What is a blog?

Blogs are blogs if they say they are. 2007 may be the new year but the old year left us with an old discussion jumping up again. This time Zoli Erdos began the discussion with his post saying Google's Blog is not a blog. The post suggests that Google's self-proclaimed blog is not a blog because it does not enable comments. None the less, Google calls their publication a blog.

Dave Winer joins the conversation and points to his post on the topic "What makes a weblog a weblog". The functional essence of Winer's definition is "as long as the voice of a person comes through, it's a weblog." Back in February Winer engaged in a conversation about the need for blogs to have comments in order to be considered blogs. Winer said on his Scripting.com blog "whether a blog has comments or not does not effect its blogness."

When I think about this question, I am lead directly to analogues. If one were to take the term newspaper for example one might have a similarly difficult time coming up with a definition that adequately covers many things most people consider newspapers. After considering things like content, publication frequency, editorial pages and the credentials of the writers and publishers and finding all those criteria wanting one might be tempted to move towards "anything printed on newsprint" as a definition. This too soon fails as the weekly ads from the grocery store printed on newsprint come every week to my mailbox but is not a newspaper in anyone's imagination.

When it comes to newspapers, the winning definition is "I know it when I see it". Perhaps the same approach is best for blogs. Instead of spending cycles debating what is or is not a blog, we should simply agree that a blog is what people want to call a blog. The market is not stupid. If one publishes a website and calls it a blog but it is really a venue to try to self-promote or sell ads and has a RSS feed that doesn't have enough information to make it interesting the readers will decide.