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Bluebook Followup: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Some time ago I criticized the Bluebook's rules on citing blogs, particularly because full URLS to blog posts are not supposed to be used.

Today the blawgosphere is abuzz with the launch of the Pocket Part, the quasi-blog of the Yale Law Journal. It's really quite a nice site, both in content and in style. But how does Yale suggest that one should cite to the Pocket Part?

Preferred Citation: Abraham Bell & Gideon Parchomovsky, Of Property and Federalism, Yale L.J., Oct. 2005 (The Pocket Part), http://www.thepocketpart.org/2005/10/bell_parchomovsky.html.
Nice to see one of the Gang of Four deciding that the rules on blog citation don't make sense.

UPDATE: Amazing. I never thought I had this many readers, but this post wasn't up for fifteen minutes before I received an email arguing that the bluebooking for the Pocket Part should be different because it isn't a "blog."

I suppose one can wonder about blogginess in the way that one can wonder about angels dancing on the head of a pin. Is it a matter of having consistent authors? Frequent postings? The ability to comment? I won't venture into that terrain, except to point out that as a technical matter, the Pocket Part's source code suggests at least a kissing-cousin relationship to blogdom:

meta name="generator" content="Movable Type 3.2"


TrackBack URL for this entry:


I'm glad I don't have to deal with Blue Book crap anymore.... But it puzzles me that they wouldn't consider a full URL a necessary requirement of an adequate citation of any material from the World Wide Web in a legal publication. Isn't the whole point of a citation finding the point cited? Or was I sleeping through the Legal Research class where they explained the purpose of citations? :-)
I think the argument goes something like this: The pieces (article and responses) for The Pocket Part are composed not by bloggers using a web interface, but by their authors in Word, much like the way regular law journal articles are written. Those pieces are bluebooked and edited (with an eye to the medium and the readership) and then posted by editors on the law journal much in the same way that editors print proofs for the print journal. The "issues" of The Pocket Part are periodic, not at-any-hour, and the content is fixed per issue, at least as far as the articles and responses go. The discussion area is somewhat blog-like, but the discussion is per issue, not per posting-item, and the discussion is threaded, like a forum (although no one has posted a reply to a top-level posting yet, so you don't see the threading in its glory). While it might use Movable Type, I would venture to say that no one has ever seen a Movable Type site that looks anything like The Pocket Part. Calling it a blog based on the back-end implementation is at least slightly suspect... I think the [somewhat arrogant] argument against BlueBooking the article and responses like a blog is that a standard blog entry is not written with the time, care, and preparation of the elements on The Pocket Part, and therefore doesn't share enough in common with standard blog entries to be cited in the same way. That said, certainly comments in the discussion area do not rise above blog comments or blog entries in terms of time, effort, and care.
Joe: We could probably argue back and forth about the bloggy and non-bloggy nature of the Pocket Part forever, because it is similar but not exactly like the "average" blog. The fact remains that even if the Part is "unique," it is not so different as to suggest a reason for including a full URL. One argument given for citing to a blog's homepage instead of the individual entry is that blog URLs can be long and unweildy. Yet the Pocket Part uses a standard MT directory structure, and thus not any less lengthy than the majority of blogs. If only the top-level URL were given, it would be no more difficult to navigate to an entry in the Pocket Part than it is in a blog. (Indeed, it would be easier than in some blogs that have only category but not date archives.) And of course, we all know where Yale is, so unlike a blog that could be published anywhere, we'd always know what time zone its articles were posted in. Don't get me wrong: The Pocket Part is a cool addition to the legal web. However, its blog-like form undercuts the few somewhat tenable arguments for the Bluebooks silly blog format.

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