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Law Faculty Blogging.--

An article about law faculty blogging in the National Law Journal has received a lot of discussion in the legal blogosphere. Lawblogger extraordinaire Paul Caron has a nice roundup.

I wanted to comment further on a point highlighted by Ann Althouse:

[J]ust counting the numbers of bloggers is not very accurate. For example, Chicago has a high blogger count because it runs a group blog with a long list of faculty names. I'd like to see a weighted count — if you're going to get into counting — that reflects the actual amount of blogging that is going on. But then if you did that, you'd probably want to count the blogging that is specifically about law, as opposed to, say, "American Idol."

Indeed, the school-by-school counts of law professor bloggers are:

14 University of Chicago

7 University of California at Los Angeles

7 University of San Diego

5 George Washington

5 George Mason

4 Stanford

4 Northwestern

4 Ohio State

4 University of California, Davis

4 University of Cincinnati

The problem with this list is obvious: Can Chicago really be the leading blogging law school without a single major blogger on its full-time faculty? Dick Posner, who is a part-time senior lecturer there, runs an excellent and reasonably popular blog with Gary Becker that nonetheless gets in a month roughly as many visitors as Glenn Reynolds gets in a few peak hours in a single day.

Former dean and former provost Geoff Stone blogs at the extremely popular HuffingtonPost, but he contributed only one post to Huffington in the month of February.

Most of Chicago's bloggers post at the U. of Chicago Faculty Blog. Though also of high quality, it had barely more than a dozen posts during the entire month of February. It will probably evolve into a successful blog, but with 3-4 posts a week on average, there is not yet enough content to generate regular readers.

From skimming the list of the most popular blogs at The Truth Laid Bear on Tuesday night, it appears that the most popular blog run mostly or completely by full-time professors in any field is Instapundit (8th in traffic, 2d in links), followed perhaps by the Volokh Conspiracy (55th in traffic, 11th in links). Although the TruthLaidBear.com website doesn't track all blogs, it appears that we are a distant second to Glenn among all academic blogs, whether measured by links or by traffic, It is entirely possible that I've missed an academic blog in another field between Glenn's blog and Eugene's group blog.

In the number of links, Professor Bainbridge is 59th among all tracked blogs at TruthLaidBear (but 207th in traffic), and Althouse is 81st in links and 107th in traffic.

One of the problems in doing empirical research is the quantitative fallacy: the belief that what is easiest to count substantively counts the most. Although Chicago may develop into a significant blogging law school, it does not yet reach the influence in the blogosphere of UCLA, Tennessee, San Diego, GW, George Mason, or Wisconsin, among others.

Lev:

the quantitative fallacy: the belief that what is easiest to count substantively counts the most


Yeah, like body counts.
3.1.2006 3:06am
Jeroen:

Although Chicago may develop into a significant blogging law school, it does not yet reach the influence in the blogosphere of UCLA, Tennessee, San Diego, GW, George Mason, or Wisconsin, among others


I'm not sure I take the same view of "influence in the blogosphere" as you do. It seems you are just substituting one quantitative falacy (# bloggers) for another (traffic). I think I am much more "influenced" by the one weekly Posner-Becker post, or the occasional Epstein, Stone or Sunstein post than by the stuff on Instapundit, even though I need only visit the Becker-Posner blog and the Chicago Faculty blog once a week.
3.1.2006 3:22am
Jeroen:
"Fallacy", sorry.
3.1.2006 3:24am
Cornellian (mail):
Instapundit doesn't allow comments which is, I think, an important distinction between it and Volokh Conspiracy. You go to Instapundit for a quick scan, to Volokh Conspiracy to participate and that's got to mean something.
3.1.2006 7:14am
Rich Egan (mail):
I am a full time Lecturer in Information Systems and also a part time PhD student and during a class I was taking a professor mentioned a story that may be of interest.

Seems a Faculty member in this one department was coming up for tenure in about a year and while had published a good amount, they were not cited very often. Well he published a very controversial article that everybody under the sun wrote to refute, giving hundreds and potentially thousands of cites. When it came time for the P&T committee to review he got tenure because they only looked at the cites and not what he had written.

It has to be more than just links and visits it has to be something about quality, no slight meant to Instapundit, (which I read).
3.1.2006 9:29am
Juan Notwithstanding the Volokh:
Personally, I am waiting for the USNEWS rankings to incorporate number of bloggers into their rankings. Seriously, this post illustrates the problem with blogging in general: If someone says it, it must be worth debating. But is it really worth debating which school has more "influence in the blogosphere"?
3.1.2006 9:56am
Adam (mail) (www):
If it were more efficient for the U of C Law faculty to blog more, those posts would instantaneously appear.
3.1.2006 10:00am
Bobbie:
Texas has at least four factulty bloggers.
3.1.2006 10:05am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):

The blogs which update more frequently are less conducive to a thoughtful conversation. You get a lot of quick reactions, but no one is paying attention after a couple of days. No knock on this site, which strikes a fairly useful balance, but I can see some advantage to academic sites which have less frequency of posting and commenting.
3.1.2006 10:55am
MLYaeger:
What about Balkinization? It's Jack Balkin's blog that includes some of his Yale colleagues, e.g. Ian Ayres. Plus other profs, like Sandy Levinson (Balkin's soul brother) and Mark Tushnet of Georgetown. When this blog is at its best, it's excellent.
3.1.2006 11:10am
James Lindgren (mail):
MLYaeger:

I agree about Balkinization--two of my favorite Yalies blog there. Indeed, in writing the post, I went there to check just how many Yalies were on it.
3.1.2006 11:43am
dick thompson (mail):
I think there is a problem with this whole question. The Instapundit blog is mainly based on news and political opinion rather than law issues. Althouse is also based on news and some political opinion but also has a lot of issues with entertainment and quirks of society reporting. There is some blogging on law issues but that is not really her main thrust. Bainbridge combines a lot of law blogging with some commenting on politics.

I think you have to separate out the blogs that are from law professors and deal with legal issues almost exclusively from those blogs which are from law professors but which deal mainly with the quality of life and the politics of the world. Then you would probably have a far more useful correlation of law blogs to the standing of the universities.
3.1.2006 12:50pm
WB:
I'm with Juan. The real question here is "who cares"?

At the risk of undermining my point, I'll add that the following statement is surely an example of the pot calling the kettle black:

Former dean and former provost Geoff Stone blogs at the extremely popular HuffingtonPost, but he contributed only one post to Huffington in the month of February.

Not all Conspirators are equally deserving of credit for the success and influence of the Conspiracy.
3.1.2006 5:40pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
WB and Juan --

If you think this post is useless, you don't have to read it, much less come on the blog and use up time to comment about it.

As for Prof. Lindgren's comment about Geoff Stone, it wasn't like he said, "Stone blogs little and is therefore a moral degenerate." He was just simply stating a fact. The pot calling the kettle black would be sort of like Erwin Chemerinsky lamenting how the fascist Bushies are taking away people's civil liberties.
3.2.2006 3:42am