Blog: Alone or Together?

Chris Gilson and Patrick Dunleavy wrote a post for the networkedresearcher.co.uk on Multi-author Academic Blogs. Their argument is that blogs need to have more than one author.

Why?

The truth is that the single-author blog model has already gone out of fashion, and is in rapid decline. A blog is only as good as its readership and without consistently strong posts, and an easy way of finding them, there will be no readership. In the modern world of web 2.0, RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter, it simply is not very effective to have a single author, single issue, rarely updated blog; all the effort made in writing and posting will be typically wasted.

Rhetorical analysis of the paragraph:
First, I’m going to rhetorically analyze the paragraph. I’m a rhetorician and that’s what we do.

There are problems with that first sentence. “The truth” in a time of relativism may or may not be the truth. Yes, these guys’ credentials are given, but whether they are experts on blogs is another point entirely.

Then they say “already gone out of fashion” and “in rapid decline.” These two statements are either repetitive–saying the same thing in a different way– or sending a mixed message. If something is out of fashion, it is not presently experiencing a rapid decline but has already experienced a decline.

Then there is the statement that a “blog is only as good as its readership.” I disagree with that too. It depends on the point of blogging for the author.

I blog here to be read. I blog to give ideas out on teaching. Originally I had hoped that my main audience would be professors of English or future professors of English. That is not my main audience. Instead, the people who most often read my blog are students trying to write a character analysis. Does that mean that my blog is good (because I have lots of readers) or bad (because half my readers weren’t my target audience)? I would say that since I wanted to teach, I’m okay with teaching students instead of teachers.

On my personal blog, which is not and never will be linked from here, I write to remember. I write down what I am experiencing and I write down what I feel about those experiences. Sometimes I write ideas about my work or future things I want to try or do. I don’t write that blog for anyone else to read and that’s a good thing, because I only have a reader or two who read it on a regular basis. I have lots of people who come and read single posts and I’m okay with that, but very few people subscribe to the RSS and I’m okay with that too.

Now, if I am writing a scholarly blog, which is what they are really talking about, then maybe readership does matter more. However, if I have a lot of grad students reading it and no professors, I would still think that was successful. If I want to have a blog that is read by scholars in the field, though, I would probably want to write with them, reference their work, and discuss it in detail. Would my blog be unsuccessful if they didn’t read it? Again, it is a question of desire/intent.

Then there is the statement that packs a lot of baggage into it: “not very effective to have a single author, single issue, rarely updated blog.”

I would agree with that as it is written.

However, that is not the point of the statement. They wrote it to say/imply that single author, single issue blogs are rarely updated. That’s why they are arguing against single author blogs.

This is a single author blog. I may have had a guest post once or twice, but I certainly haven’t had many. I have 2,251 blog posts, 2,135 of which are public. The blog has posts from nine years ago. So in nine years I have had 2,135 posts. That is an average of 237 a year. That’s not “rarely updated.”

Credibility and Legitimate Argument:
Despite the paragraph I quoted, which is near the beginning of the post and (for me) dropped the credibility incredibly low, the post has a legitimate argument.

Why I Linked:
It IS easier to create a credible blog with multiple authors. It IS easier to create a strong readership with multiple known authors. For that reason, I have linked to the post. It will get you started thinking.

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