Is it time for a No Asshole Rule for Blawg Review?

No asshole rule by Bob SuttonIn 2007 management science expert Bob Sutton wrote The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, a book that dared name the toxic problem that bedevils the modern workplace. His book described ways to identify and neutralize assholes and ultimately immunize your business against them.

The latest edition of Blawg Review, the weekly review of the best in legal blogging, makes me wonder whether Sutton’s ideas may have a different application.

Blawg Review, usually known for the collegiality that once inspired me to declare it an “18th century coffeehouse for the digital age“, takes a dark turn this week. Hosted by the notorious and anonymous Geeklawyer, Blawg Review #203, replete with images from Victorian era pornography and cheap swipes at legal bloggers, leads me to ask, is it time for a No Asshole Rule for Blawg Review?

Caution: this edition of Blawg Review is not workplace safe — unless you happen to work in a brothel. Click through with caution.

9 responses to “Is it time for a No Asshole Rule for Blawg Review?

  1. Excellent! best Blawg Review 203 review yet.

  2. I tend to disagree with you (and with GeekLawyer, it seems). While Blawg Review is about gathering the best legal blogging each week, it is also about celebrating free expression and allowing each host to put his or her mark on the review. There are few rules by design and I think that this is one reason for Blawg Review’s success. I’ve not read “The No Asshole Rule”, but my impression is that it counsels against allowing assholes to derail a group endeavor or to drive out the less… er, extroverted members of the group. I don’t think that either has occurred here.

    For all its profanity and bluster, GeekLawyer’s Blawg Review #203 not just accomplishes the aims of Blawg Review — to gather great legal blogging and present that collection on time and with polish — but excels. As I mentioned in my own review, this is a somewhat shocking presentation and, as you and others have noted, not safe for work. That being said, however, not everything that is worthwhile is safe for work and, moreover, Blawg Review is not work.

    I don’t think that a “no assholes” rule would make Blawg Review better, any more than a “no politics” rule, a “no pop culture” rule, or a “no depressing news” rule would. One person’s collegiality is another’s boredom. We need a little color now and again, in Blawg Review as in everything else; granted, a GeekLawyer every week would kill the project, but so would a Colin Samuels every week.

    The strength of Blawg Review is that it is hosted by, collects posts by, and is read by all sorts. I wouldn’t want to start determining which personalities and viewpoints fit the “personality” and “viewpoint” of Blawg Review because it doesn’t and shouldn’t have these. It has few rules, but it is and should remain inclusive of anyone who can live with these. GeekLawyer has, in my opinion, produced an outstanding Blawg Review. It’s outstanding, period, not outstanding in spite of the profanity or because of it.

    Not every Blawg Review will satisfy all members of the audience every week, but a vibrant, healthy Blawg Review project will maintain and build its audience. It will be worth reading regularly, whether or not it meets one’s own expectations of legal blogging or collegiality.

  3. Fabulous blog review. More of the same please.

  4. Colin, hold your fire, buddy.

    I guess my efforts at irony here with this post were far too subtle, since you missed the fact that my tongue was firmly planted in my cheek. That’s the problem with the written word – the casual reader does not always discern the glint in the writer’s eye. Will obviously need to do better next time.

    Thanks however for your stirring defense of Blawg Review. As a proud former BR sherpa, I would gladly take up arms against all foes and join the fray by your side.

  5. My apologies then for my overwrought response! If only HTML had a “glint” tag!

  6. Now there’s a great suggestion for coders. Otherwise, I’ll have to stick little smiley faces on my posts, and ain’t no way I’m doing that.

  7. “Is it time for a No Asshole Rule for Blawg Review?” No, let’s wait at least until after Blawg Review #204, which will be hosted on Above the Law next Monday!

  8. It was a good BR and well written – it did contain unnecessary insults to some tastes (the use of graphics of this nature is not for me… but chacun a son gout) – it may well have irritated a lot of / some people, perhaps unnecessarily – it was profane and not office safe – but freedom of speech is hardly an issue to be raised in connection with a Blog post when there are so many more important issues in the world meriting such civil libertarian interest. Those who don’t want to read won’t. If they wish to complain they have that right.

    I don’t care for mocking the afflicted or those less fortunate (I did not detect any such mockery in this BR) – but, if mockery was present – and there were insults in this BR, I would imagine that those offended are more than able to respond in their own way.

    I had assumed that there was an element of humour in Diane’s post – but also, fairly, an element of warning… I particularly liked the… Don’t go any further unless you work in a brothel.” Nice one… as we say in Chelsea… the football stadium… not the Borough.

    The legal profession in the UK ( I suspect it is no different in the US) is applauded by its members (rightly) but ranks well below brothel keepers and even traffic wardens in the affections of the British public in polls conducted by the BBC and various tabloid newspapers. Bankers have now joined us firmly at the bottom of the public’s league table of respect for professions – which gives me a degree of private pleasure.

    Politics is best practised by politicians and I do hope that Blawg Review doesn’t become ‘political’ in terms of sniping. If it does… then I shall be ‘orf’ – as the Duke of Edinburgh might say.


  9. Charon, I commend you for detecting both the glint in my eye and, yes, the element of warning. That was there, most definitely.

    Well said, my friend, and thanks.