Gordon Smith has a lot of interesting things to say comparing group blogs and individual blogs. Is one sort of blog better than the other? It seems that there are a lot of variables that make some group blogs better and some individual blogs better. But what are all these variables? Gordon gets the subject going. Some pairs or sets of bloggers make each other better because they generate more posts, with more regularity, and because they play off each other or balance each other in some way. But sometimes a blogger you like adds a co-blogger to plump things up and only dilutes the quality of the blog. One blog I used to read every day added a co-blogger, and I found myself reading less and less over time, so that now I check in maybe twice a month.
Some blogs have so many people it's just irritating. HuffPo is the egregious example here. What a mess! Some political hacks churn out whole columns, some comedians jot down some notes that are kind of funny if you imagine the way they'd say it out loud, and some slightly well-known people repeat very conventional observations with no style at all. No one seems capable of keeping a solo blog, but if there were a few people in there who could, I wouldn't know, because I'm not going to slog through all the bad. And I find the environment there so un-charming that it doesn't put me in the mood to find the good.
I like running an individual blog, though I did temporarily group-blog last fall when Megan McArdle, Michael Totten, and I took over Instapundit (scroll down). When I did that, I still kept this blog going, and I was very aware of the different feelings I had writing in the two places. Over here, the whole blog is my self-expression. I don't have to stop and think about whether my saying something is good for the group. But operating within a group is good in different ways. It occurred to me as I wrote that that it's like the difference between living single and living in a family. There are benefits and limitations in both, but once you've made your choice, it's going to change what kind of a person you are.
Gordon wonders whether some individual bloggers -- he names me and two others -- could make some big, popular megablog, and he thinks it probably wouldn't work. The whole would be less than the sum of the parts. I guess that's a compliment! Are there people you want to read solo whom you'd like less if they were matched up with some appropriate co-bloggers? (And who would be appropriate for me?) And are there group blogs that you read that are written by individuals you'd shun if they set up a separate site?
A side note: the group blogs Gordon especially likes -- Marginal Revolution, Crooked Timber, and Volokh Conspiracy -- all put the blogger's name at the beginning of the post. I wish all group and partnership blogs would follow this pattern. Too many times have I read a post thinking it was one blogger only to realize it was one of the others, and on some blogs I only like one of the bloggers, and that little extra trouble of scrolling down to see the name and then back up to start reading is a disincentive to go over there at all. I know this is a default in the software, but changing it is important!