Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The best things in life aren't free?

How to provoke the football blogging fraternity: publish a post that simultaneously brown-noses a site with a paywall and denigrates those without, and - icing on the cake - give it the splendidly ill-judged title "Quality Writing Isn't Free".

In fairness to the author, Zach Slaton, he has at least offered an apology of sorts. But, as is often the way with these things, it's more a profession of innocence and an attempt at self-justification than a genuine acceptance of being wrong. "I did not intend to insult all bloggers who provide free content by insinuating they do not make quality posts, but clearly that is how a number of them took it"? You may not have intended to, Zach, but that's what you did - and it was hardly a matter of distortion or wilful misinterpretation on the part of fellow bloggers like me. We didn't bristle without reason.

Paywalls are all fine and well, and I've no doubt that The Tomkins Times, for which Slaton writes, is worth the monthly subscription if the quality of the book he edited and to which we contributed is anything to go by. It's also true to say that a lot of amateur blogs with freely available content are poorly written rehashes of news stories and idle gossip with little or no merit. Having the luxury of time to write is probably conducive to better quality (and more grammatically correct) posts, as anyone who's bashed out a post in five spare lunchtime minutes will know.

But this doesn't certainly justify a generally dismissive attitude to blogs which offer their content for free. There are countless amateurs out there who manage to juggle day jobs and the maintenance of consistently exceptional blogs (and before you nod and wink knowingly, we're not including ourselves in this). I'm with commenter Lanterne Rouge of The Two Unfortunates on this; the importance of blogs might be overstated at times, but it's still true that football blogging - free football blogging - is actually in rude good health.




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