I’m a Science Blogger Boycotting Pepsi

It has been just over a month from when I witnessed a war on Scienceblogs. The dust is still settling and by this time next year, it will be a well documented case study with themes of credibility, journalism and blogging. What is Scienceblogs? It’s a blog network of science blogs written by science trained individuals. These bloggers are invited to have their blog listed based on their credentials and merit. Or, at least that’s how Scienceblogs started out.

Last month the company behind Scienceblogs, Seed, formed an agreement with Pepsico to allow their blog, Food Frontiers, a permanent regular spot. Who would read a blog produced by a soft drink company for information on nutrition? Hopefully not many. What about one that was in the company of trusted science blogs? Predictably, bloggers got angry and some got so angry that they left Scienceblogs despite the removal of the offending blog from the network. The damage had been done and I was left chasing science blogs across the internet as bloggers relocated. It didn’t take long for this saga to be named Pepsigate.

One former blogger of Scienceblogs, Bora Zivkovic, aka BoraZ, wrote an extremely long blog post to explain why he was leaving which had these main points:

  • Pepsigate highlighted problems with public and editorial controls and practices at Seed and the owners and managers of Scienceblogs.
  • Scienceblogs was no longer an independent magazine and was being managed by Seed poorly.
  • How scientific is the science journalism and science blogging at Scienceblogs? Originally, Scienceblogs was set up by bloggers with established readerships. “They just happened to be mostly bloggers … whose blogging covered those aspects of ‘science is culture’ that are quite controversial.” How much of the discussion was science and how much of it was ranting?
  • There was an existing feeling of malcontent amongst bloggers due to cliques and allegedly fighting between these.

Perhaps I have trust issues but shouldn’t these be in the back of your mind when you read any blog? They are after all, opinion pieces, no matter how informative or entertaining they may be. I may have been a regular visitor to Scienceblogs but there has not been one blog post that I have read in the past without mentally critiquing it. I expect you to do the same of me.

Blogs can be instruments of change and education as well as places for in depth discussions to take place. However, there does need to be a very public recognition that blogs are not the equivalent of peer reviewed articles. A blog bearing the name of a scientist is not the forefront of scientific knowledge and should not be treated as such. Especially this one.

I like Mountain Dew.

Cross posted to Science and the Media 2010 Blog.


Filed under Master of Science Communication, Opinionated Orations, The Weird World of the Web

4 responses to “I’m a Science Blogger Boycotting Pepsi

  1. Pingback: I’m a Science Blogger Boycotting Pepsi « Science and the Media

  2. Well my critique is that: a) it didn’t warrant the name “Pepsigate” – they could have come up with something much better and more original; b) I like the way you ended the article; c) If scienceblogs wanted to be a magazine they should have set themselves up as one instead of being an online collective of bloggers – it’s a different thing altogether – just because you use blogging software to run it, doesn’t make it a “magazine”.

    And if they didn’t realise that their bloggers were going to get pissed off by allowing Pepsi on there, then they obviously don’t have much of a relationship with their bloggers and given that that the bloggers are what keeps the website ticking over in terms of content, I would imagine that would be the most stupid mistake to ever make.

    Pepsi trying to provide a nutrition blog is totally to do with Pepsi – maybe they would do it well, maybe it would be advertorial filled but it should have been clear and obvious that they weren’t a good fit for the scienceblogs site in particular from the start.

    • Mags

      On twitter the sorry saga had the hashtag #Sbfail amongst bloggers and readers of Scienceblogs. There were also quite a few melodramatic statements made from both sections with barely no response from Seed which fed the fire for a longer period. There were certainly a lot of egos on show.

      The appearance of Scienceblogs on the monitor has a magazine feel to it but you’re right, in no way does it make it a magazine. It’s a clumsy use of the term.

      The decision to add Pepsi’s blog to the network was about money. I saw the move as an incredibly stupid managerial choice. I did understand the hostility from the bloggers on Scienceblogs but the credibility argument didn’t hold much water for me.

      I am a regular reader of some of the blogs on the network. They were found while clumsily wandering around the internet and did not need Scienceblogs to boost credibility or add authority. I’ve always viewed Scienceblogs as a confirmation of blogging success. It’s where the popular kids hang out.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention I’m a Science Blogger Boycotting Pepsi « Philosophically Disturbed -- Topsy.com

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