Draper’s Record: LabourList launches in beta

There’s been a lot of speculation about the form Derek Draper’s adventures in blogging would take, since he started convening the Labour-supporting blogohemisphere back in December. Now the secret’s out, and it’s a celeb group-blog called Labour List.

And pretty good it looks to be too. Draper is exactly the person to be running a Labour-focused Comment Is Free (a Propaganda Is Free maybe?), as he’s hard to match in terms of connections to people that everyone will want to read, personal energy for the thankless tasks of hunting trolls and chivying busy contributors, and self-confidence in making editorial decisions that don’t look dithery, and standing them up through the 10 minutes of outrage which will follow each one.

Hands up, I don’t have a great track record at picking winners here, but LabourList looks like A Good Thing all round. He’s managed not to infringe on some of the good activist work going on in this space, but he’s spotted a gap, and is trying to make something that should help tie it all together.

A source of horse’s mouth comment will be meat and drink to left bloggers and LabourHome members. Another professionally run left blog will be a good model to inspire our beleaguered blogohemisphere to gain on the right’s current lead. Those of the horses’ mouths on the correspondents list that don’t yet understand what’s going on here will get some good exposure to social media and the potential for 2.0 in policy and government (valuable experience, if not necessarily all good experiences – in the meantime a good blog-literate subbing from Derek will help too). Getting used to commenting in a fairly supportive environment may also help a few more Labourites get the blogging bug for themselves, growing the community for Bloggers4Labour and many left blogs.

As could be guessed, the trolls have jumped onto it already, and Draper’s been forced to toughen up the commenting policy, in the face of a vocal minority of random tw*ttery, which is in danger of scaring away the genuine commenters he wants to attract. He’s going to have a pretty hard time of it over the next couple of months. He’ll have to keep badgering his high-profile writers to keep going – even though they may question why they’re bothering with comparatively low circulation and discussion bordering on the YouTubesque, when they could be writing an byline for the dead-tree press instead and forgetting about the pesky readers.

Peter Mandelson’s first post is big news – his seventh one won’t be, and by that time the trolls will have gotten bored enough to let a better quality of discussion (pro and con) take hold.

Others have taken slight issue with the technology (write beta on something and the geeks will descend – I shall try to control my own right-brain tendencies here), especially the decision not to go with WordPress for it – If it’s good enough for Number10, there’s not a lot that the wonderCMS can’t be shoehorned into – and a proprietary system may restrict them in the future – in terms of features as well as suppliers. But that’s really a minor gripe – what’s important here is getting good quality exclusive writing.

It’s gone on my RSS list, and I’m really looking forward to following it as it develops.

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