This Blawgosphere Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us

Reading the Mark Bennett’s monumental Blawg Review #199, I sat in awe of the Texas Tornado.  No, not just for its thoroughness and depth, which is what I’ve come to expect from Defending People, the best criminal law blawg anywhere. Bennett took his tome a step farther, using it for good as well:

Speaking of outsourced legal ethics, one thing that I love is to mess with internet legal marketers. Knowing this, some kind soul submitted for my Blawg Review consideration this crassly self-aggrandizing post on a crass advertising blog (I have edited away any possible SEO value): Mchigan Trock Acsident Atturney is the Authority for Trock Acsident Victims | Michgan Auto Law Blog. . .  Oh, and by the way Grant Griffith wants to teach you to blog for profit for profit (that is not a typo); he has manufactured a scarcity of 250 “members.” I wish he had set the number considerably lower, like zero — I don’t believe the world needs another 250 Michgan Trock Acsident-type atturneys who are “blogging for profit”.

There aren’t many who have the balls to use their BR for good instead of evil.  But soon after reading this, the issue ripened with Carolyn Elefant’s post about Blawging Lawyers.  Naturally, Bennett got to it ahead of me (because that’s what the best does), and went to town.  When Carolyn asks why both substantive blogging and marketing blogging can’t peacefully co-exist, Bennett analogizes it to a book store.

You’re going to the law bookstore looking for some interesting reads. You browse the spines of the books, pick one, and pull it down off the shelf. It’s three hundred pages; every page ends with a call to action — “if you’ve been injured, call me.” Skimming the text, you notice that the words “truck accident,” “lawyer,” “attorney,” and a few others are mentioned over and over and over again. You put that book back and try another. It’s got more of the same, except instead of “truck accident” it has repeated references to “DUI.” You’d be interested in learning about both topics, but the writing with all those repeated phrases is hackneyed, and you don’t care to be sold. That one goes back on the shelf.

The next book you choose has interesting information without the marketing; you put it in your basket and continue. After about fifteen minutes you realize that 75% of the books in the store are thinly disguised advertising. The other books are what you’re looking for, but they’re hard to find, and it’s frustrating.

Will you ever return to that bookstore?

My normal M.O. is to grab someone else’s ball and run with it.  This time, I’m too late.  Bennett has said all that needs to be said.  When the  blawgosphere is filled to the rim with blatant self-promotional blawgs that make readers want to puke, it will die.  No one wants to return to a bookstore than only sells advertisements. 

Grant Griffiths and Michael Martine are in the business of selling “the promise of success” to lawyers who are apparently too stupid to figure out how to blog on their own. (Hint: write good stuff. That’s all there is. No charge.) The “limited to 250” nonsense is a pathetic and obvious come-on, and anyone who falls for it deserves to pay Griffith and Martine for their services.  Once the blawgosphere has suffocated under the weight Blawging Lawyers, the salesman will move on to the next marketable object, maybe Twitting for Profit.  Regardless, it’s about getting money from lawyers foolish enough to fall into the marketers claws.  Lawyers are suckers for get rich quick schemes. 

So why can’t we all get along?  Because the marketers don’t care about the blawgosphere.  They care about the quick buck and scheme.   They will turn the least competent lawyer into the warmest, most sincere, most qualified lawyer in all of Dubuque to the detriment of society.  And they will churn SEO to clog the blawgosphere with enough garbage to choke it to death.  And when the blawgosphere dies, the good go down with the rest of it.

No, I don’t think the blawgosphere is big enough for all of us.  I think the marketers, given half a chance, will suck it dry, then watch it die.  And I thank Mark Bennett, the Texas Tornado, for joining me in trying to do something about it.

10 comments on “This Blawgosphere Ain’t Big Enough for the Two of Us

  1. Charon QC

    I agree – Lawyers who blog and who are foolish enough to turn their blogs into naked self aggrandising adverts for their practice as a lawyer will utlimately find their readership dwindling. they will then be blawging for nothing and no-one.

    Law magazines, including my own online rag need sponsorship to cover the costs of providing a free service or, in the case of mags /newspapers who are out to make profits, to make those profits.

    this is fair enough and no-one is compelled to click on the ads – but they are a necessary part of making news and content free.

    Turkewitz, as you know, has been criticising lawyers placing adverts after the recent aircraft crash. Now ome lawyers are writing ‘articles’. Eric Turkewitz came in for some crticism himself for covering this story – because he just happens to be a personal injury lawyer.

    A thin and fine line.

    I have no problem at all with lawyers providing good and free, stimulating or amusing content and getting the co-incidental side benefit of an enhanced reputation or enhanced awareness.

    the emphasis is on the word co-incidental. I share your antipathy for blogs whose sole purpose appears to be BUY ME BUY ME BUY ME – with a bit of losuy advice or content thrown in for appearances.

    On that note… I am off to mount a jihad of my own and see if I can hunt down some British lawyers behaving badly… I’m sure I shall find some.


  2. SHG

    I frankly couldn’t care less that the self-promoters get no readers.  I doubt their readership will dwindle as I doubt they will ever have any readership at all, aside from the unlucky few who mistakenly click on their google link.  But those same readers will abandon the blawgosphere in droves as they find link after link to lawyer advertising “blogs” and realize that their efforts to read/learn/be entertained are wasted on the blawgosphere, which is nothing but self-promotional lawyer advertising.  And then the blawgosphere is no more.

  3. Charon QC

    To some extent you are right – there is a danger that readers will desert the blawgosphere.

    However, regular readers, visiting sites they enjoy reading will be less likely to. The key is, therefore, to encourage readers to engage or, if they simply wish to read as many do, to encourage them to encourage ‘new readers’.

    This is where Blawg Review does so much to help bloggers and spread the word. This is why I am more than happy to do podcasts, do BRs and assist to the limited extent I can.

    The marketeers will hit twitter soon. They already are – but it will get worse.

    I may have to get my metaphorical shotgun out and shoot the marketing ducks as they land on twitter?

  4. SHG

    I’m less sanguine than you, my friend.  Any community that doesn’t have no blood and ideas stagnates.  Anything that stagnates begins to smell in short order.  It’s not enough to have the “old gang” to keep things alive.

    Even with that, the old gang is migrating to greener twitting pastures.  As more time is spent twitting, less is spent blawging and commenting, and discussion slowly fades.  Time is a scarce commodity, and the newer, shinier toys are drawing the little extra time away from the old toy.  That’s how it goes.

  5. Windypundit

    As far as I’m concerned, the all-marketing blawgosphere is a myth. I never see it.

    I read a bunch of blawgs that interest me, and I follow their links to other blawgs, and from time to time add one of those other blogs to my reading list. I have about 20 right now (some of which aren’t real active). Using this strategy, I don’t come across very many marketing blogs, for the same reason I don’t come across very many basket weaving blogs. They’re not relevant.

    I guess I’m essentially letting people like you and Mark and Gideon filter the blawgosphere for me. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who surfs the blogosphere this way. This kind of linking together of interesting sites has been part of the concept of the web since the beginning. I think you see a lot more useless blogs than your readers do.

  6. David Giacalone

    Just wanted to point out that you and Mark Bennett have both significantly increased the search engine position of that “crass advertising blog” by linking to it. Better to take out the link and perhaps quote a couple of the most odious sentences in the offending posting.

  7. Windypundit

    It’s kind of a geek trick, but if your blogging software allows you to edit the HTML directly, you can use the “nofollow” option. Inside the “a” tag, right next to the ‘ href=”whatever” ‘ part, add ‘ rel=”nofollow” ‘. This tells search engines that the link should not pass along any link juice, so you won’t be helping the bad guy. (It’s not perfect, but it can’t hurt.)

  8. Carolyn Elefant


    I agree that you don’t need an expert to figure out how to create a successful blog – simply write good stuff. At the same time, lawyers who sign up for this program are not looking to write good blogs per se. They are looking to create blogs that will generate clients and bring business. The two genres are not the same, as you have argued before. My feeling is that if you want to blog to generate business, the program is useful because it is reasonably priced and taught by someone who used blogging for the same reason. That is preferable to someone who claims to be an expert or charges an exorbitant price for the service. I don’t think that everyone who wants to start a marketing blog MUST use this service, just as everyone who wants to start a law firm needn’t hire a consultant. But for some, it is an option.
    As to your second point, I do not see the marketing blogs ever taking over the blogosphere. They are a limited purpose genre. If anything, pure practice based blogs introduce people to the blogging concept and breed greater demand for the more idea-based, substantive blogs, not less. I think that ultimately, as the blogosphere saturates, blogs like this one and others similar will become a very highly desirable commodity.

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