I’ve been blogging about dispute resolution for over 5 years now. When I first launched my blog, you could count ADR blogs in single digits. You can still find these early adopters online – folks like my predecessors, blogging role models Bill Warters, Colin Rule, and Tammy Lenski – who continue to produce worthwhile content.
Slowly at first, then more steadily, our numbers grew. I soon began tracking them, eventually launching ADRblogs.com, which catalogs blogs from around the globe, organizing them by country and by topic. I’ve been serving as the unofficial taxonomist of the dispute resolution blogosphere since June 2006. ADRblogs.com today lists over 230 blogs from 31 countries, all discussing conflict resolution, negotiation, or various forms of ADR.
During 5 years of blogging and almost 4 years of tracking blogs, I’ve seen ADR bloggers come and go. Some, like Geoff Sharp’s iconoclastic Mediator Blah…Blah…, which flared and burned brightly for far too short a time, I miss a great deal. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting which ones will have staying power, and which ones will quietly (and deservedly) fade into obscurity.
Which do you want your blog to be? If the former, it’s pretty simple. There are really only three things you need to remember:
- Create good content.
- Be social.
- Don’t plagiarize.
I will amplify on each briefly:
1. Create good content.
Write about what you love and know well. Share information useful to your audience. Make your readers think, change their minds, or even laugh. Don’t just copy and paste content or news you found elsewhere; tell your readers what you think about it. Be of help.
2. Be social.
I’ve said this before: ADR is fundamentally about conversation. So is blogging. If you, an ADR professional who blogs, aren’t going to link to other blogs and participate in the conversation online, why are you blogging? My old friend Geoff Sharp in an email to me once called it “the paradox of blogging” – you confidently send readers away to other sites to encourage them to return. If you want your blog to sink below the surface of search engine results, then don’t link. It’s that simple. By the way, linking is just one way to converse – remember to comment on other blogs. Contribute to the discussion.
3. Don’t plagiarize.
I shouldn’t even have to say this, but unfortunately some folks are still not getting the message. If you use another blogger’s content as a source or inspiration for your writing, give them credit by a) naming the blogger; b) identifying their blog; and c) linking back to their post. Do not pass off someone else’s content or ideas as your own. The best ADR bloggers I know care about their writing, putting time, thought, energy, and, yes, heart into their posts. For me personally, blogging is an expression of my identity as lawyer, mediator, and writer; it is my own voice speaking out of these ones and zeros. Use your own voice, please, when you blog, not someone else’s. (While ADR bloggers are generally nice folks, some of us won’t hesitate to use our BATNA: filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act infringement notification.)
Looking for role models? The following are but a few examples of bloggers who make the ADR blogosphere a great neighborhood to hang out in, consistently honoring these principles:
- Settle It Now Negotiation Law Blog, by Victoria Pynchon.
- Idealawg, by Stephanie West Allen.
- Campus ADR Tech Blog, by Bill Warters.
- Making Mediation Your Day Job, by Tammy Lenski.
- CKA Mediation and Arbitration Blog, by Chris Annunziata.
- The Mediation Times, by Amanda Bucklow
- Reporting on Conflict: Peacemakers Trust Media Watch Blog, edited by Catherine Morris
- Dialogic Mediation, by Arnold Zeman
- Enjoy Mediation, by Jeff Thompson
- Settlement Perspectives, by John DeGroote
- Cross Collaborate, by John Folk-Williams
- Mediation Matters, by Steve Mehta
- Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Law Forum, by Philip J. Loree, Jr.
- Disputing, by Victoria VanBuren, contributor and editor.
- The Ombuds Blog, by Tom Kosakowski
- ADR Prof Blog, by Andrea Schneider, Michael Moffitt, Sarah Cole, Art Hinshaw, Jill Gross, and Cynthia Alkon
- Mediation’s Place, by Joe Markowitz
- International Dispute Negotiation, a podcast hosted by Michael McIlwrath and the International Institute for Conflict Resolution and Prevention (CPR)
- Mediation Stuff, by John Lassey
- The Recovering Engineer, by Guy Harris
- Business Conflict Blog, by F. Peter Phillips
By the way, in the spirit of neighborliness, allow me to extend a very warm welcome to these promising new additions to ADRblogs.com: