A bit of inside baseball in the blogging community was played this weekend.
Martin Schwimmer of the Trademark Blog has requested that Bloglines, a popular weblog RSS feed aggregator, remove his weblog from the service. Bloglines has complied.
One reason given by Mr. Schwimmer caught my eye:
I create content in part to promote my law firm, which I cannot do effectively if my contact info is removed. I do not participate in targeted advertising programs because the majority of advertisers that target the keyword ‘trademark’ are competitors.
This result, in Mr. Schwimmer’s view, would be tantamount to “creating the free content for advertisements that Bloglines will sell to other trademark law firms.”
As a Bloglines subscriber, I am disappointed in this decision, since it means for all practical purposes that I won’t see The Tradmark Blog anymore. Once you use an aggregator, you can’t imagine checking sites individually ever again. His blog was one of the first that I became aware of. I will miss it.
The contact reason doesn’t wash with me, since any Bloglines subscriber soon learns that when you click on the blog title in the preview pane, you get the home page. A potential client who can’t figure that out would probably be a slow pay anyway.
But I really think that Mr. Schwimmer is over-estimating the competitive threat of Internet ads. If I saw an ad next to his entry in Bloglines, I would do what I always do to an Internet ad: ignore it. In fact, it would probably reinforce in my mind that The Trademark Blog is the standard, and the ad-mongering attorneys are mere pretenders.
Mr. Schwimmer seems right on the law, and this issue will certainly get more focus as RSS feed aggregators become more widely used.
But because of a currently theoretical concern about competitive ads, Mr. Schwimmer is opening up Bloglines to the competition.
I think that is called the law of unintended consequences.