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.
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.