When Eugene Volokh took his conspiracy behind enemy lines, I called it a “seismic shift” in the blawgosphere.
Eugene Volokh explained that his blawg, The Volokh Conspiracy, has “partnered” with the Washington Post. Some took the news with a quiet, abiding shrug.
I did not. I lamented what would become of the new, monetized, officialized, once-gold standard of the blawgosphere.
Which means, for those of us who do not have a .edu or .gov email, were regular readers of both posts and comments, and don’t plan to pay the Washington Post, the Volokh Conspiracy is gone.
To his credit, Eugene held off the tender mercies of the grocery clerks as long as he could, allowing us vulgarians access. Even so, the voices there grew increasingly quiet, some silent. For some, it was the commentariat going down the rabbit hole. Readers have no appreciation of how disillusioning it is to the writer to read the comments of the insane and think, “this is who reads my writing? Why the hell do I bother?”
For others, it was the constraints of writing for a host with rules. I can write “fuck, fuck, fuck” if I so choose. They could not.
But there was money to be made on the internets by blawgs (a word that once reflected blogs by lawyers, though has since fallen out of use, and even been seen as offensively privileged). Eugene had the opportunity to make him some, or at least take the cost of VC off his shoulders.
Aside: This would be an opportune moment to note that you see no advertisements here, no autostart popup videos, no banners screaming “buy me!!!” and no posts thanking my wonderful advertisers for abusing readers but paying me moolah. That means that I not only forsake the revenue SJ could generate (which would not be insubstantial), but pay the cost of its existence out of pocket. Or, as reflected in the button on the sidebar, with the help of friends. Just sayin’.
Yesterday, Eugene announced that he had enough of his partnership.
As you can see, we’ve moved from the Washington Post, where we’ve blogged since early 2014, to Reason.
When we first moved to the Post, we knew that there was going to be a paywall (despite our attempts to negotiate around it). But our understanding was that the paywall would be quite porous, with (1) free access via RSS, Twitter, and Facebook, (2) free access to .edu/.gov/.mil readers, and (3) a generous number of free views each month for everyone. This year, though, all three elements of this have changed, and the paywall has gotten much tighter. This means that many of our most loyal readers would be unable to access the site without a Post subscription. And it means that many people whom we’d like to attract to our site might feel priced out of it.
This doesn’t work for us.
But that’s how WaPo decided to make its money, and money is, well, money. But there was another reason beyond the paywall.
This includes — controversially in newspaper circles — the right to accurately and completely quote material from cases and controversies, including when the material contains vulgar words. We ourselves don’t use vulgarities in the material we compose ourselves, because of our own editorial judgment. If (for instance) we’re talking about Cohen v. California (1971), the leading First Amendment case in which the Court upheld a man’s right to wear a jacket saying “Fuck the Draft,” we don’t want to have to say “F— the Draft.”
If you’re going to move into someone else’s home, then you have to live by their rules, which means their stylebook in the case of a newspaper. The prawfs weren’t crude (like SHG, you mutter), but they also don’t hide behind asterisks.
It’s good to have you back to full-throated legitimacy, guys, to being a blawg. It was getting pretty lonely around the blawgosphere, what with ATL going full SJW and the rest of the rats fleeing the sinking blawging ship.
To Eugene, Orin, Jonathan, Ilya, David, Dale, even Stewart, I say