Wine blogging, what makes it tick, and how we can do it better

That ?s what Tracy Rickman, a graduate student at Auburn University, wants to find out. Her doctoral project is wine blogging: How people choose which blogs they read, whether they trust the blogs, how many blogs they read, and how professional the blogs have to be.

Frankly, this is a wonderful idea, and just the kind of thing we need. As regular visitors here know, the Wine Curmudgeon doesn ?t think much of most wine writing. It ?s too snotty, too parochial, and too self-absorbed. Rickman ?s project may well be the first attempt to actually analyze what is going on in this part of the cyber-ether.

Because, if we know what ?s going on, then we can use that information to get better. For example, if her study shows that people who read wine blogs want clearer, more educational information and less winespeak, maybe we ?ll get the hint and write that way.

I ?m curious about two parts of her research: First, do wine blogs have any credibility with their readers, and which among us are the most credible? Second, do you have to be a professional, either a wine type or a writer, to do a wine blog, or can you be credible if you ?re just someone who likes wine? As I have always said, anyone can write an effective wine review.

Rickman expects to have some preliminary data in a couple of months, and I ?ll check back with her and see what she finds out. What can you do to help? Take her survey. Yes, it ?s a bit complicated and it will take 10 or 15 minutes. And there aren ?t any questions about what wine you like to drink. But this is for a PhD project, and so has to include some technical stuff to assure that the results are legitimate.

Rickman, by the way, told me she loves cheap wine. Enough said.

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