If you noticed posting has been slower than usual lately, it's because I'm on a vacation hiatus. Regular blogging will resume next week.
John Scalzi is one of my favorite SF authors, as regular readers know. On his blog, he recently posted some interesting thoughts on the state of blogging:
My piece earlier this week on Clinton and Sanders blew up a bit, with roughly 75,000 views over two days. This gave me an excuse to check my referrers and ego search on Google and see a bit of who was talking about the post and/or sending people my way.
What I found: Facebook was by far the largest mover of visits and the place where the largest number of people were commenting on the piece, on their own wall or in the comments of others. Twitter was the next highest contributor of traffic/discussion. After that, and a bit down the scale, a couple of political sites, community sites like Metafilter or Reddit, and Google Plus, which, yes, apparently some people still use. But, interestingly, almost none of the conversation about/traffic to the piece was coming from personal blogs.
This is not entirely surprising given the social media landscape these days, but it is a fundamental change in how traffic comes to the site. Even a couple of years ago, as an aggregate, personal blogs funneled a fair amount of traffic into Whatever. Here in 2016, however, personal blogs as a traffic driver seem to be a non-starter.
After reading his post, I checked out my referrals and guess what? Right, most are coming from Twitter and, to a much lesser extent, Facebook. All of my blog posts automatically link to Twitter, where they are publicly available. Not all of my blog posts are posted to Facebook, because until recently my Facebook home page has been private and viewable only by friends. Unlike a lot of folks, moreover, I limit my Facebook friends list to people I actually know and actually like.
Because it seems like a substantial number of people are now using Facebook instead of news aggregators to access blogs, however, I have now added a public Facebook page for the blog. At this point, I expect that the Facebook page will be used only to post blog links. It'll give folks a new way to keep track of the blog.
Back to Scalzi:
What happened? Anecdotally, it looks like two things, somewhat related: personal blogs have either died as people migrated over to Facebook and/or Twitter, or they have largely changed their character, becoming less about posting thoughts and commentary on a regular basis (and linking out to the stuff that inspired the entry) and becoming more about a place to have a permanent repository of information about that person themselves — news and updates about life and career, but much less interactive, and updated less frequently or in depth. Where did that chatty stuff go? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on. ...
What a blog is today is part of an overall presence, with a specific role that complements other online outposts (which in turn complement the blog). I do it myself — longer pieces here, which I will point to from other places. Shortform smartassery on Twitter. Personal Facebook account to keep up with friends; public Facebook and Google Plus pages to keep fans up on news — news which is often announced here and linked to from there.
This has certainly been the case with ProfessorBainbridge.com. Since I got a Twitter account, most of my political rants, smart aleck snark, religious comments, and so on has migrated from the blog to my Twitter account. Like Scalzi, my personal Facebook account is used to pretty much exclusively to keep up with friends. Today, as a result, the blog is mainly used for long form posts about corporate law and governance. Of course, as has been the case for the last 13 years, what I do here is recreational blogging, so there will continue to be recipes, wine tasting notes, fantasy football reports, and political musings. The precise mix will probably vary, but the recent mix is likely to be the norm at least for a while.
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Email from the ABA Journal:
We're working on our annual list of the 100 best legal blogs, and we'd like your advice on which blogs you think we should include. Go to this link to tell us about a blog—not your own—that you read regularly and think other lawyers should know about. Send us a separate message for each blog you want to support. We may include some of the best comments in our Blawg 100 coverage. But keep your remarks pithy—you have a 500-character limit.
Friend-of-the-blawg briefs are due no later than 11:59 p.m. CT on Friday, Aug. 16, 2015.
Bloggers, by all means tell your readers about Blawg 100 Amici and invite them to send us messages on behalf of your blog.
Consider yourself invited.
Apparently my site has been hijacked by the gogardenclub.com redirect attack. I have deleted the Sitemeter widget, which reportedly is the source of the problem. If it happened to you in the past, please accept my apologies. If it happens again in the future, please let me know ASAP.
I was amused, puzzled, and mildly annoyed by this post at Prawfsblawg:
You may have noticed a recent "sponsored post" on our feed, and there were some questions from our valued readers about it. We're happy to provide some information.
We were pleased to reach a sponsorship agreement with West in spring 2014. Occasional sponsored posts, written by prominent law professors, are part of that new relationship, and have appeared intermittently since last spring.
We welcome West on Prawfsblawg. But we should make clear that West provides the content of those posts. They do not necessarily represent the views of the other writers on Prawfsblawg, although their subject matter is consistent with this blog's conversation about law schools and legal education.
Seems like they've swapped their birthright for a mess of pottage.
Blogging by academics is now routine. But it's worth occasionally pausing to consider whether it still makes sense. A thoughtful post by Patrick Dunleavy offers good reasons for it remaining a key part of every academic's portfolio:
Academic blogging gets your work and research out to a potentially massive audience at very, very low cost and relative amount of effort. Patrick Dunleavy argues blogging and tweeting from multi-author blogs especially is a great way to build knowledge of your work, to grow readership of useful articles and research reports, to build up citations, and to foster debate across academia, government, civil society and the public in general.
What's interesting for me is that Dunleavy makes a strong case for what he calls multi-author blogs (MABs), which differ from group blogs in having hundreds rather than a dozen or two authors. In my field, Harvard's corporate governance forum probably comes closest to a MAB. I like it. But it's not really my thing.
Steve Bradford has a very complete and useful set of links to blogs, news services, and the like that he uses to keep up with his professional reading. I read most of the same sources that he does, funneling all that have RSS feeds through my Feedly account. The one thing I do that he doesn't mention is that I have used Westlaw's alert service to set up a bunch of standardized research searches to run every month to flag cases and articles that seem likely to be relevant to current or ongoing areas of interest. Oh yes, and I also subscribe the the Green Bag.
My friend Wharton professor Eric Orts has started a blog where he'll be focusing on topics falling into one (or more) of three "buckets":
Marcia Narine is a rising star in corporate law academia and the blawgosphere who I've been following with interest for some time. In her latest post at Business Law Professor Blog she poses the following questions as Dodd-Frank turns 4. So I thought I'd try my hand at offering some answers:
1) When Dodd-Frank turns five next year, how far behind will we still be, and will we have suffered another financial blip/setback/recession/crisis that supporters say could have been prevented by Dodd-Frank?
I'm not a macro economist, so I have no idea whether the economy will tank in the next year (but if forced to guess with a gun to my head, I'd say no). As for being behind, she is referring to the fact that the regulatory agencies have only adopted about half of the rules Congress mandated in the Dodd Frank statute. My prediction: In July 2015, about 65% of the required Dodd Frank rulemaking proceedings will have resulted in a final rule but at least 15% will still not have even resulted in a proposed rule.
2) How will the results of the mid-term elections affect the funding of the agencies charged with implementing the law?
Obviously, the big question here is whether the GOP takes control of the Senate. My current guess is that we end up with a 50-50 Senate, with Biden throwing control to the Democracts (and thereby being so busy that he has no chance of beating Hillary for the 2016 Democrat nod). If so, we're looking at high odds of a budgetary train wreck.
3) What will the SEC do to address the Dodd-Frank rules that have already been invalidated or rendered otherwise less effective after litigation from business groups such as §1502, Conflict Minerals Rule (see here for SEC response) or §1504, the Resource Extraction Rule (see here for court decision)?
Both of those rules are pet favorites of the left, so I see the SEC's three Democrat members facing enormous political pressure to get them into law by 2016.
4) Given the SEC's failure to appeal after the proxy access litigation and the success of the lawsuits mentioned above, will other Dodd-Frank mandates be vulnerable to legal challenge?
I think the SEC has finally figured out that it has to throw a lot of resources into doing cost/benefit analysis of its rules and that it has to stick to the limits of its statutory authority. If I'm right, their new rules should be less vulnerable to challenge. In addition, given that Obama's finally been able to tilt the DC Circuit to the Democrat side (7-4), the odds are much better that any challenge will be decided by a pro-SEC panel.
5) Will the whistleblower provision that provides 10-30% of any recovery over $1 million to qualified persons prevent the next Bernie Madoff scandal? I met with the SEC, members of Congress and testified about some of my concerns about that provision before entering academia, and I hope to be proved wrong.
I have no idea. But I did read an interesting article on health care fraud whistleblowers in today's WSJ. Does that count for anything?
Remember Senior District Judge Richard George Kopf who told the SCOTUS to STFU? Apparently one of his keepers screwed up and let him near a computer, because he's back and, instead of responding on the merits to any of the folks who took him to task, the dummKopf has the balls to tell me to "grow up." This from the idiot who is a self-confessed "dirty old man" who blogged about how much he appreciated an attractive female lawyer who "wears very short skirts and shows lots of her ample chest."
I still think the judge needs to take his own advice and STFU.
Update: And I have the same advice for the judge's left-liberal groupies who have been trolling my email and twitter feed.
Update 2: And now the judge is attacking Rick Hasen, one of the best bloggers I know.
Update 3: Althouse points out that the Judge's attack is not well grounded:
The "florid" post of Bainbridge's accused Kopf of "(thinly veiled) anti-Catholicism," which (understandably) irked Kopf. Kopf says Bainbridge cited no evidence, but the evidence was Kopf's own statement that all the Justices in theHobby Lobby majority are Catholic. That's some evidence, but not enough to meet the burden of proof in the courtroom Kopf has no knowledge of Bainbridge ever stepping into if somehow the question of Kopf's anti-Catholicism were an issue.
I'd say it's pretty damned good circumstantial evidence.
Update 3: The good judge has announced that he will be ignoring me from now on out. And it was just getting fun.
I've been a long-term holdout on Paul Caron's periodic rankings of law professor blog traffic, for a lot of reasons. But here's the latest--and I think strongest--reason for opting out:
If you look over the stats closely, you'll notice that all of the members of his Law Professor Blogs Network are up between 35% and 350% in traffic over the last year, with most of the blogs increasing between 100% and 200%. At the same time, I have noticed my LPBN pages automatically refreshing when I leave the window open.
So I guess I'll lay out my views straightforwardly -- I don't see any real reason to have auto-refresh other than to boost traffic. I suppose that if I wanted to just open up the blog and let the auto-refresh do my work for me, I could be assured of getting the most recent content. But if I leave the window open to a blog, it's often because I am in the midst of working my way through the past blog posts and want to come back to it -- not to have to figure out where I was. It makes viewing a video over time impossible, as well (as Caron himself notes). And if I'm on the page of a particular post, I suppose I might like the refresh to show any new comments -- but that's a pretty niche desire. What's more likely, perhaps, is that a lengthy comment will get "vaporized" by the refresh rates, as this comment thread indicates. (A great post & comment thread, BTW!)
So is the refresh innovation a real improvement in the blogging experience, or just a way to boost traffic?
Whatever the motivation for the change may have been, I think it makes Paul's rankings meaningless. Because those of us who don't inflict auto-refresh on our readers will be at an inherent disadvantage, the rankings will have no correlation to merit or even readership rates.
Update: The comments section over at the original Prawfsblawg post by Matt Bodie has gotten quite interesting, to say the least.