The Questionable Authority

Goodbye

UPDATE: I have a new blog home!
The Questionable Authority can now be found at Scientopia.

When Pepsigate first erupted, I was extremely unhappy both with that situation and with how Seed had been treating its bloggers. I did not join the large (and still growing) group of departing ScienceBloggers at that time. I’ve invested a great deal of time and effort here, and felt that – despite the credibility that we all lost as a result of Seed’s amazingly idiotic decision to sell Pepsi a blog – there was still a lot of potential for ScienceBlogs to be a force for positive change.

You might have noticed that I just used the past tense quite a bit in that last paragraph.

During our behind the scenes discussions since the Pepsi Explosion, I listed a number of steps that I thought Seed needed to take in order for ScienceBlogs to have a chance at continued viability. So far, they have not shown that they will be able to do any of those things. The headquarters response, or, more accurately, non-response to Bora’s departure yesterday sealed that impression.

I have nothing but respect, admiration, and gratitude for the various community managers and editors that Seed has assigned to ScienceBlogs over the years. They’ve done a stellar job under what can be exceptionally trying circumstances. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no confidence that they will be able to get any more support from their higher-ups than they have been getting. At this point, even with the site melting down around their shoulders, they have not been able to take rapid or decisive action.

ScienceBlogs has meant a lot to me, and it’s been a privilege to be here. I’m not going to be stopping blogging, but time constraints may force a brief delay before I’m able to get up and going at a new site. If I still have access here, I’ll edit this post with a link to the new site when there is one. If not, you can follow me on Twitter (questauthority) and I’ll let you know when and where I’m up again.

Comments

  1. #1 Sandra Porter
    July 20, 2010

    Best wishes Mike! I hope you keep you blogging somewhere.

  2. #2 David Dobbs
    July 20, 2010

    Well done, Mike. Give a shout when you find a new spot, I’ll help spread the word, as will many others.

  3. #3 Bob O'H
    July 20, 2010

    You’re leaving Sb just when it needs a lifeguard to stop it from drowning??!

    I’m looking forward to you getting back to blogging, wherever you end up.

  4. #4 GrrlScientist
    July 20, 2010

    *cry*

    my family for the past six years is flying away to all ends of the earth!

  5. #5 Colugo
    July 20, 2010

    ScienceBlogs has had its moment in the sun. At one time it played a significant role in the evolution of the blogosphere. But that time is over.

    The first blow was the gradual poaching of high profile Sb blogs by Discover. The second was the exodus of several bloggers over internal politics on the private message board. And now this, PepsiGate and the subsequent wave of resignations, and total the strike that includes Sb’s brightest star, PZ.

    So reverentially stick a fork in ScienceBlogs; it’s done. Whether it survives or not, Sb is done as a relevant force in the blogosphere and science-related media in general. I’ll always remember Sb fondly, just like I do Suck.com, Principia Cybernetica, and other internet fossils.

  6. #6 sinned34
    July 20, 2010

    First my World Of Warcraft guild has everyone but five members flee for other guilds, now my favorite Scienceblog bloggers are fleeing for other locales! Woe is me!

  7. #7 JakeS
    July 20, 2010

    One thing that y’all should really, really, really do is get together and organise a response. This leaving in dribs and drabs kills the community, because people will set up shop on different software, different hardware and along different organisational lines (and the last part is the hardest to change). After only a very short while, you’ll be looking at substantial inertia.

    So the absolute first priority if you want to maintain a living community is to get in touch with some of the people you would like to stay in a blog network with, and work out how that’s going to happen. Even before looking for new hardware and software.

    - Jake

  8. #8 Flora
    July 20, 2010

    I really wish everyone would not leave! This site is my “one-stop-shopping” for Science news and commentary and has been for years. Now I will have to hunt you all down wherever you land.

    I agree with Jake – get organized and form a new “pod” somewhere! We will follow.

  9. #9 Art
    July 20, 2010

    What, Bora makes his announcement and then, because Sb hasn’t made some great show of torn clothing and tear filled eyes inside some arbitrary time period your going to huff off in anguished sympathy?

    From everything I read Bora is a great scientist and community leader. But for quite a time now most of his blog output has been quotes, fun but not really content, and stuff related to his other projects a PLoS. He still hit one out of the park occasionally. But based entirely on what I see on Sb I had the impression that his blog on Sb was more a duty than a joy. That he had more than enough to do with PLoS.

    If that is how Sb management saw it I’m not entirely surprised they haven’t made any statement. They likely didn’t want him to leave but out of respect for his internal division they don’t want to make some dramatic play that would keep him divided. Better to let him make his own choice. And if he wants to bow out and use the latest flap as an excuse … well, that is allowed.

    Several of the others leaving seem to be more interested in PLoS projects and have made a good part of their Sb posts PLod announcements. Which is okay but a PLoS announcement isn’t, IMHO, content.

    Hate to see you go, but honestly, given the shortage of time, if you go I won’t follow. Scanning the Sb 24 hour scroll fills the space allowed. That likely won’t change after your gone.

    It has been fun and informative. Best of luck.

  10. #10 Mike Dunford
    July 20, 2010

    @Art:

    Honestly, leaving in a huff of anguished sympathy might be a more charitable description of my departure than I deserve. Rat leaving the sinking ship is a lot more accurate.

    The lack of any response to Bora’s departure was the final straw that sealed the impression I’ve had for some time now that Seed’s senior leadership is hopelessly incompetent and utterly detached from what’s going on around them. As of right now, with PZ on strike and about 1/4 of the blogging force already gone, they’ve hit the point where they’re just about ready to begin negotiating about what shape table they’ll use in the conference room when the Committee on Rearranging Deck Chairs has its first meeting.

    I don’t see staying here as a viable path, in large part because I no longer see any viable path forward for ScienceBlogs as a whole. Last week, I thought there might be a few, but regrettably all of them require leadership that is at least semi-competent.

    Blogging here hasn’t really been fun for a while. I’ve been sticking with it for this long because it seemed to be worth the trouble, but that was when I believed that Sb was a viable enterprise with a future. Absent that, it’s not worth the stress.

  11. #11 TWalker
    July 20, 2010

    Darnit, Mike, we don’t all Twitter. Twit. Whatever. We tweet not. Therefore, how shall we find you?

    *sigh*

  12. #12 Art
    July 20, 2010

    Mike Dunford, thank-you for the thoughtful reply.

    I realize you have no reason to listen to my views but I advise that seeing as that you can easily leave at any later time, and returning or recovering audience is unlikely to be so graceful, that you give PZs efforts at recovery and reform time to work.

    I’m an old fart and my timing is slower by comparison to modern, always connected and wired, thinking of today, but I would let it ride for a week or ten days. IMHO there is no down side to waiting. If the reform/negotiation efforts pay off you get noticed as one of the stouthearted bloggers who hung in there through good times and bad. If not I don’t see as that your going to lose any advantage by delaying.

    I don’t know as it matters, or that people keep track, but it seems to me that if I was setting up a site for science bloggers I would prefer to bring on bloggers who seem likely to stick with me through thick and thin as I hammer out the rough spots and get the hang of running a site. I would lean more toward insensitive bloggers who were slow to give up on my efforts.

  13. #13 harrync
    July 20, 2010

    Fact: if you break up Sb, I probably won’t follow any of you to your new websites. Mostly because I’m just too lazy; Sb provided a great service for people like me. Well, I was spending too much time on the internet anyway; probably for the best.

  14. #14 Jake
    July 21, 2010

    Hello there. My name is Jake Tannin. I am an archaeologist and amateur ornithologist at Drake University. (I am light-skinned.)

    I thought I’d share some information with you. On a recent dig, we found several strange looking bones, some of which resemble mammalian genitalia, as odd as that sounds. I have been looking at them in the university lab but we can’t seem to figure out what they are. They are not avian, that’s for sure. I am still examining them in my spare time (today I didn’t have enough time; I will keep you posted this week).

    I am trying to relate this to the current situation at Science Blogs. When I find bones like these, I marvel at them and wonder what they are. You are now wondering what is going on with Seed management. Sometimes I find these parallels to be pretty interesting, if tenuous: the management here is like an odd find that cannot be deciphered.

    Recently, I was visiting a museum in Vermont when a dark-skinned man approached me and asked me what I thought of the current exhibit (I think it was a display of hominid bones from Asia). I felt taken aback by his typical aggressive style, but I responded. I basically told him that I enjoyed the exhibit and that I might be back, but that it wasn’t my field. I was not being forthright, but I felt threatened.

    So here we stand with a situation at Science Blogs where management is ignoring you and you feel they are lying to you. In this case, YOU are the dark-skinned man wondering what is going on. So I concede that I am similar to Mr. Bly in a number of ways, which I am ashamed of. But I am only making a point, which I hope was not misinterpreted.

    At any rate, I hope you resolve this situation soon. I am new here but I will be reading you wherever you go. Good luck and bless.

  15. #15 ranggaw0636
    July 21, 2010

    goodbye, wherever you go, i hope you won’t stop blogging

  16. #16 tütüne son
    August 2, 2010

    I probably won’t follow any of you to your new websites.

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