“The relationship between law and religion is invariably a delicate one”: Archbishop Welby in the recent Lords debate on religious freedom…
Slightly to our surprise, this is Post 1,000. As we’ve said before, when we first started thinking about doing a regular blog (over a pint in the Maltsters at LLandaff during a break from the LLM course in June 2013) neither of us quite realised what we were letting ourselves in for. We didn’t have much idea of what blogging entailed, still less did we know much about WordPress. Nor did we imagine either that there would be so much material to blog about or that blogging would be such hard work.
It must have been the beer wot done it, because we’ve since learned better both about blogging and about the mysteries of the back end of WordPress. Those reading Frank’s Twitter posts will realize that the blog is written in London, Oxfordshire, N Lancashire and (very occasionally) in Skye, but may not appreciate that we meet face-to-face only rarely, generally over a pint (no surprise) in The White Horse on the Broad in Oxford or The Speaker in Great Peter Street, London. Consequently, we rely almost entirely on e-mail in the process of editing the blog, alerting each other to new developments or deciding the fate of problematic comments.
Insofar as we have an informal division of labour, David tends to do the Anglican and Roman Catholic posts and anything environmental, while case-notes are mostly written by Frank. But there’s no hard-and-fast rule about that and we constantly comment on each other’s drafts, if only sometimes for a reality-check. We are certain that our approach to attribution would be a problem to many academics, as the “posted by” and “cite as” tags can refer to which of us started the draft, particularly on the weekly round-up to which we both invariably contribute.
The most obvious lesson we’ve learned is this: you can never entirely predict what is going to interest readers. Some things are pretty obvious: the big cases like Eweida & Ors and Hodkin and the headline issues like same-sex marriage and women bishops in the C of E. On the other hand, we could never have predicted the interest generated by our first post on the Preston Down Trust or the piece on the Naked Rambler. The second most obvious lesson is that defining “law and religion” is like trying to pin a jelly to a dartboard: we tend to take a fairly broad view: some readers may find that refreshing, while others may just find it annoying.
At the last count the blog was getting about 500 hits per day, we had 273 e-mail subscribers and almost 6,000 RSS subscriptions. Of the latter, we suspect that maybe fifty or so are genuine: the rest are probably just spammers on the look-out to offload fake Rolex, Louis Vuitton or whatever. Nevertheless, despite our UK focus, end-of-year statistics for 2014 indicated that just 67% of our readership was from the UK, followed by the US, Canada and Australia; and this month we had our first pingback from Azerbaijan. Somewhat to our surprise, we continue to make the Teads top twenty UK blogs in both the Religion and Belief and the Law categories – which is fairly reassuring because, though we reckon our primary focus is law, we don’t fit neatly into either of them.
The next milestone will be 500,000 hits – which at the present rate of progress we expect to reach some time in April or May next year. But we still haven’t quite lost the heart-in-mouth sensation as we hit the “publish” button. And when we do, it’ll probably be time to pack it in.
Finally, thanks to all our readers, without whom there wouldn’t be much point in doing this at all (except that, as we’ve said before, it keeps us reading the cases). And thanks in particular to all those who’ve written guest posts: we are always delighted to welcome newcomers with something interesting to say.
FC & DP