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If we only had a proxy for the value of a blog post …

If some method were available to assess the quality of blog posts, lawyers as a group would learn more quickly and benefit more from blogs. Currently, each blog post is equal in value – however “value” might be determined – to every other blog post. My research into the blog posts of large U.S. law firms must stop at the point of quantifying many aspects of those posts; no technique exists to describe them or assess them qualitatively.

Analogies to what such a qualitative method might entail come from law, academia, intellectual property, and programming. When a court’s opinion is cited frequently in subsequent opinions, we can count those later citations and infer that a more frequently-cited case has more importance than a less frequently cited case. When a professor publishes a paper, citations to that paper provide a rough measure of its quality. If other academics rely on the paper’s findings, presumably those findings have value and the higher the citation number, the more value. Likewise, when patents cite prior art and related patents, the patent applicant has made some assessment of the importance of the cited patents. Finally, if a question asked on StackOverflow has been viewed hundreds of times, you can guess that the topic is deemed important by many people. In all four of these areas, there are sources that compile the data that people want.

Blog posts have no similar measures of the level of interest they raise or their evaluated worth; more’s the pity.