“Blog” Referring to a Blog Post

A commenter asks, “The Volokh Conspiracy is a blog. What should one call the various postings by members of the conspiracy? Are they blogs too, or is it better to call them posts or something else?”

I’ve seen a few people — usually ones that don’t seem particularly blog-savvy — referring to a blog post as a “blog.” My sense is that this is not a standard usage. Blog posts by the blog’s authors are customarily called “posts.” (Items added by members of the public who aren’t part of the blog’s self-selected set of authors are called “comments.”) “Blog” is generally used to refer to the entire site. Using “blog” to mean “post” is, I think, likely to annoy and distract quite a few readers, and make them suspect that the user isn’t really blog-savvy.

The customary meaning of “blog,” by the way, is consistent with the its origin in the phrase “Web log.” As I understand it, entries in a traditional log (such as a ship’s log or a computer file that logs certain information) are generally referred to as “entries,” and “log” refers to the book or file in which the entries are placed. Of course, one shouldn’t fall into the etymological fallacy by generally assuming that current meaning tracks the origins of the phrase. But in this case, I think it does; and perhaps the “blog” / “logbook” link can serve a useful mnemonic for people who might otherwise be tempted to use “blog” in the sense of “post.”

UPDATE: I’ve also heard people use “article” to refer to a blog post, even a post on a blog that pretty clearly isn’t organized in a newspaper- or magazine-like format. There’s nothing inherently illogical about this usage, but it too strikes me as non-standard, and thus likely to make the user look like an outsider to blogging.

The same would be true for “entry,” used to refer to a blog post. It’s logical in theory — if you can have entries in logs, why not in Web logs? — but unidiomatic in practice.