During my absence it seems that Larry Moran, one of my favorite science bloggers, has declined an invitation to join ScienceBlogs. Outrageous!

Though I find it regrettable, I fear he now has to be crushed. I mean, if one blogger is allowed to turn down such an invitation and get away with it, pretty soon other bloggers will find it acceptable as well. And then where would we be?

But it gets worse. Here he is defending his decision:

When I first started Sandwalk, I was anxious to be part of that group but now, seven months later, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to give up this site for one in the SEED consortium. There are very few advantages to joining ScienceBlogs. They do not come close to outweighing the one major disadvantage–you have to give up a great deal of independence in order to become part of the SEED site.

Few advantages? I now have people who actually know about such things doing my tech support. I get to be part of a community of science bloggers that gains strength and attention from its numbers. My posts get linked on the SB home page, which helps attract readers. And I get paid! Not a lot, certainly, but a whole lot more than the nothing I was making prior to the move.

And I am not aware of any independence that I have given up by joining SB. So there!

You made the wrong decision Larry. Sign up and join the fun. We need another atheist around here…

Comments

  1. #1 MartinM
    July 19, 2007

    I mean, if one blogger is allowed to turn down such an invitation and get away with it, pretty soon other bloggers will find it acceptable as well.

    I guarantee that if invited, I would accept.

    Of course, it would probably help if I had a blog, but hey.

    Welcome back, incidentally.

  2. #2 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 19, 2007

    Supposing, in some remote and dimly plausible circumstance, that ScienceBlogs invited me to join, the lack of LaTeX support would make me turn them down. I mean, just look at the fun stuff I couldn’t do!

    That’s enough lost independence for me.

  3. #3 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    July 19, 2007

    “If nominated I will not run. If elected I will not serve.”

  4. #4 John Wilkins
    July 19, 2007

    But he’s right! You have to adopt PZ’s atheology, Razib’s gene-centrism, and Bora’s interest in behaviour genetics before they let you post here. What’s more, you can’t use any other software to blog with, like ecto… oh, wait, I do use ecto… ummm…

  5. #5 Dan R.
    July 19, 2007

    Just output your LaTeX graphics as GIF… problem solved.

  6. #6 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 19, 2007

    I do output equations as GIF, but I can easily surpass thirty equations in a post of moderate length. (I don’t do that in every post, naturally, but when I do break out the moderately serious math, I like to show intermediate steps — more in textbook style than as in journal articles.) That’s a good many files to generate, upload and include via <img> tags. And I don’t think Seed pays enough for that kind of scullery work.

    Plus, commenters would really be screwed, wouldn’t they?

    And AFAIK, the gene-centered view is only a viable model for panmictic populations; its applicability is reduced by symmetry-breaking.

  7. #7 Kurt
    July 19, 2007

    Though I find it regrettable, I fear he now has to be crushed.

    Once you join ‘the firm’ you can never leave, but if you never join in the first place I think that’s okay. I guess it’s safe to say that Seed didn’t make Larry an offer he couldn’t refuse.

  8. #8 Anne-Marie
    July 19, 2007

    Just out of curiosity, what are the cons to being on SB, what aspects of “independence” do you potentially lose?

  9. #9 Mario Pineda-Krch
    July 19, 2007

    As long as ScienceBlogs does not support proper math rendering (a la WordPress LaTeX style) a huge chunk of the scientific community is excluded. How can a mathematician, physicist, statistician, chemist, or a theoretical biologist speak freely when the language they use cannot be spoke?

  10. #10 Leni
    July 20, 2007

    How can a mathematician, physicist, statistician, chemist, or a theoretical biologist speak freely when the language they use cannot be spoke?

    Hey, MarkCC doesn’t seem to have any difficulty. Neither does Jason.

    Although I agree it would be prettier. Which is why we need more people to take this battle straight to Seed HQ ;)

  11. #11 Anonymous
    July 20, 2007

    I now have people who actually know about such things doing my tech support.

    Wrong. ScienceBlogs has been very slow in responding to my complaints about difficulty in posting comments and they weren’t able to fix the problems.

    I get to be part of a community of science bloggers that gains strength and attention from its numbers.

    If you believe that, you are very foolish. There are 64 blogs on ScienceBlogs — people don’t visit this blog just because you’re on ScienceBlogs.

    My posts get linked on the SB home page, which helps attract readers.

    You probably attract a lot more readers by announcing your articles on Panda’s Thumb.

    And I get paid! Not a lot, certainly, but a whole lot more than the nothing I was making prior to the move.

    Do you really need the money that badly?

    And I am not aware of any independence that I have given up by joining SB.

    Larry Moran says on his blog —

    You have to sign a contract agreeing that everything on your blog is original work that has never been published. That means I can’t publish excerpts from my books and I can’t publish some images and photographs that I normally put on my blog here at Blogger.

    You have to sign over to ScienceBlogs the rights to the work published on your blog. That’s a really serious issue for me since I want to be able to use some of my articles elsewhere and I need to retain copyright or at least prevent it from being assigned to a third party.

    You have to give ScienceBlogs permission to use your name, likeness, articles, and biographical information throughout the world in advertising and promotion for ScienceBlogs and the company. While most ScienceBloggers seem to be comfortable with that, I’m not. I’m not that happy with the reputation of ScienceBlogs or SEED magazine and I don’t really want to give them permission to use my name to promote their agenda.

    I think that Larry made the right choice. He is as free as a bird on Blogger.com.

  12. #12 MartinM
    July 20, 2007

    If you believe that, you are very foolish. There are 64 blogs on ScienceBlogs — people don’t visit this blog just because you’re on ScienceBlogs.

    Actually, I doubt I’d have found it elsewhere. But hey, maybe I’m just very foolish too.

  13. #13 Anonymous
    July 20, 2007

    “If you believe that, you are very foolish. There are 64 blogs on ScienceBlogs — people don’t visit this blog just because you’re on ScienceBlogs.”

    Actually, I doubt I’d have found it elsewhere. But hey, maybe I’m just very foolish too.

    As I said, ScienceBlogs has 64 blogs — Jason has to share the spotlight with a lot of other bloggers.

  14. #14 Rieux
    July 20, 2007

    This has little to do with independence and I doubt Larry cares about it, but I have long been seriously frustrated by ScienceBlogs’ commenting software, specifically the way it mangles text formatting. Previews don’t look the same as posted comments, line heights change unpredictably, paragraph breaks disappear or double in size…. it drives me crazy. (I suspect much of this has to do with how the software deals with the “blockquote” html command, but I’m not sure that’s the entire problem.)

    I’ve always found this a downside to participating in SciBlogs threads–though for me it’s obviously outweighed by the benefits.

  15. #15 Blake Stacey, OM
    July 20, 2007

    Anonymous:

    As I said, ScienceBlogs has 64 blogs — Jason has to share the spotlight with a lot of other bloggers.

    This presumes that there’s a limited amount of limelight to go around, which I don’t think is the case. At least, I doubt that model applies to all readers. Without a quantitative analysis of readership statistics, one can’t reliably decide between the propositions “Everyone has to share the spotlight” and “the community gains strength from its numbers”.

  16. #16 Russell Blackford
    July 21, 2007

    Hmmm, many of us would be delighted to post here. Interesting to see the comments about the possible downside.

  17. #17 Alan Kellogg
    July 21, 2007

    I’d be very surprised if Seed invited me to blog here. Though, if they did I would still maintain my old blog, much as Razib has.

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