Dirty Laundry on the Web

Von David Weinberger
Web Sites von Unternehmen sind vielfach bestimmt durch kompromisslose Selbstdarstellung. Die PR-geschliffene Sprache tut ein übriges, Leser durch Unglaubwürdigkeit zu vertreiben. In den Foren seiner Web Site geht der Öl-Konzern Shell andere Wege.

Quelle: Darwin, USA

It's not often that a company publishes accusations of murder on itswebsite, especially when the accusations are directed against thecompany. But when the Hague, Netherlands-based Royal Dutch/Shell Groupof Companies committed to an open discussion with the world'scitizenry, they meant it. The result is a site that blazes a trail forcompanies that want to take their customers seriously as worldcitizens and not just as potential revenue sources.

The accusations are found in postings to open forums the companymaintains on its website ( In fact, the forums are nowhighlighted in the left-hand navigation bar of the page, a vastimprovement over the previous version of the site, in which it wasjust about impossible to differentiate Shell's "values" from those ofevery other company. For example, the lead item on the homepage usedto be The Shell Report, a showpiece corporate brochure full of theoverblown language that unwittingly invites the reader to skip overit.

The Shell Report begins with this quotation from the snowy-browedchairman: "We face great challenges. Energy systems must evolve--tomeet new needs, offer new choices, provide new solutions. It will takecommitment, creativity, compassion and courage. We should look forwardwith humility--but also with confidence in the ability of our peopleto respond. It's a privilege to be part of this endeavor."

The Shell Report is still there, but it's been reduced to a mere linkamong other links. Instead, the redesigned homepage featuresmagazine-style reports on Shell's good works and business successes.These stories are sometimes personal but still smell of the oil fromthe PR machinery. To their left, however, is a link to the forumswhere you'll find evidence that the values proclaimed and tracked inThe Shell Report are actually taken quite seriously by at least somepeople in the company.

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