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.”
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.