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Head on over to…

Scientopia, a new science blogging collective that just opened shop today.

You’ll note that several of its founding members are refugees from right here at Sb, including White Coat Underground, Good Math, Bad Math, Adventures in Ethics and Science, The Questionable Authority, This Scientific Life, and Thus Spake Zuska. There are also several other intriguing-looking blogs there with which I’m not familiar. I might have to check them out.

Hmmm. The entire collective looks rather promising…

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

16 replies on “Head on over to…”

Thanks for giving a heads-up! Your year’s supply of pepsi is in the post.

GrrlScientist and Jason Goldman are also there, co-blogging with other people (in Grrl’s case with me).

GrrlScientist and Jason Goldman are also there, co-blogging with other people (in Grrl’s case with me).

Together at last: two great bloggers who blog great together!

It will be interesting to see if it lasts very long. In an inversion of the NYC claim that ‘if you can make it here you can make it anywhere’ I’ve found that life is more about ‘if you can’t make it here you can’t make it anywhere’. Point being that people who decide to get along can get along anywhere. Whereas people who can’t get along blame their surroundings but carry their problems with them. Many can’t get along anywhere.

It will be interesting to watch the Sb deserters once the new wears off of Scientopia. No accusations or predictions but once people get acclimated they usually relax, go back to their old ways, and start having the same problems they had at the place they just left.

Scientopia may end up being an interesting study in sociology and group dynamics. We shall see.

Sorry, but the place doesn’t do anything for me. A blog collection needs to be more than just a single top URL. There is nothing there to tell me if I want to read those blogs or not, or any blog entry or not. And I am not going to bother looking through each potential site to decide.

What a science blog site needs to do is exactly what is done on scienceblogs: have a “The Last 24 Hours” that highlights which blog, the title of the entry, and enough material to decide whether I want to invest the time digging deeper. That, in my opinion, is how blogs get read, and how blogs get noticed by a larger audience.

As it is, Scientopia does nothing like that, so I’ll skip it. (The Discovermagazine blogs is somewhat better than Scientopia, but it is also rather lacking in comparison to scienceblogs.)

@ Ahcuah

Mark CC is currently the only admin, and I imagine he’s quite busy at the moment… but he’s also a reasonably competent individual who is exposed to a wide variety of features and use cases on a routine basis, and I imagine that he’ll get there in short order.

It’s new, give it some time. Building up a web service from scratch doesn’t happen in a day 🙂

As a reader/commenter I like the Scientopia setup better than ScienceBlogs:

1) With Sb, to get a readable font size I have to increase the font size to the point where the layout starts breaking down. Scientopia uses my browser’s default font size so I don’t have to adjust anything.

2) Scientopia has threaded/nested comment conversations.

3) It looks like Scientopia’s anti-spam software will let commenters include multiple links without tripping the spam filter, though I haven’t tested that out.

I have no overarching judgment about the place yet, but it was really cool to scroll down and find a libraries/information science blog. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to hope that they upgrade their features over time…

I concur with Matthew, the layout and design is superior, but I am finding it grindingly slow between pages. I haven’t tried posting a comment yet, that’s one thing that takes forever here at Sb. Glad to see this ground-up structure taking shape. It still won’t be my first stop in the morning, but certainly my second.

@ 3 and 5 Art and Ahcuah,

I am certain that if either of you were to set up a blog network, it would run perfectly from the moment it began. It would never experience any problems of any kind. You would never have to try things out to figure out what works best.

I have added Scientopia to my blog list. It will take some time to become familiar with the way they set things up, but it would be foolish to jump to the conclusion that there is nothing there based purely on superficial criteria. Especially, since I know that there are some great blogs there.


Point being that people who decide to get along can get along anywhere. Whereas people who can’t get along blame their surroundings but carry their problems with them. Many can’t get along anywhere.

Everything I have read suggested that the bloggers did get along. They were unhappy with the ways management was treating blogging. They did not appear to be happy with the financial focus of ScienceBlogs. I did not notice any advertising at Scientopia. It seems that the cause of their biggest complain will not even be an issue there.

It is strange that people cooperating to produce high quality blogs seems to really upset you.

Cheer up.

Call them sour grapes all you want, but don’t expect to convince anyone. 🙂

I will say that I too love SB’s Last 24 Hours page, since it gives a paragraph preview on each entry. Often a blog’s title does not necessarily reveal it’s content and I’ve found some surprisingly wonderful entries on the Last 24 Hours page on blogs I would otherwise never read.

It does seem a little like their rules (or code or whatever it is) are set up as a reactionary exercise to prevent anyone from turning into PZ. I know many of the fleeing blogs had problems with his style and tone (although few give him credit for his actual science entries which, while few and far between on his blog, are more frequent than most other SB blogs ever were… Yay high-throughput blogging!). We’ll see what happens with mutual respect when one of the bloggers there steps on the toes of someone like Zuska, but I think the network will survive something like that.

After all it looks like a blogging network made up of the bloggers, by the bloggers, for the bloggers (and their readers). Hopefully it won’t perish from the blogoshpere.

It does seem a little like their rules (or code or whatever it is) are set up as a reactionary exercise to prevent anyone from turning into PZ.


Fake edit: I went and read the Scientopia Code while writing this comment, and I don’t see any restrictions that would prevent a PZesque (or Oracian) blogger from doing his worst. The closest it comes is a requirement for ‘professional respect’ and ‘not to assume bad faith on the part of other members’, as well as a requirement to refrain from personal attacks within the member forums. PZ would not be prevented from attacking the substance of a fellow blogger’s post, and I don’t recall that PZ has every written screeds solely against the character of a fellow ScienceBlogger (I may be wrong, though).

Unless I’m looking right past it, there seems to be no email alerts facility at Scientopia. So much for that, then.


Unless I’m looking right past it, there seems to be no email alerts facility at Scientopia. So much for that, then.

This is the first day that the site’s been up. Give the site admin some time to set things before passing final judgment.

Looks promising, but I sincerely hope they kick that icky banner. Has the shape and feel of a chunky ad. Even if you get past that, it lacks impact and looks decidedly amateurish. Design a simple, memorable logo and tuck it in the upper-left corner. Couple that with a last-24-hours list. Boom.

Not a fan of that Scientopia layout. Horrible, just horrible. I am hoping they get some professional polish on there soon or no one will want to wade through that home page to look for anything. YEECH.

I don’t understand why there are so many complaints about ScienceBlogs platform as being “outdated”. Its functional, it works, and for my money the layout gets the job done. With the economic constraints that SB might be having now, it makes no sense to revamp the whole thing unless doing so will help the bottom line, and blogging being what it is, especially in this economy, that seems unlikely.

I was sorry to see that so many have left for perceived greener blogging pastures, but I hope, Orac, that you will consider staying here on ScienceBlogs, as I believe that it is more important for you to get your message out to new people than it is to worry about the machinery behind your blogging. Right now, people come here for information, and they get here through google. You have a TON of useful, IMPORTANT information, that is easily indexed right here, right now, and to move that anywhere else would compromise the depth and breadth of the people you will be able to reach. And reach them you must, as it is more important that parents get the truth so that children get their vaccines. It is more important that people read accurate and insightful information about quacks and quackery from a respected physician/blogger on a professional looking website (however tainted by Pepsi) that has been around for a long while. That is the bottom line. Until there is a place that has the kind of “back catalog” of good bloggers and blogging that science blogs has, IMHO I think you should go go down gloriously with the ship, if only so that all of us that need to find that brilliant post of yours about X, Y or Z quack to prove a point can do so with ease. You’ve got street cred here on ScienceBlogs, and since it ain’t about the money, then let it be about the reach that you have and the people that you can help by being here where we all know how to find you.

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