Over on his energy blog, Robert Rapier has written a summary of what he has learned, blogging about energy issues. The points seem pretty broadly applicable to those writing about technical and politically contentious topics. For those thinking of giving serious blogging a whirl, a couple of his points seem especially pertinent and well matched to my own experience. In particular, you won’t be able to predict which posts are popular and produce discussion, and which will not. Also, you shouldn’t expect to make any significant amount of money, and you should expect to be plagued by spambots trying to do so.
At its worst, blogging on substantive issues just produces a discordant echo chamber of people yelling at one another, continuing to use discredited arguments, and generally not advancing the state of discourse. That being said, I do think blogs have a lot of societal and pedagogic value. By forcing the author and commenters to defend their views in the face of criticism, they provide a valuable mechanism for sharpening thinking. Here’s hoping that helps to address the world’s grave problems, over the long term.