decision to offer Linux preinstalled on its PCs and notebooks. Within hours the post, which was here, was deleted “merged”.

No matter, I have helped Dell with their technical difficulties by providing the screen shot below (click on it for a full sized version).

The post that Dell didn’t want you to see (click to enlarge)

One might think that Dell’s wisest move would have been to do whatever it could to assuage the customer base they are upsetting.  At the very least, don’t do anything to further damage your already-slipping reputation, right?

Now, who am I to question the honorable intentions of mighty Dell; however, it does seem that an “open” response forum was seemingly censored due to a negative post regarding Dell’s conduct…

If, in fact, the intention of Dell’s IdeaStorm site is to truly gain insight into the desires of Dell’s customers, why would it object to a post that comments on their conduct in the Linux debacle?  Is that not precisely the feedback they claim to want?

It appears that Dell has chosen to really open up to its users, and … manage their own public image on their IdeaStorm response site (sarcasm intended).

Perhaps the web site’s title is misleading; they must have meant a “storm of ideas” that make us look honest, customer-oriented, and approachable.

My business sense is not nearly on par with the corporate brilliance residing at Dell, but apparently the best way to respond to pressure is to squeeze your giant fist and eliminate negative commentary.

But somehow that doesn’t seem to be the right way of doing things.

In my opinion Dell should have left the post on IdeaStorm, and responded to the issues raised. If Dell is trying to create an open and honest forum for its users, why not use it to have an open and honest conversation.

If a Dell representative chooses to respond to this post, I guarantee that neither I nor anyone at BLORGE.com will delete it. Though of course we will verify that it’s the real thing. (Update: John Pope on Dell is commenting on this post)

It seems to me that Dell, like many other big corporates, likes the sound of Web 2.0 and the idea of engaging with customers, but in the end, the company doesn’t really understand what it’s all about, and really doesn’t like what happens when you do ask for feedback.

Very rapidly Dell’s IdeaStorm is turning into a public relations disaster.

Update: Dell responds to accusations of censorship

This article originally appeared in Tech.Blorge.com on March 1, 2007.

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