I'm noticing something around the 'sphere and it dovetails nicely with some things I've been saying for a while. Politically, I'm an odd mix of free-market libertarian, far-left liberal on social issues, and I'm all over the spectrum on issues from terrorism to foreign policy. In baseball, I'm a moderate.
However, across spectrums and formats, bloggers are starting to burn out. There's always been a pretty high churn rate with blogs, I'd imagine, as people realize that it's either a lot of work, they don't have as much to say as they thought, or they can't capture enough feedback to feed them.
Capture feedback? Why not eyeballs, Will? We're past that paradigm, but most still cling to it. I honestly don't care how many people read my site, but it is important to me that the right people read it. People will read this as ego, but with a couple other blogs, WCW has found itself as something of a hub for other sites. My position with BP also allows me to hold more influence that I normally would, though I've made a pretty clear diffferentiation.
More than once, people have written saying that a quick email I sent them kept them excited and made them write more. I know David Pinto is credited as a sire for many baseball blogs (or is blamed the right term?) This is all good, but as blogging makes a shift from hobby to vocation, what happens?
There's a BIG differentiation in this shift. Net based baseball writing is taken seriously by everyone except MLB, which clings to an outdated model (except for their own site ...). I think the next step for the vocation is the IBWA, something I've been working on in fits and starts with others in the 'sphere. Standards, ethics, and collective negotiation with MLB will be a big step.
It's the individual shift that's more interesting to me; the vocational shift is inevitable. At some point, a blogger has to make some decision that they're taking their blog seriously. It's a commitment to time, quality, and many other factors. Some make this shift unconsciously and some do it from the very start. Some try to make this shift, but either don't have the talent or the technique.
But what's the next step? There's probably a thousand baseball blogs out there. There are probably a hundred that, to me, are consistently at a level that I'd call "high quality" and could concievably make that shift up to vocational. There are ... well, look over yonder. The one's on my blogroll are the one's I check daily. Granted, you may love one I don't like. I'm probably never going to read one about the Devil Rays regularly, no matter how well it's written.
So, the question remains - what's the next step? I think the answer is - what's in it for me? Not me, Will Carroll, but the question is one every blogger must answer. What's in it? Is the feedback enough? Do you want to be the next Peter Gammons or Tom Verducci or Tracy Ringolsby? Do you want to figure out how to make this pay or leave that day job behind?
We're losing too many good bloggers and as readers, we must support them. What I'm not sure is how to make a vocational shift and a new paradigm work together. That's why we have comments here. What do YOU think?