Bad Blog Quoting

BlogMy favorite blog just happens to be on economics. It is Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal. There are several other economics blogs that I read regularly. I am very fond of Robert Reich’s site, although it isn’t really a blog. There are three other blogs that I regularly read: Dean Baker’s Beat the Press, Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality with the Invisible Hand, and Mark Thoma’s Economist’s View. Despite what I’m about to say, they are all excellent.

I read these guys for two reasons:

  1. They are way smarter than I, and (with all due humility, which is not much) that’s saying something.
  2. Economics makes my little physicist brain hurt.[1]

The Solo Quote

Some of this blogging is a waste, because they all read and quote each other (except for Reich, who, as I said, isn’t really blogging). The worst offender is Brad DeLong because he will often quote entire articles of other people. In these cases, he adds nothing. Okay, not nothing. He tells me about the existence of someone else’s work. But this isn’t the way to do it. Especially in DeLong’s case, he often quotes very long articles. This is unethical, because if the reader wants the whole article, he should go to the original site. It is also a waste of time. For example, in JOSEPH GOEBBELS LIVEBLOGS WORLD WAR II: JANUARY 4, 1942, he quotes the entire original article. Instead, he could have just provided a link and the title (which he neglects), which tells what the article contains and whether it is worth the reader’s time: Goebbels’ Plea for Clothing for Troops on the Russian Front & Hitler’s Proclamation (December 20, 1941). It would also be nice if DeLong would add a paragraph to explain why we might care.

Mark Thoma does the same thing, but even more often. It makes matters worse that he often quotes entire articles that I have already read. This is surprising, because Thoma also provides daily lists of articles worth reading.

Quoting is Great

I am all for bloggers quoting other bloggers. But it is important to add value. All of these men have a lot of value to add. But they error when they just transmit someone else’s writing. If it is important enough to quote, it is important enough to expand.

[1] In general, I don’t think Monty Python is that funny. Compared to That Mitchell and Webb Look or Fry and Laurie, they are downright pathetic. But they do have their moments and “My brain hurts!” is one of my favorite catch phrases.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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