Welcome to the Gong Show!

Did you know I load this blog with filler? Either did I. But obviously Gerry Blackwell (no link, he doesn’t have anything online to link to) thinks so. Take a look at the snippet he wrote while including this blog in his top-10 list of law blogs in the current issue of Canadian Lawyer:


The blog site of Stem Legal, Steve Matthews’ firm. Most of the time, it covers exactly what its name suggests: law firm marketing using the internet. Matthews blogs about once a week. When he sticks to the knitting, he provides lively reading and interesting discussion points – as with posts on guerilla marketing for law firms, use of RSS feeds, and sponsoring web sites. But he also sometimes posts filler, such as the egregious ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ parody, which he didn’t even write himself. Gong!

Wow, that’s just so nice! So let me get this straight, in order to write a blog of value, every single post must be self-scribed? And one should never relay material of value to one’s audience? And you can never go off-topic to add a personal touch, right? Wrong. More than wrong – absolute hogwash!

As I’ve said many times the social side of blogging is where the value is. Blogs aren’t magazine articles, and they’re not a simple diary – blogs are personal commentary with social networking baked in. Tell me what you think, and tell how you feel about it. And whenever possible, link out to other bloggers and exchange ideas. Every successful blog does this. No exceptions.

The post of mine that Mr. Blackwell questions was written 4 days before Christmas. In my world, that’s a lighter time of the year. The content of the post was a creative parody, which I thought was a great example of having fun with your clients during the holiday season. It was also written by one of my clients (whom I emphatically reserve the right to promote. It’s my business.). The original was buried in a firm newsletter, and I relayed it to my audience to share its fun nature, marketing creativity, and humour.

Filler? No way. Gong you! Mr. Blackwell.

I’m also frustrated at the cheap shot he took at Stan Rule. Stan is a long time blogger who consistently delivers well written & thoughtful commentary. Blackwell’s take? “The writing is a little too earnest and workmanlike to draw a huge readership -comments are sparse- ….“.

Again, he just doesn’t get it. The goal with lawyer blogs isn’t to acquire the biggest audience; and comments are a bad measure of value. Mr. Rule is writing to a niche audience, and his cumulative body of work drives people from all over central BC to read his thoughts on wills, probate & estate planning. I’m sure Mr. Rule also blogs to support his own professional development & personal enjoyment. Most bloggers get something positive back from the experience.

And what is this thing about comments? Comments are a terrible measure of blog readership or value. Go take a look at my Vancouver Law Librarian Blog – comments are sparse there too. Especially for a blog with 500+ daily RSS subscribers!

And finally, since it’s so easy to take cheap shots in a national publication, let’s be brutally honest about the source. Mr. Blackwell is a long time tech writer, for what? 20 years? probably more. But really, where’s the credibility for him to even put a list like this together? Has he coded a website? Does he even have a blog? Sorry. Nada. … What’s that? He has a linkedin account with 1 connection? Bingo! Guru status now in effect. ;)

Let’s get serious here. Yes, you can go off topic. Yes, you can relay the thoughts of others. And yes, you can address your topic with as many related tangents as it takes to explore your area of interest. Keeping your focus is important, but so is solidifying connections with long time subscribers. Adding a personal touch will not kill your blog.

Sorry, but if you want to ‘gong’ my blog, then start blogging yourself. Then we can have a real conversation.


  1. Steve, wouldn’t have been just easier to say “Thank-you”?

    @ 3:12 pm
  2. Yes it would have.

    @ 3:14 pm
  3. Emma said:

    I thought that was a cheap shot, too, and was almost shocked to see it. If he’d bothered going back more than a month into the archives, he would have seen that your blog is pretty much all killer, no filler. And good point about LinkedIn.

    @ 3:36 pm
  4. Thanks Emma. And of course I agree. I got the clear impression that he didn’t go beyond the blog’s homepage.

    I’m confident this blog’s archives stand up to any kind of thorough examination.

    @ 3:45 pm
  5. […] Steve Matthews – “Sorry, but if you want to ‘gong’ my blog, then start blogging yourself. Then we can have a real conversation.” […]

    @ 5:37 pm
  6. Stan Rule said:


    Thank you for your kind comments. I was more flattered to be included in the company of the other nine blogs, than offended by Mr. Blackwell’s critique of my blog.

    I am in good company in another respect:on December 24th, 2005, I posted an excerpt from “A Night Before Christmas in Legalize” with a link to the complete poem. Worst, I once quoted Dicken’s excerpt on Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in Bleak House. Gong. Gong.

    But I think we are allowed a little filler now-and-then.

    Steve: please keep writing what you are writing.

    @ 8:30 pm
  7. Donna Seale said:

    I’m glad to see you did respond, Steve, as I thought it was a very unfair characterization of your blog. I was reading the article thinking that this was going to be a nice piece on the great Canadian law blogs out there but, unfortunately, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth due to some of the remarks that were made by Mr. Blackwell. The impression I formed after reading through the article is that he doesn’t seem to understand how we are all writing for a specific audience — one we know and understand well but that might not include him. Unfortunately, he seems to have missed that point; otherwise, the article would have been clean of truly unnecessary pot-shots.

    @ 8:38 pm
  8. I don’t always comment about lists, even when I am on them, because they are such subjective things. And sometimes I think we are just being “baited” by the compliment so we will respond with favourable returned blog posts.

    In this case it looks like Mr. Blackwell is trying to be distinguish himself by turning an apparently more critical eye to his list building, but I do agree with you, he is off the mark with regard to your particular blog and with some of his measurements.

    Number of comments particularly in the legal industry do not tell much. Of course Slaw gets lots of comments–because we have lots of contributors talking amongst ourselves which makes others feel a bit more comfortable to join in. But most other Canadian law blogs get few comments. My own blog, for example, mostly receives comments from people outside the Canadian legal field since I have an–um–eclectic range of readership. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t reading, as you say.

    Ah well, we’ll always have the CLawbies. ;-)

    @ 12:21 am
  9. Your comment about the author’s 20+ years as a tech writer is dead on. With 1 LinkedIn connection & no linkable home in cyberspace, it’s obvious that online social networking is not his specialty.

    The recent ABA Journal article on Mac vs PC is another example of older practitioners trying to give tech savvy advice, but flopping

    It seems that most law journalism about technology suffers from the same lack of credibility.

    This blog is welcome change. The advice here comes from having years of online experience (I also remember Mosaic), while maintaining a fresh and up-to-date understanding of technology.

    @ 1:00 pm
  10. […] It seems everywhere I turn there are both individual and collaborative blogs by reporters, lawyers, moms, travellers and authors to name a […]

    @ 7:29 pm
  11. […] Steve Matthews puts it this way: …the social side of blogging is where the value is.  Blogs aren’t magazine articles, and they’re not a simple diary – blogs are personal commentary with social networking baked in.  Tell me what you think, and tell me how you feel about it.  And whenever possible, link out to other bloggers and exchange ideas.  Every successful blog does this.  No excpetions. […]

    @ 7:33 pm
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