Spam Volume Reaches the “You Can’t Be Serious” Level

From Wagner’s Weblog via Security Pipeline:
“Recent statistics about the volume of junk e-mail are so astounding as to leave any reasonable person gobsmacked.
A couple of years ago, it seemed astonishing when anti-spam vendors predicted that spam might exceed half of all e-mail. This week, e-mail security vendor FrontBridge said spam tops 93 percent of all e-mail by volume. The spam is driven, in large part, by so-called zombies, or PCs that have been taken over by hackers and turned into spam cannons.”

Why I Don’t Enable Comments on This Blog

I occasionally get questions about my policy of not enabling the comments feature on this blog, although most are bit more polite than the question I’ll discuss below.
One of the difficulties new bloggers have is the sheer number of bloggers who make pronouncements about the “One True Way” to blog. Of course, most of these pronouncements are at wide variance with each other. I enjoy these pronouncements because, if you can look past the self-righteous and condescending tone of some of them, you can get some good suggestions for ways to improve your blog.
In other cases, well, I don’t know quite how to respond. Take this recent example, please:
Dana Blankenhorn’s recent post called “Blogiquette” is so grumpy and judgmental that I wonder if the title is meant to be ironic. In the post, he lists some of his pet blogging peeves, which seem to be considered cardinal violations of blogging etiquette.
One is “ads in feeds,” a topic I’ll address in some detail in the next few days. He’s opposed to ads in feeds and thinks no one should use them. This might surprise those who see the 120 x 600 pixel (!) sponsor ad on his blog. However, I salute anyone with a blog that’s good enough to command sponsor ads.
Here’s the violation of blog etiquette that really got my attention:
No comments. Who are you, God?”
Holy cow, I don’t enable comments. I don’t think I take that approach for Godlike reasons. In fact, I think my approach to blogging is pretty humble.
I guess that “blogiquette” permits this type of blanket criticisms of bloggers who commit this pet peeve. My sense of etiquette is somewhat different.
I’ve never enabled comments on this blog and that was a decision I made before I launched the blog almost two years ago. I’ve explained at various times why I don’t enable commenting on this blog. I’ve also said that I can see doing other blogs where enabling comments might make sense.
That said, let me try to answer the well-mannered question, “Who are you, God?”
Reasons I Don’t Enable Comments on My Blog
1. I know many bloggers who have turned off comments because of comment spam. I don’t even want to fight that battle. I love blogging and I have no desire to give spammers an easy avenue to ruin my enjoyment. I turned off trackbacks recently until I see how the trackback spam issue gets resolved.
2. I’ve always wanted to use this blog as a way to experiment with my writing, to take my writing in some new directions and let it find its own audience. In my case (and maybe only in my case, for all I know), allowing a bunch of comments doesn’t fit with what I want to do with this blog.
3. I’ve never really made comments on anyone else’s blog, except when I couldn’t find the author’s email address. I’ll either send a blogger an email and have a private conversation or, as in this post, use someone’s post as a basis for post that may or may not have much to do with the original post. For example, I can’t see how this post would be appropriate as a comment on Dana Blankenhorn’s blog. It’d put him in a position where he’d need to decide whether to leave this up on his blog. I’m not comfortable with that.
4. People who want to make private comments to me email me. People who want to make public comments make them on their blogs. In each case, they “sign” their comments and take ownership of those comments. Unless I set up registration mechanisms, anonymous comments are possible. I don’t see why I need to provide a stage for someone’s anonymous theatrical performances.
5. I live in an increasingly newsreader-centric world. I rarely visit blogs, so most of the time comments on a blog don’t even reach my radar screen. I’m using a newsreader, after all, to eliminate the need to visit each blog individually. Increasingly, I’m writing my posts with the idea that they will be viewed in a newsreader rather than in a browser by someone visiting a blog.
6. I have a hard enough time following the lines of conversation in the comments to a blog post when I visit a blog, but the feeds for comments I’ve subscribed to from time to time are indecipherable to me. I can’t figure out who’s talking. In my opinion, comments are not a good medium for conversations. But that’s just me.
7. I subscribed to your feed because I wanted to hear what you have to say. I assume that’s why you subscribed to my feed or visit my blog.
8. Finally, the last thing I need is one more silo that holds another set of demands for my responses. I have a hard enough time keeping up with email. A comments area on my blog would be like handling my email in public, only worse because there’s no way I would be able to keep up with it and people would probably criticize me for not doing a good job of managing comments. I admire the people who manage comments well, but that’s not one of my strengths and it’s not what I want to be doing with this blog.
Bottom line: It’s a personal thing.
I don’t suggest that my approach is the way to go or that you should follow my lead. Some people are obviously very critical of my approach and quick to throw insults. However, I think blogging is cool because every blogger does his or her blog in his or her own way. I like that. I try to understand the reasons for and the benefits of the different approaches bloggers take, and don’t presume to think that I have found the one true path of blogging.
Now you have my reasons for the approach I take to comments. I don’t mind whatever you take on your blog. It should be whatever approach works best for you. I just don’t think blogging should be a “one size fits all” thing.

Looking at Law Firm Diversity Statistics and the Stories They Tell

During the 1990s, I spent quite a few years on my firm’s hiring committee. For most of those years, I was on the Steering Committee of the St. Louis Minority Clerkship Program, an effort made to increase diversity in St. Louis law firms by placing minority law students in summer jobs at St. Louis law firms and corporations.
Wendy Werner, then Assistant Dean for Placement at St. Louis University Law School, and Chip Misko, now at Stinson Morrison Hecker in St. Louis, were co-chairs of the committee in a number of those years. At one time, this program was the second-largest program of its kind in the US.
Wendy and I were talking a while back about that program. There were some great young lawyers who went through that program. Some have gone on to do quite well, although almost in every case not with the firm they spent the summer with.
However, when I look at the numbers today, I struggle to see that the effort had any impact on increasing the numbers of minorities in St. Louis law firms. It’s frustrating if you look at the goal of increasing representation in larger St. Louis law firms, but, as I said, many “graduates” of the internship program have gone on to do extremely well.
I grew to believe that retention was the biggest issue, and the answers to the questions about retention do not seem to be easy ones for most firms.
I told Wendy that I’d like to see current statistics just to get a sense of where we were after 10 – 12 years.
Wendy sent me today a link to an article called “Women and Attorneys of Color Continue to Make Only Small Gains at Large Law Firms.”
The article sets out some thought-provoking statistice about diversity issues in law firms. It’s worth remembering in this context that I believe that Georgetown University Law Center either reached or came very close to reaching a 50/50 male/female ratio for law students while I was there in 1980 – 83.
From the article:
“Recent research from NALP reveals that attorneys of color account for 4.32% of the partners in the nation’s major law firms and that women account for 17.06% of the partners in these firms.”
Compare 1993, when “attorneys of color accounted for 2.55% of partners and women accounted for 12.27% of partners.”
As the article notes, “the presence of women comes nowhere near to matching their presence among law school graduates, which has ranged from 40% to almost half since the late 80′s. Similarly, the percentage of minority graduates has doubled, from 10% to 20% during the same time period.”
What struck me about the article is the way the statistics illustrate the retention issue.
“Women attorneys hold 43.36% of associate or staff/senior attorney positions and attorneys of color hold 15.06% of these positions.”
Let me emphasize those numbers:
Women
Associates/staff attorneys 43.36%
Partners 17.06%
Attorneys of Color
Associates/staff attorneys 15.06%
Partners 4.32%
Of course, there are stories, reasons, variations by geography, and special circumstance behind these numbers, but the numbers, at minimum, suggest that something is not working the way it should be. I don’t mean to assess any blame, but I don’t think anyone will think that these numbers are good. We certainly can do better, probably much better.
The current pressures and environments in law firms, especially large law firms, make it unlikely that we will see movement of these numbers in a positive direction soon. Law firms are grinding up male associates and young partners at an alarming rate, too.
However, I hate to throw in the towel. There should be some new and creative ways to deal with these issues. I have a few ideas that I haven’t tried out yet. I know that Wendy has others. Others of you certainly have better ideas than I do. It’s worth making the effort.
If you’ve ever heard me speak on the future of legal technology and the Internet, you know that I like to end with some comments on the role that technology, especially the Internet, can play in both improving diversity and in helping people understand the important role diversity will play in the success of any organization or venture as we move into the 21st century. This topic has moved back on my radar screen for 2005.
How about yours?

Legal Affairs Magazine Offhandedly Insults Practicing Lawyers

I thought that Evan Schaeffer would have picked up on this story by now.
Legal Affairs, apparently an important magazine covering legal issues, is conducting a poll to name the Top 20 Legal Thinkers in America. The list of candidates includes Academics, Judges and Writer/Commentators.
Uh, what about practicing lawyers? I guess my lawyer friends and I don’t count as “thinkers” in the rarefied air found in the halls of Legal Affairs.
Despite my apparent deficiencies as a “thinker,” I have a few thoughts about Legal Affairs magazine and the attitude it embodies. I doubt, however, that Legal Affairs will find them in the top 20 thoughts directed its way in 2004.
It’s great that blogs are going to make publications like Legal Affairs totally irrelevant.

Seconding Tom’s Comments on Copernic Desktop Search 2

Tom “Inter-Alia.Net” Mighell has made positive comments about Copenic Desktop Search, noting especially that the new version 1.2 will index Firefox bookmarks.
I’ve been using both Copernic Desktop Search and Lookout as local hard drive search tools. I’ve slightly preferred Lookout because of its blazing speed, but its indexing does not appear to be as “deep” as Copernic Desktop Search, especially with PDF files.
Version 1.2 of CDS, after limited use, seems to tip the scales in favor of CDS as a local search engine. Lookout’s integration into the Outlook toolbar still makes it my preferred search tool for email messages. Outlook is completely different with Lookout – you will see that your frustration with the “find” tool in Outlook was quite justified.
Microsoft bought Lookout a while back, but I believe you can still download a free copy here.
One warning about Copernic Desktop Search: the indexing can take several hours. While the results are worth the wait, I suggest that you think carefully about indexing for search only the folders where you keep data you want to search for rather than simply indexing your entire hard drive.
I’ll leave the work of experimenting with the Google Desktop to others. That program makes me nervous and, given Google’s track record so far, I’m content to leave the beta testing of privacy and security issues to those who own stock in the company – they are much more comfortable with risk than I am, and they can afford to take more risk.