Monday, May 28, 2007

Lessons from the Demise of LibDem Voice


The imminent demise of LibDem Voice raises a number of issues - not least for the LibDems, but also for the wider blogosphere. Rob Fenwick has run it from its inception and although it has never really caught on in the way ConservativeHome did, it has served as a valuable and sometimes controversial resource for LibDems to discuss matters of interest to them. There's nothing remotely similar which can carry on its work.
I suppose many will expect to me rejoice at LibDem Voice's demise, but I don't. Any forum which provides a place for likeminded people to discuss politics has to be a good thing, but it just shows that it's impossible to make it work unless, like Tim Montgomerie on ConservativeHome, you can devote yourself to it full time. I don't think Tim would disagree that in the six months he was working at 18 Doughty Street ConservativeHome suffered a little and that since he and Sam Coates have gone back to it more or less full time it has gone up another level.
In my own case, this blog only took off in the first half of 2006 because I had taken a six month sabbatical from work and was able to devote the hours necessary to develop it.
So I suppose the lesson from this is that it's not easy to make a blog work for a mass, participatory audience, unless you have the resources to devote huge amounts of time and effort to getting it off the ground in the first place and then maintaining it.
And finally, a word of thanks to Rob Fenwick and Mark Pack, the two key movers behind LibDem Voice. T'was a good thing you did.

15 comments:

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Think you are right about some of your conclusions.

The big boys (and indeed girls - though they are less in numbers) of the blogging world have to be able to give serious time to their blogging efforts.

The likes of you, ConHome, Dizzy and so on set the bar very high for others to try to follow.

Inamicus said...

There is quite a large Lib Dem network on the cix membership-only newsgroup system which could be said to serve a similar function, but obviously not blog based

tapestry said...

blogging can be a full-on professional effort as per Iaindale or Tim Montgomerie or an occasional or intermittent pastime. It should not become an obligation, but a voluntary channel for people who have the time, interest and energy.

The forest will endure, while the trees grow and in time fall. The demise of one makes way for the next.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I don't like to be picky, but didn't you say in your GMTV interview with Steve Richards that you only spend about an hour to an hour and a half a day on your blog.

Iain Dale said...

I did, but when I was restarting it at the beginning of 2006 it was a lot more. I suspect at the moment it is something like 1-2 hours.

Anonymous said...

Might this lack of 'pick-up' be because most of the active Lib Dems prefer real politics to blogging?

Anonymous said...

maybe Esther should concentrate on her constituency
In 1997, there were 9 Tory Councillors in he Constituency and 2 in the adjacent seat of Wallasey
In 2007, there are 7 Tory Councillors in her Constituency and 10 in Wallasey
She's a first class candidiate but there's something deeply wrong up there

Newmania said...

I found the problem was that you have to put yourself about to be noticed
. This means commenting regularly on quite a few places and as well as answering comments researching and running a small office of references. I found by doing all this I was able to get a lot of activity . I was not , on the other hand able to stay employed and married while I did it . Something had to go so it was the wife ….I mean the blog.
At the time I felt rather aggrieved that one was competing with people that were really professional bloggers in some shape or form and without the same normal commitments . It is a bit like the Conservative Party which is supposed to represent normal families but in fact structurally excludes its own voters from most of the process. The whole system is dominated by lifetime politicos media types and especially , those with the resources to take the time and put in the money.


Returning to the Lib Dems they ought to be doing a lot blogging , the only real job any of them have is computing ( usually they are teachers and so on). I think it goes back to the unreadability of the Lib Dem attitude which is incoherent requiring deeply shallow seriousness on random issues . Its awfully hard to be entertaining with nothing but glum twaddle in the armoury .

Graeme said...

newmania, completely right. Who cares that some LibDem website is shut down? Lib Dems are not serious as politicians, except as to how many have to be reabsorbed to deliver a Tory majority. That is, we have to take them seriously in terms of our tactics (because 'their' voters were originally 'our' voters and have to be brought back), but they have nothing to offer with respect to strategy or policy insight. As I imagine their website demonstrated.

mutleythedog said...

You are quite right Mr Dale - I have been working full time on my blog since September 2006 and it is now making me a reasonable living from the advertising streams. I hope it will continue to grow throughout 2007 - as no doubt will yours. Bigger Blogs are better Blogs!

mutleythedog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony said...

At the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, I share your sentiments Iain.

What I think of as 'good' democracy requires robust political discourse. I rarely agreed with things Mark Pack wrote, for example. But I was glad he did because sometimes it challenged and at other times it sparked a debate.

I am sure though something will rise in its place.

Newmania said...

Mark Pack was a boring malicious nit which doesn`t help. I mean this kindly and with due regard for the high level of civility we like to have on this esteemed blog. You should hear my real opinion

Mutley - Grrrr.

simon said...

'LibbyDem voice' had everything going for it except 'free-speech'. Although Rob Fenwick may be a nice bit of totty, he has NO sense of humour! It's a shame it's going because it showed what a bunch of eejits the LibbyDems are- their shockers on policy- like coalitions- is just one example. Those thinking of pulling the plug should 'think again', because it gave me a good laugh for a couple of minutes each day!

Anonymous said...

The LDYS forums seems to be where most Lib Dems hang out. The problem is that the Lib Dems have not worked out message discipline and a good way of making sure that all of their members are aware of the liberalism that defines the party. When they realise what they all fighting for instinctively, they will feel more of a bond and form online commuities. After all, Tory Home is dominated by the cohesive 'angry' right rather than the more ideologically flexible modernisers...