Friday No Fun: Pseudonymous blogging no longer allowed at ScienceBlogs?

According to DrugMonkey's recent post, ScienceBlogs' new overlords The National Geogrpaphic Society will no longer allow pseudonymous to continue blogging here.

I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly, no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.

This is, as they say, not unexpected. It is pretty clear that when corporate flacks ask you for your opinion in response to their reflexive stance they are not in fact going to be influenced. So I do hope none of my colleagues are surprised by this. Disappointed, as am I, but not surprised.

This is very problematic for me. The ability to speak freely and without fear of reprisal is the foundation and necessity of pseudonymous blogging. These bloggers work long and hard to establish the credibility and reliability of their online identities and shouldn't be punished or banished because of it.

Check out this wiki page, Who is harmed by a "Real Names" policy? for more elaborate reasoning on the issue. There's also been tons of posts on the Google+ real names policy, this one for example.

What does this mean for me?

I'm not sure. I'm certainly not going to act rashly but frankly amongst all the turmoil here over the last year or so, this is the first time I'm actually seriously considering whether or not I belong here.

I see three possibilities.

  • Suck it up and continue blogging here. It's at least marginally useful for my career to blog here and I think somewhat useful for librarianship as a whole to have a librarian presence here. These are not inconsiderable factors but not automatically more important than principle.
  • Return to my old location at Blogger (or perhaps a new indie location at Wordpress, say). This is probably the most likely alternative to staying put.
  • Moving to another network. There are currently no offers on the table from other networks nor do I intend to seek any out at this point. This may be the least likely alternative but I have to say I don't have much of sense of what that likelihood actually is.

I considered a blogging hiatus until I figure this out but I do have a couple of things in the pipeline for the next week or so so I'm just going to continue as normal for now.

I appreciate any feedback from my readers.

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Wow. What a completely boneheaded move! It's sad to see what's happened to ScienceBlogs. Pseudonymous bloggers, particularly the women scientists who would otherwise not be blogging (for a whole host of reasons), have contributed so much to the science and scientific culture dialog. Throwing them out of the room is seriously short-sighted.

acdalal, yeah, totally.

I suspect NatGeo is aiming for a smaller, less controversial, much more science journalism focused blogging community. And it looks like they're going to get what they wish for. Unfortunately, a lot of the messiness and humanness that makes a blogging community so interesting might also be heading out the door as well.

I've yet to hear anything official from Sb on this so we just have to wait and see. I'm sincerely hoping they'll reconsider.

For FSM's sake, if the Scientific American site can have pseudonymous bloggers, why can't we?

Hey John,

If you do move, I'd vote for a WordPress over blogger platform. Wherever you go, I'll simply have to remember to update my RSS feed readers for ya. The Sb network has probably increased your readership, but I think you could continue to build up a following (or maintain the readers) no matter where you go.


By Joe Kraus (not verified) on 19 Aug 2011 #permalink

Hi John, I bet you would be welcome at We are a pretty diverse and open collective of independent bloggers.

I really think the think to do is to get the technical side of Scientopia or a similar site fixed up. It is just not as good as the scienceblogs site. Sure you can move to an independent blog, but the traffic will go down as the concentration of interesting bloggers does, it's jumping into a lifeboat whereas fixing up Scientopia is a ship. I could just use then with an RSS reader I suppose. A wiki page with all the RSS feeds of former scibloggers woudl be good so you don't have to hunt through their blogs to find out where their other blogging base is.

Going independent is a desperate move. Remember Metcalfe's Law: "the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system" (from Wikipedia). It applies to bloggers as well - communities attract more traffic per blogger than a lone blogger, because the flow of new postings is both regular (volume) and variable (content). That has always been the reason (at least for me) why Sb exists.

If you decide to go indy, try at least to get noted by an aggregator like ScienceSeeker.

By Lassi Hippeläinen (not verified) on 20 Aug 2011 #permalink

I had no idea that "John Dupuis" was a 'nym: brilliant camouflage!

If you stay here, will we get to learn your real name?

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 20 Aug 2011 #permalink

It may act as some restraint on the trolls who resort to ad homs and obscenity as their only alternative to rational discussion.

At the very least when Skip or others do so while claiming to be a "peer reviewed climate scientist published in the finest journals" we will know if it is true. Unfortunatelt climate alarmists being what they are I suspect it is.

However I can see circumstances where some scientist who fears being identified but wants to whistleblow about alarmism or some other government funded fraud might fear to do so. An example would be whoever leaked the climategate emails. On the other hand I can't see anti-fraud whistleblowers being welcomed here in any case.

Sure you can move to an independent blog, but the traffic will go down as the concentration of interesting bloggers does, it's jumping into a lifeboat whereas fixing up Scientopia is a ship.

My traffic has been higher since I went out on my own.

I disagree to some extent. There is room for pseudonyms and anonymity, but I feel that in the professional discourse (is Science Blogs professional discourse? I think yes) it is inappropriate to blog under a pseudonym on anonymously.
I wrote more about my views on this here: