The “Me Quotient” in Criminal Law Blogging

by Jamison Koehler on March 20, 2011

Over at the ABA listserv Solosez, Mirriam Seddiq says that, however much she may write about legal and other issues, her blog entries are really and always just about her. I have always appreciated Seddiq’s candor. As a loyal reader, I also think she’s right. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jeff Gamso says on the same listserv that, apart from a couple words about himself in his very first blog entry, he focuses only on the issues and the law.

So I decided to test this. Using a blogger’s five most recent blog entries as a representative sample, I decided to find out how many times some of my favorite bloggers used the words “I”, “me,” “mine” or “myself” as a percentage of total words. (I initially thought about factoring into the equation the number of times a blogger related a personal experience but that got too complicated.) I chose to try out this very unscientific method on, in addition to the Seddiq and Gamso blogs, Norm Pattis, DA Confidential, Windy Pundit, and Liberty & Justice for Y’all.  I also applied the same test to my own blog.

Going in, I expected Seddiq to be the biggest offender of the “all about me” phenomenon. I assumed Liberty & Justice would be the lowest (sticking strictly to the law, Barnett rarely utters a word about himself), followed by Gamso. And I expected everyone else, including myself, to fall somewhere in between.

I was right about Barnett coming in lowest on the “me quotient.”  In addition to using the fewest words in his five most recent blog entries (1542 words), he referred to himself a mere 12 times.  This means that he had a “me quotient” of 128.5; that is, he used one “me” word for every 128.5 words. Gamso was next with a quotient of 86.64, followed by Pattis (73.20), and then Windy Pundit (67.07).

What surprised me was on the other end. As it turns out, no matter what she says about herself, Seddiq did not come in first with the lowest “me quotient”; that dubious honor belongs to D.A. Confidential.

Of the 6,111 words used by Seddiq over her last 5 entries, she referred to herself 110 times for a “me quotient” of 55.55.  D.A. Confidential referred to himself 60 times over 3,185 words for a quotient of 53.08.  (In fairness to him, I should point out that his sample entries included one in which he described a camping trip he had gone on with his family.  It is pretty hard to avoid talking about yourself in that situation.)

Because, as it turns out, this is really all about me, it was also distressing to learn that I came in a very, very close third to Seddiq.  With my quotient at 55.94, she edged me out by a mere 0.39. And if you add this blog entry — with its “me quotient” a disgraceful 27.36 — into my total, I beat out Seddiq hands down.

It turns out that I am every bit as self-absorbed as Seddiq.  She is just more upfront about it.

7 Comments on “The “Me Quotient” in Criminal Law Blogging

  1. I am surprised mine was so low; I generally write about issues important to me, and often important for highly idiosyncratic reasons, using my blog almost as a diary. This has cost me readers. Thanks as always for your readership.

  2. Norm:

    Some blogs only do the personal; others only the substantive. You combine elements of each, often using a personal anecdote to illustrate a larger substantive issue. (And I like your continuing garden metaphor.)

    As a reader, I prefer some insertion of the blogger into the writing, particularly since I look to blogs for lighter reading: it makes it much more interesting and accessible that way. If I had the energy for more heavy reading, I’d read either an opinion or a law review article. There are certainly enough of them lying on my desk awaiting my attention.

  3. “Dubious distinction?” Screw you, Koehler.

    There are several reasons why “me” or I” appear more often in my blog than the others.

    1. I’m more awesome than all of y’all, and therefore warrant more “I/me” time.

    2. I can’t discuss controversial/topical/political/sexual/interesting issues because I’m not self-employed, therefore I have to talk about things like, well, camping.

    3. The “I /me” in my blog is the Royal “I/me.” It therefore encompasses my minions (that’s you). Very magnanimous of Me, don’t You think?

    4. See no. 1, above.

  4. Hello Mr. Confidential!

    By my calculations, at 86 words and 15 uses of the word “I,” “me,” “mine” or “myself,” your comment comes in at a record-breaking “me quotient” of 5.733.

    I have to say I was bummed to pick a five-entry span in which you eked out a lower quotient than Mirriam Seddiq. My whole purpose in doing the blog entry — at least initially — was to to kid her, not you.

  5. I’ll refer my wife to this post whenever she accuses me of being selfish. As always, thanks for reading Jamison.

  6. Haha, well I’m sure my post today puts me in a solid first place. My blog is my baby. It’s me and really, not much else. As usual, though, I’m glad to be placed with such good company.

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