Introducing RE:Office 365

We’ve been working on a new collaborative project regarding Office 365. But first a salute to what has paved the way.

For a few years now, I have run the blog aggregate site The goal has been to bring together blog posts from Microsoft MVPs who are writing about Office 365, into one place for people to keep up to date. The site polls a list of RSS feeds on a regular interval and extracts the first hundred words from any new post that it finds. Readers can click through to read the full story on the original blog site. I personally found it a handy place to find out what my peers are working on and what they are thinking about.

However, the site has become difficult to maintain and the aggregation plugin misbehaves occasionally. Last year there were a few blog posts that were extracted hundreds of times, then tweeted every minute as new posts. Let me tell you, that was not fun tidying up afterwards.

I want to extend my thanks to the MVPs that have supported and continued to write thought provoking content about Office 365. Sadly, we plan to close the site. On February 8th, we will switch off the aggregation plugin and not be importing any more content. 
On February 20th, we will close
However, 2016's challenges led us to consider an alternative.

The team have been working on a more engaging project that will gather together stories, opinions, advice and reactions regarding Office 365. Which is why we have called it RE:Office 365, derived from the expression RE: meaning regarding. A quick check into the origin of the expression reveals that the Latin “Res” was also said “Re” and it means “thing.” Ergo (sorry, a little more Latin meaning therefore), our new project could be called “The thing about Office 365…”

Now, RE: writing platforms. We could have re-purposed the WordPress platform running It is versatile, there are plenty of plugins and it runs nice and neatly in an Azure websites subscription. But we settled on being late comers to the Medium platform. Aside from offering a clean and refreshing reading experience, it’s publishing, networking and commenting capabilities are impressively simple, yet effective. Stories are easy to create in a writing environment that helps you to focus on the content. But it was also important to the team that writers could continue to write content on their own blog sites and use a simple process to republish their stories to REgarding 365. There are a few options to do this which I discuss further in our introduction video:

  1. If you host your blog on a self-hosted WordPress blog (not WordPress), a plugin is available for publishing directly to your Medium account and to the REgarding 365 publication.
  2. If you blog from other platforms, Medium can import a post simply by giving it the URL. The import results from different platforms may vary. Once a post has been imported, it will be available in draft to review, fix any formatting issues and then publish.
  3. Finally, there’s good old cut-and-paste. It’s the more laborious of the three methods but the Medium tools are easy to use so it shouldn’t take too long.

What is a publication and how do you publish to it?

As a writer, you create a Medium account using Twitter, Facebook, Google or your email address. Let us know your Medium account @accountname and we’ll add you as a writer (more on this later.) Content that you write is yours, more than just attributed to you as the author. It is stored in your account. Any story you write can be associated with one Medium publication. This can be performed on a story by story basis. The publication is a collection of stories from different writers. A writer submits the story to the publication, meaning that it wont be visible immediately on REgarding 365. We are forming a team of Editors that will briefly review and publish the story. Editors won’t change the story or review it for technical accuracy, grammatical correctness. The content is your responsibility and should adhere to MVP guidelines and professional commonsense. 
 As you can see, publishing to Medium requires some effort from you as a contributor. But it’s worth it. 
 A couple of good examples of Medium publications are The Mission (life lessons, tech and start up stories) and Backchannel.

We have set up @regarding365 on Twitter to share stories. We encourage you to share the post via Twitter, Facebook or paste a link to it via your favourite social platforms.

So, who is with us?

If you’re a Microsoft MVP or an industry thought leader writing about Office 365, we welcome your stories. Much as we’d like to leave it open to anyone to contribute as a writer, our team do have day jobs and need to keep writer numbers at a manageable level.

If you don’t have a Medium account:

  1. Sign up using your Twitter, Facebook, Google account or your email address.
  2. Contact us
  3. Tweet @regarding365 saying “Count me in. My Medium account is[username] . “ Follow @regarding365 and we’ll follow you back so we can Direct Message.
  4. Or email saying “Count me in. My Medium account is[username]"
  5. If you use a self-hosted WordPress blog, install the Medium plugin. After we have added you as a writer for the publication, you’ll have an option to submit your posts directly to REgarding 365.
  6. If you host on a different blogging platform, visit your Profile > Stories and use the Import a story option to import your first story.
  7. The editing team will check periodically for new stories to publish and will share it via Twitter.

That’s all for now. But I do have a few other ideas to help make the publication even more engaging, involving Live interviews and discussions about the articles we write. 
In the meantime, help us to create a publication that becomes a thought provoking and inspiring place for people and organizations working with Microsoft 365.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.