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Saturday April 16

The differences between a group blog and an ezine

A group blog and an ezine share many characteristics. They're both collaborative and non-mainstream online publications. Unlike wikis and forums, they both have a given set of authors.

But it is important to make a distinction when attempting to create a brand image. A blog conjurs a different impression in the mind compared to an ezine. And selecting the right term means better investment in branding in terms of domain registration, logo and design.

This article elaborates on the differences between group blogs and ezines.

  1. Editorial control

    Because they were modelled after print magazines, ezines suggest the use of an editorial organisation. A team effort with more formalised channels and collaborative editing rather than a laissez faire group effort as with group blogs.

  2. Delivery

    The wikipedia entry on ezines says that an ezine can be delivered either by email or posted on a website. Whereas a blog is always posted on a site and optionally delivered via RSS. Reed Smith says that ezines are 'pushed' whereas blog content has to 'pull'. In other words, ezines have to have subscribers and blogs don't. But Reed Smith failed to account that ezines have taken as many formats as could be had on limited budgets. PDF files, image files and CD-ROMs have all been exploited for ezine delivery at one time or other. So the argument that a specific delivery method has to be imposed completely loses its logic. And now ezines can reach audiences via RSS too.

  3. Regularity

    A recent discussion in webmasterworld brought up the point that ezines suggest a longer and more regular (weekly, biweekly, monthly) publishing schedule whereas blogs suggest a more ad hoc cycle. In an ezine, all articles prepared for each publication cycle appear together and all at once. Whereas a blog's content appears as and when each author has completed it.

  4. Focus

    Although both group blogs and ezines can be either focused on a specific topic or broadened to cover a variety of topics, the content of a blog is often coloured by personal thoughts and agendas whereas an ezine is guided by an editorial agenda. In other words, the content of a group blog revolves around its authors whereas the content of an e-zine revolves around its topics.

  5. Commercialisation

    Some marketers have suggested that ezines have commercial potential because of their origin as print magazines. However, it is also suggested that ezines have more in common with zines which are non-commercial independent publications. Although blogs came from personal diaries, the commercialisation of blogs is more obvious as advertising, weblogs as businesses and business blogs becomes more common. So as far as commercialisation is concerned, both blogs and ezines have equal potential.

  6. Article quality and length

    The content units of ezines are termed as articles whereas group blogs have posts. Dictionary.com says that articles are literary compositions, suggesting a high quality of writing with longer and more considered texts. This is supported by the ezine's editorial team. A post however is simply a delivered missive with no quality assertions and a suggestion that it is created on-the-fly and is shorter. Blogs are generally regarded to have lesser quality content than an ezine. But some say that because ezines are made by amateurs, most of them suck. The truth is the style and quality of writing is determined more by the quality of the writer than by the delivery of the writing.

  7. Reader feedback

    Blogs are normally built with a commenting feature to allow visitor feedback on each post. Ezines traditionally don't. But on the internet, where the medium is built for interflow of information, it does not make sense for ezines to distance themselves from interactivity. Even traditional zines and magazines have a "letters" section where readers can send in feedback on individual articles. Except on the internet, it can be done in real time and even the readers can feedback to each other.

  8. Time sensitivity

    Blogs, having no review process, are more geared toward providing time-sensitive news. Ezines, having a regulated publication cycle, are less time-sensitive and more geared toward more considered and lengthy articles.

  9. Linear vs complex structure

    Rok Hrastnik notes that blogs provide content in a linear time-sensitive structure. Ezines however can provide content in a more complex mix with multiple types of content with each publication. Some of the examples Hrastnik provides are:

    1. an editorial
    2. a leading article
    3. supporting articles
    4. a news section
    5. a featured client case study
    6. a featured consultant
    7. a Q&A; section

Ezines have not completely disappeared from the internet. But there are a few reasons for their quiet prominence. With the speed of information dissemination and the prevalent need for new information, publications that have less than an instantaneous publication cycle are less desirable by the masses. Second, a search of major script databases turns up that there are no CMSes meant for ezines. No software can cope with an ezine's complex content mix, editorial-team review process and regular issue publication.


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