Strong opinions, weakly held

The Atlantic doesn’t get blogging

I’ve always been impressed with the stable of bloggers The Atlantic has amassed. There are some who I actively avoid, but it’s an impressive group overall. The latest redesign shows that whoever was in charge really doesn’t understand what’s good about a good blog. Take a look at this post from Ta-Nehisi Coates explaining to readers just what happened. Coates used to have a blog that had his posts listed in reverse chronological order, just like this one. Now he’s got what amounts to a category page on the Culture channel. I think that multi-author blogs are kind of iffy anyway, and diluting the pure voice of Coates (or any other blogger) in this way is very likely to kill their readership entirely.

The other bloggers at The Atlantic have weighed in as well, and they’re not too happy (with good reason). Here’s James Fallows and here’s Andrew Sullivan.

I’m sure that theory was that mixing up blog posts with all sorts of other content would give more exposure to the magazine content, but what it winds up doing is driving away the readers who wanted a quick fix from whichever blogger they were reading. This is especially true for the blogs that supported commenters. Any dedicated community of regulars is likely to just dissolve when subjected to changes like the ones The Atlantic has imposed. What they’re liable to wind up with is a group of commenters that are more like the ones you see on newspaper Web sites — committed cranks, total morons, and drive-by ranters who lower the value of the site every time they push the submit button.

Next we see how The Atlantic does damage control.


  1. well who the hell actually goes to websites when you have rss readers?!

  2. “well who the hell actually goes to websites when you have rss readers?!”

    I do. RSS readers are great for tracking and research but I find them very inpersonal and lacking in visual design. I prefer to read an article inside the page design that it was intended. It doesn’t mean that I don’t use RSS; it just means I prefer to read most content in its originally-formatted layout with appropriate text size, line height, font color and font choice.

    RSS readers tend to present all content as being equal, which is most definitely not true.

  3. yeah, I like visiting as well, to get a complete picture of the site and the blogger.

    plus, RSS is push, while I might browse some sites every day (or several times per day) and others only every now and then. could RSS read my thoughts?? (I guess this is the same as Cameron’s 2nd point.)

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