Rules. We got rules around here! Of course they are all subject ultimately to my whim, but generally I follow them.
What brings on that rant? Well I noticed earlier today that Commonwealth Conservative is trying to start a "web alliance." This would be a number of Virginia blogs who link to each other in a specific section much like the Bear Flag League out in California. It's not a particularly bad idea but the reason that it caught my eye is that he plans to call it the Old Dominion Blog Alliance. Okay, now come back to CrimLaw and look to your left and down the left most column; you will see "Old Dominion Blogs." I found this humorous and couldn't resist taking a little bit of a jab over in the comments to CC's post. John Behan was kind enough to send me an email explaining that he wasn't trying to lift something from me. Truth be told, I never really thought he was. Each State has but so many symbols that can be easily recognized by all, embody a unique quality of that State, and are not controversial. Of these, the title "Old Dominion" may be the most prominent in Virginia. It's not surprising that it was thought of by two different people - after all the "Virginia is for Lovers Alliance" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Old Dominion Blogs
Still, I thought I might explain what gets a blog into my Old Dominion Blogs list. There are two basic rules: First, the blog must come from Virginia (yeah, I know that's kinda obvious). Second, it must consistently have "posts of worth." What exactly are "posts of worth"? Heck if I know. Well, okay, they are posts wherein I think there is information or rational analysis of subjects that there is a good chance that others would want to read. How 'bout that for a standard? With that kind of clarity I should probably be writing statutes.
To be included, the blog does not have to reflect a certain worldview. In line with my attempts to keep this site as politically neutral as I can I will put any Virginia blog which I judge to have posts of worth whether I agree with its worldview or not.
To be put in this section there are two requirements and one preference: (R1) The blog must consistently address criminal matters as its primary concern. (R2) The blog must have entries which are not consistently abusive or out of touch with reality. This is obviously a lower standard than the "posts of worth" standard but I gotta cut my fellow criminal law types some slack. (P1) The blog should be written by an attorney who practices in this area. I don't care which side of the bench, just that the person knows of what he speaks. Heck, I'd link to a blog from a judge too but I ain't seen one which concentrates on criminal matters.
As far as I am concerned this is the Gold Standard. All of the blogs here (and one editorial comic) fire my imagination in some manner. As anyone who's been reading here for a while knows some blogs have moved in and out of this category. Southern Appeal and the Volokh Conspiracy have been there for a long time and are probably the King Blogs as far as I'm concerned. Anyway, the primary test here is whether I yearn to read the blog everyday and feel like I've missed something if I don't or (Heaven forefend) the blogging is light on that blog that day. Yep, I know that's incredibly subjective but that's the way it is. The one semi-solid rule I have is that this section should have a very limited number of links. This used to mean 3, now it means 5 - I doubt it will ever go much above that.
This list has two types of links in it. (1) The majority are links to blogs which have quality posts often enough that I want to check them every day. (2) The remainder are links to blogs which I have discovered and want to check out for the time being. Because of the second type this list can tend to change more often than others. I plan to keep this section at 20 links or less but that is not a solid barrier.
All Other Links
There are entirely too many blogs out there which provide consistently good posts or flashes of brilliance for me to pay close attention to all of them all the time. These are generally the blogs which are found in the remaining links. I must admit that I do not, I cannot, read each of these blogs on a consistent basis. Most days I will pick one or two at random and scan it to see if anything really interesting has been posted lately.
30 Day Rule: If the blog has not had a new post for over 30 days I will remove it. Some blogs have dispensations as far as this rule goes because I know they publish sporadically and the few times they do post the posts are of extremely good quality. However, most of the others will be subject to what amounts to fairly slack enforcement. When I notice it's been over 30 days I will check for a couple days and then remove it the next time I fiddle with the template.
4 Month Rule: As of today, I am imposing a rule that if someone wants me to link to his site it should be up and running 4 months. There is nothing more frustrating than linking to a site which has had a week's worth of amazingly good posts and then not seeing any more posts - ever. The only exception to this will be with sites which qualify under the Criminal Law section which can go up as soon as they begin posting.
No Diary Blogs: I've linked to a few of these and still do to some. However, it is highly unlikely that I will link to any new one. This is not to say that the blog cannot talk about what happens in the blogger's life or even post sappy pictures. It is to say that this cannot be the entire subject matter. There must be discussions of news, politics, law, theology, philosophy, or some other reason to read it.
Preference Against Professional Blogs: That is to say, if I believe the only reason a blog is up is because it is meant as an advertisement that blog must prove to me that it will continue to post and continue to post at an acceptable quality level. This may mean that it will take longer than 4 months before I relent and put it on my link list.
Okay, so now ya'll see my rules. Will I ever change them? Who knows? But they seem to pass the rational basis test so I think I'll keep them for now.