Refer Madness

A few years ago, when blogs were new, James Lileks wrote about an experience after his domain's registration expired. He learned about it by accident, while surfing the links at

Anyway, there’s a message on Instapundit telling me my site cannot be found. This is a bit like picking up the New York Times and reading a headline that says JAMES, YOU LEFT YOUR KEYS AT STARBUCKS.

I was reminded of this tonight, when Joshua Schwimmer emailed his new colleagues at Medgadget to let us know about the National Library of Medicine's guidelines for internet citations. Someone at the NLM has helpfully provided some examples for formally citing blogs. They include:

3. Blog with optional full names for authors/editors

Ostrovsky, Michael; Genes, Nicholas; Odell, Timothy; Ostrovsky, Gene, editors. medGadget [blog on the Internet]. El Granada (CA): Medgadget LLC. [2004 Dec] - [cited 2007 May 16]. Available from:

11. Blog title with upper/lowercase letters, special characters

Genes N. blogborygmi: a digest of developments in the life of an emergency medicine resident [Internet]. [place unknown]: Nicholas Genes. [2003 Jun] - [cited 2007 May 16]. Available from:

There are others -- Matthew Holt, Kevin Pho, Kim from Emergiblog, Amy Tenderich, Sid Schwab, Jacob Reider, Thomas Boyle from Code Blue Blog, the aforementioned Joshua Schwimmer, and more -- all make the list (there are many, many ways to cite blogs).

To borrow from Lileks, it's a bit like thumbing through Strunk and White, and seeing the notes you used to pass to classmates held up as the paragon of good grammar.

The flip side of that is, in just a few years, blogs have gone from nerdy novelty to stuffy institution. At least I can take comfort in knowing someone at the NLM reads the same blogs I do.