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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blog Post as Community

I generally experience PrawfsBlawg and othe law prof blogs the old-fashioned way -- checking out the site by clicking on the link from my "favorites" bar.  The disadvantage of reading blogs this way is that you're always drawn to what's on top; you may miss something interesting that's percolating below.

Prawfs is fortunate to have a couple of blog post "communities" that have developed here, thanks to Dan and Sarah.  This one -- on law review placement activity -- has over 400 comments.  This one, a clearinghouse for law school hiring market questions, has over 1500 comments.  I imagine participants in these communities only visiting these posts -- or at least, visiting these posts separately from the rest of the blog -- and checking in on the latest news.  Most participants are anonymous, although some have handles that make their comments recognizable within the collective.  Even with the anonymity, there are conversations that take place across time.  There are news and opinions -- points and counterpoints and counter-counterpoints.  These posts are communities which spring up each year at a certain time, like Brigadoon, and then gradually disappear, only to come to life again the following year.

These communities remind me a bit of urbanbaby, the website where anonymous posters address a wide variety of issues related to childhood.  No one knows who is talking to whom, but there are distinct personalities, strong views, and collective wisdom.  You may not be able to trust any one poster, but if you get enough of the same reply, and it makes sense, you can probably run with the advice.  I can't vouch for urbanbaby now, as I haven't visited in some time, and it's not in the zeitgeist like it was in the mid-aughts.  (Here are some NYT and NYMag articles about it.)  But as a young parent, I used to call it the oracle, because you could put in almost any question and get a set of thoughtful, clever, and, yes, snarky replies.  I think it shows that under the right conditions, you can have a sizeable, anonymous, online community that shares information and feels like a place you want to visit.

And if you want to check out some AALS hiring market poetry, click here and scroll down.

Posted by Matt Bodie on February 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM in Blogging | Permalink

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I remember urbanbaby fondly too. It was a great resource, and some posts literally made me laugh out loud.

Posted by: anon | Feb 27, 2014 1:29:43 PM

I started reading PrawfsBlawg for the insight I could glean from the angsting thread, and came to enjoy the other aspects of the blog as well. I do sometimes wish that the report of comments from the "blockbuster" threads (angsting and hiring) could be separated out from the report of comments on other content--the latter disappear due to the volume of the former. But all in all this is a great resource on multiple levels.

Posted by: Susannah Pollvogt | Feb 28, 2014 10:43:23 AM

It must have changed a lot. Reading through several pages of that reminds me of nothing so much as early aughts autoadmit. Full of toxic, insecure, status strivers with more than a tinge of racism.

Posted by: l2l | Mar 3, 2014 12:57:44 PM

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