Group blogging can be done in one of two basic ways: Topical or ad hoc. Ad hoc group blogs allow members to post at any time on any subject. Today Nate posts on sugar beets, tomorrow Jim writes about Heidegger, and the next day Kaimi is whining about gender issues. Topical blogs, as the name implies, stick with particular topics for a set period of time. The members agree beforehand that they will all write about faith in week one, repentance in week two, and same-sex marriage in week three.
There are two topical group blogs in the bloggernacle. Both are run by women.
Data, such as it is
First, the data. (Caveat: Yes, Frank, I know that this sample size is beyond microscopic. It’s quite possible that anything I’m observing here is mere coincidence. I’m not saying that this data is particularly probative, just that it may raise interesting questions).
The universe of LDS group blogs is a little fuzzy. What constitutes an LDS group blog, anyway? We’ll say, for purposes of this post, that it’s a blog composed of three or more permanent members regularly writing on LDS issues. Also, what constitutes a female-run blog? We’ll say that over 50% of the membership of the blog must be female.
The universe of female-run group blogs is (I believe): Feminist Mormon Housewives, Conversation, Various Stages, and Mommy Wars.
Two of the four — Conversation and Various Stages — are topical.
The universe of non-female-run group blogs includes Times and Seasons, BCC, Millennial Star, Bloggernacle Times, Approaching Zion, Unofficial Manifesto, Nine Moons, United Bretheren, and Birds Eye View. (Am I missing any? Probably).
None of the non-female-dominated blogs is topical.
So there you have it, the data, such as it is. Topical blogging is prevalent among female-run LDS group blogs, and non-existent among non-female-run group blogs.
Analysis, mixed with a healthy dose of speculation
Now let’s discuss the point a little. If the data shows us something, then the question that comes to mind is, why would female LDS group bloggers prefer topical blogging?
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Perhaps the difference comes out of broad female/male character differences. An argument can be made that women are more inclined towards topical blogging (either because of socialized gender differences, or inherent gender differences). Under this view, LDS women may be more interested in the sort of multi-post dialogue and feedback that comes out of topical blogging. They may be less interested in preserving their own ability as a blogger to blog about any topic under the sun whenever fancy strikes them. And they may be less interested in the sort of “look-at-me” topical competitiveness that ad hoc blogging assumes — that is, when I post about priesthood leadership after Nate’s post on sugar beets, I am in essence challenging him, saying “priesthood leadership is a more interesting subject than sugar beets.”
As noted, these differences, if they exist, may be innate or may be caused by socialization, or may be the product of some combination of the two. That is, you can interpret this prong in as gender-essentialist a manner, or as non-gender-essentialist a manner, as you’d like.
2. Perhaps the difference comes out of the culture of book clubbing as an acceptable forum for dialogue among LDS women. Topical group blogs share a lot of the same look and feel as a book club. For whatever reason (and what reason is it, I wonder?), book clubs have become a fashionable and (apparently) doctrinally acceptable forum in which LDS women can meet together and share ideas. So perhaps the appearance of topical group blogs merely reflects the book-club mentality which LDS women have been trained to have. (Or, if you want to be gender essentialist about it, the book-club culture may itself stem from innate differences in women’s thinking, which differences are reflected in topical group blogging as well).
3. Perhaps it’s all a coincidence.
4. I’m probably missing other plausible reasons. Perhaps our readers can suggest other reasons, and/or point out things that I’m missing or getting wrong in my own analysis.