Saturday, August 21, 2004

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A multiple choice question for my readers

Lawrence Krubner left a comment on this Brad DeLong post that rings partially true to me:

When I look back at my past blogrolls and I see how many of my once favorite weblogs are now defunct, it strikes me that weblogs have a shorter life-span that even teenage rock-bands. There's been about 80% turnover among my once favorite weblogs, and yet I've only had a blogroll for 2 years. It seems to me all weblogs go down one of three paths: 1.) They end. 2.) They don't end, but the author becomes comfortable taking breaks of a month or two (both Virginia Postrel and Christina Wodtke took month long breaks when they were in the final stages of the various books they've each written). 3.) They don't end, but become group weblogs. Tom Tomorrow, Chris Bertram, Eugene Volkoh, and Harry Hatchet all gave up on go-it-alone weblogs and then either joined group weblogs (Crooked Timber for Chris Bertram) or invited other writers to write on their site. Becoming a group weblog has the same result for each individual writer: it becomes easier for them to take month-long breaks.

This strikes me as something of an exaggeration -- most of the blogs I originally put on the blogrolll are still quite active.

However.... for professional and personal reasons that will soon become apparent, I may be facing one of Krubner's three options relatively soon. Option one seems too radical, and I doubt I'll be pursuing it. So I have a question for my readers -- would you prefer irregular blogging from me alone -- à la the great Virginia Postrel -- or having expand into drezner&

I await your input.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the input!! I'll be reaching my decision soon.

posted by Dan on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM


I vote expansion.

posted by: Bruce Cleaver on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote that you should keep a unique voice. With RSS constant blogging is less important -- we see your stuff when it's there.

Conversely with group blogs, and no way to tune to which individuals one wants to hear from, sometimes the chaff is too much, and one drops the feed.

One exception: an *occasional* guest blogger is a good way to help others get their feet wet and introduce them to your readers. But don't overdo that either please.

posted by: Michael Froomkin on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I definitely vote for the multiple-contributor approach, though I would caution you to avoid the model of The Corner over at National Review. Snarky conservative boilerplate gets old pretty quickly. Much better, in my opinion, to have a real substantive discussion of the issues. I like a blog that challenges me to think, rather than one that simply reinforces my pre-existing beliefs.

posted by: Dave on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

What kind of bloggers would you want to add?

Other political scientists?

Either option is much preferable to me than Option 1.

posted by: tallan on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I would say it depends on how the majority of your readers visit the site. If the majority -- or a sizable minority -- read your RSS feed, I'd follow the Postrel model. Silence is not bad in an RSS world.

I also think Michael Froomkin makes a great point about tuning in/out individuals in group blogs.

posted by: rentzsch on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

might i suggest that, should you go the multiple contributor route, you recruit fellow UC community members? faculty, current students, recent alums (ahem), it matters not. to me, at least.

posted by: patrick woods on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

You should go for a group blog, *but* a blog that does primarily what you primarily do -- i.e. international relations and popular culture. Maybe invite the two great bloggers who guested for you to join you on a permanent basis. What you shouldn't do is join Volkoh just because they share roughly the same political space as you do (right-leaning, but not partisan).

posted by: pjs on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I second the group blog route that includes those extraordinary guest bloggers you just had.

posted by: lansing on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Over the years, even in the BBS days of years gone by, the BBS took on the persona of it's sysop(s) and that holds true today in Blogdom.

A change of people means a change of 'feel' of 'Chemistry'.

At the risk of drawing a laugh or three, let me try painting the picture this way; Was Journey ever the same after Steve Perry? Can you imagine the Beatles going on without, say, John, after 1970? To get a little older, what would be the attraction of Don, without Phil, and versa visa?

Now, I'm not suggesting that single writer bogs are better than multi-writer bogs are. Far from it; I consider Qand O to be among the best blogs around. It's multi-writer. It's on the same reading rotation as this blog is, for me; daily.

What I AM suggesting is stay with what got you here. Once you (the editorial you) have an established chemistry, be it single writer, multiple writer, or whetever your 'thing' is originally, to change that original basic makeup of the blog's content, can be blog suicide. Your established reader base tends to disappear as the page loses the feel that established it, despite the best efforts of the sysops to maintain the same feel.

You risk losing the people that were attracted to that 'feel'.

All that said, given the choice you face, Dan, it seems logical to add a voice. Within this context, given the one I first mentioned, I suggest that you should, in considering whom to add... as the old Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade says... "Choose Wisely."

posted by: Bithead on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Definitely not a happy choice here.

I'd say, weakly, that alone w/occassional guest blogs is better than group blogging (that assumes you keep this site. If you joined another site, that's ALOT worse than going alone). Both are obviously much better than quitting entirely. But much worse than the incredible job you're doing now.

posted by: David Schraub on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I prefer Dan Drezner alone, even if more rarely.

posted by: BayMike on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Alone, please. Sometimes less is more. And your guest bloggers talked too much.

posted by: Kathryn on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Alone, with guests.

posted by: Paul on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

RSS or no RSS, go it alone.

posted by: CW on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

You have a fairly unique voice (well informed and reasoned, balanced and humorous)that keeps people (well me anyway) coming back. I think you would do well to preserve that uniqueness. My thoughts are to go it alone if you want to play it safe, or choose very wisely i.e. someone who has a similar voice or someone who is as unique in their own right and complements your style/ outlook well. Good luck...

posted by: Graham on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I'd favor expansion as long as it was clear in the RSS feed who was writing what (which wasn't the case during the "outsourcing"). But this isn't a strong preference.

What I'd really like to see is full posts in the RSS feed.

That, and more fishies. Yeah, fishies rule!

posted by: fling93 on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Dan, I think you should subordinate everything else in your life to this blog, and keep it the way it is. Forever.

If pressed to offer an alternative, I would suggest the following: bloggers can reduce their posting frequency and maintain their readership if they typically post longer essays (which you do) and don't have comment sections. If Virginia Postrel doesn't feel like posting more than once a week or so, it's small loss compared to what would happen if Glenn Reynolds did the same thing -- or if you did, because the regular interaction of readers here is one of this site's principle attractions.

Hydra-headed blogs can work if the contributors have some kind of strong tie to one another and don't disagree in print so often that the identity of the blog becomes confused. Two blogs featuring talented writers -- QuasiPundit and Flit -- are examples. Each foundered as its contributors, who did not know each other well, submitted very different (in Flit's case, wildly different) content. QP's contributors eventually tired of the whole thing, though Flit's founder is still posting from time to time.

So if you decide on the group blog format, make it a small group of people you know well. I have no suggestions to make as to who those people ought to be, or what they ought to write about; for what it is worth I wasn't a fan of your guest bloggers last week as I thought them discursive and verbose, but that just reflects my personal taste.

posted by: Zathras on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Group blogs seem to work pretty well.

posted by: rd on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

There is another possibility you didn't mention. If you want to post only occasionally, you could become a guest at some highly-compatible blog. You would have less commitment and probably less hassle than running your own, but you'd also have less control.

posted by: J Thomas on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

i think you should just stop altogether.


actually, i think you should form a super blog with brad delong, marginal revolution and crooked timber and form voltron... but who would form the head and torso?

andrew sullivan? steven den beste? hmmmm..:D

posted by: trice on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Expansion with other political science experts.

posted by: Xavier on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I think the key to the solo vs. group debate is how infrequent your solo posts will be. If we're talking one or two solo posts a week, then I guess I'd change my vote and suggest you stay solo, but if we're talking about one or two a month, then it's definitely better to bring in some partners. Apropos of your recent comments on the Bush Admin's policy process, the devil is in the details.

posted by: Dave on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote for the occassional guest blogger. Someone whose opinion you respect enough to share with your readers, not necessarily a pol sci type. I've noticed you don't post everyday, once a week is good but sometimes very hard for a busy person so to keep your spot in the lineup get a guest blogger when you need to.

posted by: Ruth on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

One of the posts above remarks on your unique "voice." They have a point, but I read it as more about the analytical nature of this entire site than any verbal qualities (though those are certainly present). Hence, if you elect a group effort, the other contributors would need to be those who would provide similar service, though differing in content and perhaps conclusions.

Actually, an internal debate might be quite interesting at times ... sort of an antidote to deus ex machina syndrome.

The Group, then, would be my choice, though depending on the conspirators.

posted by: Paul on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

You should keep it your own personal site. Your readers are here for your opinions, not those of random guests.

There are so many other places where opinions can be accessed - op-ed pages, public radio, etc. - that you shouldn't feel a need to provide us with more. You aren't an opinion syndication service, nor are you a site that collects others' opinions, like slate or salon, and you wouldn't be a very good one if you tried. Stick with what you know - you.

And don't worry about vacations - andrew sullivan is taking this month off, and op-ed collumnists routinely do so. No big deal, and no reason to consider a change to your format.

posted by: Chad on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I recommend making it a group blog. I enjoyed the posts of Reihan and Siddharth when you were gone

posted by: niraj on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote for expansion, just not for its own sake, so to speak. Michael Froomkin is right that RSS changes matters somewhat in that readers see content as it's added, instead of having to fish for it. I also agree with lansing that retaining/re-upping Reihan and Siddharth would be an excellent move.

posted by: Dave Straub on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Well, if the additional bloggers are almost as interesting as you, go for the group. The problem is, being a good blogger isn't always the same as being a good blogger chooser. I tend to say individual - that way each person can choose the additional bloggers they want to read.

posted by: David Weisman on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

for professional and personal reasons that will soon become apparent

I love teasers! I hope this is better than Josh Marshall's underwhelming "tectonic plates" thing...

Anyway, the group blog obviously depends on who the group contains. If you group with Atrios and Ann Coulter... (um, ok, that's probably not gonna happen, but you get the point). I like the blog because of its content and tone; the group should have people who are not drastically different in content and tone. That's not to say some differences aren't OK - I think that Jacob Levy's addition to the Volokh Conspiracy works pretty well. One other consideration - consider whether you'd rely on the co-bloggers of a group site to pull the weight of the site. Would you keep blogging as much (as Eugene Volokh has) if others joined, or would your output decline (as Jacob's has since he joined the Conspiracy)? Does that matter to you? (It matters to me, of course, but that's probably not what you're most interested in...)

posted by: Al on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote expansion. Blogs' value is less one-to-many than many-to-many.

The discussions in the Comment threads tend to be more interesting than Dan's debates with his colleagues, which after a while take on the air of an academic seminar. I'm less interested in Brad DeLong's views than I am in hearing intelligent viewpoints from posters who are not immersed in the academic womb. Also, posters from Asia.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

If the added bloggers are 2/3 as good as you, then add them. Maybe an IR national security type, for one. Again, if they're good enough.
There's a good deal to be said for extended tryouts. That is, start with (more) guest bloggers and go from there.

posted by: Voter on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Whatever you do, please do not bring Quiggin and the other Crooked Timber a**holes into this discussion. With few exceptions that blog exemplifies the sort of smug, self-referential academic left-liberalism that increases contempt for academics generally.

I think I can speak for many here that a large part of's appeal is its dissent from both academic left-lib groupthink and the smug, smirk'n'sneer tone you get from Juan Cole, Quiggin et al.

If you go the guest blogger route, please bring guest bloggers from outside the academic fishbowl, thank you.

Middle-of-the-road professional writers who have achieved some but not too much success (Roger Simon, for ex) are usually a good option-- even if they don't have expertise on particular issues, they have several skills that are precious in a blogger: aknack for getting to the point quickly; strong bullshit detectors; and literary grace and good manners, so to speak. Exactly what you want in both a dinner companion and a good blogger.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

“The discussions in the Comment threads tend to be more interesting than Dan's debates with his colleagues, which after a while take on the air of an academic seminar.”

Amen. Professional academics often have the tendency of looking at a lot of the small pictures---while virtually ignoring the big picture. Being perceived as “Harvard cool” is an overwhelming temptation. I am currently appalled, for instance, at Dan Drezner’s myopic focus on George W. Bush’s less than perfect presidential record. He conveniently overlooks the harsh fact that this election is not between the current president and a so-called perfect candidate. No, it is between President Bush and John Kerry. The latter gentleman invented long tales about spending Christmas 1968 in Cambodia. This fact alone should scare the hell out of any normal person. Kerry is a flip flopping liar who makes up stuff whenever it is deemed necessary. It is patently obvious that Bush is a far more psychologically stable individual.

posted by: David Thomson on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I agree with the commentators above, the two guest bloggers you had in your short absence were much much much too chatty and their writing was much to insular. I started coming here for the relatively clearly written analysis, not to read extremely dense obscuring meandering text.

posted by: Tollhouse on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Academics tend to have an axe to grind. Academics are to intelligent, freewheeling political conversation as tech company marketing directors are to intelligent, freewheeling product comparisons.

To my mind, the most provocative-- in the true, best sense of the word-- bloggers and journalists are those whose thinking over the decades has evolved, whether from left to right (Roger L Simon, Hitchens, Marty Peretz, Bernard Henri-Levy, Bernard Kouchner, Josef Joffe) or right to left. As to the latter group, I can't think of any really salient examples-- maybe James Pinkerton or Kevin Phillips; or that Harper's writer who analyzed the "southernization" of the Republican party-- Michael (?).

I've found I have little patience for the views of those tireless partisans who have not changed at least one of their positions a full 180 degrees during the last two decades. Our era is far too volatile for anyone with a supple mind to still believe, at age 45 or older, all the illusions of his youth.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Unless you're looking to turn pro a blog is a very personal thing and cannot be subject to the audience's whims. We aren't paying and the author has no obligations to us other than the risk of losing whatever fulfillment the blog delivers to the author. If the fulfillment ends the author owes us nothing and can take a vacation or just kill it.

Remember, if Kurt Cobain had given himself permission to quit being a public icon he might be alive today.

posted by: Eric Pobirs on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I would vote for Dan, only, even if the posts are farther apart. I am not big on guest bloggers, although I know that Glenn Reynolds had Dan guest blog for him, and it worked out well.

I would be open to it, but I really want to read what Dan has to say.


Jim Bender

posted by: Jim Bender on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I'd prefer reading Drezner only, though less frequently, to a group blog. I have found that with group blogs, the tendency is to represent a particular viewpoint strongly, if only for the purpose of debate, to the exclusion of others and more considered and unbiased writing in general. My favorite thing about this blog is that Drezner's opinions are considered, professional and less governed by ideology.

P.S.: "patently obvious" is redundant and "Harvard cool" is an oxymoron.

posted by: Philip J. Brinkman on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Dr. D

I was reading long before I posted, and the main reason is because you were able to speak conversationally about things that interest me. Your politics are a good deal to the right of mine, but I haven’t found you to be a true believer who ignores contrary facts. You are, on the whole, quite fair, and don’t belabor things where you don’t have perspective or insight to add (for example, no swift boat or awol bs from you). There are exceptions (I thought you were a bit polemic in questioning the veracity if Richard Clarke based on the thinnest of evidence) but in general, you don’t shut off your brain with bias. You are the blog example of a “grown up” republican, which is probably why you have generated so much interest with your “on-the-fence” striptease.

Finally, you’ve got the best comment board in the blogosphere. Very little cheerleading – generally thoughtful posts - and a minimum of trolls and troll smashing. I haven’t figured out how you have avoided it so far, but it is a real strength.

I’m sure it’s a lot of work and bother, but its obvious that you love doing it. Because of that, you do it very well. I’m sure it’s a difficult decision, but as someone said above, in the final analysis, the answer depends on what rewards you are getting from the blog. I might suggest some other writers, but you must retain editorial control if DD is to retain continuity i.e., no posting unless you have read it first and are comfortable with the content. That’s not censorship – its editorial judgment - and its the real strength of your site.

posted by: TexasToast on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

That you would even consider "Drezner and Company" is a warning sign. Time to back away from the monitor. Is this part of your life really that important? You're already an accomplished educator.

Why don't you try putting Mrs. Drezner as your "option one" priority, chief, and work back from there. I think you'll find the rest of the pieces fit a lot easier.

Thomas G Foster

posted by: Tommy G on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

add bloggers, particularly people that you respect intellectually but that might disagree with you on key issues.

Personally, I would hate the long breaks.

posted by: christopher brandow on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

David Thompson said: "The latter gentleman [Kerry] invented long tales about spending Christmas 1968 in Cambodia. This fact alone should scare the hell out of any normal person. Kerry is a flip flopping liar who makes up stuff whenever it is deemed necessary. It is patently obvious that Bush is a far more psychologically stable individual."

Tell me honestly, David. Are you actually a person, or just some kind of pseudo-physical manifestation of the right wing collective unconscious?

posted by: Dave on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]


posted by: Carleton on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Dan Drezner should invite some other people to join him. This is probably the best option.

posted by: David Thomson on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

“Tell me honestly, David. Are you actually a person, or just some kind of pseudo-physical manifestation of the right wing collective unconscious?”

I’m not even close to being a right winger. My politics are moderately conservative. I’ve even advocated affirmative action policies based on the principle of “when everything else is equal.” Repeatedly, I have taken to task George W. Bush. Why didn’t Joseph Lieberman win the Democrat nomination? He would have gotten my vote. John Kerry truly frightens me. And yes, I think that the Massachusetts senator is mentally unbalanced.

posted by: David Thomson on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Sorry I'm late to the party (again), but as a long-time reader and fan (and occasional critic) I didn't want to make you think I didn't care enough to respond (I do).

My advice echoes that of the ever-perspicacious Zathras: don't go group, especially with academics. Your special gift as a blogger and, I surmise, a professor is to cut the bull and get straight to interesting ideas from all over the map. 99 out of 100 academics do not. I'd bet that over time an all or mostly academic blog-group would shift the tone and you'd lose most of your readers (including ex-academics like me).

That leaves two okay options. You could take a break (you know Glen and other indefatiguable semi-pro bloggers would give you "Dan's back" heads up--you'd be back in business in no time). Or you could impose extreme discipline on yourself and limit blogging to one hour a day--yeah, a blog diet. One good post a day can get discussion rolling, keep the customers satisfied, keep your marriage intact. Or a few brief ones. Whatever.

On the other hand, if you want to offer a uniquely "Chicago" group blog, I'd be happy to pitch in from the suburban north.

Whatever you decide, it's a good opportunity to say thanks for your consistently interesting site. Hope you stay. Understand if you have to go.

posted by: Kelli on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

On second thought, what TommyG said. Doubled.

posted by: TexasToast on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

drezner & co., definitely.

posted by: luckyman on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Your guest bloggers were the bomb.

More outsourcing.

posted by: praktike on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I can't really add anything to the above discussion other than this:

Hold open tryouts if you expand. Let people guest blog, and reserve the comment thread directly attached to the article for people's opinions on the post. Maybe make an empty thread for article discussion immediately after the post.

posted by: Jim Dandy on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Correction, Praktike, the guest bloggers BOMBED. Entirely too much "deathless undergraduate prose," as my advisor described unreadable student papers. Comments dropped to a trickle and I would guess so did daily hits. But maybe Dan would like to fill us in the details.

posted by: Kelli on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I don't mean any disrespect to our host, but I have generally enjoyed the comment section more than the blog itself (which is NOT to say that I disliked the blog itself). I like the fact that there is just about the right amount of comments to have a meaningful discussion (as opposed to having too few comments to start a discussion or too many comments to keep track of one); that there are some very insightful comments; that the comments frequently shed new light on the issues being discussed; that the comments are very diverse and that there is no "echo chamber" effect here.

Consequently, I would vote for any solution that keeps the comment section the way it is. :-) Of course, nobody knows for sure how and why it is the way it is and whether it is crucial to have Dan Drezner be the sole author of the blog. As long as the guest or group bloggers don't change the tone of the blog siginificantly I think there is hope that the comments wouldn't be too seriously affected.

One more point: Ending the blog before the election would be very unfortunate.

posted by: gw on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Consequently, I would vote for any solution that keeps the comment section the way it is. :-)

Agree totally. Very few comments sections around that are not echo chambers. This is precious.

Of course, nobody knows for sure how and why it is the way it is and whether it is crucial to have Dan Drezner be the sole author of the blog. As long as the guest or group bloggers don't change the tone of the blog siginificantly I think there is hope that the comments wouldn't be too seriously affected.

Here's an explanation: Dan's not partisan. He tees up complex issues that cannot be easily disposed of with partisan talking point memos. Outsourcing's an excellent example; so is free trade.

But the rest is done by the commenters. Don't confuse Elaine with the wits gathered around the tables at Elaine's. Elaine merely sets the table and serves the drinks.

We can have this discussion anywhere, so long as one cardinal rule is followed: strident partisanship be damned.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

There are serious downsides to both option (2) & (3) - option (1) is not permissable ;-O.

(2) With Virginia, I never know when her breaks will end, so forget to even look to see if she's updated her blog. If you do choose option 2, then would suggest you be very clear of how long each break will last a la Andrew Sullivan.

(3) has worked out well for the Volokh conspiracy, but have to agree that I was not fond of your guest bloggers, so choosing complementary group bloggers is a tricky proposition (is your wife interested in joining you? have noticed Mrs. Atrios chips in sometimes). If you do decide on a group, then I'd recommend using a different colour font for each blogger - sometimes on Volokh i lose track of who i'm reading (yes, i know the names are at the top of each blog entry, but having different fonts would make it easier to take).

Can understand how consuming being a quasi-professional blogger is, but it is to your credit that you've become part of the blogsphere's elite, and I've also found over time that I frequent your blog because i consider you to be an 'honest broker'.

posted by: frankly a on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote that you should bring in other bloggers. There's a pretty good chance that blogs like this one will evolve into politicial commentary sites that actually generate a profit-- not unlike magazines that were founded by one person and then filled out with others' writings. Drezner would risk killing a money-making machine to abandon the blog or allow it to lapse.

I can't believe that Andrew Sullivan, for instance, is taking the whole month of August off. What's he think he is-- French or somthing? His absence has made me change my habit of reading Josh Marshall's Talking Points and then immediately checking Sullivan.

I would suggest that Drezner follow his posts with his initials and have any other bloggers follow their post with full names. I enjoyed the guest bloggers recently, but I had to keep trying to figure out who was writing what.

posted by: James Withrow on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I can't believe that Andrew Sullivan, for instance, is taking the whole month of August off. What's he think he is-- French or somthing?

er, terminally ill? Just a thought.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Maybe Drezner should cut down on reading other blogs' comment sections first.

More seriously, just keep this yourself and post less. Even without RSS that's not too bad.

posted by: Matt Newman on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Let me bring a financial perspective from a Chicago alum. A company that diversifies its product lines and becomes a conglomerate ("blogger inviting other bloggers to join him") generally sees its stock underperform the market. Without getting into the internal mechanics of conglomerates, one of the reasons for decline is the lost investor ("reader") interest. The market doesn't like CEOs ("Bloggers") who diversify because INVESTORS CAN DIVERSIFY THEIR OWN PORTFOLIOS. I read different blogs for the unique perspective they offer. I think Drezner should invite guest bloggers but not have permanently installed blogger-colleagues.

(Exceptions exist--of course General Electric is a very successful conglomerate, but it takes a lot to biuld a GE)

posted by: Ivan B Zhabin on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I second the suggestion about taking clearly specified breaks, Andrew Sullivan style, so we know when to check back in at the blog, and not just randomly disappearing for days or weeks on end.

I wouldn't go group just for the sake of going group. You have a fairly unique niche as an academic writing about academic subjects in a thoughtful manner, and I appreciate it. If you *do* go group, I hope you bring in more academics and not more pundits. And please, no more lawyers! As much as I love The Volokh Conspiracy and all the other wonderful lawyer-blogs, there are tons of them and not nearly enough people doing what you do. So I guess my vote is, go group if you can find a group of people who will cover economics and political science in a thoughtful, academic manner like you do, and if not, stay solo and take breaks but announce them ahead of time, don't just leave us dangling.

posted by: Julia on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I hear Lou Dobbs is available.

posted by: Don Mynack on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Group blogs are fine by me. I think Volokh and Marginal revolution are great, for example, and our group blog at centerfield seems to work pretty well. But as others have noted, choose a very few sympaticos, and do so wisely.

And surely it does depend somewhat on the amount by which you're expecting to decrease the volume of new content. If psotings become haphazard, traffic is bound to dwindle.

posted by: bk on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Dan, keep it separate. I read you using Bloglines, along with several dozen other blogs. I can easily read your daily posts, or your monthly posts, as soon as they are posted. In a sense, I've created my own personal group blog.

One caveat: if you can figure out a way to participate in the editorial process, kinda like having junior researchers, perhaps a group blog may be worthwhile. In one way or another, though, everything on your blog should (1) represent your point of view and (2) never dilute the quality.

Better yet, please don't go!

- Mike

posted by: Michael Weiksner on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Team blog or not, as long as you continue providing commentary, I could honestly care less. Just make up your mind about the election already before the rest of the blogosphere blows a gasket.

posted by: Senor C on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Absolutely has to have fresh stuff posted daily. No month-long or even 24-hour absences.

Where the blogosphere falls far short of the MSM is in 1) regularity and 2) consistency. The NYT often sucks, the Beeb usually sucks, Morning Edition occasionally sucks, but they're there, right where you expect them, when you expect them. Meanwhile, Sullivan's still in his or his boyfriend's hammock and Virginia's writing her book.

Given that the MSM consistently and regularly serves crap, as soon as the blogosphere solves these two problems it will take share from the Dobbses, Nagourneys, Courics and Gail Collinses of the world and become a valid business proposition.

posted by: lex on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Stay solo, but if you must groupify it, then, as someone above noted, please please PLEASE add an author identifier.

Volokh is the most egregious example -- not a single one of his contributors is worth reading except EV himself (and Tyler Cowen, who saves the good stuff for his own blog).

But with a feed it really doesn't get too annoying -- it's easy enough to ignore the second-string posts.

posted by: KipEsquire on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I woulden't necessarily be a fan of the group blog here. I didn't read this for a few days and when I started reading a guest post it kind of freaked me out because it was so out of character. I say either go on hiatus occasionally (maybe you can get Instapundit or Volokh to announce when you come back) or just go join Volokh, assuming he would have you. But that's just for my convenience...

posted by: Thomas Harris on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Keep the product pure! Don't feel like it's important to immediately comment on every little event. Write about what interests you most - and push for quality, not quantity. Let the aggregators bring the content to us when it's posted.

One example of what NOT to do: Instapundit. One to two dozen daily postlets chock full of links and fairly unintelligible without chasing down those links.

posted by: Candyman on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Kip -- the Volokh site has a filter allowing you to choose whatever combination of writers you want to allow on your screen. Volokh and Cowen only: it's a snap. He's an amazingly reader-friendly site host.

As for this site host, I agree with AI that he certainly has piqued our curiosity. May all things professional, personal, and bloggal be good.

posted by: old maltese on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I go with the group blog.

posted by: Erick Erickson on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I vote the Postrel route, as long as you have time to post a couple of times a week. To be honest, I stopped clicking on during your week of absence. If this turns into a U of Chicago blog, or a conservative blog, or some such, I'm afraid you'll lose visitors like me completely. What appeals to me about this site is your particular voice. But if you do decide to invite more guest bloggers, I would retain a bit more control over it -- ask someone who disagrees about what you're saying on Iraq/outsourcing/whatever to respond, rather than giving them free rein over the subject matter.

posted by: Sarah on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I'd have to vote for less frequent posting, perhaps with infrequent guests, as the most preferable option; I've seen more than one blog go "group" and become just too annoying to read.

Group blogging is iffy. I think it works at my blog because (a) Brock and I know each other pretty well and think quite similarly (so the tone shift isn't bad), and (b) Brock's interests tend to lie away from mine (comparative advantage and all that), so there's not so much cross-talk and cacophony.

posted by: Chris Lawrence on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Group blogs in which all of the bloggers share the same degree of seriousness work well. Volokh is my favorite blog by far because all of the bloggers are serious and reasonable.

(And take a lesson from Cathy Siepp's stint as guest blogger. She just didn't fit the tone of the blog.)

Not that I think it would be easy to find that quality of contributor. (Of course, if you can get Richard Posner and James Surowiecki, like some other leading lights of the blogosphere, youi'd have it made.)

posted by: Scott Wood on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Noooooo... don't go.

OK, I vote expansion.

posted by: Herostratus on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I'm late to this party, but I vote expansion....or rather consolidation, since it's likely that anyone who joins you will have the same issues. You could hold hold auditions.

posted by: George on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

Expand and conquer.

posted by: ron mitchell on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

I like reading an individual voice and, with a few exceptions, find group blogging no more palatable than group therapy or group sex.

I therefore vote for irregular blog postings, with the proviso that you give your readers some estimate of how long you are likely to be absent from the blogosphere during periods when you are otherwise engaged, so that we will have some idea when to check back for new postings.

posted by: Richard Bellikoff on 08.21.04 at 09:49 PM [permalink]

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