In an almost surreal post at The Faculty Lounge, where law professors hang out to discuss deep, scholarly thoughts, the sort of stuff that they assume would only interest fellow academics, Drexel’s own Dan Filler ponders the age-old question, “is it ethical to let lawyers spam their comments just to get comments at all?”
Bloggers always see lots of spam in the comments – particularly in the older posts. These days, we see a ton of comments signed by (presumably faux) Air Jordan, Uggs, and Viagra sellers. The signature is attached to a link to a commercial site apparently seeking to drive up traffic via the Google algorithm. When I feel the energy, I clean a ton of them out….but too often they live forever in our archives.
Recently I noticed some spam-like comments originating from law firms. Perhaps too quickly, I erased some of them.
Ever generous, you will no doubt notice the parenthetical, presumably faux, because there are many people with the given name Uggs and Viagra. Sadly, there may well be a few with the name Air Jordan, though they usually post comments under the name “Truth Speaker” or “John David Galt.” But I digress.
Filler goes on to note, as examples, comments to a post about lawyers as presidential candidates, including one by the Rosenblum divorce firm about candidates writing books, completely off-topic, and this one:
Tobler Law – aka Tobler & Associates (your accident and injury team) – adds:
Thanks for the post! I had no idea there were so many lawyers as past presidents – I knew about Lincoln and Taft, but the rest I was clueless on.
I too was thrown by the clueless part, since it’s clearly truthful. Yet Filler had questions.
Now, I recognize that this might not be spam. Perhaps someone from Tobler was researching this question about lawyer presidents, came upon a two and half year old post, was stunned to realize that Richard Nixon (to say nothing of Bill Clinton) was a lawyer, and felt compelled to comment. Maybe Mr. Rosenblum thought this was the perfect setting to pontificate about the use of books as a campaign fund-raising tool. But call me a skeptic. I think that these folks are spamming to drive up their Google profile.
Skeptic. As a lawprof, Filler should know as well as anyone how stupid trench lawyers can be, offering such foolish and tangential comments in their effort to show their interest and appreciation for scholarly blogging. And yet Filler, rather than appreciate the outside interest, questions the bona fides of the comment. Skeptic indeed.
Such heady concerns, raising the obvious question of how long it will take before this post is expanded and expounded to find its rightful place in the Harvard Law Review, earning Filler the admiration of his peers he so richly deserves. Filler goes on to ask the really hard questions:
Is it ethical for lawyers to do this? Is the strategic production of spam comments a form of advertising? If so, is it in compliance with advertising regulations? Are there other restrictions that might make such spurious comments improper? Does it make the profession look bad?
What boggles the mind is that these tough questions reflect near-total isolation from what has long been a subject of discussion nearly everywhere else in the blawgosphere. Is there any question whatsoever that this is spam? Is there any doubt that the idiotic comments were posted for the sole purpose of gaining SEO juice? Is it conceivable that even a lawprof would find it difficult to recognize that it makes the “profession” look like crap?
Well, apparently the answer to these “yes,” as reflected in the comments to Filler’s post.
Yes, I was a bit puzzled about those two comments, but (vainly, perhaps) chose to believe that they were just associates who were drawn to my brilliant post like moths to a flame…
The foregoing apologia was offered by Willamette Lawprof Laura Appleman, whose Yale JD obviously didn’t do enough to clue her in.
Then there’s the ironic thoughts of personal injury lawyer, Ron Miller,
I tend to publish all of these types of comments. Sure, they might be a little spammy but having commenters is good and while not particularly insightful, these somewhat hallow comments still add something to the conversation.
To which Cooper replies that Steele’s is about the best argument one could make against “spam comments,” implicitly endorsing the ethics of spammers. And naturally, rounding out the comments at the bottom is a spam comment, though not from a lawyer.
Sadly, this bit of silliness at the Faculty Lounge reflects two deeply troubling problems, that lawprofs allow, and thus encourage, the spam that the rest of us have been fighting to kill. See Turk, the Popehat guys, Carolyn Elefant, Bennett and Tannebaum, all of whom have gone to great lengths in their effort to clean up the never-ending opportunity for scum to embarrass the profession. All the while, lawprofs invite them in for dinner. Thanks for all your help, pals.
More importantly, trench lawyers have long been concerned that the academic blawgosphere and practical blawgosphere rarely intersect. While some of us, myself included, keep abreast of the lawprof blawgs, the fear is that they ignore real lawyers in favor on insularity and isolation. This is a significant problem, given that law schools are already far behind the curve when it comes to providing a useful education to students and lawprofs chose to ignore the ideas and concerns of real lawyers in favor of chatting amongst themselves.
This is one of those posts which proves the point beyond a reasonable doubt. For crying out loud, would it kill you guys to pay just a little attention to real lawyers? Maybe then you wouldn’t have to ponder such ridiculous thoughts.