Blogs better than forums, says Slugger's QUB seminar

Very interested to read about yesterday’s internet/politics seminar at Queens University Belfast, organised by Mick Fealty, the man behind Slugger O’Toole and more recently the Telegraph’s Brassneck. I’m particularly taken by one passage in the report by blogger Alan In Belfast:

Blog posts tend to be dominated by a single voice, a consistent set of values and personal background that command what’s written ‘above the line’ in the main post. Blogs differentiate themselves by their voice. And while there is still a melee of commenters ‘below the line’ (in popular blogs anyway), it’s centred around a sophisticated starting point in the original post. And with discipline – and an eye for libel – the commenting can be proactively gardening, pruning the straggly branches, and removing the poisonous weeds.

On reflection, this is probably the conclusion I reached myself, but never quite put into words (although I probably wouldn’t have used a gardening analogy).

Forums generally aren’t successful, in the same way decision-making by committee generally isn’t successful. The blogger sets the tone, and enforces an appropriate ‘door policy’, as is his/her right. I’d add that the blogger ought to be posting regularly, always driving things forward – which ought to stop any threads becoming too lengthy and/or circular. There are lessons here, people.

Expect similar discussion at next week’s Telegraph open night on political blogging. Hard to imagine a more illustrious guest list; if you’ve got any interest in this field, you really ought to get your name down.

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