Victim's Advocates and Private Prosecutors
Broken Lives

Who Has the Best Law Blog?

There is a ongoing contest that seeks to find out which law blog is the best law blog.  I hadn't blogged about the contest because it seemed like a (high school) student-government election.  Who is most popular?  But even that question is imprecise, because one can vote for his or her favorite blog each day.  Thus, those bloggers who most frequently remind their readers about the contest will receive more votes than bloggers with more readers who don't tout the contest.

The entire contest was flawed from the outset, as Doug Berman first noted:

I am very proud that Law Dork   (an OSU law alum) apparently has the distinction of being the youngest nominee, and also that, with the inclusion of TaxProf Blog, two members of the Law Professors Blog Network made the grade.  But Chris notes the interesting righty slant of the slate of nominees, and I also see some questionable selections.  BeldarBlog, which has been quiet for nearly two months now, garners a nomination, while all the great work recently at blogs like Concurring Opinions and Crime & Federalism and PrawfsBlawg goes unrecognized.

Now, I'd much rather have Doug Berman mutter C&F in the same breath as Concurring Opinions and PrawfsBlawg than be nominated for any contest.  So we'll take Berman's kind words not as consolation prize, but as a victory in itself.  But Berman is (at least 2/3) right: A list without Concurring Opinions and PrawfsBlawg is per se   flawed.  Also, how could the ACSBlog be omitted?

And the results seemed a bit strange.  Regarding the then-potential winners and losers, Howard Bashman wrote:

You can decide who will win the popularity contest to name the "Best Law Blog":  Right now, the battle for first place in the voting is between "Law Dork" and "The Volokh Conspiracy."  Perhaps even more alarmingly, the battle for last place is between a blog that hasn't been updated since October 19, 2005   (go Astros!; go Harriet Miers!) and "The Becker-Posner Blog."

Should Law Dork be tied with the Volokh Conspiracy for best law blog?  Was Bashman's post too snarky?  Chris Geider of Law Dork thought so

My little blog's success in a "popularity contest" has led to a top-tier blogger's "alarm"?  

Is it wrong that the battle for first place for Best Law Blog is between one new lawyer just out of Ohio State's Moritz College of Law who often writes about non-legal topics (and usually receives less than 500 visits a day) and a group blog of well-established law professors and legal thinkers that is one of the most respected in the blogosphere (and usually receives more than 20,000 visits daily)?

As much I as enjoy Law Dork, I thought so, though Mr. Geidner's age or law-school pedigree has nothing to do with my opinion.  I wrote this comment to his post: 

I'm a regular reader. I think you have a lot of interesting things to say; and I especially like the "personal touch" you take with the blog by writing about your law school and life experiences. Your blog is mighty fine, and I don't think anyone would argue otherwise. 

But it's not the first place I would turn to for hardcore legal analysis of any issue.

If I want to read about the PATRIOT Act, or a First or Second Amendment issue, I'd turn to the VC. If I wanted a quick pointer to appellate decisions, I'd read Bashman, Appellate Law & Practice, or the new-but-excellent Decision of the Day. For sentencing issues, I'd go to Berman's blog first. (Indeed, all the law-prof-network blogs are my "first look" for issues relevant to their subject matters.) 

This blog doesn't have a legal niche, and it often lacks hard-hitting legal analysis. Indeed, on the posts showing on the site's front page, there is only one substantive legal post - "Is It FAIR?" The post is good, mind you, but there aren't a lot of posts like this. There's very little case-crunching or detained discussion of constitutional or statutory law. I wouldn't even say you have the legal niche on LGBT legal issues. When I want to read about gay marriage legal issues, I turn to Kip's blog first. (See, e.g., this post.) 

It would seem to me that a "best law blog" would be one that a person wanting information about some legal subject matter (whether it be broad like Bashman's or AL&P, or narrow like Bermans) would first turn to. Law Dork doesn't meet that criteria. 

Again, I really enjoy this blog. (I feel like a real jerk by offering my criticisms, but I assume you want to understand why some folks might be in shock about the pending photo finish.) Law Dork is unique. But until (say) 1/3 to 1/2 of your posts offer extensive legal commentary, and until you become the "go-to guy" on some legal issue, I don't think you should be neck-and-neck with the Volokh Conspiracy.   

On later reflection, I concluded that it's probably impossible to determine who has the "best" law blog.  Can a general-interst law blog be better than one devoted exclusively to white collar crime or sentencing law?  If so, what criteria determine that?  (I think, like I noted at Mr. Geidner's blog, being the "go-to person" on a legal subject would be a decent - but still imperfect - proxy.)  If I had to choose between White Collar Crime Prof Blog, and a more general-interest blog, I'd choose the WCC Blog.  But does that make one better than the other?  Of course not. Any contest purporting to declare a winner has already lost.

That doesn't mean such contests can't be fun.  Those receiving nominations should indeed be flattered that anyone noticed them.  But they shouldn't take the results seriously. 

After all, the proof is in the stats.  Or so you'd think.  Oddly, two of the highest-hit blogs are lagging.  Does that mean they aren't popular?  No.  It simply means that a contest that produces an incongruity between a blog's incoming links and stats and its respective place in a popularity contest, is flawed.

But enough seriousness.  Go vote for your favorite law blog here.