A Blog Around The Clock

It is with great regret that I am writing this. Scienceblogs.com has been a big part of my life for four years now and it is hard to say good bye.

Everything that follows is my own personal thinking and may not apply to other people, including other bloggers on this platform. The new contact information is at the end of the post, but please come back up here and read the whole thing – why I feel like I must leave now.

Sb beginnings

Scienceblogs.com started back in January 2006. On that day, several of my favourite science bloggers moved to this new site, posting the URL on their farewell posts on their old blogs. I took one look at the homepage – which at the time was a simple, black-on-white version of the current Last 24 Hours page – and said to myself: this is where I want to be. My instant feeling was that whoever does not get on this site will bite the dust – become invisible in the shadow of the network. I e-mailed several of the original 14 bloggers with a simple question: “How do I get on?” They all assured me that the site will add more bloggers and that my name is already ‘in the hat’. In June of that year, I was one of the 20+ bloggers in the “second wave” of migrants to Scienceblogs.com.

How the move to Sb changed my blogging

You can hide on your own little Blogspot blog. You cannot hide on a network. My first instinctive and unconscious change, something I only became of aware later, was that I changed the way I made factual statements in my posts. What does that mean?

I started thoroughly fact-checking the statements before posting instead of learning the hard way that readers will do it for you.

Of course, I started (in 2003/4) in political blogging where much is a matter of opinion, stakes are high, tempers are short, speed of blogging is important, and stating things confidently and even ferociously is important as a persuasion method. If I have heard some useful factoid somewhere, I would often boldly claim it as true without checking first.

But then I gradually switched to blogging about science. This is the domain of verifiable facts. The goal is education, not so much political action. I wrote about my area of expertise, and I wrote in a way that built on that expertise and made it accessible to the lay public. I wrote about things I knew a lot about and was very familiar with the literature. So I referenced, cited and linked to a lot of supporting documents – peer-reviewed scientific papers.

When I moved to Scienceblogs, I doubled up on that effort, even when writing on other topics. Sometimes I wrote purposefully provocative posts, stating extreme positions and playing Devil’s advocate. Such posts were written as mind experiments, or as “let’s see how far the blind following of the logic can take us, even if it sounds crazy” and I hoped that nobody would mistake them for my real positions. But I tried not to make statements of fact if I was not sure they were actually facts. I became a better blogger. My place here requires I be trusted. For that, I needed to trust myself first.

Getting invited to blog here is an honor, and the only correct response is to blog with maximal integrity, even during online fights and kerfuffles that alight in every corner of the blogosphere, including the science blogosphere, with predictable regularity. Every single blogger on scienceblogs.com, even those who I may disagree with 99% of the time, blogs here with strong personal integrity (yes, human beings sometimes make mistakes, but they correct them once the onslaught dies down and it is possible to do it without losing face). And that is one of the greatest strengths of this network – just wander around the Web randomly for a while and you’ll see some interesting contrasts to this.

How getting hired by PLoS changed my blogging

Most of you probably know that I got the job with PLoS in the comments section of my blog. It is the support for my application for the role at PLoS voiced by my commenters that sealed the deal in the eyes of PLoS. Would I have that kind of support if I was not on Scienceblogs.com?

As an Online Community Manager at PLoS, I try to model myself and learn from the experiences of people like Robert Scoble, one of the first “corporate bloggers” (and everyone who thinks there is anything new or wrong with being paid to blog, should read Say Everything by Scott Rosenberg, a definitive history of blogging which will open your eyes). I have been a supporter (and promoter) of Open Access model of scientific publishing well before I got this job and I often blogged about PLoS papers because I – and everyone esle – have access to them. PLoS is a fabulous organization to work for. Its goals match my own. And I love all the individual people working there. Working with them is a blast, and I am proud of it. It is unfortunate that, in this economic situation (and my own personal economic situation), I can only work there part-time.

I assume that many of my readers are also interested in Open Access and may also be interested in what PLoS does. So, I blog (and tweet, etc,) about news from PLoS. As I see which new papers are coming out in PLoS ONE (and other PLoS journals) a couple of days in advance, I pick those that catch my attention, that I personally find interesting, and post links to them here once they are published. Nobody at PLoS has ever asked me to blog (or not blog) anything work-related on my own individual blog (that is what everyONE blog is for). I do it because I am genuinely excited about some of the papers, or am proud of what the PLoS team at the HQ has accomplished – new functionalities or benchmarks, etc. Like everyone else, I am promoting a cause I believe in, and I am blogging what I want and like.

One of the things that changed in my blogging comes from self-awareness that I am an online public face of PLoS. I need to behave in ways that are appropriate for this role. Thus I try to avoid (as much as that is possible) getting into big online fights and I am more careful about my use of language, especially profanity. The fact that I am much less likely today to blog on very controversial topics reflects much more my own tiredness of such topics and the endless flame-wars and troll-hunting that always follow such posts. It gets really boring after a while. I just don’t have much appetite and energy for that any more (if you think battling Creationists is nasty, try debating nationalists of various stripes from the Balkans on Usenet during the wars there – those people WOULD really kill you if they could physically get at you). I want my blog to be a positive force (while fully understanding that would be impossible if others were not doing the dirty trench warfare at the same time, providing the environment in which a positive blog can exist) and I want it to be a creative place, an informative place, and a peaceful and welcoming place for everyone interested in science and in science communication. And for my Mom. Hi, Mom!

So, while this is supposed to be my individual blog, I think of it as such, and it is seen by others as such, it is impossible to completely separate the personal from the professional. I am one of the lucky few for whom life and work are perfectly integrated – I do what I love, with great support (emotional and financial) from my wife. One of the things I am is a promoter of Open Access and PLoS, so this part of my persona is bound to find its way onto my personal blog – it would be self-censorship NOT to allow that stuff onto my blog.

Metcalf’s Law, or why are we here at scienceblogs.com

It appears that many commenters during the recent l’affair Pepsi did not understand the difference between blogging on Scienceblogs.com and blogging independently on Blogspot or WordPress. It is not so much about the direct traffic. It is not so much about payment (I earned through Blogads, back on my old blog in 2006, the same amount as I am getting here today). It is the ‘network effect’.

Let’s say I keep blogging my usual stuff day after day. I get some regular readers, some people coming from searches, some people coming from external links, etc. I also get a lot of traffic from other blogs here, from the homepage, Last24H page, from the various widgets (e.g., Reader’s Choice, Editor’s Choice, top page banner), multiple kinds of RSS feeds (e.g., Select Feed), etc. But if I have to say something really important, something that may require action, or something that many people need to know, or an important question that I may ask, there is a group of people that I can rely on much more than just my usual daily readership – the SciBlings (the name given to my fellow bloggers on Scienceblogs.com). I know they will pick up an item, link to it on their own blogs, and dramatically increase my reach for that one particular item. I don’t need to beg, or e-mail anyone, this happens spontaneously by the virtue of me being piece. Remember that still very few people read blogs through RSS feeds – they come via searches and links. These days, some of those links are posted by my SciBlings also in other places like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook. Then others, outside the network, start linking to it and blogging/tweeting about it, spreading my message far and wide. This is something that would be much more difficult on an independent blog. This is what I call “indirect traffic” – a potential instant reach that I get just by virtue of being on this network.

This kind of network effect resulted in an explosive rise in the online reputation and ranking of Scienceblogs.com. Technorati does not count Sb as a single entity (it used to), but ranks each blog independently. The most high-trafficked blog here, Pharyngula, is ranked at number 68 today. The 68th most influential blog in the world right now. Even if Pharyngula accounts for as much as half of the traffic here (I think it is at around 40%…OK, just checked, it is 42.15%) and half of the number of incoming links to the site, the site as a whole is probably up around top 30th of all the blogs in the world. That is serious visibility and influence for all of us.

All that interlinking between us, as well as links from outside, result in all of us having Google Ranks of about 6 or 7. That is huge. Much of my traffic comes from searches (of course – I have more than 10,000 posts on many topics, some very long, using many different words and phrases). If I click to see a particularly interesting set of search keywords that brought someone to my blog, I discover that my blog is one of the top ten hits for that search string. And studies have shown that most people only check the top ten results when they do a search.

Furthermore, such a significant rise in traffic and rank of scienceblogs.com resulted in all sorts of other deals. Choice posts of ours are linked from the New York Times science page. Likewise with the National Geographic site. Our blogs are sold on Amazon.com for Kindle. And the site is indexed not just in Google but also on Google News.

This means not only that each one of us gets more direct traffic, and more potential indirect traffic from our SciBlings due to being on the network, but also an even larger and more powerful indirect traffic and visibility outside of the network. We are being closely watched, both by thousands of other bloggers and by the mainstream media. Whenever Scienceblogs.com explodes with a story, MSM takes note. It is not by chance that some of the first reactions to the Pepsi scandal, even faster than on individual’s blogs, appeared in places like The Guardian and the Columbia Journalism Review. As Jay Rosen and Dave Winer noted in their weekly podcast, the distance between us at Sb and the global media is very small. We are not just a loose collection of individuals blogging just for fun any more.

That is huge power. I keep mentioning this power every now and then (see this, this, this and this for good examples) because it is real. Sustained and relentless blogging by many SciBlings (and then many other bloggers who followed our lead) played a large role in the eventual release of ‘Tripoli Six’, the Bulgarian medical team imprisoned in Libya. Sustained blogging by SciBlings (and others who first saw it here) played a large part in educating the U.S.Senate about the importance of passing the NIH open access bill with its language intact. Blogging by SciBlings uncovered a number of different wrongdoings in ways that forced the powers-that-be to rectify them. Blogging by SciBlings brings in a lot of money every October to the DonorsChoose action. Sustained blogging by SciBlings forced SEED to remove the offending Pepsi blog within 36 hours. And if a bunch of SciBlings attack a person who did something very wrong, that person will have to spend years trying to get Google to show something a little bit more positive in top 100 hits when one googles their name (which is why I try to bite my tongue and sleep over it when I feel the temptation to go after a person). The power of the networks of individuals affects many aspects of the society, including the media.

With great power comes great responsibility, and I am not sure that all of my SciBlings are aware of the extent of this power. A Scienceblog is not a personal diary or a hobby any more.

Scienceblogs.com is Media

Scienceblogs.com has always been the project of the Seed Media Group, thus at least a self-designated media organization. But since the moment our blogs got indexed in Google News we de facto became writers for a media organization. I am not sure some of my SciBlings really understood the importance of that day and how that changed who we are and what we do.

Most of us here do not consider ourselves to be journalists or even have goals of wanting to become journalists. A few of us are. And a few of us are not sure what we are any more. But by virtue of being searchable on Google News we are journalists, whether we want it or not.

Do we write news? Some of us sometimes do. But videos, cartoons, quotes, linkfests, etc. are considered not not to be News only if one adopts a very narrow and traditional sense of the term – reporting on an event that just happened. If you open a newspaper, you will see much more than News in that sense – there are obituaries, comic strips, classifieds, horoscopes, quotes, photos, poems, crossword puzzles….all of that is News in a sense that most consumers of news think: News is what comes in the Media.

I think it is much more productive to think of media in a different way. Media is a means to disseminate and exchange information. Some of that information is important, some is informative, some is entertaining, some is educational, some is aesthetic, some is comic, some is analytic, some is opinionated, some is relevant to many people, some is relevant to just a handful, and yes, some of it may actually report on “what event just happened”. Some of it is distributed by legacy media companies, some is distributed by individuals to each other.

We here at Scienceblogs, by virtue of moving from our individual blogs to the network, have largely left the realm of “distributed by individuals to each other”. We are the Media. Which means we need to be aware of it, and behave accordingly. This does not mean we have to change anything about our blogging. After all, we were picked and hired in the hope we would continue to do exactly what we were doing with our blogs before the move to Sb. But the same picture of a cat posted on WordPress just for fun, as a hobby, becomes News once posted on Scienceblogs.com. Gotta keep that in mind at all times.

We have built an enormous reputation, and we need to keep guarding it every single day. Which is why the blurring of lines between us who are hired and paid to write (due to our own qualities and expertise which we earned), and those who are paying to have their material published here is deeply unethical. Scientists and journalists share some common ethical principles: transparency, authenticity and truth-telling. These ethical principles were breached. This ruins our reputation, undermines our work, and makes it more unpalatable for good blogger to consider joining Sb in the future. See also Jennifer’s post on this issue for a clear-headed take.

Seed is not in magazine business any more

Seed Media Group was founded in order to publish Seed Magazine. And it was a very nice magazine, glossy, lush, filled with awesome visualizations. Some articles were awesome, others a little flakier, but nothing nearly as bad as some other (don’t make me name it again) popular science magazines managed to publish under their own banners. I liked Seed Magazine. My kids liked it. It was a cool, modern and novel way to design a pop-sci publication.

In a happier time, before the meltdown of the media industry and then a general meltdown of the economy, Seed Magazine would have survived. But it was not meant to be. About a year ago, the last issue of Seed Magazine appeared on the newsstands. Its brand was not big enough, with enough longevity and reader loyalty, for any other corporation to step in and buy it out. It’s gone.

But if you think you are in the magazine business, if you think that your main product is a magazine, and if you have an office full of writers, editors and graphic designers, what do you do? You retain the mindset of a magazine publisher. Instead of rethinking the mission of the organization as a whole, Seed was only rethinking how to repackage Seed Magazine. They did not let the magazine die. They moved it online instead, retaining most or all of the editorial and writing staff. As Jay Rosen likes to quip about Washington Post, “the print guys won”. The print mindset won.

Yet, at the same time, Seed had a bunch of “side-projects”, including some cool visualization stuff and yes, Scienceblogs.com. Some of those projects, including the magazine itself, fell by the wayside. But Scienceblogs.com was going from strength to strength:

Looking at the graph (I know, PageRank measures one thing, other services measure it differently, but the take-home message is the same), it is obvious that the main product of the Seed Media Group is Scienceblogs.com.

One could argue that traffic is not the proper measure, but I cannot think of a better one. If it was a scientific journal, having a middling traffic would not be so bad if other metrics, e.g., citations, media coverage, incoming links, proportion of visits that result in a PDF download, etc., are high. But there is no such thing to measure for a magazine. Impact of an article in a magazine is measured only by traffic, and traffic is also an important metric for advertisers.

What used to be a fun side-project, Scienceblogs, became the centerpiece. Or so you’d think. But remember that the print guys won. Seed never realized that they were not in the magazine business any more. It is telling that some commenters during last week’s fiasco said they never heard of Seed Magazine until now (I had not heard of it before I moved to Scienceblogs either). It is squirreled away on its obscure website, with miniature traffic, no brand recognition, not even much linking from Scienceblogs.com to it to drive at least some traffic there. We do not hear about new articles there to help promote them (except when Dave Munger writes one and tweets the link). If we are not aware that there are new articles in the magazine, how are others going to be?

Several months ago (in the wake of a loss of a couple of our top bloggers) I suggested they move the magazine onto Scienceblogs as an “editor’s blog” and let us pitch stories for it and use the existence of in-house editors to make our stories more polished than a usual blog post. It did not happen.

What Seed Media Group is doing right now is trying to run a magazine, while treating Scienceblogs.com as a source of revenue. What Seed Media Group should be doing, what every media group should be doing, is become a tech-oriented company (one of the reasons PLoS is successful is that it is essentially a technology-rich publishing company, with an incredible and visionary IT/Web team working with the editorial team in driving innovation). Instead of trying to produce content in-house, which is expensive (all those salaries!), Seed should realize that they already have 80 (now more like 60 and getting smaller every day) producers of content. Barely paid producers of content. I know, it is really hard to fire all those wonderful people – but keeping them can just speed up the end-point so everyone ends up jobless in the end. If Seed Media Group (SMG) has money for employing twenty people, fifteen of those should be tech folks, driving innovation, serving Scienceblogs.com, making it bigger, better, more powerful.

Everything at Seed should be set up to be in service of Scienceblogs: administrators, legal staff, editors, and most importantly a large, powerful, innovative technical staff. The experiment was run, the results are in, scienceblogs.com was shown to be a successful endeavor, and the rest of the experiments, magazine included, were failures and need to be thrown out and forgotten. I guess that many people in the office are emotionally invested in the magazine, but tough luck – the thing is a corpse. Mourn for a while, and move on.

Who gets to be on Scienceblogs.com?

A couple of years ago I heard the statistic that Seed got an average of seven applications per day to blog here. That is thousands of bloggers over the years to date!

The network had a succession of several excellent Community Managers who made decisions on who to invite next. As the site grew and changed, their visions also changed, which determined what kinds of blogs they were looking for. Sometimes, they would accept a new blog, and let us know about it only about a day in advance. But in most cases they consulted with us. They would ask us to recommend who we thought were the best bloggers in a particular area, e.g., technology, infoscience, art, food, chemistry, etc., whatever they thought we lacked and needed more of at any particular time. And they would usually consider our recommendations and invite bloggers we respected. There were even times when we ganged up on them and relentlessly lobbied for a particular blogger to get invited and they would have to agree eventually.

Not everybody who was invited said yes, either, but most did. And over the years there was a natural cycle – as new blogs got added, some of the older ones shut down or left. Often life and work interfered and people decided they could not continue blogging any more. Or just got tired of blogging. Some felt too much pressure to blog more frequently than they were comfortable with. Some bloggers fused their blogs into a single multi-author blog. Some invited co-bloggers to help. Some got better-paying gigs elsewhere. Some left due to personal conflicts with other bloggers. And now several have left due to the damaged reputation of the network that started with a sale of a blogging spot to a corporate entity.

And more are leaving, and will be leaving, due to “Bion’s effect“:

“You are at a party, and you get bored. You say “This isn’t doing it for me anymore. I’d rather be someplace else. I’d rather be home asleep. The people I wanted to talk to aren’t here.” Whatever. The party fails to meet some threshold of interest. And then a really remarkable thing happens: You don’t leave. You make a decision “I don’t like this.” If you were in a bookstore and you said “I’m done,” you’d walk out. If you were in a coffee shop and said “This is boring,” you’d walk out.

You’re sitting at a party, you decide “I don’t like this; I don’t want to be here.” And then you don’t leave. That kind of social stickiness is what Bion is talking about.

And then, another really remarkable thing happens. Twenty minutes later, one person stands up and gets their coat, and what happens? Suddenly everyone is getting their coats on, all at the same time. Which means that everyone had decided that the party was not for them, and no one had done anything about it, until finally this triggering event let the air out of the group, and everyone kind of felt okay about leaving.

This effect is so steady it’s sometimes called the paradox of groups. It’s obvious that there are no groups without members. But what’s less obvious is that there are no members without a group. Because what would you be a member of?”

Yes, suddenly everyone is getting their coats on, all at the same time. This party is not as fun as it once was. Time to go.

Scienceblogs.com – The Good

Four years is eternity on the Web. But try to think back to early 2006 and understand how revolutionary that concept was at the time: grabbing a bunch of already popular bloggers, putting them all on the same site, paying them a little bit, and giving them complete editorial freedom. Anything goes! The editorial hand is in the initial choice of bloggers. Once you choose the people whose work you like, just let them lose.

The existence of Scienceblogs.com as a one-stop shopping place for all things science resulted in the high visibility of science and of science blogging and spurred the explosive growth of the science blogosphere. In 2006, I could read every post by every science blogger in the world. Today, there are thousands out there that I don’t even know about. And there are many other media companies who tried to emulate Seed and build their own networks, with, to be generous, mixed success so far.

The Seed motto, “Science Is Culture”, also contributed to opening science for the lay audience. Many of our readers are not scientists. The stereotypical image of scientists as socially inept recluses who speak in incomprehensible lingo was dispelled.

In many ways my feeling that “who is not here will bite the dust” was not realized. Instead of building an isolated elitist community, we felt the responsibility to be generous, to constantly look for, seek out, link to and promote bloggers who are not on the network. Instead of acting as “we are elite bloggers producing elite content”, we acted as “we are elite filters, finding and choosing the best content on the Web and showcasing it to everybody”.

Thus, much of what we did as SciBlings had, as a goal, the building of the science blogging community that is much broader than just our own internal network community. Nobody got rich from, and many put a lot of work into, the Open Laboratory anthologies which not only showcase the best of science blogging to the audience outside of the Web, but also promote new and upcoming bloggers outside the network. The ScienceOnline conferences (now a full-time job to organize, but still done for free on our own time) also contribute to a similar effort to get people on and off networks together. The DonorsChoose action every year brings us all together, as well as many other such actions. Scienceblogs.com was definitely a key player in the emergence and building of the science blogging community.

Scienceblogs.com – The Bad

The network has evolved over time. The initial offering was composed of bloggers who were already popular – they brought their readership with them. They just happened to be mostly bloggers – and this is probably why they were popular in the first place – whose blogging covered those aspects of “science is culture” that are quite controversial, from beating up on pseudoscience and medical quackery, to the relationship between science and religion, to the politics and politicization of science. This made for quite a lively discourse on the network, bringing up discussion topics that were important to have yet were considered taboo before. This did not sit well with all of the audience, many still squeamish about breaking of such cultural taboos (especially bold defenses of atheism), and the network got somewhat of a bad reputation in some circles, as a hotbed of godless, pinko-commie, liberal whateverwhatever people. That reputation, even during the most recent period when only about five out of 80 bloggers focused much on politics and/or religion, seems to persist.

Since the continuous additions of popular bloggers did not add many new readers and traffic (they were all already reading here anyway), and as the erroneous perception which Sb-haters promulgated that “there is no science on scienceblogs.com” needed to be countered, Seed invited many bloggers who never touch controversial topics and only blog about science. They also invited a couple of bloggers who are openly religious and a couple of conservatives. More recently, several bloggers who joined were reputable science writers and journalists. A new idea was to try and pick up some very new and not-yet-established bloggers, especially very young ones with talent, and bring them here and help them grow.

But none of this helped dispel the nefarious myths about Sb being an atheism network. In this effort to dilute politico-religious content with science content, Sb grew, in my opinion, too big. I think 80-something blogs with 90+ bloggers is too big. Internal rifts and formation of cliques was inevitable in such a large group, which led to some hidden and some very public fights, and resulted in some of our prominent bloggers leaving in a huff. This did not look good from the outside, I’m sure. And it did not work well for the bloggers’ morale either.

The chronic inability of the Seed management to communicate to and with bloggers did not help either (I feel the Overlords who tried to represent our interests were sidelined in the Seed newsroom). As a result, there is not much loyalty to the Seed brand. We are here for the network effect and traffic (and even the little money we get is important grocery money for some of us, including me), not because we are in love with Seed.

This is not about Pepsi

Two weeks ago, as most of you probably know, Seed started a new blog on Scienceblogs.com. It was to be not just sponsored, but authored by people from PepsiCo, a continuation of their Food Frontiers blog (go take a look). It was to be hosted, I believe, for three months, for a fee that PepsiCo would pay Seed (out of which, I guess, we bloggers would also get paid, perhaps even get up to date on payments – I just got my April check).

We have hosted a few corporate-sponsored blogs before, but the main bloggers on them were either independent journalists or some of our own bloggers. Those blogs were introduced to us in the backchannels in advance, we were consulted, changes were made as needed, and some of us still protested on our blogs or wrote posts that are quite damning to those corporations, their shady corporate behavior, and their products.

It is not well known – at least I did not see anyone mention it – that Seed tried to hire an outside freelance science journalist to host the Pepsi blog. Apparently, they could not find anyone. So, when the date came when they promised Pepsi they would start, they launched the blog without an independent host, with just Pepsi employees blogging. Huge mistake! They should have quickly asked some of us to pitch in that role, but instead they did not even tell us about it – the appearance of the blog was a total surprise to us all. Orac was the first one to spot it on the Last24Hour page and alerted the rest of us. Understandably, we all went berserk (and if you think our anger was strongly worded on our blogs, can you imagine what it looked like in the backchannels!?). This is a flagrant breach of the wall between content and advertising. A huge no-no in any kind of media. We are Media and this was the (un)ethical straw that broke the camel’s back.

Greg Laden was not the first one to think of it, but explained it the best the other day how the blog could have been made much more palatable to us and readers, if Seed just thought to ask us (even if that meant a delay of a couple of days before launching) to blog there. We have many bloggers here who could have contributed their expertise on various aspects of food. We have bloggers who could write with authority on obesity from physiological, medical, public health and sociological perspectives, on the chemistry of food, on poisons, on neuroscience of appetite, on nutrition, on raising one’s own food, on evolution of food plants and domesticated animals, on endangered seafood, on the economics and politics of the food industry, on useless dietary supplements, on the reason why a piece of bread always falls on the buttered side, how to desecrate crackers, and even how to roast a zebra and share it with locals in Africa. Not to mention pie recipes! That could have been fun and informative. And if Pepsi scientists contributed as themselves, not as frontmen for the company, their perspective would have been interesting as well.

Instead, we got an infomercial posing as one of us.

It is completely irrelevant that it was Pepsi.

It is completely irrelevant that it was about food.

It is completely irrelevant that they never got to post anything on the blog before it was removed under the storm of criticism by us, readers and the media.

It is completely irrelevant if their content was going to be good or bad.

What is relevant is that a corporation paid to have a seat at the table with us. And that Seed made that happen.

What is relevant is that this event severely undermined the reputation of all of us. Who can trust anything we say in the future?

Even if you already know me and trust me, can people arriving here by random searches trust me? Once they look around the site and see that Pepsi has a blog here, why would they believe I am not exactly the same, some kind of shill for some kind of industry?

Even if you know me and trust me, would you be able to trust any new addition to the network? All those thousands of bloggers who applied to Sb and did not get invited to join? What are they all thinking now about someone paying to blog here? Do you think anyone will ever apply again?

Is Scienceblogs reputation permanently damaged?

In the wake of the Pepsi scandal, other things started coming to light. Things like this and this and this and this, all adding up to the realization that Seed is not what it makes out itself to be. So yes, I think the reputation of Seed is permanently damaged. The quick reversal, under pressure, and removal of the Pepsi blog is not enough.

Will it survive? I don’t know. Probably it will, but smaller (this also depends on the biggest-traffic bloggers remaining). But the scienceblogs.com stable is shrinking rapidly, and I do not see it growing in size or reputation again any time soon. Without it – the only profitable enterprise in the SMG – I am not sure the company can survive. We won many big races, but our racing career is now over, and we should retire to some pleasure riding in the meadows now (not ready for the slaughterhouse yet, not me).

Where will bloggers go?

Some of the most prominent bloggers who have left – or will leave – can quite easily go solo. Since 2006, the Web ecosystem has evolved and now has mechanisms, including social networking sites, that can keep an already popular site from fading into oblivion by going solo. One’s blog is now only one part of one’s online presence.

Others have been approached or will be approached (as soon as they make their leaving Sb official) by many other existing or incipient newtorks out there. Field Of Science is a new network, GenomesUnzipped is a new group-blog for people interested in genomics, All Geo may try to collect geobloggers, and Southern Fried Science new network may accumulate more ocean bloggers. Panda’s Thumb offered evolution bloggers defecting from Scienceblogs.com to post there (I am not sure how to think about the division by topic – does it mean that general science networks can never attract a geoblogger and an ocean blogger any more?).

SciBlogs NZ is a wonderful network, but limited by geography to New Zealand bloggers only. There are German Scienceblogs and Scienceblogs Brazil (in Portuguese). There is a growing North Carolina group science blog.

Ira Flatow offered to host bloggers on Science Friday. And so did Wired UK (and US?) and apparently The Guardian as well. Scientific American is bound to jump into the fray, picking up defecting SciBlings. National Geographic has a blog network – I guess they are watching these developments as well. These media-run blogs/networks may well be changing their technological architecture as we speak in order to absorb multiple new bloggers they are trying to attract.

Blogging on Huffington Post is an instant loss of credibility – a day of a Pepsi blog is nothing compared to years of pseudoscience, medical quackery, Creationism and Deepak Chopra’s posts there. Nobody in their right mind would want to be associated with such a cesspit of anti-science.

There are awesome blog/news networks for students of science journalism at NYU (Scienceline) and their counterparts in the UK, mainly at City University (Elements).

Nature Network whose target audience are primarily scientists rather than lay public, and Science 2.0 (formerly Scientificblogging.org, not to be confused with the similarly named but very new and interesting Science 2.0 network that does more than just blogging) seem to be pretty open and approachable and have nice internal communities, but are essentially invisible from the outside. Likewise for Discovery Networks Blogs. The Psychology Today blogs is a very big network, but they do not seem to have anything like a community, and seem to be pretty unselective as to who they accept. I have heard of at least three new networks still in the making.

But going to any of these is potentially a step down and a big loss of visibility and traffic. The only network that has recently started to come close to the clout of Scienceblogs.com is Discover blogs, but they have a specific type of blogger in mind and do not appear to have an appetite at this point to suddenly invite dozens of new bloggers – they seem to be building the network as a small, but highly elite place for people with some existing journalistic and professional writer cred. Definitely ones to watch!

New scienceblogging ecosystem

The potential step down and loss of visibility by leaving Sb may be an illusion. It makes sense in the existing ecosystem in which Scienceblogs.com is The Borg and everyone else is biting the dust. But the ecosystem is changing. Scienceblogs.com is rapidly losing reputation and bleeding bloggers. A number of other networks are absorbing these bloggers and adding more, growing in size and visibility very rapidly. Very soon – and I mean SOON as in weeks – instead of one big place to watch, there will be two dozen medium-sized places to watch. Instead of one site that everyone reads, there will be a number of sites that will have to read each other instead. Networks that get too large will be viewed, perhaps, with suspicion they are not selective enough. Networks that are too small will get lost and invisible in such a crowded ecosystem. The trick is to find the Goldilocks solution – just the right size.

Many science bloggers are personal friends, and many are also heavy users of social networks like Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook, so the ties will remain. The popularity of blog carnivals may come back up, at least temporarily, due to their well-established effect of building and maintaining the community. ResearchBlogging.org, apart from building respect for science bloggers in the outside world, is also beginning to serve as a center of the blogging community (and I hope it survives, funded by Seed or, if that becomes impossible at some point in the future, by whoever else can be lured to do so).

Instead of one big network, there will be a network of networks. Nobody can afford now to ignore or be ignored by others. I bet we will see aggregators springing up that link to all the networks, perhaps networks will carry each other’s RSS Feed widgets on sidebars to facilitate cross-linking and traffic between networks, and thus raise visibility of all. And the legacy media will have to adjust to the new ecosystem as well, and instead of just watching Scienceblogs.com, find a way to monitor all of the networks at the same time.

When science blogosphere was young, existence of Scienceblogs.com was a boon – it lifted all the boats with it, made both the science and the science blogging visible and prominent. Today, having only one overgrown site so visible is toxic – it takes the oxygen out of the system, and makes the other networks and independent bloggers invisible. With the current process of Sb being cut to size, and concomitant process of other networks growing in size, visibility and relevance (as well as brand new networks springing up), we are reaching a point where being on Sb is not the pinnacle of one’s potential science blogging career – it is one of many places where it is good to be.

Many who are, for now, deciding to stay on Sb, are doing so because they are terrified of becoming invisible by going solo. But in the new emerging ecosystem, going solo is not necessarily going to mean invisibility. People who go solo will still be a part of the community – yes, the same science blogging community that Scienceblogs.com was a key to building in the first place.

Going solo also makes one “fair game”. Other networks will not approach Sciblings who are not officially leaving as they do not want to tread on Adam Bly’s territory or be seen as poaching. But they will approach people who go solo. And they will also approach independent bloggers who were never on a network before – because those bloggers are really good and have been left out so far, because there are not enough Sb defectors to build sufficiently large networks just out of them, and because they do not want the perception that they are growing and building networks entirely on the ashes of Seed.

A growing number of networks and growing visibility of all the networks, also means that bloggers will have many choices. Seed is not the only game in town any more. Some networks pay bloggers, others don’t. Some have advertising, some don’t. Some have posting frequency requirements, others don’t. Some are run by for-profit organizations, others by non-profits, and others are bloggers’ cooperatives. Some have complete editorial freedom, some have limited restrictions. Some have excellent tech support, some lousy or none at all. Some are smaller and highly selective as to who they invite, others are big and also accept bloggers who are not really up to par. Thus, each blogger has a range of choices and the ability to choose according to what each individual finds important for their own goals. And those bloggers who think of this as a hobby and do not want to be seen as Media, can easily go solo and remain connected to the ecosystem in a variety of ways.

What will I do?

My first impulse when Pepsi blog suddenly and surprisingly showed up on the homepage was to bail out immediately.

But I decided instead to take some time to think and decide. My wife also told me to wait and watch the events unfold instead of saying anything myself. Wise.

Not saying anything publicly also made me open to others – I was approached by many with questions, fears, confusions, and their own plans. I have heard a whole lot from various people – who is courting them, where they are going to go, what new networks are being secretly built, etc. which gives me a pretty good lay of the land. I have a pretty good grasp of what is going on out there, I think (though I can be surprised, I’m sure). Most people are quite secretive about their plans, and I will NOT reveal anything that anybody told me until they themselves go public, but I am also not ready to completely reveal my own plans just yet.

After agonizing for almost two weeks, I finally made a decision. I will leave Scienceblogs.com, effective today.

I am not making this decision lightly. A number of factors played a part in this. On one hand there are negative factors – the loss of reputation by Sb, the complete lack of technical support here, the deflated morale of bloggers here, and the indications that all the recent changes at Seed are not a sign of losing the print mindset, which makes it unlikely that meaningful changes will happen. There is also a feeling that SMG is financially a sinking ship. On the other hand are positive factors – I am excited by the swift evolution of the new science blogging ecosystem and want to position myself well within it. I feel that this is also an opportunity to make something better once the dust settles. But the main reason I am leaving is the ethical breach that has seriously placed our reputation in jeopardy.

Unlike some others, I have nothing personal against Adam Bly. We have met once and he seems to be a really nice guy. We loved going to the New York City meetups in the early years and meeting with him there and being hosted at his house. He has interesting ideas and I think his goals are quite in sync with my own – increasing the prominence and relevance of science in our society. I just think that he is consulting with (and sometimes hiring) people with the old legacy media mindset, getting outdated ideas from them, and not being aware how the world has changed even in the past four years and how those changes require a much more dramatic change in direction.

I also want to acknowledge how much being on Scienceblogs.com has meant to me both personally and professionally. This is where I got my job, many other gigs, invitations to give talks, preview copies of books, and a general prominence and reputation in the worlds of science, publishing and the Web. Without Scienceblogs.com, there probably would never be Open Laboratory and ScienceOnline. I have made many fast friends here, both SciBlings and readers, and I am optimistic that these friendships will continue, wherever any one of us end up blogging.

Though many other solutions are possible for me, I have decided that I want to be solo for a little while – I want to see who approaches me and with what kinds of offers. Perhaps something great comes out of it. With my wife on disability leave our finances are shot, and I need to find a way to get paid for all the things I do so I can support my family. And even if no good offers come about, at least when I make up (and announce) my final decision, I will be sure I had all the necessary information I need to make the best decision for myself.

So, farewell, Scienceblogs, it was honor to be a part of this community for so long.

You can find me, in the meantime, at http://coturnix.wordpress.com/. I will continue blogging at everyONE blog and Science in the Triangle blog as well. And you can follow me on Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook, so you will know when I make other moves in the future.

Comments

  1. #1 EMJ
    July 19, 2010

    I know what a tough decision this was for you my friend. I greatly appreciate the time and consideration you put into your decision. ScienceBlogs has carried your stamp for as long as I’ve been reading (well on three years now). I know you didn’t make this decision lightly because you know full well how much of an impact your leaving will have on what’s left of Sb’s reputation. It’s very sad that it had to come to this. Seed could have listened earlier and they wouldn’t have had to face the crisis they’re faced with now. I look forward to the excellent work you will be contributing in the future and thank you for everything you did as part of this network.

  2. #2 Maryn
    July 19, 2010

    Beautifully argued. You have my support.

  3. #3 Scicurious
    July 19, 2010

    It’s the end of an era. I almost can’t believe it. Bora, I feel like you really defined in a way what SB was to me. I know you will find a place, and your being there will help make it great. You da blogfather. :)

  4. #4 Ed Yong
    July 19, 2010

    You know, I was joking to some people the other day that the reason why you’d been cryptically silent on the Pepsigate issue is that it was taking you 1.5 weeks to write your response. I now see I was right ;-)

    More seriously, this is an absolutely storming history of science blogging and I love your analysis of the new ecosystem. And importantly, it leaves me hopeful and optimistic. Pepsigate may have been a sad affair, but I think it’s helped to demonstrate how far blogging has come as a communications channel. Exciting times ahead…

  5. #5 David Dobbs
    July 19, 2010

    Nicely done, and this look at the changes both at SB and in science blogging in general is highly valuable. I’m changing my RSS now I can read coturnix at wordpress.

  6. #6 Christina Pikas
    July 19, 2010

    I am… heartbroken. But I wish you fair winds and following seas.

  7. #7 Dave Munger
    July 19, 2010

    You’ve given us all a lot to think about, Bora. What a blow to ScienceBlogs. I’m glad to hear you’ll still be blogging, though. I’ll still be reading you!

  8. #8 Abel Pharmboy
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, I consider you a tremendous science communication mentor and a dear friend. This analysis of the science blogging landscape, its progression, and relationship with the legacy media is unparalleled.

    I wish you and your family nothing but the best – I hope that the offers are fast, furious, and financially satisfying, especially now. A wise, forward-thinking entity will not hesitate to procure your talent, connections, and spirit.

    Be well and thank you for all that you have shared with me.

  9. #9 Regis
    July 19, 2010

    Sorry to see you go. What I like best about Science Blogs is the Last 24 Hrs button. I’ve hit it 2-3 times a day almost every day since discovering it.

  10. #10 Isis the Scientist
    July 19, 2010

    Wow. Bora’s gone. Thank you for being an incredible blog mentor to me, my friend. I look forward to following you wherever you finally end up.

  11. #11 KJHaxton
    July 19, 2010

    I think I’m in shock, and yet at the same time not surprised that this day has come. Thank you for so many years of quality blogging (and all the wonderful peripheral activities like science online, and the open laboratory), and I look forward to enjoying more in the new place.
    You really are da blogfather!

  12. #12 Podblack
    July 19, 2010

    There’s been a few things that have led me to near tears today – this was one of them. Sorry to read this all, sorry that it ends – happy that you have made a choice that is right for you. Thank you for all the reads.

  13. #13 DrugMonkey
    July 19, 2010

    It is my informed opinion that with this post, Bora should now be the hottest property around for those media entities that really want to build a *network* of science blogs. Anyone can blog. Anyone can bring traffic. Bora. knows. science. blog. networking. and. collectives.

    Just sayin’

  14. #14 David Wescott
    July 19, 2010

    This sucks. But I’ll be reading your stuff wherever it is.

    dw

  15. #15 Anton Zuiker
    July 19, 2010

    Echoing comments above, this was a tour-de-force post about the evolution of science blogging. As a close friend of Bora’s, I’ve seen firsthand the sheer energy and focus and determination he’s applied to his blog, his network, his friends, his community and his family. I continue to be amazed by his output and his insight and his intelligence. Bora will be great on his own, but Abel’s right – Bora is a hot commodity, and the organization that snaps him up will be the smart one.

  16. #16 Lab Rat
    July 19, 2010

    This was such a sad wonderful post. I’m so glad I can continue following what you write and link too on Twitter as you always post really useful and relevant stuff.

    SciCurious is right; you ARE the Blogfather and scienceblogs or no scienceblogs you will remain so :)

    (and thanks for promoting field of science, it’s a lovely little network to belong to)

  17. #17 Anne Jefferson
    July 19, 2010

    Incredible post, Bora, the sort of analysis we all counted on you to produce. I wish you the best of luck going forward, and I hope to see you write a follow up post 4 years from now, happy in a stable blogging home, talking about the continued evolution of the blogging ecosystem. I think good things lie ahead for all of us.

  18. #18 AmoebaMike
    July 19, 2010

    Your description of everyone wanting to leave the party, but no one daring to take action is spot on.

    No one else covers the science blogosphere like you.

    I’m going to be happy to continue following you, whether you stay at WordPress or move to another network.

  19. #19 WIll
    July 19, 2010

    good for you.

  20. #20 Danica
    July 19, 2010

    Lovely post Bora, I’ve enjoyed reading it. I’m sorry to hear about the changes in Seed science blogging ecosystem, but things and people do change over time: if you can recall, there were non ethic actions in science (blogging) also in Balkans as well (in 2006 when I was asked to shut down the first Serbian science blog).
    This is much larger issue indeed, and I support your decision and appreciate your efforts, passion and energy you put in this blog in the last four years.
    I am not worried about your faithful readers and the science blogs audience – they will find all of you. Just please do not let that science meetings and networking, both in analogue and virtual space, disappear (esp. relevant ScienceOnline conference).

  21. #21 PalMD
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, that post was brilliant for so many reasons, i’m speechless.

  22. #22 Cuttlefish
    July 19, 2010

    Hey, when you find a spot–and you will–I have just one tiny little request:

    Hire me.

    Posts like this are the reason people want to be associated with you.

  23. #23 The Science Pundit
    July 19, 2010

    Bora,

    Good luck in your new digs (wherever you may go). Rest assured that I’ll be reading you there just as I read you before you came to Scienceblogs.

    ~Javier

  24. #24 Glendon Mellow
    July 19, 2010

    Holy monkey. You didn’t just make an exit, you wrote the definitive primer on the history science blogging. “Chapter 1: Bora’s exit post”

    I’m totally enthralled and excited to see what you do next and continue to do Bora. Excuse me, I have to update a link now…

  25. #25 Zuska
    July 19, 2010

    Seconding the sadness, end of era comments, also the optimism for the future. And what DrugMonkey said: Yes. Absolutely.

  26. #26 Sam W
    July 19, 2010

    Nice post. I’m glad to read an analysis not only of the pepsi affair but also of previous changes in the blogging system, that is not clouded by emotions as much as by insight. I changed by RSS and will follow, exciting times ahead.

  27. #27 Carl Zimmer
    July 19, 2010

    Just let me know where you’re writing, and I’ll follow.

  28. #28 Brian K
    July 19, 2010

    Great post Bora. Very happy to see an insightful analysis of the whole situation. I can’t say I’ve read a more detailed and level headed analysis of the topic.

    I’m not sure I completely agree with you on your assumption that leaving Sb would dilute your impact. I think you will find that your readers and colleagues will follow you wherever you end up. You’ve built up a enough social capitol to sustain that. Although you left LabSpaces out of your list of possible refuges, The door is still open to you, and at the very least I’d like to talk to you about what you think a fledgling science site can do to attract a wider audience.

    Good luck to you wherever you stick your roots in the end.

  29. #29 Stephanie Z
    July 19, 2010

    I’d tell you I’ll miss you, but you know I won’t let that happen. And while you’re settling your future, you’ve given me plenty to think about, as usual.

  30. #30 Anna
    July 19, 2010

    Best of luck, Bora. I am coming with you wherever you go!

  31. #31 CitizenWill
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, 4 years already? I remember the day you got the nod – seems ‘net centuries ago.

    Fantastic post underlining two interesting concepts – one old and one new.

    The new one? You are your own ‘brand’, your integrity is integral to its success, the network is the ecosystem, the ‘net is fertile enough now that you don’t need to herd together to achieve that networking value.

    The old one? Something you well know from your own personal life – sometimes the strongest vote you can make is with your feet. Walking away, given what you laid out so well in your post, not only protects your ‘brand’ (integrity) but also opens up new territories for your free expression (more rant, less thought???).

    I look forward to following you wherever you choose to make your stand.

  32. #32 Saboma
    July 19, 2010

    You rock, kiddo! And if I may add, don’t forget to take the masthead with you to A Blog Around The Clock at WordPress. The masthead not only rocks, it’s design is so you!

    Just saying.

  33. #33 Kevin Z
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, you are awesome in countless ways. I’m not saying goodbye, because there is no goodbye in the blogosphere, just changing URLs!

    I hope your financial situation improves rapidly. It is a shame someone with your dedication, vision and talents hasn’t been acquired for a stable exciting position somewhere! It does not reflect poorly on you, but on the potential employers out there for not being in the know enough to hire you!

    Anyways, the usual stuff, RSS feeds updated, links updated, new home retweeted, etc. ;)

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    July 19, 2010

    No matter how far away you go on the Internet, you are only one URL away.

  35. #35 HP
    July 19, 2010

    Nobody in their right mind would want to be associated with such a cesspit of anti-science.

    …and after all the nice things that Eric Michael Johnson has said about you. ;)

    Add me to the long of people who:

    - were anxious to hear what you had to say.

    - are sad to see you go.

    - are delighted to update their feed reader to your new digs.

  36. #36 Eva
    July 19, 2010

    Hey Bora, good luck with the site move and changes. And please don’t ever actually die or stop blogging entirely, because I am not sure the intertubes can handle that if this is already getting people so worked up!

  37. #37 Sharon Astyk
    July 19, 2010

    I think you are, as others have said, spot on about the shape of the blogging world, and I certainly hope this is good for you. For my own sake, I’m sorry you are leaving, though!

    Sharon

  38. #38 Molly Keener
    July 19, 2010

    Thank you…for this history, for your integrity, for years of challenging me with your posts. I will follow you forward, wherever that may be.

  39. #39 Stacy
    July 19, 2010

    You always have my support Bora! My students and I adore you and we’ll always follow you no matter where you end up.

  40. #40 Mike the Mad Biologist
    July 19, 2010

    Bora,

    Great post, and thanks for helping me over the years.

  41. #41 Brian Switek
    July 19, 2010

    This is a fantastic post, Bora – it should be required reading for anyone who is or wants to be a science blogger. As others have said (here, on Twitter, and no doubt elsewhere) this post if a wonderful history of science blogging and it underscores the rapidly changing ways we talk about science.

    On a more personal note, if it were not for you, I would have never come as far as I have with science writing. You were one of my first supporters, and certainly one of the most enthusiastic. Your responses to my writing helped make me realize that what I was doing was something worthwhile and to be taken seriously, and though you are leaving Sb I am glad to know that you are going to keep serving as an inspiration to the science blogging community.

  42. #42 Comrade PhysioProf
    July 19, 2010

    Dude, this is an absofuckinglutely brilliant and visionary historical document. People will read this two years from now and say, “Wow! How the fuck did he know exactly what was gonna happen!?”

  43. #43 Lisa R.
    July 19, 2010

    You’re amazingly insightful, Bora. I won’t be surprised at all if the future of scienceblogging is exactly as you’ve described it. Definitely will be following you wherever you go!

  44. #44 Ginny
    July 19, 2010

    Wow, what an amazing history here. Will of course be following you on your new blog! All the best to you and Catharine (and kiddos!).

  45. #45 Art
    July 19, 2010

    If Sb doesn’t fit your predilections or goals in mission or size moving on makes sense.

    But to flee because they let in a blog you fail to appreciate is the moral equivalent of pulling up stakes because a drug dealer moves into your neighborhood. Yes, you could leave. It is the easiest thing to do. Or you could work on reforming the drug dealer or, failing that, work on moving them out. If something is good you stick around and fight for it. There are few enough good structures and institutions in life that I don’t think anyone can afford to abandon them without a concerted effort to defend them.

    IMO the whole reputation thing doesn’t wash. It is far too meta and symbolic to matter. Sb is analogous to the street in the neighborhood. It brings people to the houses, individual blogs. But I come to SB, the street because most of the blogs are smart and interesting and informative. But long before Pepsico showed up there were blogs that I seldom read and care little about. Just not my cup of tea, too little information, a failure to accept a nominal pedagogic role turn me off.

    Point being that I value each blog within Sb separately. Other than a shared emphasis in science, logic and reality based thinking there is no actual common reputation to besmirch. And certainly any potential or actual ethical lapse by Sb management on who they allow to set up housekeeping doesn’t attach to the blogs. Sb is not perfect. I don’t know anything touched by people that is. As always, working with people is a matter of bringing their best forward, helping them grow, and working around their faults. Why would Sb be any different?

    But you make your own calls. It was fun.

  46. #46 Sally
    July 19, 2010

    Great post, Bora. Switched the RSS over and Bob’s your Uncle.

    Long live Coturnix and BoraZ!

    That is all.

  47. #47 Sarah
    July 19, 2010

    This is the first post of yours I’ve read, and I’d just like to applaud you for articulating the issues so well. For many of us, myself included, blogs are just a way of passing the time, somewhere on a scale between watching Mad Men and checking Facebook updates. To see people such as yourself, who deeply care about blogs and want to see them grow and evolve- it’s encouraging, and gives me hope for the entire movement.

  48. #48 Joerg
    July 19, 2010

    Thanks for the long post and the concisive insight. This finally presents a complete and understandable picture. Go and shape the future of science blogging!

  49. #49 arvind
    July 19, 2010

    Glendon Mellow at comment # 24 said exactly everything I wanted to say. You didn’t just leave, but wrote the definitive “Chapter 1: The Early Years” on the history of the science blogosphere in the process.

    I really strongly hope that you find a very financially viable alternative venue that would pay you what your writing is truly worth. [Y'know, now that you're a free agent and everything :-)]

  50. #50 "Shecky Riemann"
    July 19, 2010

    For your interests, goals, and type of writing I think you’ve made the right long-term decision Bora. Best wishes ahead… and this should all make for an especially interesting ScienceOnline 2011!

  51. #51 Misha
    July 19, 2010

    At the risk of hyperbole, this is just about the best post ever. You are not only a gifted prosodist, but an incredibly thoughtful human being–indeed, a mensch. I wish you the best and hope to see you again soon.

  52. #52 Liz
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, you’ve done so much to build the science blogging community – from your pioneering work on ScienceOnline and Open Laboratory to your daily posts showing the rest of us how much amazing content is out there, just waiting to be analyzed and discussed. You’re an inspiration.

    I’m sure you’ll be just as much of a mainstay and a treasure wherever you end up, but I’ll miss seeing you here at Sb. Best of luck.

  53. #53 John S. Wilkins
    July 19, 2010

    All the best, Bora. I know how hard this must be for you, and I will of course link to you t your new digs.

  54. #54 Ashutosh
    July 19, 2010

    Hi Bora, fabulous post. I have seen very few bloggers during the time that I have been blogging who have such rock-solid integrity and candid common sense. I hope you find a new home soon and I will look forward to reading your posts there (Hope you remember me…we met at Lindau last year and now I blog at Field Of Science). Best wishes- Ashutosh

  55. #55 Catharine
    July 19, 2010

    Absolutely stunning, breathtaking farewell post my love. I am so proud of you, lucky to be your life-partner and co-parent, and grateful for the ongoing mind-blowing discussions we have and the many, many warm and fascinating people (Sciblings and others) that I have met through you. I guess we got lucky as far as arranged marriages go.

    I think that this post is the most personal public text that you have ever written. Your entire life and character are in it — your honesty, tremendous integrity, commitment, ethical standards, talent for bringing together a community, enthusiasm, super-human intelligence, vision and creativity, (and if one knows you, your humor), not to mention as Drug and others have noted, the fact that you are entirely smokin’ hot — it’s all in there.

    It’s difficult to make a living as a visionary. After all, the kinds of things you are doing do not exist as “work” yet. I just hope to gawd that somebody out there reading this not only appreciates your efforts, but is willing to provide a living-wage in order for you to be able to continue your life’s work.

    And thank you for blowing my mind every day. You make life so sweet.

  56. #56 Martin Fenner
    July 19, 2010

    Thank you for this wonderful farewell post. A lot of food for thought for everybody who is serious about science blogging. And very relevant also if you don’t blog at scienceblogs.com, but on other blogging networks or on your own.

  57. #57 BLugger
    July 19, 2010

    I felt like walking step by step on your side through time and now to your decision. You are and will stay one of the top Sciblings. Now it’s time for a new definition for Sciblings or well not really. Science blogging stars might still be named Sciblings. Bora on any platform for sure.

  58. #58 Daniel Brown
    July 19, 2010

    Truly superb post as always, Bora.

    I’m actually pretty excited to see what kinds of networks and entities arise in this aftermath. I have every confidence that you will continue to be a big part of the science blogging community, regardless of its form or web address.

  59. #59 david winter
    July 19, 2010

    Hey Bora,

    What a fantastic review of the history of science blogging. I’m one of the old guys, way back when technorati was the cool new thing and The Tangled Bank had about 25 entries a fortnight (imagine a carnival for all science blogging today!) I wrote Science and Sensibility . For some reason I remember very early on in the history of Science and Politics the trouble you ran into when trying to include a photo because the href pointed to a folder on your computer and not somwhere on the net!

    You’ve come a little way with this new media stuff since then ;) Anyway, thought it was an auspicious time for one of the old hands to thank for all the work you’ve done to help shape science blogging and help science bloggers think about what we do.

    Cheers, and good luck with whatever is next

  60. #60 Jackie
    July 19, 2010

    You’re off to bigger and better things!

    Congrats!

    Stop by ElementList.com some time or find me at Propagating Waves (http://blogs.nature.com/ud725242a/).

  61. #61 Mary
    July 19, 2010

    You spend all that time trying to make yourself sound conscientious about the truth and credible and then you write: “In the wake of the Pepsi scandal, other things started coming to light. Things like this and this and this and this, all adding up to the realization that Seed is not what it makes out itself to be.”

    You’ve got four “this” links to all the awful things that ScienceBlogs has done, and the first three go to the same exact event. The fourth goes to something else. “All adding up” to two, not four, like you imply in your text. I hope you do better in your next home!

  62. #62 razib
    July 19, 2010

    i hope this shakes things up for real. there are some great bloggers left on this domain, and i do hope the best for them. how many shots across the bow are necessary before the ship gets hit and goes down?

  63. #63 ema
    July 19, 2010

    On to bigger and better things!

  64. #64 Neuroscience News
    July 19, 2010

    I’ve never commented before, but I am a long time reader.

    Reading scientific input from such brilliant minds as yours influenced me greatly when deciding on a new direction for NeuroscienceNews.com.

    Finding neuroscience articles to post daily used to be quite a chore before scientific blogging took off years ago. Very few news sources focused on neuroscience news that would be important to scientists deep into neuroscience research.

    Science blogging really helped relieve that problem as great researchers started to post more specific posts relating to their experiences and concerns in the subfields of neuroscience. I was able to witness nearly daily the impact that such science bloggers had on the internet coverage of news.

    I hope you have a loyal migration of readers to your new home.

    I wish you the best of luck and thank you and all of the other dedicated science bloggers for changing the face of science news on the internet.

  65. #65 Mary
    July 19, 2010

    @63 — sorry I miscounted! It’s three, not two. But it’s still not four!

  66. #66 afarensis, FCD
    July 19, 2010

    I don’t know what Seed is going to do without you. You know more about blogging and community building that almost anyone I can think of.

  67. #67 Joe Fatzen
    July 19, 2010

    Am I the only one who found all the number-quoting rather wry and ironic considering the recent Reddit revalation?

    http://blog.reddit.com/2010/07/experts-misunderestimate-our-traffic.html

  68. #68 Makita
    July 19, 2010

    Bora,
    You probably know (or maybe you don’t, it must be hard to keep up), I’ve been here with you since day 1. And I’ll follow you wherever you go. I didn’t read your blog because it was on Scienceblogs. I read your blog, because it was educational and fun, and I’m sure it’ll remain so, no matter where you take it.

  69. #69 doctorgoo
    July 19, 2010

    Wherever the writer of the Squat Toilet post goes… I shall follow.

    http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2007/03/how_to_use_a_squat_toilet.php

    I still laugh when I think about these damn toilets! 5555

  70. #70 Eli
    July 19, 2010

    I’m here because Jay Rosen told me (and many thousands of others) to read this. This is indeed a fantastic, thoughtful, critical post. But I do have a question about this:

    Blogging on Huffington Post is an instant loss of credibility – a day of a Pepsi blog is nothing compared to years of pseudoscience, medical quackery, Creationism and Deepak Chopra’s posts there. Nobody in their right mind would want to be associated with such a cesspit of anti-science.

    I admit to being one of those people who remember tiny bits from high school biology, practically nothing from chemistry, never took physics and am extremely mathphobic (although I have a bit of exposure to statistics). Most of the science that I am exposed to comes from mainstream news sources: physical print, television and online, and one of my online sources is the Huffington Post. If the Huffington Post is a cesspool of anti-science … isn’t that just the space that needs a well-grounded science writer who can communicate scientific concepts and analysis to a layperson audience basking in ‘the cesspool’? Not that such a person must be you, but it sounds as if any science writer/blogger who attempts to write for HuffPo will be automatically castigated by others in the science writing/blogging community, which to me seems to be a shame …

  71. #71 razib
    July 19, 2010

    eli, huffpo reedits pro-science commentary if it is too strident:

    http://scienceblogs.com/primatediaries/2010/07/huffington_post_is_afraid_of_c.php

  72. #72 ranggaw0636
    July 19, 2010

    goodbye, i really love your quote of the day

  73. #73 Sean Carroll
    July 19, 2010

    Must have been an agonizing decision, Bora. Good luck with your move, I’m sure it will be for the best.

  74. #74 bioephemera
    July 19, 2010

    What drugmonkey said. You’re one of a kind, Bora.

  75. #75 harrync
    July 19, 2010

    Science Blog makes it easy to find a lot of interesting blogs, both science and political. I don’t have the inclination to run around the internet looking for blogs – none is indispensable. Some blogs I usually read have left Sb. I have not looked for any of them. I won’t be looking for you either. Maybe I’d look for PZ or Ed. Good news is if Sb folds, I’ll have a lot more free time.

  76. #76 Rose
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, you’ve been an inspiration over the years and I look forward to following your WordPress blog. Here’s to following your gut when it’s time to move on.

  77. #77 milkriverblog
    July 19, 2010

    my blogging career has been highly influenced by you, dating back many many years. all my best to you and wishes for an even better future.

    tony g

  78. #78 Pierce R. Butler
    July 19, 2010

    Damnit, I’m running out of ways to say farewell to exiting ScienceBlog-gers.

    Thanks for this post and many others, and please accept my hopes to see your name on the covers of award-winning chronobiology books… soon!

  79. #79 Pam Ronald
    July 19, 2010

    Bora, thanks for this incredibly informative post- the best so far on pepsigate and the most detailed history of science blogs. Your blog has been the most community oriented and kind. You were the first to welcome me and make me feel at home here. I will follow you to your next place and read on.

  80. #80 Barn Owl
    July 19, 2010

    You’ve been at the forefront of so many aspects of science blogging and social media, Bora, and no doubt you’ll continue to be an innovator and a mentor. Your chronobiology posts, interviews, and food blogging are so excellent and entertaining, and I look forward to reading much more of your writing in the future.

    You and the Coturnix family are very welcome here for a visit any time, and there are always several horses to ride, if you ever want to dabble in equestrian pursuits again.

  81. #81 cfeagans
    July 20, 2010

    “You can’t stop the signal!” –Mr. Universe

    You write it. We’ll all read it, Bora. Wherever it is.

  82. #82 Sandra Porter
    July 20, 2010

    Wow, Bora, I’m in a state of shock. You’re the heart and soul of the community and even if your reasons are eloquently spoken, I still feel so sad (at least speaking for myself). I’m glad you’re going to keep blogging somewhere.

    Take care and fare well!

  83. #83 Peter McGrath
    July 20, 2010

    A bril, mature farewell to Sb Bora. You will be missed by Science blogs but not by us, because we will just click on over to your new home.

  84. #84 Joerg Kurt Wegner
    July 20, 2010

    The key of networks is that they are changeable, if the were not, we would call them ‘bricks’ instead, and being a brick is as bad as ignoring or being ignored. I simply love some of your quotes and rationals and might use them now and then, and I will link to your new main web location, whereever that might be.

  85. #85 Claudia Koltzenburg
    July 20, 2010

    Bora & all this is one of the posts that hooked me on:

    Why or why not cite blog posts in scientific papers? Posted on: June 11, 2009 12:06 AM, by Coturnix, http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2009/06/why_or_why_not_cite_blog_posts.php

    and you taught me spell a well known term in a new way: colla*bora*tion

    hvala

  86. #86 Chris Surridge
    July 20, 2010

    Bora,

    That’s a hell of a post for a Tuesday morning. Sb will be much poorer without your brand of pragmatic idealism. My RSS reader is already updated, which brings my number of feeds pointing at Sb blogs down to one when it once was over 20. Which I guess goes to prove your analysis is right.

  87. #87 Alvaro
    July 20, 2010

    Bora, I can’t wait to read your autobiography :-)

    Good luck with next steps, and PLoS work.

  88. #88 yogi-one
    July 20, 2010

    This is the most articulate and detailed thing I have seen written about Pepsigate.

    It will be more difficult for laypersons like me to keep up with all the great science blogging since it will be more diffuse, but I can see where that’s a good thing for the growth of science blogging as a whole.

    SEED suffers from a cancer that eats away at America. Everything becomes a profit machine, all writing becomes branding propaganda, every ounce of human integrity is thrown to the wind to appease the Quarterly Report Gods. The Religion of Corporatism, with it’s insane, blind-faith beliefs in Freemarketism and in the rights of corporations to trump human rights every time, is a sickness that’s killing our whole culture.

    If Adam Bly is a good man like you say, he should leave SEED behind, start fresh again, and this time keep his eye on the ball about keeeping his reputation and integrity intact while achieving his goals.

    Best of luck and continued success to you!

  89. #89 wildanr
    July 20, 2010

    It’s seems like just yesterday i read farewell post from good math :(

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