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March 04, 2005
Group Blogging Sucks

I had a chat with a friend recently that prompted me to write this.

Just in case the title of this post didn't make my feelings on the matter crystal clear: group blogging is one of the worst ideas ever to come down the pike. Its suckitude is greater than that of a fusion-powered Electrolux. The foulness emanating therefrom is rivaled only by the stench of a Korean rice-paddy in summer.*

Have I made myself clear?

Now, by the above I do not mean blogs which have been group blogs from the beginning (or very near the beginning). Power Line is one such. It made its name as a collaborative effort, as have many others.

No, I refer to the truly awful idea of established bloggers with unique "voices" and personalities that then, for whatever reason, bring in new authors. A good blog rarely benefits.

Case in point: Frank J.'s IMAO.

Frank J. is one of the funniest people on the web. In my opinion, he might be surpassed only by Scott Ott and by David Burge. Often, he is much much funnier.

But recently, for some reason unknown to me, he added other writers. Perhaps it was because he has less time to devote to the site. Lord knows, I understand that. But I don't go to IMAO to read those other people — I go there to read Frank. I suspect I am not alone in doing so.

Anything on IMAO that Frank didn't write merely dilutes the strength of the site. The other authors may or may not be good [and in my opinion, the folks added at IMAO run both ways] but regardless: they are not Frank. I don't care if they're funny or not. They are not Frank. I would sooner wait for a new Frank piece than go to the site and have to wade through the work of people whose scribblings I didn't go there to read.

If the other folks are good writers, they could/should have their own sites. Readers will or will not bookmark or blogroll those sites. They might even get frequent and prominent linkage from Frank and others.

On the other hand, if they aren't so good, we'd all be better off if they'd stop imitating Frank.

All of the above applies not just to IMAO, of course, but potentially to any blog.

There are other sites that became successful on the unique strengths of their respective founders, then added authors to provide more content. On a site that is heavily dependent on the "voice" or personality of its founder this seems to me to be, in almost all cases — how shall I say it nicely? — an exceptionally unwise idea.

Yes, occasionally an established blog might bring in a new contributor who might bring new readers, whose quality matches that of the founder. [Update: see Wizbang, as noted by Jay Tea in the comments, for a successful example.] But the latter would seem to me to be a rare thing. On a blog as unique as Frank's, it may be close to impossible.

Imagine me joining Bill Whittle and trying to match his quality. Sorry, folks: not gonna happen. Bill's site would suffer, and I'd look like a fool for my trouble.

I am decidedly less hostile towards the notion of "guest bloggers" during those times that the host of a site might be away for an extended period, but I still put myself into the "anti" camp. I would no more open my site to a fill-in guest host than I would allow a guest writer to put daily entries into my diary.** This isn't the Tonight Show, where something has to go out over the airwaves every night.

But then, I'm not exactly a successful blogger, and relatively few people visit this site. As such, I or someone in a similar position might be able to get away with adding another author. It might be a decided improvement. [It certainly would be, here.]

But to tamper with a successful formula, be it on IMAO or any other site, is to risk driving away the people who visit the site for the main reason the author started the site in the first place: bloggers want to be heard, and the regular visitors want to hear them.

Don't screw that up.

* Having spent a few summers on and near the DMZ, I know whereof I speak.
** No, I don't actually keep a diary. Not now, not ever.

[Howdy, Wizbang readers.]

Posted by Russ at 10:01 PM, March 4, 2005 in Bloggery

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I agree totally and would add that it is hard to guest blog also. I do it for a couple bloggers and I find myself trying to match their "voice." It is very awkward, but I my site, I can be me.

Posted by: Scott B at March 4, 2005 11:09 PM

Miss use of words and all. sheesh. Oh well, that's part of being me. :-)

Posted by: Scott B at March 4, 2005 11:35 PM

Would it be too snarky to point out that I found this posting from a trackback you sent to Wizbang, a former solo blog now run by one Big Kahuna and two Associate Kahunas (including yours truly?)

Would it have killed you to at least MENTION us? Come on, you cited LMAO extensively. A single dropped mention of Wizbang, even a gratuitous slam, woulda been nice...


Posted by: Jay Tea at March 5, 2005 07:55 PM

Too snarky? No such critter....

But your point is well taken and I have updated the post.

Posted by: Russ at March 5, 2005 08:03 PM

Man, I am so confused. I go basically begging for a slam, and instead what do I get? PRAISE. Praise and compliments.

I tell ya, I don't get no disrespect, no disrespect at all...

What's it take to get a little dissing around these here parts?


Posted by: Jay Tea at March 5, 2005 09:40 PM

Naked pictures usually do the trick.

Posted by: Russ at March 5, 2005 09:43 PM

Step off, you hooligan!

Dissing complete.

Cheers! Lorenzo

Posted by: Lorenzo at March 6, 2005 01:59 AM

So how do you really feel? You need to be more direct there, Russ :)

My blog actually started out as a group blog, but the group flaked out. Now it's just me, and occasional fly by post from my sister. I do invite guest bloggers when I go away -- it sort of hearkens back to the blog's group beginnings.

Posted by: Ith at March 7, 2005 01:24 AM

I think the transition works better in some cases than others - both Paul and Jay Tea have what I'd call a style overlap with Kevin so most of the time you don't notice that it's 3 different authors.

IMAO, OTOH, is a disaster - none of the "replacement killers" are anything like Frank or his sense of humor. I think we all appreciate the giant neon subtext that Frank wants to spend more time with SarahK and her, umm, cat. But he should be honest about it and just post once a week or something.

Posted by: Ian S. at March 7, 2005 05:20 PM