Bloggers, book deals and gnomes

Today’s NY Times features a long article about David Lat, the former federal prosecutor who created Article III Groupie– the author of Underneath Their Robes, the only gossip site about federal judges: He Fought the Law. They Both Won.
In November, Lat publicly revealed that he wrote A3G with an article in The New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin: Scotus Watch.
As the Times article recounts, this news caught Lat’s employers at the US Attorney’s office by surprise, and after , Lat quickly took the blog offline.
End result, Lat joined Nick Denton’s snarky bunch of bloggers at Gawker media as the replacement for Ana Marie Cox at Wonkette: Wonkette’s Sex Change.
This week, life-at-biglaw blogger Opinionista revealed herself as Melissa Lafsky, who left her law firm job, got some professional photos, and signed with the agent to the bloggers in order to prepare for her big reveal in the New York Observer. Lafsky’s Last Laugh: Secret Legal Blogger Says ‘I’m Opinionista!’. Veracity verdict: Actually a woman, actually a lawyer, actually at a boutique-sized outpost office of a biglaw firm, no actual book deal. Even though this article was in the Observer, Lafsky picked up some A-list press from the Times last year.
Gawker wonders: “Is there some sort of internerd law that dictates all anonymous bloggers must eventually reveal themselves through a contorted ritual of self-referential blog posts and media publicity? We thought that crap always came after the book deal.”
All the way back in December 2004 (that’s like seven years ago in internet time!), Jeremy Blachman was profiled in the Times as the author of the Anonymous Lawyer and inked his book deal in March of aught-five.
Here’s the short lesson:
Step 1. Write a funny anonymous blog.
Step 2. ???
Step 3. Profit.
See Underpants Gnomes
Off to write at my anonymous site…

Goodbye, Bob

MT-Blacklist does an excellent job of preventing comment spam here. However, one spammer’s posts were getting through: the one common factor is an email address: bob@y####o.com. The problem with blocking these is that the #### is a different 2-4 digit string each time.
This kind of problem shows why regular expressions can be added as blacklist entries. I finally got fed up enough to look up how to write a regular expression to block these comment spams:

bob@y[0-9]*o.com

Goodbye, Bob.

Useless

Frank Field wonders: is anybody else sick of the new NYTimes RSS feeds? (first noted here on Jun. 28):

I do know that these new feeds are far less useful to me, and have gotten me started on looking for new strategies, new aggregators and new tools for collecting, sorting and archiving feeds.

These new feeds are less than useless. While the limited article selection and the removal of the Dining In/Dining Out feed are annoying, the new feeds have one major flaw: NetNewsWire does not even recognize the URLs in the feeds, so it is impossible to click through from the feed to the article on the NYT site.

Perceptions and Expectations

So, SixApart finally introduced the long-awaited version 3.0 of Movable Type with a new “we’re a real company and need revenue” pricing scheme, and the users are unhappy.
Jason Kottke could have taken these thoughts from my brain, but he elucidated them eloquently: The End of Free

In exchange for lowering the price on the [high-end personal uses], you get community goodwill and, more importantly, you get people using your software in a freewheeling way. When people, particular the power users that will be attracted to MT, have the freedom to use your software however they wish (and not having to choose, for instance, between paying $50-$90 extra and not having guest authors on their site or not starting that extra weblog to keep track of the books they’ve been reading), you get a picture of what your software is really for. And since MT is ultimately the backend for TypePad (a for-pay service), that knowledge is valuable. My feeling is that susidizing freewheeling personal use of MT is an investment that will pay off handsomely in the future.

The problem with the pricing scheme is not that it is more expensive, but that it offers much less perceived value.

Stand By Your Words

Via Kevin, we learn what happens when a fictional, but entirely plausible, hiring partner hears the word ‘weblog’ for the first time:

Uh oh. One of the recruiting coordinators knocked on my door this morning. Apparently she had lunch over the weekend with one of her colleagues, and heard a story about an associate at another firm who had “some sort of online journal — something apparently called a weblog,” and was writing stuff about the firm, and her colleagues, and when they discovered this it became a big deal, because of what was up there, and they ended up reprimanding the associate and having her make the blog vanish immediately.

At Copyfight, Elizabeth Rader responds: Your Permanent Record:

My first reaction is one I have over and over in Internet law… firms–did you really think your employees never talk about the firm and its goings-on? Did you really think your candidates had no opinions other than those they glibly recited in their interviews and fancy lunches? Lawyers–did you really think the firm would never check your background? Did you really think the firm wouldn’t notice if you’re writing about it? My second reaction is also typical: Firm–get a thicker skin. Lawyers—own up to your past and, today, if you’re ashamed for someone to read what you’re saying, why are you saying it in the first place?

Even though it may seem ephemeral, what one posts publicly on the internet is searchable and increasingly permanent, thanks to tools like The Internet Archive and Google Groups.
Hence, I try to be responsible about what I post here and prefer to err on the side of discretion and silence.
Nick Morgan has adopted a similar approach towards responsible blawging: “writing in my own name forces me to take due responsibility for my public remarks. Plus, in the unlikely event that I some day produce a truly original thought, credit would be nice”
Incidentally, I Googled myself for the first time in a while and learned that my doppelganger in Australia is a cattle judge. Perhaps that bodes well for my chances of getting appointed to the bench someday?

New look

It’s weblog posts and linky links all remixed together onto one page. It’s crazy! But if you’re reading over RSS, you will see no change.
The movable typing is blatantly stolen derived from Kottke and Hit-or-miss.org.
If it doesn’t work, I’ll change right back to the old look.

On comments

Recently, I noted that comment spam is one reason to discontinue commenting. Of course, comments from abject assholes provide yet another reason to discontinue the comments feature. I suppose some people, like catcher34@cliffhanger.com, enjoy making anonymous asinine remarks attacking others.
For the record, I think the program discussed in the linked article, which encourages students to start their own practices out of law school is misguided. Even though clinical programs and externships provide experience, there is no substitute for working under an experienced lawyer on a full-time, daily basis and gaining more experience. Although many schools have loan repayment programs for students who go into public interest, new lawyers who participate in that program get no such benefit.
Of course, I fail to see how my mere skepticism is at all indicative of whether or not I am a “prick,” “a warm, caring person that people just love to be around, ” or a scared, shallow little tool,” with “[few] sex partners” who “will need [a lot of money] to pay for the hookers.” But I guess that’s why I’m not a pathetic little anonymous Internet troll.
On the other hand, some posts can lead to very interesting and unexpected comments. For example, both parties to the case I discussed in this post carried on their online dispute here. (I’ve also finally edited that post to be more thorough.)
For now, I’m keeping comments on, but I am very close to giving up on them.

New host

This is the site on the new host, Pair. I moved off Your-site because they decided they were going to start billing for extra disk storage (my account was well over the quota) and the servers were consistently lethargic. The extra space will go to good use with the photoblog project I want to do this summer.
I’m also going to go and backblog– take some things that I originally sent in emails, mostly about Russia, and post them here, so I can keep better track of them.

Blog comments spam

Paul Gutman first warned me about the problem. Ben Hammersley explains more. I haven’t had a major problem with this yet on this site. However, when we had a message board at Buzz Rant & Rave, I deleted a lot of spam from the board. I’m debating the value of keeping open comments
But there can be some entertainment value in feedback. Today we got a great letter via the contact page on BRR:

Please FAX me your Luncheon Menu
781-271-xxxx

So, any ideas for what should be on our luncheon menu?