Home > News > The Monkey Cage’s First Anniversary, Part 2
73 views 6 min 0 Comment

The Monkey Cage’s First Anniversary, Part 2

- December 3, 2008

Yesterday’s post summarized the numbers. Today’s shares my reflections on this past year. I do not presume to speak for my co-bloggers; perhaps they will chime in with their own posts or with comments.

In our inaugural post, I set out four goals for this blog — each of which Lee, David, and I continue to share (as do Henry, Phil, and Andy, who joined The Monkey Cage later):

1. To publicize political science research.
2. To provide informed commentary on political events and issues.
3. To think out loud.
4. To indulge our non-academic interests.

By these standards, we have succeeded. We digest political science (and other related) research routinely (e.g., here). We try to comment on current events, at least when we have something to contribute from a political science perspective (e.g., innumerable posts about the campaign). Thinking out loud happens, for better or worse (e.g., for better in this post from Henry). And non-academic interests appear routinely. A quick scan through our “frivolity” section will tell you who is largely responsible.

In working toward these goals, we have also benefited from some generous guestbloggers, including our GW colleagues Forrest Maltzman, Sarah Binder, and Jim Goldgeier, as well as Jennifer Hochschild of Harvard and Adam Berinsky of MIT. Many others have tipped us off about relevant topics, analysis, papers, etc.

Gratitude is also due to those who comment on posts, especially those who do so regularly. Most of our threads are not long — unless we’re talking about bagels — but they are (with one exception) fairly civil. We are glad for that.

What can we do differently or better?

* We have averaged about 2 posts a day. I would like more. Three is a good average, with a little more on weekdays and, naturally, a little less on weekends.

* There are times when, due to other commitments, we are slow in responding to current events. And, for better or worse, there is often a narrow window to do so, especially if we want to capture the attention of more popular blogs or the “mainstream media.” For instance, I collected a handful of Electoral College forecasts from political scientists and the usual websites (538, etc.), but I never published a post-mortem on their accuracy. I could do so now, but would anyone care besides a handful of political scientists? Hopefully, in our second year, we will be more consistently timely.

* It would be interesting, at least to me, if more political scientists showed up in our comments (ideally using their real names). For example, when I posted a while back about a study on civil wars, a commenter (who at least sounded like a political scientist) noted some other relevant literature — not all of which I was familiar with. It would also be interesting to get some scholarly impressions of articles we publicize. I wouldn’t want our comments to devolve into navel-gazing or inside baseball, but some collegial back-and-forth would enrich the content of the blog. I certainly would learn from it and I think it would better publicize “the discipline.”

* I think we have been successful in getting regular attention from some popular political blogs, e.g., Pollster and those of Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Kevin Drum. (These three are all from the left; our attention from elsewhere on the ideological spectrum, leaving aside an occasional reference at Cato or Commentary, is less consistent.) But I cannot tell that we have generated much attention from the mainstream media. There are exceptions, such as my own op-eds, which were solicited by an editor at the LA Times who read the blog, at least until he recently took a buyout from the paper. Nevertheless, I don’t think we’re really on the radar screen of most political journalists. I don’t know an easy way to change that, in part because most political journalists probably don’t see a need to follow political science. (I’ve complained about this before, so I won’t rehash my points here.) Suffice it to say that I would hope our blog can push a little political science in front of journalists. I may ask a few journalists that I know how we can better do that.

* A larger readership? Yesterday, I noted than an average weekday brings us 1,000 unique visitors. Should we try to increase that? I’m frankly unsure whether this is a relevant goal. Of course, ceteris paribus, I’d love for The Monkey Cage to have more readers. But at the same time, blogs about politics tend to be most popular when they (1) are partisan or (2) focus on polls and other data that interest political junkies, and we are neither of these, obviously. So, I have only modest expectations about the hypothetical audience for an academically-oriented political science blog. But perhaps I am not ambitious enough.

If any readers have thoughts about the blog — things we can do more or less of, things we can do better, things you’d like to see — please leave comments.

And thanks for reading.