Guess what? The American Civil Liberties Union - the leading civil liberties organization in the country, which makes headlines every day, is often controversial, and has over 500,000 members - has a blog.
I have been hoping they would start a blog for years. So I should be overjoyed.
Yet, I am not. I am disgusted. Because they so do not get the concept:
- The blog is not listed in the Technorati directory, on the TTLB ecosystem, or any other blog directory that I can find.
- As of right this second, there are 12,930 blog links to the front page of aclu.org. But just 46 links to the blog. Why? Maybe one reason is there is no link to the blog from the front page of the site. In contrast, stoptheaclu.com has 25,939 links. (These are raw numbers of links, not uniques, and obviously by the time you click on them, the figures will have changed. But I bet the proportions remain the same.) I mean, come on, I have 284 links.
- There is no freaking blogroll. There are nearly no links to any other blogs at all.
- They launched the blog in September, 2005, and I only stumbled upon it tonight by accident. Was there an announcement made at all? The first post wasn't even "Hey, We Have a Blog."
- In almost 13 months of operation, a grand total of 63 posts. Some months, no posts at all. Unsurprisingly, almost all of the recent posts have no comments.
- The most recent post is from September 8 and the title is - I kid you not - "Report from the September 7 Senate Judiciary Committee Mark-Up."
This is horrible, in a word. They clearly have no one in the shop who understands the basics of blogging, and the leadership clearly don't care, if they know it exists at all. It's a magnificent opportunity squandered.
The blog format is perfect for the ACLU given its membership size, the amazing talent that it has on staff and in volunteer lawyers, the importance of the issues involved, and the vitriol launched at the organization on a hourly basis. Imagine a crew of really good staff bloggers engaging the ACLU's supporters and critics as events occur instead of leaving the online debate to alleged friends ("I do feel that they've become overly partisan in recent years ...."), dishonest hacks, nutjobs, dimwits, and their sworn enemies. Imagine guest posts by clients with heart-wrenching stories of having their civil liberties violated, by the lawyer who led the latest high-profile case to victory, by the lobbyist who sounds the alarm on yet another bill in Congress that threatens our constitutional rights. It would be devastating. Imagine how many passionate, intelligent, informed bloggers - lawyers or not, ACLU members or not - who would link to such discussions. Using blogs to spread the word and rally people to action would give the ACLU ten-fold more leverage than they get from just emailing their half a million members now. And that's not even to mention how effective a membership recruitment and a fundraising tool it would be.
I am disgusted because I really wished they got it. I have been a lifelong ACLU member and it pains me to see them not use this powerful tool that is lying right in front of them.