What's a Blog?

Dennis Baron has a thoughtful post about the new FCC guidelines regarding blogging and product endorsements. Basically, the new ruling speaks to blogs like Gizmodo—places you go to read about things you may buy.

You can read about the new rules at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm. The rules themselves are at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf.

Specifically, the ruling addresses messages "conveyed by bloggers or other 'word-of-mouth' marketers." What strikes me about this is the assumed stability around the terms blog and blogger. Instead of referring to "websites" that hype junk, the ruling speaks to blogs.

We know blogs to be websites typified by routine posting; newer posts generally appear at the top and older posts scroll down to the bottom. Blogs have such elements as blogrolls and comments and dated entries. We know blogging to mean the creation of content on such a site.

Note that static websites are either outside or on the margins of this ruling. Even static-looking websites; so if I create a new .html page each day to hype junk, am I blogging? I'd say not, which produces quite a nice loophole in the ruling.

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