Axis of Venom

Kate is working on something called The Axis of Venom, a coalition of bloggers that might wind up being a group blog which replaces Electric Venom, depending on how this vote comes out.

So far, with virtually no votes in, it’s overwhelmingly against. Indeed, the choice I voted for, “No – start the Axis separately and I’ll read it daily” is actually a classic double barreled question. In fact, if it starts separately, the odds are strong that I’ll seldom read it. But, if it starts, I’d prefer it to not replace EV, because I’d likely quit reading it, too, after awhile.

I go back to particular sites because of the personality and insights of the bloggers behind them. There are almost no group blogs on my blogroll, because there are very few that appeal to me. I’m an occasional contributor to both Political State Report and Command Post, but I consider them information portals rather than daily reads. I read Crooked Timber fairly regularly, but it’s a consortium consisting partly of two bloggers-Kieran Healy and Henry Farrell–that I was reading before they pooled their talents. The only other group blog on my regular reading list is Volokh Conspiracy, which has a personality because its namesake, Eugene Volokh, is easily the most prolific conspirator and he has managed to aggregate quite a few excellent scholars in one place.

At its core, a blog is a dialog between a writer and an audience. I’m not a fan of guest posters when the main blogger is away, multiple contributors, or a collection of diverse viewpoints under one roof. Frankly, it’s unlikely that all–or indeed, most–of the contributors to such an enterprise would inspire me to want to read them. If they did, I’d just go read their blogs. It’s not like it’s that hard to get one started. I hear they’re even giving them away free nowadays.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jen says:

    Yeah, I agree with you. I’m not a fan of the group blog and I have only one on my blogrolls, The Thinklings. I do read that daily. I didn’t vote at Kate’s – it’s her decision, but my gut says no to making Electric Venom a group blog.

    As for the guest poster thing, I kind of like it. It gives the main blogger a chance to expose readers to another blogger they may not be aware of. I’ve found some good blogs that way.

  2. Kate says:

    Instead of group blogs or guests, I think that what is sorely lacking is a “Blogless Shelter”… a place that the down and hostless can go … the virtual equivalent of a soup kitchen or “safe injection” site for heroin addicts.

    It would give us a safe place to spout our opinions where nobody has to read them unless they want to, and keep us from leeching off the comments sections of hard working, honest bloggers like yourself.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Well, there’s always blogspot:)

  4. Jalal Abu Jarhead says:

    Well, Kate, it seems to me that “leeching off the comments sections of hard working, honest bloggers like [James]” is a legitimate approach. Not that I’d do such a thing myself, mind you. 😉

  5. Moe Lane says:

    Speaking as the originator of a group blog, I’d have to say that they’re not all that bad. You don’t have to worry so much about providing a steady supply of content, for one thing… and we get to play in the Left and Right sandboxes, too. 🙂

  6. Like you, I contribute at Command Post and a formerly contributed at Winds of Change’s group blog. But I found that it’s not nearly as fun blogging when you can’t spout your opinion and be yourself.

    The thing about the Axis, though, is that it’s not going to function solely as an information digest. That’s why I’m looking for talented folks who are not only info-junkies and web-hounds but who have distinctive personalities and assertive opinions because, like you, I enjoy that interaction with readers.

    But I have to confess that I’m kind of relieved to see that folks want the Axis to exist independent of Electric Venom. It’s always nice having a place of one’s own.

  7. James Joyner says:


    And I forgot about Winds of Change. It’s a semi-regular read as well.

  8. Aakash says:

    Mr. Joyner,

    In a recent update to my Jan. 27th blog entry (scroll down some to see it), I reprinted there this Command Post entry. You were the second commenter at that Command Post entry, but were you also the one who published it?

    The author of that post is “James” – I am wondering if that is you, or someone else.

    That entry, and this other one, by “Alan,” were published at Command Post shortly after I posted a comment at a previous entry, which linked to my WatchBlog entry on President Bush, conservative dissatisfaction with him, and on other Republican presidential candidates. I assume that “James” and “Alan” were prompted to post those aforementioned entries after seeing that comment.

    Also, after seeing that comment, Michele offered to reprint that WatchBlog entry at Command Post. I wish that I had responded to her e-mail… By the time I replied, about a week later, it was apparently too late. 🙁