Contrarian insight #4: Get real and stay real. In fact, Spolsky's philosophy is not to fake it, but to get real.
"I saw one blog where the marcom people felt that showing any personal names was a violation of some sort of sacred trust or privacy thing, so they didn't allow any," he says. "But an anonymous Weblog is worthless."
The whole point of a blog is to show a human face and an individual mind poking through the vast anonymity of the Web, Spolsky says. Without that, you're nothing.
"You can go to the Oracle Web site and find a bunch of white papers. But there's nobody writing in the first person. They don't talk about their lives or their work or what's really going on with them. So they're missing out on an opportunity to really connect with their users as people."
Most corporate Web sites hide everything behind a mask of blandness. And Spolsky isn't alone in this view.
Online copywriting guru Nick Usborne would concur. In his book "Net Words: Creating High-Impact Copy Online," Usborne says this about writing for customers on the Web:
"You should be writing much closer to the way in which you talk and less like the way in which you write... You need to stop writing at them and change your tone. Write with them, almost as if you were talking with them. Loosen up. Relax your style."
Contrarian insight #5: Forget the marcom blah blah. Another thing to avoid, Spolsky says, is the "typical marcom blah blah."
You know the blah blah: All that empty hype and those vacuous promises about how your "software solution provides seamless integration with existing infrastructure across the entire enterprise."
No one believes it for a second. IT managers have been through it 100 times before, and they have the scars to prove it. They know there are problems with every system, and the test of a good vendor is how well they come through when the chips are down, not how many happy faces they show in their brochures.
"Remember all those newspaper columns and books supposedly written by Bill Gates about how everything was going to be great? Nobody believed it was really him, and it wasn't really him, it was all written by some marcom people, and it was all just marcom blah blah."
For more on this topic, see Spolsky's tirade "How Many Lies Can You Find in One Direct Mail Piece?" which eviscerates a mailing he got from Earthlink.
Contrarian insight #6: Forget PR. Spolsky has better things to do than court the press. After all, his users are more likely to see Slashdot than The Wall Street Journal.
"Usually journalists don't ask if they can quote me. Some will just read my articles online and steal the ideas without attributing them to me. Some will quote me as though they phoned when they didn't, which I think is lazy journalism. And a few will actually phone and talk to me."