This list of The Top 100 Liberal Arts Professor Blogs has been getting linked around.
I’m not sure why. It is a pile of stinking poo.
1. Basic errors. It lists ‘Another Damned Medievalist’ as an ‘English’ blog. I think ADM will be surprised to discover that she’s been relocated to the English department when she gets back from her London research trip. She would probably also want to point out that her blog is in fact called Blogenspiel (ADM is her handle).
2. A number of the blogs listed are inactive. Miriam Jones’s original scribblingwoman blog has been defunct for some time; Miriam now has a newer blog elsewhere. The English Eclectic hasn’t been updated since December 2007 (and was never very prolific, that I can recall; and, although it was quite a nice little blog, there are more than 100 blogs that are better). These are just ones I know about. The most recent post at a blog is at the very top of the front page, for god’s sake; it takes a split second to discover that no one’s been at home for months.
3. Crappy conceptualisation. 30 of the blogs are under the heading ‘English’. That appears to mean ‘in an English department’ (except when they’re not: see 1 above). This is in contrast to otherwise mostly specific discipline headings such as ‘sociology’, ‘history’, ‘philosophy’, etc. ‘English’ is not terribly helpful or meaningful, given the breadth of interests you can find in English departments. They also seem to have failed to grasp the concept of a group blog populated by members of different disciplines: Crooked Timber is listed under Philosophy. Which isn’t entirely wrong but doesn’t do CT’s range of interests any justice.
4. ‘Professor’ blogs? Some of the best ‘liberal arts’ blogs I know are not written by academic staff, but by postgrad students. There is something just not right about a list of academic blogs that (by definition) excludes blogs like Acephalous and Airminded. (I won’t pick on the UScentricness of the terminology since the site is primarily aimed at that market. Non-US readers should be aware, though, that ‘Liberal Arts’ has a particular meaning, which isn’t the same as ‘Arts'; and ‘professor’ in US universities refers to any member of faculty, not just the most senior people.)
5. I don’t want to get too much into inevitably subjective judgments about the quality of the blogs listed and what should be in and what should be out, but it is being presented as a serious ‘reviews and ratings’ site, not just personal opinions, so I will say: anyone who thinks those 10 history blogs are the top 10 in the blogosphere, even if you only include ‘professors’, is an ignoramus.*
6. And a final thing: the list in fact contains 101 entries, not 100. (There are two blogs listed under 73.) So they can’t count or correctly format an ordered list either.
I’m not fond of lists like this at the best of times, but I think this has to be the most incompetently conceived, sloppily executed, downright utterly worthless effort I have seen in four years of blogging. Now will people stop linking to it as though it might be a useful resource, please?**
*I’ve just realised that could be ambiguous. I don’t mean that all of the 10 are unworthy of being in such a list. A few definitely should be in anybody’s top 10. Several, however, are simply not in that sort of league.
**And before you say anything, I’ve added rel=nofollow to the link at the top. They ain’t gettin’ no pagerank from me.