If you've noticed the intermittent outages since Thursday of last week and the total outage for the last several days, it's not because I took a vacation. The blog hosting service I use--Typepad--claims to have the victim of a major DDoS attack.
All I know is that getting the service up and running has taken far too long. Typepad should have had better defenses in place (it's not like this is the first DDoS in history), better options for dealing with an attack, and sufficient staffing to get the system up faster. When Basecamp went down to a similar DDoS, it was back up in about 3-4 hours.
Like most bloggers, I get a constant deluge of offers of guest posts from PR flacks. I just add them to my spam folder. But I'm not opposed to offering guest posting opportunities to my fellow corporate and securities law scholars. I'm delighted to have posted Lyman Johnson and David Millon's short essay on Williams Act preemption. If you're interested in guest posting, let me know.
The Washington Post today announced a partnership with The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that covers law, public policy, politics, culture and other topics.
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, founded the blog in April 2002, and it quickly became a regular destination for Supreme Court junkies, academics, and anyone interested in law and national issues. Most of the contributors are law professors, and include some of the top legal scholars in the nation.
Their expertise covers free speech, religious freedom, guns, criminal procedure, environmental law, business law, national security law, and much more. Some of the contributors also have extensive records in government service, and in high-profile Supreme Court litigation: they include a former federal judge; one of the chief architects of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act individual mandate; a former general counsel for the NSA and former Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS; and a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.
Yesterday, Paul Horwitz at Prawfsblawg posted about some of the reasons he has been blogging less these days. One of his points hit home with me and echoed one of the reasons I have posted less the past year(s).
Anyone who has blogged for a long time knows it can be difficult to keep it up. Some of it has to do with the usual peaks and valleys of a person's life, including his writing life. A good deal of it has to do with the heated nature of many discussions and comment threads (including from professors), especially around legal education. I think there are good reasons for that, although it does not excuse absolutely any kind of rhetoric in my view. But heated discussions on any topic are more time-consuming to monitor, which I think one must, and can reach a point of exhaustion (both as to the discussion and as to the individual blogger involved) fairly quickly.
I'm assuming that Paul is referencing the "law school scam" meme that has overpowered almost every online discussion of law school and anything having to do with law school. ...
I have to say that now, I hardly ever post about teaching law. Though the benefit might be helping a junior law prof who is reading or getting advice from other law profs, the the downside is a torrent of comments that can be summed up in one sentence: "Law school is a scam and you are an overpaid, underworked fraud who will soon be out of a job and unfit for the legal profession." A person can only see that so many times without taking it personally.
Now, you might be thinking that I should get a little tougher. Real scholars don't shrink from valid criticism, whether it's pointed or sugar-coated. True, and I have never shrank from criticism on the merits of my work, whether long-form scholarship or short-form blog posts. Of course, blogging, strays from the traditional norms of academic presentations. The audience is larger and doesn't seem to have the same discourse community norms. But still, columnists and journalists write on-line pieces that receive comments. Am I more of a sissy than those guys? I don't know if Gail Collins reads her comments or not, but law school blogging is in a strange "sour spot" between presenting in front of colleagues at a conference and writing op-eds commented on by 300 strangers. Getting bitter comments from 10-20 readers, all of whom seemed to be named "anon" seems more personal.
Finally, Paul notes that much of our talk now about life as a law professor goes on facebook. Our grading highs and lows, our blegs for advice and materials. And the comments never begin with "Law school is a scam. . . ." Even though the folks that could comments are former students who have plenty of reason to spew vitriol. But, they can't do it anonymously.
My attitude towards comments is inspired by the defining moment of the 1980 political campaign:
So here once again is my comment policy:
This is not a public forum. I pay for it. If you want a microphone, pay for one of your own.
Accordingly, my comment policy begins with the assumption that as blog owner I have 5 key rights:
Control over content and comments.
Right to edit comments.
Right to censor comments.
Right to delete comments.
Right to block comments by specific persons.
Those rights translate into the following policies:
Not all posts will be open to comments. I reserve the right to close certain posts to comments from the moment they are published. Generally, these will be posts whose nature suggests they will lead to troll attacks. Other posts will close automatically after one week.
Comment Form Guidelines: The comment form must be filled in with a proper or legitimate sounding name and URL. Comments using keywords, spam or splog-like URLs, or suspicious information in the comment form will be edited or deleted.
Email Privacy: Email addresses are required for commenting, and they are not published on the blog, nor shared. They may be used by me to privately contact the commenter.
Commenter Privacy and Protection: All email, snail mail, phone numbers, and any private and personal information posted in any comment will be deleted as soon as possible to protect the privacy of the commenter. To prevent such editing, never share this private information within the blog comment.
Language and Manners: This blog is “family friendly” and comments which include offensive or inappropriate language, or considered by me to be rude and offensive, will be edited or deleted. Play nice.
A Comment is Conversation: A comment which does not add to the conversation, runs of on an inappropriate tangent, or kills the conversation may be edited, moved, or deleted.
No Personal Attack Comments Permitted: In the interest of fair play, no personal attacks are permitted in this blog’s comments. You may question or argue the content, but not attack me or any other commenters. Failure to respect fellow participants on this blog could result in removal and blocked access.
Comment Spam: Any comment assumed to be possible comment spam will be deleted and marked as comment spam.
Commenters Blocked: Anyone who violates this Comments Policy may be blocked from future access and/or commenting on this blog.
All Rights Reserved: Again, I expressly reserve the right to edit, delete, move, or mark as spam any and all comments. I also have the right to block access to any one from commenting on the entire blog.
Hold Harmless: All comments within this blog are the responsibility of the commenter, not the blog owner, administrator, contributor, editor, or author. By submitting a comment on our blog, you agree that the comment content is your own, and to hold this site and all subsidiaries and representatives harmless from any and all repercussions, damages, or liability.
Trackbacks Are Comments: All trackbacks will be treated inline with our Comments Policy.
In short, I alone decide whether a comment lives or dies. And the sort of comments to which Christine refers tend to die.
Jason Kottkedeclares the blog dead over at Neiman Journalism Lab, which makes him the umpteenth millionth person to do so. The actual piece is a bit more nuanced than its headline — Kottke notes that the blog is still an integral part of the online experience — but the overall tone of it is that the blog’s day in the sun is done, replaced by things fresher, less “streamy” and otherwise tuned to the Way Kids Do It Today.
A couple of things about this:
1. Kottke’s not wrong. I’ve noted before that I thought the many of the people who had blogs a few years ago were better served by things like Twitter and Facebook, which are easier for most folks to handle and actually do what they wanted their blog to do — i.e., keep them in contact with all their friends and family and let them share what they were doing (and also, pictures of their pets and children). I love my blog (hello!) but for the large majority of people, I wouldn’t recommend doing one. Even the closest new analog to the blog — Tumblr — is streamlined and connected in ways a standalone blog isn’t.
This isn’t to say that a blog can’t be useful for the people who have a need or interest in them — they absolutely can be. For the people who want to be able to write longer posts, keep a permanent self-branded outpost, and (importantly) have much more substantial control of their online persona, blogs have no real substitute. I recommend them for writers and other creative folks precisely because they’re your own space ...
Law professors strike me as precisely the sort of niche user for whom blogs are an ideal form of expression. BUT if the purpose is to have "a permanent self-branded outpost" that is "your own space," why do you want to participate in a group blog. There are individual bloggers worth following at places like Volokh, Concurring Opinions, or The Faculty Lounge, and so on, but at all of them there is also a lot of chaff. And none of them provide their authors with "a permanent self-branded outpost" that is "their own space." If I were the benevolent despot of the legal blawgosphere, I'd tell all those group bloggers to get off their duffs and start their own personal blog. It'd be much more interesting for both the author and the reader.
From the inaugural post by new blogger Eric Chaffee:
The Securities Law Prof Blog has always been one of my favorite blogs because of its comprehensive coverage of an area of the law that I love. A few weeks ago, I spoke with Barbara Black at the Ohio Securities Conference, an event at which we were both presenting. She mentioned that she had decided to step away from the Blog to concentrate on her list of numerous other projects. After contacting Paul Caron, I now find myself in the editor's chair.
Over the months to come, I look forward to building the Blog into a comprehensive resource for those interested in securities regulation. Thanks to Barbara for her work on the Blog and her willingness to be a friend and a mentor. Thanks to Paul for the opportunity to take the lead on the Blog. Stay tuned for what is to come!
Following a hiatus of almost 2 years, Steve Bradford, Josh Fershee, Anne Tucker, and I are pleased to announce the grand re-opening of the BLPB. We are excited to be joined by Marcia Narine, and also expect Eric Chaffee to be stopping by occasionally with contributions. All the relevant profiles (except for Eric's, which we hope to have available soon) can be found at the bottom of this blog. I will leave it to each of my co-bloggers to provide additional information about themselves as they see fit.
Personally, I'd like to thank Jay Brown for allowing me to blog over at the Race to the Bottom these past two years. While I am excited about returning here to "get the band back together," I regret having to leave the RTTB (though I may still occasionally pop in over there, time permitting). Jay is one of the true stars in corporate law, and I consider him a friend, mentor, and inspiration.
It's a good lineup and I look forward to following them.
I’m delighted to announce that Overlawyered, a freestanding blog since I founded it in 1999, has now affiliated itself with the Cato Institute, at whose Center for Constitutional Studies I’m a senior fellow. Cato already publishes several blogs and its prowess in technical support, marketing, and press outreach are certain to help the blog reach new readers, look sharper, keep more current with blog technology, and be even more a part of the conversation about law and legal reform.
Because of its perceived friendliness to corporations, the Delaware Court of Chancery is where much corporate litigation goes down, and Wilmington-based attorney Francis Pileggi is a dedicated reporter of its findings. His excellent case summaries and explanations of Delaware law make this one to follow.
Allen Matkins partner Keith Paul Bishop in Irvine, Calif., posts every weekday about the latest in corporate and securities law for California and Nevada. “A real joy to read as compared to other dull and dry academic presentations in this practice area!” —Alan Parness of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Manhattan
“Overlawyered.com blogs about the American legal system that too often turns litigation into a weapon against guilty and innocent alike, erodes individual responsibility, rewards sharp practice, enriches its participants at the public’s expense, and resists even modest efforts at reform and accountability.” —Michael Schearer, a student at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law
The layout, lineup of writers and libertarian leanings have stayed the same, as well as the blog’s focus on constitutional law issues in the news (although there is a little more about legal education in the past year). Which is to say, it’s still a great blog, and there’s no other one with contributors so engaged with each other that they’ll spontaneously post dueling updates on a topic within the same day—or maybe within the same hour.