As you may have forgotten at this point, this blog is being sponsored by Marqui. More details are available here and here.
So, what's happened in the first half-month of the largest pay-for-blogging program yet? Well, the sky hasn't fallen, none of the bloggers has been revealed as Satan, and I think my integrity lies intact (except for that time I begged everyone to purchase Charmin. Charmin! I love Charmin!).
Marqui has published a FAQ of sorts, answeing some questions people have been asking these last few weeks. The program certainly seems to be working out for Marqui, getting it a lot of publicity, but I can imagine it'll be a challenge to keep the interest level high as the next ten weeks pass by. Cool enough, the page was produced as an "interactive brochure" using Marqui's system, so it actually functions as both information and a product demo.
The first thing addressed is what Marqui likes to call "Software as a Service" (and because everything must have an acronym, SaaS). Rather than hosting the whole shebang themselves, Marqui sets up the system on your servers and gives you control over it. I know blogs are on a much smaller scale than CMS, but I can't wait to get my blog off Bloggers servers and onto a faster one of my own, where I can better control pages, so I can relate. Way I look at it, if you're paying Marqui $199/month after an initial startup fee of ~$5000, you'd better have full control over your server. If you're interested in it, you'd probably be pleased to learn that its programmed with ASP, so its platform independent. You can use any sort of server, whatever you're comfortable with. Apparently, some people are using it by only publishing Word documents to a file server, so it works not only well for the technically inclined, but also for the people who still think you can use Word in publishing (yeah, I'm referring to one of my relatives, you know who you are).
Anyway, since this program is all about communication (not just about Marqui's communication system, but about communicating with the blogosphere), the bloggers in the program have been pestering Marqui to get out their as well. Marqui figured it could pay us to talk about them, I don't think they expected to find a bunch of people (who they're paying) telling them to start their own blog!
Most companies who have their ear to the blogs implement community oriented features, and it looks like the bloggers are forcing Marqui to move in that direction. Besides the coming corporate blog, Marqui is now talking about a user-to-user support program, public demos, and publishing APIs. Even the FAQ questions were submitted by a blogger. I'm a major advocate that companies that listen to bloggers have to get better, otherwise the bloggers will just skewer them. We're seeing a new attitude at Microsoft in this regard, and I'm hoping Marqui learns from their experiment to develop the same way.