A modest proposal

October, new post qualification job and all, is going to be something of a crunch point for this blog. Time, which has been very tight for the last few months, is simply not going to be available to keep Nearly Legal going in the same way. There are three options that I can see:

1. Nearly Legal stops updating and the archive just sits here. Not a good option – I find the blog useful and interesting and I hope others do.

2. Things totter onwards at a much reduced rate. This would be difficult to keep up and means missing out useful content.

3. Nearly Legal becomes a collaborative project. After all there is no requirement that this be a one person project. Although I do receive information and updates from a number of people both on the blog and behind the scenes (thanks – you know who you are), I wouldn’t have thought of this a year ago, or even a few months ago. But I have been assured in various recent off-blog conversations that Nearly Legal now has quite a widespread readership in the housing law sector – solicitors, barristers, advice workers, and local authorities. This is immensely gratifying and I hope means that people find the blog of use and interest. Of course, unless people comment or email, I have no idea at all who is reading, just the numbers. But the numbers have gone up quite dramatically over the last few months as well. The blog as a whole now regularly gets over 12,000 separate page views and something like 6,000 unique visitors each month. (Of course that 6K includes repeat visits, but not by me. That would add another 1000 or so). For an extremely specialist blog, those aren’t bad figures at all, I think.

With a couple of months to go before the likely deadline, I would like to get people’s – your – views on two proposals for new developments at Nearly Legal. Please let me know what you think, either in the comments or via email – the address is on the ‘about’ page.

Proposal 1. What I am considering is a group of regular contributors. Not guest posts, although that could also be fine, but regulars able to take on a proportion of the updates (whether chosen by rota or by subject, I’m not sure). I intend to keep on posting in part and to serve as editor otherwise.

I have been and will likely remain anonymous, at least in the short term. But this would not be a requirement. Contributors would chose their attribution, anything from anonymity to full attribution, including firm or chambers. So firms, barristers and chambers could view contributing as helping to add value to the brand – hint, hint. Contributors would retain their copyright in their posts, subject only to a licence for posts to be used in relation to the blog, obviously.

I’ve not seen any multi-contributor law blogs other than those produced by a particular firm. I think that a ‘sector’ based blog would be a very interesting proposition. I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t quite some effort involved in turning out posts, so potential contributors need to be aware of that.

I would be delighted to hear from anyone and everyone who would consider becoming a regular contributor – no commitment at this stage, honest.

Proposal 2. This follows on from thinking about a ‘sector’ blog. I’ve been struck by the way in which some posts here have ended up with comment threads that took discussion and information far beyond the original post. But, because of the structure of a blog it is currently only me that gets to post and so to start a topic.

Given that a fairly large part of the sector now read Nearly Legal (I just love saying that) and quite a few of those comment or pass on information, I was wondering whether an online forum, in addition to the blog, would be a useful thing.

It would need to be members-only for posting, to avoid a mountain of spam, although anyone could join and reading would be open to all. The idea is that anyone could post news, information, practice issues, questions and answers on just about anything sector related.

I want to hear from as many people as possible on whether or not this is a good idea – whether a forum would be used. A lively forum could be of great value to people, but there is nothing more depressing than a forum without responses, as the tumbleweed blows through.

These are my modest proposals for a great leap forwards. Something will have to change, as unfortunately Nearly Legal has taken off in an exciting way just at the point that I won’t be able to sustain it alone. The possibility is there that the blog will just peter out. On the other hand, I think there is also the possibility that Nearly Legal (we may have to change the name) can turn into something rather more than a one person blog, something quite new in terms of involvement and value.

What do you think? Or are you all on holiday?

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Housing law - All, Various (non-housing) and tagged , , .

10 Comments

  1. Hrm I think you should be paid a lot of money to keep this blog going. Perhaps we could all do various impressive sponsored acts for you!

    I for one find this blog incredibly helpful in getting a rough idea about recent cases. Whilst LAG includes recent developments in Housing Law the summaries tend to be rather brief and there obviously aren’t any comments. Being in a magazine they can be hard to find when you want them as opposed to this blog where it’s easy to find cases.

    I’m sure this blog has assisted many people who might otherwise have not been helped by giving their advisors the knowledge they need to be effective.

    I would personally love to see this blog continue in some form. I think there are many learned people who could contribute.

    I’d be happy to help myself but I’m not really wise enough so I’m content just to give you praise on my random thought filled pretence at a blog :)

  2. I love your blog and similarly would hate to see it disappear – strong feelings, but heartfelt. Given your other commitments, your first proposal seems realistic. I’d be happy to help and to reveal my credentials to you, but would prefer to remain anonymous…

  3. I second house and dave’s comments about this blog and its value. It’s always a good read and I trust your opinions. For instance, I’m waiting for you to post on Doherty so that I don’t have to read the whole thing ;-)

    Given the excellent news about your new job it’s obvious that something has to give. I’d be very much in favour of something along the lines of your first proposal.

    IPKat is a good example of a multi-contributor sector blog. The content is good anyway, don’t like the layout personally. Having said that, the vast majority of the recent content comes from only one of the contributors and this would only work if you had a number of contributors who you could rely on. I would, subject to a couple of work developments which should be sorted in the next couple of weeks, be delighted to help if that would, err, help. I realise that might seem laughable given the tumbleweed blowing through my blog, but that has been on hiatus recently for the same work-related reasons.

    Not so sure about the second proposal. I could see a lot of people posting their housing woes and asking for advice.

    Oh, and I’d keep the name. I like to picture our IT guys trawling through the logs and having a panic attack when they see the URL come up. I wonder if any of them have been brave enough to check it out?

    Anyway, good luck however you decide to take it forward.

  4. Proposal 1 is certainly the better of the two.

    You’ve not seen any non-firm produced multi-contributor law blogs? Apart from IPKat, what about Conflict of Laws .net? The model works fairly well for us. Shoot me an email if you want to know more about setting it all up.

  5. @Martin George: Fair cop guv. I blame overwork. How about ‘no other multi-contributor non-firm practioner produced law blogs’ – that’s you and IPKat out of the running ;-)

    You may well get mail.

    By the way, the proposals weren’t intended as mutually exclusive. But the early money is running against a forum.

  6. As you know I am strongly in favour of the multi-contributor blog. After all many of us write for journals (such as the new law journal) for free, so I doubt you would have trouble attracting contributors of quality (and I do not mean to immodestly include myself in that group).

  7. I can come up with a “multi-contributor non-firm practitioner produced law blog”, although some of the contributors seem to be academics rather than practitioners:

    http://intlawgrrls.blogspot.com/

    “Our world is a jumble of peoples, a mix of culture and custom, a marketplace of markets as well as ideas. We come together in amazing ways, yet clash in ways that bring destruction and dismay. Women now have a hand in our world’s affairs: think Albright and Arbour, del Ponte and Higgins, Ginsburg and Rice. Yet our voices remain faint, in backrooms and in the blogosphere. IntLawGrrls – women who teach and work in international law, policy and practice – hope to change all that. We embrace foremothers’ names to encourage crisp commentary, delivered at times with a dash of sass. We welcome replies, and we look forward to fresh dialogue on the matters of the day.”

    OK, so the subject might put you off, but the format seems to be along similar lines to what you propose. It definitely gets my vote over a forum, although you could always go with Proposal One and then add a forum to it – a nearlylegal.co.uk/forum powered by phpBB or something similar wouldn’t be too complicated, although moderation could be a killer time-wise, as it requires prompt attention.

  8. I would go for the multi contributor blog. I would hope that contributors could submit summaries of important judgements in the same format as you prepare them at present for you to edit. Please count me in as someone who would like to help with this and would be extremely sorry to see the Nearly Legal blog fade away or lose its momentum.

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