Irish political 'blogs'

The Freedom Institute helpfully links to some sites the major parties have put up for their candidates, hastily it seems.

I don’t want to seem like I am trying to discourage new bloggers, or even political ones, but for god’s sake, if you are going to get on the bandwagon at least make a half-assed attempt to do it properly.

Aine Brady
and Sean Cassells have a web ‘diary’. These are definately not blogs, no permalinks, no comments, no blogroll, no…nothing really. It is dated, but that’s about it. And there’s no hyperlinks – to anything. If only they had just got a Typepad or Blogger account, it would have made it all easier. Or better yet use their domain name with “/blog” at the end and use WordPress.

Sirene Campbell
did use blogger, 2 posts, both copies of each other. No links, no blogroll. And an essay on what she thinks about certain issues. Hm.

Seanan O Coistin has permalinks but no comments, poorly laid out, and confusing posts.

55 thoughts on “Irish political 'blogs'”

  1. Aine Brady and Sean Cassells have a web ‘diary’.

    Jeez, they’re pathetic. They aren’t even making any attempt at keyword optimising and they are not valid html.

    Whoever put these up should be ashamed – what an appalling waste of time for everyone concerned.

  2. Oh dear me,

    They are AWFUL, truly awful.

    I think they’ve missed an opportunity to really take advantage of what blogging can offer, only to come up with something that only their mother would read – and even then she wouldn’t read it all.

    Whatever happened to opinions? This probably tells you all you need to know about Politics 2005 style.

    It’s depressing and it ain’t blogging…

  3. The interesting thing is that if some politician does get into proper blogging, he/she’ll probably attract a lot of online attention and do a lot for their profile.

  4. Guys, I think you’re being far too negative. You’re just quibbling over software here. Blogs are not the be all and end of web communications and a politician in a busy election campaign can’t be expected to maintain one so easily. At least Cassells and Brady have put together well-presented sites, and both their Diary and Photo Albums are good. We should be encouraging pols who have waken up to the web, not sniping at them.

    I agree, however, that the Campbell and O Coistin sites are disappointing. In fact, Campbell’s blog makes my point. She uses blog technology, but uses it to present crap content.

    Cassells and Brady may not have blogs, but their content is far superior.

  5. Cassells and Brady have put together well-presented sites

    Pearse, tell me you are taking the P*ss please!

    In the first place, the two sites in question are not well-presented sites, they are merely template sites put together by a Niall Kearns Mills.

    You’re just quibbling over software

    If you really believe this then you are demonstrating ignorance of the fundamental advantages of using blogging software.

    These guys didn’t use blogging software (thereby missing out on all the advantages that brings i.e. standards compliance, seo, pinging) and yet they ut up a site which attempts to fake a blog – why?

    Blogging software is available free – at least some of this has to be explainable by:
    SRC="http://www.fiannafail.ie/syndication/local_content.php4?reference=ainebrady.com&state=31" type="text/javascript">

    All the content on these sites goes through FF HQ. Can’t have our candidates saying anything which doesn’t toe the party line, can we?

  6. the comments i’ve made on the fi site are – i think – valid here. a few people are being far too precious. and quite inconsistent in their attitudes too.

  7. Jaysus I created a bit of a shitstorm, thats what I get for being in a bad mood at 1am and blogging! I will clarify my position later this evening – I am in a better mood now. lol

  8. Tom Raftery … Tom Raftery … name sounds familiar. Any relation of the Tom Raftery who ran for Fine Gael in Munster for the European Parliament?

  9. Credit where credit’s due Gav – the Freedom Institute created the shitstorm, and deserve the credit for raising the issue. You’re just caught in the quoting crossfire.

  10. btw – in terms of the bandwagon and irish pols on the interweb. in order to clarify something, i’ve tonight mailed each of the major parties asking them to provide a listing of their elected representatives who have websites. tracking the time it takes them to respond – and whether they even bother responding – will probably be even more instructive than the information they send back.

  11. Tom, 2 quick questions for you.

    1) Are you suggesting that everyone should now drop HTML sites and move over entirely to blogs?

    2) Why are you surprised that political parties require candidates to support party policy? I thought that was the whole idea. Maybe not in Blogland, of course.

  12. FI deserves no credit for mistaking an ordinary HTML diary page with a blog. You’d think they’d know the difference by now. As a result, a lot of unfair bile has been heaped on the candidates.

  13. and some of that bile is coming from the post on this very site too. if only *everyone* would think before they type …

  14. well i don’t. you seem to think that FI have misidentified “websites” as “blogs” – yet the simple definition of a blog is along the lines of “A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web”. tom and bernie seem to want to re-define the word to make it include all sorts of other things, like blog-rolls, comments, rss feeds etc etc. but FI’s definition is actually right, and the two FF diary sites linked to could comfortably be called weblogs

  15. Jaysus i was only referring to the shitstorm in these comments fmk, I wasn’t claiming credit for anything. And besides, I made critical comments that generated response. FI did just point to them without comment as such.

  16. Gavin, since you’re being so transparent about everything, any news from Tom yet about that query I posted for him?

    yet the simple definition of a blog is along the lines of “A blog is basically a journal that is available on the webâ€? … Who says?

  17. plod’ Capital ‘P’ Gav old son, Capital ‘P’… ‘Ave to watch our Ps and Qs son. There’s a good lad. Run along now and play with your blog thingummy …

  18. The usual response to any particular article on this, ahem, site. is about 9 or 10. This is the 23rd on this subject. Seems to me you’re all partaking in self-indulgent bloggism

  19. Sorry Gavin, don’t know how your name got attached to the 23rd comment

  20. Detective Plod/Curious,

    sorry about the delay in getting back to you – I didn’t check in on this blog in the last couple of hours. I have answered this query already on my own site this evening – my father was a Fine Gael MEP from 1984 to 1989. I don’t see how that is in any way relevant but asked and asnwered.

    Feargal, I think if you read my comments again, you’ll see I didn’t mention

    blog-rolls, comments, rss feeds etc etc

    anywhere.

    My point was that these sites are jumping on the positive media bandwagon surrounding blogs now but are not using blogging software to produce their “blogs” and are thereby missing out entirely on the tech benefits these bring.

    Curious,

    Are you suggesting that everyone should now drop HTML sites and move over entirely to blogs?

    Ummm, no I’m not.

    Why are you surprised that political parties require candidates to support party policy?

    I’m not – but it goes against the spirit of blogging. The “blog” is presented as a diary – nowhere on the site do they say that the contents of this “diary” come from party headquarters.

    I’d love to know who is actually writing the diaries.

  21. Tom Raftery writes: my father was a Fine Gael MEP from 1984 to 1989. I don’t see how that is in any way relevant but asked and asnwered.

    A-ha!
    Good routine police work, I’d say.

    The relevance is this Tom, me boy. Let us suppose, say, that a son of a former FF MEP made comments on the by-election web sites and – hey, coincidentally, of course – roundly condemned the only the Opposition web sites, people would allege FF ‘dirty tricks’. His comments would be completely ignored.

    Same applies to you, young man. Your FG connection – and not a trivial one, mind you – has been outed. Clearly, the fact that you picked and nitpicked on the FF web sites is more than a coincidence and indicates bias on your part.

    Or are you claiming you’re neither a member nor a supporter of Fine Gael?

    Detective Plod’s Blogging Rule #1: When blogging on any particular topic always be sure to reveal a hidden vested interest, up front, first time and without having to be asked. That way, your comments are more likely to be accepted as honest.

  22. Anyone who has a track record longer than two years as a blogger can point to things that sustain conversation–the core element of blogging. Those bits and bobs that several people have mentioned before–blogrolls, permalinks, RSS feeds, archives, comment sections, contact details and cross-talk that you can monitor through tools like Technorati or Feedster–may not be approved as part of the authentic ingredients list of blogs by the readers here, but they’re the ones used by many of the people who have continued blogging since the late 90s. I think that simple web sites are fine as are personal journals. But I also think it’s important to draw a line under “blog” when you can find elements in a personal online presence that make it part of a two-way conversation on the web. You need infrastructure for that. Good blogs facilitate quality cross-talk through the infrastructure.

    Of course, all bets are off when people like me post wind-ups as comments.

  23. Detective Plod,

    In the first place, I have never hidden the fact that my father was an MEP – I am very proud of the fact. He served this country extremely well.

    Secondly, my father was a FG MEP 15 to 20 years ago. I fail to see how this has any relevance on anything I post. What was your father’s profession 15 to 20 years ago?

    My father was also a professor of Agriculture in UCC. Should I ‘reveal’ that any time I post anything to do with farmers?

    Just because my father was a member of Fine Gael – this does not in ANY way indicate a political leaning on my part.

    Or are you claiming you’re neither a member nor a supporter of Fine Gael?

    That is precisely what I am claiming. I am not now, nor have I ever sought membership of FG. In various elections in Cork I have voted for candidates from the Green Party, Democratic Left, Labour, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.

    Detective Plod’s Blogging Rule #1: When blogging on any particular topic always be sure to reveal a hidden vested interest, up front, first time and without having to be asked.

    Really? At least I am honest enough to use my real name and not hide behind some psuedonym – what is your real name and how do we know what your “hidden agendas” are?

  24. D’oh!

    should have waited until after my first coffee before posting!

    Obviously the last part of my previous comment shouldn’t have been in blockquotes.

    i.e. it should have looked like this:

    Detective Plod’s Blogging Rule #1: When blogging on any particular topic always be sure to reveal a hidden vested interest, up front, first time and without having to be asked.

    Really? At least I am honest enough to use my real name and not hide behind some psuedonym – what is your real name and how do we know what your “hidden agendasâ€? are?

  25. Where is Robin O’Brien-Lynch now? This has the essence of a good story. But the FF web diary shows something that few here have copped on to – a single party wide CMS that has centralised control.

    Irish politics, especially in a local by-election is to put it bluntly, local. The number of people having both the will and the means to go searching for a politician’s blog is probably a very small percentage of the potential electorate. The politician’s time would therefore be more usefully spent on knocking on doors and talking to people in the real world.

    I’m still not sure how to categorise blogs and I run a few search engines the definition of a blog is more than a matter of semantics. Some are good sites with a lot of information others are streams of consciousness that require the reader to be into the same things. But blogs do seem to have one major aspect – they are interactive. That alone makes them more than a web diary.

  26. Sorry Mary?

    Caught? Caught what?

    My FATHER was a member of Fine Gael 15 to 20 years ago.

    How exactly is my father’s former politics relevant to me? At all? 15-20 years later?

    I have never tried to hide the fact that my father was an MEP for FG for 5 years. I am proud of his achievements. If I was trying to hide it I would use some psuedonym – but no, I use my own name, unlike some who have comented here.

    I am not a member nor a supporter of Fine Gael. In fact, just the other day I spent some time advising Michael McGrath (a local FF councillor) on how best to set up his site – gratis.

    In the past I have worked with Dan Boyle (Green Party), Eamonn Gilmore (Labour), Michae Martin (FF), Fergal Dennehy (FF), Ciaran Lynch (Labour), and Senator John Minihan (PD).

    So again Mary, caught what?

  27. tom r – “Feargal, I think if you read my comments again, you’ll see I didn’t mention”

    this conversation is going on across multiple posts on multiple sites and there’s more than one tom involved in it.

    get a more original name 🙂

  28. Caught posing as an independent revieweer of the election web sites, when you are not really independent at all.

  29. What an incredible comment thread…….are we debating definitions of blogs or political allegiances?

    Both sides of the argument contain interesting points. How narrow do you want your definition of a blog to be? Personally if I could only visit blogs that contained blog rolls and allowed for comments then I would have to sacrifice visiting some of my favourite daily reads. On the other hand I find it very difficult to read these FF sites as blogs. What about good old Margot’s site? http://weblog.jrc.cec.eu.int/page/wallstrom She doesn’t link to half the EU blogosphere but she does use features that as a regular blog reader I recognise and respond to. Personally I just think its a shame that the FF sites didn’t make more of an effort to embrace more of the conventions particular to blogging. Then again I’m not convinced that ‘blogging’ was what the FF Press HQ had in mind……

  30. Caoimhe,

    You are right – this whole red herring about my father’s former position is taking from the real debate.

    I have already made my position clear – I welcome political bloggers of all shades. I think it is a great thing when politicians try to engage their electorate.

    What angered me about the two FF candidates, in particular is that I believe they are cynically trying to ride the wave of positive media blogging is currently receiving.

    They are doing so with content syndicated from a central FF server and presenting it as their own.

    If, on the other hand, they set up a real blog (using Blogger or WordPress or the like) they would come across as being more honest, they would foster comunication with their electorate, and they would take advantage of the search engine benefits that accrue from (real) blogging.

    It is a win win situation.

  31. I don’t think Tom’s parentage or political persuasion of his family has anything to do with him posting comments on this topic. His withstanding and knowledge should never be questioned like this.

    Sorry but those commments by Plod et al have annoyed me ..

  32. Then again I’m not convinced that ‘blogging’ was what the FF Press HQ had in mind……

    Thank you, Caoimhe. You got it in one! You can’t criticise a donkey for not being a thoroughbred, especially is all the owner wanted in the first place was a donkey.

    I think Tom – deliberately or otherwise, I am not sure – decided to call the FF diaries “blogs”, when they are clearly not intended to be, just so he could have a “go” at them.

    Briseann an dúchas trí shúile and chait

  33. I think Tom – deliberately or otherwise, I am not sure – decided to call the FF diaries “blogsâ€?, when they are clearly not intended to be, just so he could have a “goâ€? at them.

    I think, Pearse, you’ll find that it was the Freedom Institute, in the post Gavin linked to originally, who first referred to the FF diaries as blogs – not me.

    when they are clearly not intended to be

    Why do you say that they are “clearly not intended to be”? They look like they are intended to be to me, and the Freedom Institute thought so too.

    What do you know that the rest of us don’t?

    TomR

  34. It is very simple.

    1. The fact that the FI calls something a “blog” does not make it one. If the FI called a zebra a dog would that make it one?

    2. Even a cursory look at the two sites show that these are just the reactions of the candidates on the campaign trail.

    3. So why berate something for not being a “blog” when you can see it is not? You might prefer it to be a “blog” but surely the candidates have the right to choose their own method of communication.

    Maybe the day of the political “blog” is near at hand. But until it arrives, I commend Aine Brady and Shane Cassells on their innovation.

    The reason for my suspicion in all of this is that the other candidates – Lab, FG, PD, SF – all have truly appalling web sites and they are not getting any stick from you.

  35. pearse – the peedee site is getting stick (btw – are you sure that’s a real site and not just someone playing a joke on her? where did you get the link?). post up links for fg, lab and sf and i’m sure no one will have anything nice to say about them either. this one (from my reading of it) is mostly coming from the institutional / personal split – some people seem to think that blogs are only blogs if they are personal, not institutional.

  36. Pearse,

    I don’t normally comment on politics – I am a technologist and uninterested in politics.

    The only reason I commented on the two FF Blogs was that they were presented as blogs, seemingly trying to take advantage of all the positive publicity blogs have been receiving lately.

    Work has gone into their creation, obviously. This work would have been much better focussed on rolling out the same content using blogging software.

    Then the candidates would be in a position to benefit from the significant search engine boosting that blogging software provides.

    This is a subset of the advice I gave Cllr Michael McGrath (my local FF councillor) in discussions with him during the week about the development of his site. I did this gratis because I believe in the ability of blogs to help politicians (of whatever party) better reach their electorate.

    Tom.

  37. Tom,
    I have looked again at both of the FF sites. I really cannot see how any reasonable person could think they were being presented as “blogs”, as we know them.

    They are just updated HTML pages like the rest of the site.

    I think there must be some significance that they call them “Diary” rather than “blog”.

    As I said earlier, just because FI called them “blogs” does not mean they are.

    Are you confusing FI with FF maybe?

  38. Ah, don’t worry about it Tom. I am sure you must have a lot on your plate. No more than the rest of us. That reminds me, I must go out and feed those pigs.

  39. Good humoured Cassells comment ……..

    4th March – Well, I’ll be Blogged!

    One of my campaign team told me today that my Diary is causing something of a ripple out there in cyberspace. Apparently, a few people who run what are called ‘blogs’ have noticed it. That’s short for ‘weblogs’. As the term suggests, these are personal logs of people, posted on the web, on sites that specialise in hosting blogs. People use them to publish their own thoughts and ideas about all sorts of topics and the big thing about them is that the readers can reply back and carry on a kind of conversation with the blog owner and other readers.

    One of the blogs has a heated discussion about whether this is a ‘diary’ or a ‘blog’. Currently it’s a diary, but who knows, it may become a blog someday! Anyway, it’s good to be noticed and I’m delighted to have all the extra readers of this Diary, even if not all of them have votes in county Meath.

  40. FYI The FF election website disappears as soon as the election is over, *POOF* gone, election pomises and all…!

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