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A blog about (Lib Dem) blogging – the debate continues…

Last year after the Lib Dem Voice Blogging Awards one or two people were unhappy about who won and who’d been shortlisted. This year it is the quality of the Lib Dem blogosphere that is in question. As we all look inwardly about what the point of blogging is – certainly with regards to a politico – I’ll lob my 2p worth into the fountain.

It all started with an excellent post by Lond Bonkers entitled ‘Time to Freshen Up the Lib Dem Blogging Awards‘ as he mused about the awards being too narrow. With the ‘Best Post’ award culled for whatever reason this year it basically meant that for established blogs there was only one available award and that was for the best overall blog. So it is harder for people to get recognised for their good blogging.

Stephen Tall who won the original awards back in the day (2006 is back in the day apparently). At the awarfs he spoke and said, ‘even to talk about blogs now seems almost retro with generating the buzz today. Blogging is bigger than it was all those years ago, but among Lib Dems it’s on the decline. At its peak there were 250+ Lib Dem bloggers. Today there are around 200 active Lib Dem blogs curated at Ryan Cullen’s aggregator.’

Now whilst it is true that not everyone has left the party it should be noted that membership has declined at a faster rate than active bloggers. The biggest concern for me this year wasn’t that the quality of blogs were down but that the quality of new blogs was down. In 2011 the shortlist for Best New Blog was fantastic but this year it was won by a blog with a collection of writers. Nothing wrong with that but a collection of writers will not develop a niche and a following. Blogging is primarily used as a place to express an opinion on a subject and unless you have your own one it is hard to get into a rhythm or a flow.

Why have we not seen a new crop of bloggers come through? My guess (and it is a guess) is that the lull is new bloggers is linked to the lull in new active members. If there are fewer new members then logically there would be fewer new bloggers. I think that seems relatively obvious. Some of the most established bloggers have deserted the party either for pastures new or because they just couldn’t stomach what Lib Dems were doing in government any more. That is of course their right but it has meant that a lot of the technical blogging looking at policy etc. has disappeared. Also some have had changes in their lives which mean they have no time to dedicate to blogging.

Blogging is often full of enthusiasm for a while until life circumstances change and that it withers and dies and Andrew Emmerson pointed out in his post on the subject. I will say I disagree with him that blogging is a dying art. I read many blogs. Most people will at least have a few blogs they read semi-regularly whether it be through links on social media or watching a feed or just going to the site every few days to see what new has been written.

There will always too be new bloggers coming up and established bloggers on the decline. That is the nature of the beast and the nature of life. Looking solely at the Lib Dem blogosphere it would be harsh to say it was on a terminal decline. Would it be nice if a few new faces started writing? Sure it would but you can never have enough new bloggers in the world but this is linked more to do with the party membership and lack of movement on the ‘incoming’ ledger than it does to blogging as a medium.

On the point of the awards. Do people blog to win awards? I don’t think they do. Do awards and recognition in the Golden Dozen stroke egos and enthuse people to write and blog more? Of course they do. Look we all have egos. Anyone who says they don’t have an ego is a liar. Some will need it stroked more than others but to some degree we all have one. We all work harder if someone tells us we are doing a good job in any form of life. That is human nature.

However having said that no-one starts out a blog to win an award. They start one to have a voice of their own in the maddening crowd that is the interwebs. I believe that quality of work will speak for itself and in time if you write enough good stuff people will find it and read it and keep coming back to read more. Views stroke the ego as much as awards do. Do the party need to do more to promote blogging and actively get people to blog more? I don’t think they do. Blogging has to be a personal passion and if you blog because you feel it is wanted or expected then the quality and longevity of the blogging will not be as high as those who just want to blog because they enjoy it. That is just what I think anyway.

Open up the blogging awards more is all well and good but if people are stopping blogging because they don’t feel that they are getting the love from the judging panel then I wonder if they truly enjoy blogging in the first place. Obviously I speak from a personal perspective (I’ve been told off for this before by other Lib Dem bloggers – apparently I shouldn’t go on what I feel or what I see but more on what the collective sees) but I blog because I enjoy it. Yes I love the views etc. but I once spent seven hours composing a 5,000+ word blog on feminism and not even fifty people read it. Did I stop blogging? No. I was just glad that I had written it.

So all in all the problems (if there are any) in the Lib Dem blogosphere is two-fold. Established bloggers have left the party and their expertise in technical policy blogging has disappeared and a lack of new people joining the party and in turn blogging. The deal with the blogging awards and the Golden Dozen for me isn’t a huge issue. Get more members and woo back the old guard and we’ll be fine.

PS: Richard Morris says it has been a miserable 24 hours for his blogging ego. I know it was tongue in cheek but he wrote a fantastic piece yesterday entitled ‘I’m starting a campaign to make the most democratic of all the party conferences…democratic‘ so he shouldn’t be too downbeat. Good blogging will always be noticed. Does that help stroke your ego Richard? ;o)

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  1. […] proving a distraction. Several prominent bloggers – including Jonathan Calder, Richard Morris and Neil Monnery – responded. The assessment that emerged was not, perhaps, quite as downbeat as Stephen’s […]

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