Thursday, May 18, 2006

And Now What Course?

.$.

I see, looking back at the horizon whence lay the once-great vista of Polipundit.com, that the debris from Monday night’s blow-up has yet to completely descend. Bits and pieces of arguments, opinion, and emotion still charge the air, and visitors would be well-advised to find protection from the still-hostile atmosphere.

I would have thought that, however unfortunate, we had at least reached a resolution. It actually seemed pretty straight-forward; the site owner had decided his privacy took precedence to the opinions of the other bloggers, and we were summarily booted from his domain. I could speak to the manner and character of the events again, but the tone is well known already and there is no point to revisiting that drama.

Yet, that same site owner who in an instant of poor temper demoted the other writers from members of a 'group blog', to 'guest bloggers', to 'former writers no longer welcome', yesterday posted the following peculiar statement:

I’m going to refrain from commenting on the whole guest-blogger situation until we’ve worked out a resolution.”

Say what?

Actually, some of his readers voiced similar thoughts. From the ‘comments’ section of that post:

BlackCon: “What resolution is there? If they don’t agree with you on immigration, then they don’t get to play. What’s left to resolve?”
Bender: “Resolution?? It seems to me that once you’ve put the gun in your mouth and pulled the trigger, you’ve got as much as a “resolution” as you are ever going to get.”

Others were less kind, either promising to leave Polipundit.com, or praising him for the evictions and basically telling the rest where they can go.

So, where to now? One thing to notice is the traffic. Despite predictions that the purge would cost him readership, the Sitemeter for Polipundit.com shows that his 20,000 a day readership jumped to 45,000 on Tuesday, but dropped back to its normal 20,000 on Wednesday. Lorie Byrd.com (formerly Byrd Droppings), used to track between 500 and 1,000 hits a day, but logged more than 7,500 on Tuesday and more than 6,000 on Wednesday. As of this writing, her site has already logged 1,188 (which would be a pace for about 3,000?), so Lorie’s traffic can be said to have permanently jumped by a geometric factor. As for me, my pace used to be a very modest 50 to 100 hits a day; Tuesday and Wednesday each pulled 800, not nearly in Lorie’s league or anything like Polipundit, but literally ten to twelve TIMES what I was getting before, so let me stop right here and say thanks for your visits (today has shown 180 hits so far, on a pace for a clean 400 maybe). Alexander and Jayson do not have personal blogs, so I cannot say what effect this is having on their name recognition, although I will say that Jayson reports he is focusing mainly on his law work, including some teaching; we may have to ask him for guest appearances in a very real sense. Alexander is still keen on political analysis, but is debating whether he wants to be part of a group blog or start up his own site. Given his intelligence and style, I do not doubt he will be a hit.

Alexander’s decision between single-and-group blogs is sort of the issue for all of us. It looks right now as if we have three general routes to choose from:

[] Single-person blogs
[] Join an existing group blog
[] Start up our own group blog


Now me, I’m a big advocate of the third option, not least because I liked the synergy between us in our group, and because if we co-start a blog, there won’t be any danger of that ‘I own the site and you will do as I say’ nonsense. If we had to choose one of us to be the ‘captain’ of the team, I would nominate Lorie, for two reasons:

1. Lorie has always been the best-tempered of us all; and
2. Lorie’s personal traffic shows that she is the best-known and most-respected of us all.


I don’t want to get too caught up in ifs and possibilities here, but I did want to say where I see the best option. To be crudely mercenary, I also see a group blog, if it’s set up well, as a tremendous possibility; people like big newspapers which can supply their thirst for news, opinion, culture, entertainment, and background. A good group blog should do the same but frankly, no one yet has done all of that. This suggests to me that a blog which is informative, thought-provoking, funny, entertaining, and which listens to its readers would be a gland slam, a first-stop-of-the-day which would lead to huge readership and significant revenue. Quite literally a win-win.

The obstacles, of course, are huge. First, no one can guarantee success – I recall the anecdote of the first development of the downloadable music player, back around 1989-90. It was ahead of its time, and so fifteen years before the iPod, this great idea got no traction. Also, we’d need to recruit advertisers, design a sharp-looking site with spiffy graphics and logos and such, and of course we’d have to bring aboard the right balance of writers, enough to cover all the bases but not so much that it became a crowd. Talk about ‘opportunity cost’!

And then there is the question of fairness. Most group blogs have to figure out how to pay out the money. The first part is simple – you have to make more than you’re spending on the site, but after that, who gets what? The most common answer I hear is that the writers split the money evenly, but I don’t know about that. The reason I say this, is because of what I noted earlier; if Lorie and I pooled our talents on a 2-person blog [I am not saying this as an option, but only for this example], we would get my 400-800 a day plus Lorie’s 3,000-8,000 a day, less anyone who was visiting both of our individual sites. Lorie would reasonably be said to be responsible for 90% of our traffic, and by rights should enjoy a similar portion of profits. The problem is this sort of thing is not a science. If, again as an example, Alexander came on board, we’d have no idea what his fan base measures, and so could not empirically determine a reasonable portion of the revenue. I know from history, that this is the sort of thing which should be worked out before the place gets going. The question for Lorie then, is to decide what works to her own best advantage. Obviously, I benefit from having a connection to someone of her talent and reputation, but unless she believes she receives a similar benefit, Lorie might find it more to her advantage to join forces with someone better able to advance her professional position.

So anyway, you have a sense of what’s going on, in my mind as least. The site owner of Polipundit, though I wish him well, pretty much slammed the door when he sent an ultimatum to us and locked us out. I want to thank everyone for their gracious offers of temporary or permanent blog homes, but as you can see there’s a lot to consider. I promise, if I’m going to continue to see this amount of traffic here at Stolen Thunder, to work on a more attractive background.

UPDATE: I see that Alexander has tentatively accepted a position joining the fine team at Redstate.com. I am happy for Alexander and wish him all the best, and hope you will all visit Redstate, if you are not doing so already.

28 comments:

JB said...

DJ, I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse talents of the PP site when you all were there. As a group you could effectively cover news, politics, poll analysis, etc. That seemed to be a winning formula. You are already well aware that many of your readers would like you former PP writers to get together on a group blog, so one more encouraging nudge in that direction may be superflous. Nevertheless, I offer it anyway.

Until we know what the final decision will be, I will just encourage everyone I know to visit this site. Other readers should do the same. best of fortune.

Steve Falcon said...

DJ -

I agree with everything Jb just said. It's encouraging that you'd like to continue with the old Polipundit format and expand on it as well.

As a fellow blogger who started when blogging wasn't popular, I understand how difficult this is.

I used to own a site called the Conservative Coalition for Diversity (www.cocodiv.org) from 2000 to 2001. It was fun and rewarding but difficult to operate alone working two jobs and juggling a family. In early 2002, I left blogging and went back to school to finish my degree.

Since then, I've returned to blog reading after hearing Hugh Hewitt sing its praises for the past year.

I was inspired by your former site to restart my own blog and I'm enjoying it more than ever. Thank you, for reawakening in me the joy of writing. It wouldn't have happened without people like you, Lorie, AKM, Jayson, and yes, Poli.

Good luck on your future decisions. I wish you much success. Just know that you'll have a regular visitor in me.

Steve Falcon said...

DJ - Another HUGE advantage of the group blog concept: more periodic new posts. Because of the likelihood that different bloggers work varying schedules, you'll have new postings much more often, therby increasing traffic to the site.

I hope you decide to start a new one rather than link up with someone else. But, whatever you do, good luck :)

Cynical Observer said...

DJ, I really hope that you and the old gang - sans Poli - can get it together again. I really enjoyed reading what all of you had to say, and the diversity of the topics that more than one blogger can bring to the front.

I have no idea how it might be done, but I'd like to suggest a "golden rule" (and enforced) be one of the new site's foundation corner stones: all dialog has to be civil. Bona-fide, bomb-throwing trolls will have to be dealt with one way (just deny them access?). But I also think that the macho, I've-got-to-win-the-argument-by name-calling-and-put-downs, intimidation, and bullying have absolutely no place in a civil dialog. And I think it was this latter behavior - which in my mind became totally out of control - that was threatening to doom the old Polipundit eventually.

For what it's worth...

Jim said...

DJ, I vote for option #3. I didn't visit polipundit several times a day to read articles by PP. I would gladly replace polipundit on my bookmark with a group blog that included you and Lorie.

Anonymous said...

DJ
I really enjoy your posts on Polipundit and will now visit your site. The group blog is a great idea as you Lori, Alexander and Jason made a great team!
Please keep up the great work and don't get discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Would have been nice if the 3\4 of your had done a group blog.. guess that's out with AKM's decision. Oh well.

K-bird.

Adjoran said...

I think a lot of PP's continued traffic is people checking in by habit, and others to see what is being said after the Monday Night Massacre. Just as it takes a while to build up traffic, it takes a while to lose it. The loss of the most interesting four posters on the site will eventually cost him his position of prominence.

There are plenty of the foaming-at-the-mouth types out there, though, so he won't go to zero. But those who visited for serious commentary and news updates will soon find no reason to keep checking in.

Concerning money splits, it wouldn't be so simple as divvying up the current traffic percentages, since obviously you would hope to gain far more traffic as a group - the whole being greater than just the sum of the parts. While Lorie is great, her strength is multiplied by being a complementary part of the group - it was she who linked to more of the offsite news and other bloggers at PP, as well as bringing in the lifestyle and entertainment topics.

Plus, if you add new voices, who would eventually help build a new site, there is no way to apportion a share to them based on past traffic.

I echo Steve's comments also, and wish you the best in whatever approach you take.

Harold C. Hutchison said...

I'd vote for option #3, although I'd suggest you also consider new talent for the new group blog.

Rich said...

Another advantage of having a group blog run by Lorie is that Typepad has better group support than Blogger. In the end, the structure you choose is not as important as the authors and communities they attract. May I suggest Field of Dreams as a name? Because if you build it, we will come.

smh10 said...

DJ:

It has been a pleasure to read both you and Lorie the past few days.

I stopped by Poli just to see if there was anything on Alexander and Jayson and read Alexanders post as well as Poli's comments on everyone's departure.

This was my final stop there today as it is quite clear that ego has taken over where good sense used to reign.

It would be wonderful to see any combination of the 4 of you together and I believe you would reap the benefits of an increase in traffic but not to worry, alone or as a group there are many of us who are determined to see you succeed.

Keep doing it your way DJ. Do not compromise your convictions for anyone. We may not always agree but we recognize your ability to respect others views.

Anonymous said...

Drummond, you are actually as dumb as you always sounded.

You think your traffic (and Lorie's, and Poli's) has settled into PERMANENT numbers?

Dude - check in a month. Check in a week. Of course the numbers are still high - you explain why in your own post. The conflict is still brewing.

You'll soon be forgotten again. Lorie will return to her 500 hits a day. And in six months Polipundit will be gone.

Get a clue. If you'd care to wager a sizable bet on how "permanent" those numbers are, post it somewhere prominent. I luvs me some easy money.

Of course, someone who doesn't back up what they say with sources sure as hell isn't going to do it with money.

Permanent? Hilarious. In one week you'll look ridiculous. In a month no one will remember you long enough to laugh. Please. Permanent? Heh.

kitty said...

I've recommended you to another group blog as I'm pretty certain they're looking for someone. Maybe as an occasional guest.

Lorie was a hit at PP, no doubt about that. A link from her meant an easy doubling of my traffic, sometimes triple.

Now that you've been noticed, just keep writing well and people will return. And don't pay too much attention to the hit meter. It can become addictive and misleading.

nk said...

Good Luck. Now it just means I have three links to click. I'm glad you got rid of moderated comments.

Stephen Johnson said...

Anonymous

If you don't like DJ, fine. But what is the point of your post? And if you have to get into an insult contest, at least you should sign your name to your post.

BigV said...

DJ,
An excellent idea that I hope you all can come together on. I sent you an email a day or so ago with an offer that will stand until you find somethng different. I have lots of server space and about 2000 gig of bandwidth a month available, easily enough for even the most active site.

Either way, keep up the good work... some of us appreciate it!

Cali Conservative said...

DJ,

As I posted on PP, I am still checking that site for the time being to stay on top of what the "former guest bloggers" are doing, and what the reaction is to all the latest happenings. It speaks volumes for the direction of PP when Shiloh is now taken seriously, and good folks who disagree with the tone of the arguement are ridiculed. PoliKos is no longer a legitimate site for any rational person. Adios, Polipundito!

JannyMae said...

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/176978.php

Sort of on-topic. For those who have followed the Poli-Pundit feud, you may find this funny.

I thought it was hilarious, including the comments!

DJ Drummond said...

LOL, Janny!

Did you read the one linked at the top, "I Banned Ace"?

Now I have to add Ace of Spades to the linklist!

newton said...

Well, DJ, I think you and the others will do fine, whatever path each of you decide to take.

I wish you the best. Same for Lorie - she knows it, already. Same for Alex and Jayson.

Also, since you are in South TX, you can probably explain to me some of the interesting things that happen in the aream, politically speaking. You don't know it, but I live in the Corpus Christi area. A lot of strange things happen around here...

JB said...

Anonymous,
funny someone who talks of backing up what they say, says it anonymously.

MFG said...

There was real chemistry between you & Jason & Lorie & Alexander.

I think you should strongly consider going the group blog route

MG3 said...

Ditto what MFG said. You guys were the reason I started going to Polipundit. Heck, I didn't even realize at first that Polipundit was an actual person. I have to admit I've "rubbernecked" over at poli a few times the past few days and he should change the name to "CesspooliPundit".

MFG said...

MG3, are we related?

Distant cousins, perhaps?

P. Bunyan said...

Count me as another vote for option 3.

MG3 said...

MFG,

Perhaps. Oh, the ever shrinking world we live in, eh?

owl said...

When I wanted to see quick group reaction...could head over to Lucianne's or Poli. Use to do that at The Corner but they have changed since Miers and a lot of the other big group blogs....well, I don't like the setup as much.

The nice thing about Poli's was size, access and diversity of interests. Yep, Goldilolks. Bottom line....you could pick up some good info on a lot of subjects, quickly.

Hope this helps to know why we come to certain sites. AJ's Stra-sphere can cut through a complex issue in language that's easy to understand. Macsmind gives great tips from experience. Powerline usually gives a very mature reasoning without hysterics. Lorie never does politics with a heavy hand. We like someone that can cut through polls and tell us real info on the ground in elections. HHewit is straight intergrity. You do great indepth articles with respect. Lots of talent to choose from....

I hope you join back with a small group. Give yourself some time and good luck.

JannyMae said...

Did you read the one linked at the top, "I Banned Ace"?

Yeah, I did, but I didn't look at the comments. Gonna go do that, now!

I'm glad you enjoyed it, D.J.