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3 Tweeted Takeaways from the Above the Law Blogging Conference

By William Peacock, Esq. on March 19, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Above the Law. They throw quite the party, don't they?

On Friday, I was lucky enough to attend ATL's first ever Attorney @ Blog Conference in New York City, a symposium on everything blawg -- from search engine optimization to tackling trolls.

And, of course, since we're all opinionated lawyers and bloggers, there was plenty of Twitter interaction throughout the day. Here's a sampling of some of the tweets and topics that stuck with me after a long (and fun) St. Patrick's Day weekend:

Google (and Social) Rules

Would you be at all shocked if we were to tell you that Google favors itself, or more specifically, their users?

We didn't think so.

Much of the discussion during the SEO panel was on the benefits of going Google, both in terms of Google Authorship (where your pretty face appears next to your search results) and the search result jolt you'll get from sharing your content on Google+.

SEO, generally, is a game of reverse-engineering Google's secret algorithm, and though, in the past, many have denied that social plays into search results, the ATL panelists, and Moz, both disagree. And while MOZ's study shows correlation, they argue that unlike the correlation between Facebook "likes" and search rankings (which is probably a matter of good content being popular), Google+ juice is actual causation.

Trolls are Probably a Necessary Evil

The trolling panel was, in a word, painful -- at least at first. Each panelist shared samplings of slurs and threats they've received online, including the lowlight of threatened fornication with one panelist's skull.

One panelist, Will Myerhofer, noted that if you're not being trolled, you probably aren't doing your job as a blogger:

So, what do you do about trolls? Another panelist, Jessie Kornberg, formerly of Ms. JD, discussed that site's policy:

Yep, the site's terms of service apparently allow them to "out" anyone who trolls, though we definitely got the impression that it is a rarely-used remedy. If you're not comfortable stripping your users of their anonymity, even the terrible trolls, there's always the option of deleting tweets. And though an urban legend persists that moderating tweets can lead to a loss of Section 230 immunity (website providers can't be held liable for user-provided content), Marc Randazza begged to differ:

We blame that idiotic judge in Kentucky for the confusion.

Engagement is Everything

Why blog? Some blog to fluff up their site's content, some do it to rant, but I've always agreed with panelist Kevin O'Keefe's argument that blogging is all about the conversation.

Find an interesting post. Write a response. And much like your school days, always cite your sources. The back-and-forth, the debate, the discussion, is what blogging is all about. I asked one of the panelists, Staci Zaretsky, if, even with the trolls, she'd still prefer to have a comments section. Her answer? An unqualified yes.

Why? We'd posit that it all comes down to engagement. Comments, response blog posts, and Tweets, even the unintelligent and unintelligible, are all part of the conversation. And what could be more fun for lawyers than inciting debate and discussion?

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