pass baton Last week I posted some hints to make your blog more successful. I’ve noticed that some blogs have multiple posters/authors and that got me thinking: do group blogs make more sense than individual blogs? Maybe I’m more schizophrenic in my interests than most bloggers (though from what I’ve seen I doubt it) but I post on a host of subjects – politics, the arts, economics, business, environment, science.  I faithfully sort these into categories per Userland’s instructions, but I don’t post enough on any category to warrant separate blogs on each. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to enroll in public, group blogs on each subject, and post to them, where all the readers of that blog will be interested in all the posts to it?

On our company intranet, we have an invention called homespaces , where our people can subscribe to news and contributed knowledge on any of over 100 business subjects. Problem is, the discussion databases attached to these homespaces are never used. I attribute this to the lack of time for any discourse that isn’t strictly related to a specific project, more than the awkwardness of discussion group threads. For that reason, I don’t think replacing the discussion databases with blogs would work for our company.

But back to us: Bloggers would appear to have lots of time to expound on subjects that interest them, so group blogs might work in our environment, since they offer these potential advantages:

  1. A wider audience for new bloggers who haven’t yet built up their own audience (i.e. most of us)
  2. Accommodate guest postings by people with something to say who don’t have their own blogs (e.g. experts, celebrities)
  3. Might attract attention and subscription from experts, politicians, business leaders, journalists, others who haven’t discovered blogs because they’re so unfocused and disorganized (the architecture that is, not the people or the posts!)

It seems to me that for this to work, the group blogs would need to have four attributes. I’ll describe them in my next post.

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  1. I’d be interested in your thoughts on my comment about converging weblogs and forums, at effect, what you’re describing as a “group blog” could be easily implemented as a properly formatted forum… even to the point of allowing guest posts.

  2. The Raven says:

    Although it’s almost defunct, this archive link shows you what Hissyfits looked like at its best, and we’re glad to see that Damn Hell Ass Kings is still going strong. For me, a group blog would look like one of these, or, closer to home, like Virtual Occoquan.Group-generated blogs, like Metafilter or the one you’re citing here, would be too restrictive for what I’m doing. And Userland can bite my wild weasel, but I’ll be damned before I categorize my work. Regards, – R.

  3. Martin Wisse says:

    Makes sense. Another way to “highlight” lesser known or new bloggers are things like my very own Progressive Gold ( meta blogs that spotlight the best or most interesting weblogs on a given subject (leftie politics in my case) as well as serve as a directory for more blogs ont eh subject.

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    Rainer: Yeah, I’ve seen some of these blogs where the comment thread blends right into the bottom of the initial post, like a discussion forum. Only problem with that is, sometimes the threads go off in multiple directions so you can hardly follow them, which is a turn-off unless the writing and quality of discussion is as good as this. And short of using Google and including ‘2003’ in the search terms, how do you look for a current forum on a particular subject that isn’t currently ‘hot’ (e.g. New Tribalism or Knowledge Management)? Building on your idea for a convergence, however, I think it possible to cross-link from personal to subject-matter posts and have the best of both worlds — see my next post for how that might work.

  5. Dave Pollard says:

    Raven: DHAK looks like a collection of blogs on a single site. How do you find anything, and what’s the advantage of this over a Blogroll? VO to me is like a collaborative e-journal, not that different in look and feel from Salon. That’s more like group publishing than organized conversation, which is what I see a group blog doing. I think the key is that there’s no one right answer — all of these constructs have a place in the blogosphere, and everyone should be able to choose what works for them. What I’m looking for in a group blog (and maybe that’s not a precise-enough term for it) is a mechanism that will let bloggers and non-bloggers alike locate and dive right into a conversation on a specific subject.

  6. Dave Pollard says:

    Martin: Your metablog serves exactly the function I’m talking about for group blogs, but it does so only in what I’d call ‘browse’ mode. I’d like to see a mechanism to get the same thing in ‘search’ mode (instead of waiting for my interest to be piqued on a subject by reading your daily summary, I already have a subject and I want to see, and participate in, existing discussions on that subject). I’d also like to see the same thing in ‘profile’ mode (I subscribe to the subject of e.g. New Tribalism and get daily e-mails telling me of all discussions on the blogosphere that pertain to it). There’s ways to do all these things but I’d like something more rigorous that would let me do any of these things.

  7. The Raven says:

    Dave, yes, your second post on the topic clarfies that. What I like about DHAK is the selectivity of the grouping, and the short extracts that run along each link so you get some idea of what the writer is talking about in his or her section: pre-screening up front, plus an at-a-glance view of the subject matter. That “Diveintomark” thing ( where you get a selection of blogs that, based on who you’re linking to and who’s linking to you, are estimated to match your interests is another strategy, plus the “already reading” and “not interested” buttons let you tailor the list. Don’t misunderstand me, btw, as I think group blogs are an excellent idea, on the collaborative as opposed to distributive end of the environment. – Regards, – R.

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