A shared Subjectmatter Expert List of bloggers?

I get emails or calls once or twice a week from journalists and researchers asking for comments or asking me do I know anyone who is willing to comment on x or y or do I know experts on w and q who could help with their article/radio slot. I do my best to help.

Dave Winer recently gave out that journalists are using the same old tried and tested people when doing stories on politics or tech. He considers it an incestuous relationship. One of his solutions is to document who quotes who how often:

a simple project would be to build a network model for who gets quoted by which reporters at which publications

I think that’s a fair point and we get the same here. Remember the days of the Late Late when the same wrinkled faces were on nonstop talking about whatever was topical at the time? In defense of journalists and researchers, most are commissioned to write about certain subjects that they don’t know much about and unless you’re a full-timer in a paper with a specialist area it is quite hard to cover certain subjects within a 6 hour deadline. I feel sorrier for radio researchers who have to go and find panelists on subjects that the current news cycles deems important and making sure that the person won’t freeze up on-air.

Would having a group made shared list of names/bloggers work for both bloggers and journalists? It decreases the same old faces in articles and voices on radio and pays more attention to genuine experts who were not getting coverage up to now due to time restraints of journalists. Is it win win? Or is it just encouraging lazy journalism?

The list would be on a webpage and contain categories of expertise and the names of bloggers and links to their blogs. Being able to read their blog archives would be a way for the researcher to see that the blogger is not a grade 16 cat lady. (Each grade = no. of cats you own.) The table/list would also contain a list of publications or radio shows that the blogger has been quoted in or participated in. Naturally such a list is opt-in and it would not be sending journalists to bloggers who do not want to be contacted.

What are your thoughts on this?

25 Responses to “A shared Subjectmatter Expert List of bloggers?”

  1. Elana says:

    Sounds good to me. Plus, other bloggers can leave names of people who might not have extensive blogs, but are known to be good experts in their own right.

  2. Evert says:

    I think this is a great idea.
    Nothing annoys me more than seeing the same faces regurgitating the same old opinions in the media or at conferences.
    It is time for some new “blood” and this would be a good way to do this.
    You can even include a rating system whereby people get rated by the value of knowledge…


  3. elly parker says:

    It’s a very interesting idea and would work well for discussion on very specific subject matters, bringing the correct expert to the discussion. However I’d think about doing a more general section as well, so that you have a pool of people to call on for any topics that do not fit into your specific list.

    I’m thinking of the whole SMART telecom debacle as an example, you wouldn’t necessarily need a telecoms expert to comment on the issue, someone that was a SMART customer might be sufficient. Therefore if you could push a message out to a list of people who would be happy to give a few soundbites, you could quickly identify a suitable person for that specific situation…

  4. Adam says:

    Yeah, I think it’s a great idea; it would make it easier for journalists to find the relevant voices that they might otherwise have only come across by chance after some googling on Yahoo!(TM).
    With many journalists on tight deadlines, writing about topics they don’t have a personal wealth of knowledge in, they’ll often go to the same people again and again because 1) it takes less time and 2) they can rely on the person’s comments (or at least they feel they can).
    If someone searches for relevant experts online there’s less chance they’ll find the most relevant person, and even if they do they might have trouble getting in contact with them… I wouldn’t say it would encourage lazy journalism, in fact quite the opposite; this way they have no excuse for not going to the relevant people for quotes or for going back to the same ones again and again.

  5. I too think it is a great idea.

  6. Paul says:

    Sounds excellent. Maybe we could use of those online database applications to create the database. (like http://www.wufoo.com/ or http://www.jotform.com/)?

  7. Just thinking off the top of my head, but how about doing it in a distributed form such as OPML – where everyone can manage their own category node? No – maybe that’s too bottom up. Maybe at-least having category admin’s?

  8. Paul says:

    Of course yes, maybe part of Open Irish Directory?

  9. Will says:

    Ah. Generating a rent-a-quote agency.

    Yes it sounds like a good idea, however I will ask about quality control.
    For example I declare myself an expert on “Bob Dylan and womens undergarments” (the combined topic, not Mr Dylan or the silks)…

    Apart from the fact that very few journos will want to talk to me about this… how do you check that a person is indeed a knowledgeable person that should be contacted?

    A tag could parse makes sense.
    Robin Blandford’s also suggestion makes sense except for my silly declaration above.
    In short, how do you check for quality?

  10. Damien says:

    They’d read your blog. If you’re not discussing what you are an expert in then I’m sure they’ll skip you. There’s also third party verification “is he for real?” “No, total chancer” and there’s the fact that they’ll ring you, chat to you and test you that way. The same way they do when they make initial contact with all the other “experts” in their database.

  11. David Doran says:

    Hmm.. sounds interesting anyway.
    Count me in if you’re looking for developers or want to get it off the ground.

  12. CyberScribe says:

    Two words come to mind Reliable sources .
    Funny enough I’ve linked to Wikipedia

    Would the blogger have to be what is termed as a ‘Reliable source’? I’m sure lots of bloggers can give the impression that they know what they’re blogging about and I’m sure some might plagiarize articles online so it’d be easy to contribute and be considered to be an expert in a particular subject. A lot of thought and discussion would need to be carried out before this would start.

  13. Damien says:

    See my comments about peer review.

  14. CyberScribe says:

    ‘If you’re not discussing what you are an expert in then I’m sure they’ll skip you’ then I’d say experts will be missed. I don’t know if there are many Irish bloggers getting paid for blogging, I’m not getting paid for it. Because blogging is just a hobby for me I don’t put too much effort and time into what is posted on my blog. I may however wish to be considered to be on an expert list of bloggers though undoubtedly I’d be missed if the list created was to be so random.

  15. Damien says:

    I may however wish to be considered to be on an expert list of bloggers though undoubtedly I’d be missed if the list created was to be so random.

    How do you expect to be believed or seen as an expert in an area if you have not published anything on it, have not been in the press about it and don’t blog about it? One one think an expert has passion and from what I’ve seen many of the best bloggers are blogging about their passions and expertise. Why do you want to be on a expert list of bloggers if you don’t blog about your expertise?

    If you want to be picked by the press and asked for your expert opinion but are unwillingly to publicise yourself or open your views up to peer review then this list is not going to be of any use to you. I’d suggest hiring a publicist.

  16. If different people maintained OPML nodes and awards.ie or some other touchpoint kept the master list, the peer review process would be very simple because peers would pull names onto their nodes based on peer acknowledgement.

    If OPML listings got the nod, it would be yet another vetting of a very viable and truly elegant mark-up.

  17. Damien says:

    The OPML version is a very interesting idea.

  18. Branedy says:

    You know, I really hate listening to people who think they know it all…

    …it really makes life tough for those of us who do!

    But over all, this is a good Idea, but authentication of the knowledge quality might be an issue, as this is the heart of or being a subject authority.

  19. CyberScribe says:

    What about some of the bloggers @ Slugger? I’m sure Mick would consider them as ‘experts’ but will they ever be quoted
    eg Belfast Gonzo, Fair Deal, Miss Fitz, Bloomsday Girl, Rusty Nail. Most people on the ‘blogosphere’ would know ‘Fair Deal’ as ‘Fair Deal’ but I can’t imagine him/her on a panel on TV as an expert discussing the latest ‘peace deal’ in N.I.
    Maybe they don’t want to open their views up to peer review? It’d be interesting to find out.

  20. Hey Damien,

    Been thinking a little more on it – I’d be keen to work something on this.

    I’m thinking of it this way – A central site that allows everyone to add, in their view their ‘Subject Experts’, as James has done in OPML as I originally suggested, although it doesn’t have to be in OPML.

    From this it would work very like http://share.opml.org/ but categorised or tagged under subject areas. The more people who call you an expert the higher you rank.

    I’m keen to build a beta of this – Any thoughts?

  21. Damien says:

    Work away Robin. I personally am in complete disagreement with everyone having their own list. I don’t think that others should dictate what people are experts in since if people want to be talked to by the press, they want to talk about areas they wish to discuss. It should be opt-in by the “expert”.

    My idea would be for something where someone can submit their name, expertise (perhaps choose from a dropdown of tags or create a new one), include links to a publications or media appearances page as well as to their blog.

    It is meant for quick an easy finding of an expert and reviewing of their expertise. A simple OPML list of blog feeds is useless in my view and correct me if I’m wrong but the likes of Grazr needs java and is not friendly to search engines?

    As for voting, I’d prefer a kind of endorsement: “Expert A has 15 endorsements for this area of expertise.” Kind of like linkedin. If it is voting for them being an expert in an area they don’t choose then I would be against that.

    If people want to go away and create their own directories of people they see as experts that’s fine but now a journalist is going to have dozens of sources, possibly conflicting, telling them who the experts are. That’s back to square -1 in my view.

  22. Evert says:

    Personally I think that Damien is on the right track.
    Put a framework in place, let people list themselves with some references and let people rate them. This will very quickly weed out any “wasters” and hopefully create a valuable reference source..


  23. RandomGrub says:

    In theory this is a great idea – widening the pool of sources used by the mainstream media has to be a good thing. I wouldn’t worry too much about “experts” who aren’t really experts or who are trying to pass themselves off as experts.

    Hacks talk to dozens of “experts” each week and can usually tell pretty quickly if someone knows their stuff or not.

    Endorsements might help but journalists will rely more on instinct, experience and validation through use of established contacts. Most hacks are unlikely to base a story solely on the opinions of one new contact.

  24. Evert says:

    Well, let’s do it then!


  25. […] Damian and Eirepreneur were talking about an expert list of Irish bloggers. It was to be for the benefit of media who were looking for someone with knowledge of a subject. […]