Dear New Yorker, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and others**,
Please stop using the term “web log” to refer to a chronologically-ordered frequently-updated website. The correct term is “weblog”. Furthermore, “blog” is not short for “web log”, it is short for “weblog”.
When dealing with words generated by the Internet, where people stick bits of different words together with reckless abandon, I can understand the need for high-quality newspapers and magazines to use the proper grammatical approach in dealing with compound words, hyphens, etc. At first blush, “weblog” appears to be a shortened version of “web log” which is in turn a shortened version of “World Wide Web log”, in which case the usage the media has adopted would be more or less correct (“Web log” would probably be more correct). But the evidence doesn’t support this:
1. The original spelling of the term is “WebLog” as seen on Jorn Barger’s Robot Wisdom WebLog page from December 1997. It was never “web log”. In subsequent correspondence (like this Usenet post from June 1998), Barger himself referred to his site as a “weblog” and sites like his as “weblogs”.
2. After Barger’s coining of “weblog”, a few early bloggers preferred to use “web log” as an alternative (see Raphael Carter’s Honeyguide Web Log from June 1998) but the majority use was and is “weblog” and the use of “web log” has waned (except for its misuse by the media, of course). A search for “weblog” on Google yields 4,620,000 results. A Google search for “web log” yields 383,000 results. The use of “weblog” is in the majority by an order of magnitude. The impact in the search results for “web log” due to its incorrect usage in the media is unknown.
3. Most of the citations for “weblog” and “blog” in the Oxford English Dictionary Online use “weblog”, not “web log”. The primary exception is the 1999-08-30 issue of TBTF, which appears to be an inadvertant misquotation by TBTF proprietor Keith Dawson. Courtesy of the Internet Archive, the original citation on Peter Merholz’s site reads:
I’ve decided to pronounce the word “weblog” as wee’- blog. Or “blog” for short.
The use of “Web log” in TBTF is clearly wrong:
Seems [Merholz] decided one fine day that “Web log” ought to be pronounced “wee-blog.”
While the “web log” spelling is an acceptable alternative to “weblog”, it’s clear from the available evidence that “web log” was derived from “weblog” (rather than the other way around) and its usage is comparatively minor, both of which naturally point to “weblog” as the primary usage in any newspaper, periodical or dictionary that values accuracy.
** Here are a few recent news articles that have used “web log” instead of “weblog”:
Finding Comfort in Strangers With an Online Diet Journal (NY Times)
Huffington’s prior punditry influences her campaign’s tone (SF Chronicle)
Names & Faces (Washington Post)
Dispute exposes bitter power struggle behind Web logs (news.com)
Google News search for “web log”