Prominent Librarian Warns Against Using Software

Bshucha Bonnie Shucha, Reference & Electronic Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin Law Library, warned bloggers to avoid using software. "Blogger is being overrun with spam blogs and readers avoid it," she said at the Association of Legal Administrators conference in Montreal.

It's because of the proliferation of "Splogs," (machine generated spam blogs), which account for 9% of all new blogs created. This is why many bloggers are noticing that their comments and trackbacks are being filled with garbage spam, to create inbound links for the spamming sites.

I was extremely bummed out to hear this. Blogger is considered software for kids, or for personal blogs for family and friends, talking about your vacations and at-home activities. Shucha uses Moveable Type for her blog, and recommends this software or Typepad (which I myself use).

"It's getting harder now to start a new blog and attract an audience. The people who started a blog a year or two ago have an advantage. But there are still niches to be filled it you have quality information to say. Find out if there are any other blogs out there on the topic you're thinking about," she said.

"It might make sense for a law firm to do a 'soft launch,' see if it attracts and audience and whether the attorneys are committed to keeping it up to date. Then later make a big announcement about it.

She also offered several ideas for promoting your blog:

  • Make the name very descriptive of the content -- like "Security Law in California."
  • Link to the blog from the firm's Web site and include its URL on all firm communications, letterhead and business cards -- but make sure it's something the firm is committed to. With PHP technology you can have the most recent topics of your blog appear on your firm Web site. It does put pressure on the attorneys to write posts and it jazzes up the Web site.
  • Tell your clients and everybody about your blog.
  • Register with search engines & directories.
  • Use keywords in the titles of your posts -- make each title descriptive of the post and more people will read it.
  • Link to other blogs. "This is huge in the blogosphere. If another attorney has a related blog, ask to post reciprocal links," she said. It's called a "blogroll," a list of blogs that the blogger readers.
  • Offer your own unique perspective.
  • Encourage reader feedback and solicit comments.  "It's a lot more enjoyable for the blogger when you get a response," she said.
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Bob Ambrogi - May 3, 2006 8:47 AM

This is an overbroad condemnation of First, Blogger has tools that allow you to authenticate comments or turn them off altogether. I have found the authentication tool quite effective in blocking comment spam. Second, if you use Blogger's "software" but host the blog on your own server, rather than on a "Blogspot" site, the problems Bonnie describes really do not apply.

Bonnie Shucha - May 3, 2006 1:29 PM

Thanks for the summary, Larry. I'm afraid that my comment about Blogger may have sounded more controversial than I meant it to be. As Bob pointed out in his comment, simply using the Blogger "software" isn't problematic.

My comment concerned those blogs hosted by Blogger. Sorry I didn't make this more clear at the session. I explain it more over at WisBlawg.

Regarding the spam on Blogger, I wasn't referring to comment spam. That can be controlled through authentication, as Bob points out. I was talking about "splogs" - entire blogs that are nothing but spam. From wikipedia: "Splogs are blogs where the articles are fake, and are only created for spamming."

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