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.