Citing to the Blogosphere

Andrew Raff
October 19, 2005

The newest (18th) edition of the Bluebook features a new rule for citing to blog posts:

Posting to blogs take one of two formats. If there is only one poster to the blog, cite as a Web page, but include the date and time-stamp to indicate the specific posting cited. If there are multiple posters on the blog, cite as a posting to a discussion forum. In both cases, indicate the title of the blog before the URL:
single poster - How Appealing, (Sept. 1, 2004, 21:20 EST).

multiple posters - Posting of Lyle Denniston to SCOTUSblog, (Sept. 28, 2004, 13:26 EST).

Instead of taking advantage of permalinks and post titles, this citation format makes it more complicated and difficult to find a cited resource.

Anthony Rickey notes that the Yale Law Journal's new website, The Pocket Part, suggests that authors disregard the Bluebook suggested form for citing to blogs and use a citation format that makes sense: Bluebook Followup: Do As We Say, Not As We Do: "Nice to see one of the Gang of Four deciding that the rules on blog citation don't make sense."

One argument (made in a comment to Rickey) is that the Pocket Part is a "web site," not a "blog." Why are the rules for citation different? How are authors supposed to to evaluate whether an internet resource is a "web site" or a "blog?"

The Bluebook rule actually makes some amount of sense for an internet resource that has no more precise way to point to a specific page. But why not cite the author's name in a single author blog? What is to be done with blogs that use only category-based archiving, rather than date-based archiving?


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Or for that matter, what is to be done with blogs that are anonymous, don't reveal their location, and don't publish a time zone on their page or in their RSS feed?

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