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Scitable has a piece on the place of new science bloggers in the blogosphere that’s really rubbing me up the wrong way. First, the bits I agree with: people who are good should do well regardless of whether they are veterans or newbies; and this is not always the case. This is why I do my weekly missing links and monthly tip-jar. Here’s where it loses me: the argument is that the stable size of science blogging networks is depriving new bloggers of “chances” and that “not only is this unfair but it's also unmeritocratic.”

First, anytime I read the word “unfair” in an opinion piece,I cringe a little.

Second, this has always been the way it works. Back when ScienceBlogs was the only big name in town, it was harder for people who weren’t part of the obvious go-to behemoth. That did not stop good indie bloggers from having an impact (Mind Hacks, anyone?) or from growing in size to eventually join a network. In fact, I would urge you to think of a time when it was easy for newcomers in a field to make a big impact. Or a field, for that matter.

Third, every single suggestion that is subsequently put forward to rectify this situation is about giving new bloggers opportunities rather than them creating those opportunities for themselves. That smacks of entitlement to me, especially in an ecosystem that I’d wager is more meritocratic than it has ever been. Here are some alternative suggestions:

1) Pull your finger out and work really f**king hard. Stay up late. Practice. Sacrifice your social time. Churn out a crazy amount of output. Practice. Enter competitions. Practice.

2) Give people a reason to read you. There are plenty of competent writers and not enough time to read them. Maybe you are the go-to person for a topic. Maybe you write like an angel. If you want to stand out, stand out.

3) Tell people about yourself. Promote your work. If you want to be recognised, then it’s not enough to be good and shout into the ether. And I don’t mean in a narcissistic, self-aggrandising way. You don’t even have to directly point to your work. Just let people know you exist. Socialise and interact with them. Do it on Twitter, in comments, on Facebook, whatever. Twitter in particular is a massive meritocracy. The editor-in-chief of Scientific American will promote someone’s first post if it’s good! Look at the number of new blogs that have made instant names for themselves in this way (see: anything Ivan Oransky does).

4) If you are lucky enough to be given an opportunity, grasp it as quickly as possible because the momentum fades. If you haven’t been given opportunities, maybe you should try to create some. If you’re not part of a network (and want to be; loads don’t), are you sitting around waiting to be invited or did you cold-call and ask for feedback?

5) If it’s been several years and you’re not getting anywhere... that’s about right. Building a reputation takes time. It is demotivating and miserable in the meantime. Suck it up. Do what you do because it makes you personally fulfilled. Don’t expect a windfall; that will come after a lot of work.

6) Go to 1.
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Ranjit Singh's profile photoSheldon Greaves's profile photoDavid Dobbs's profile photoKhalil A. Cassimally's profile photo
62 comments
 
Your response sounds reasonable to me, Ed.
 
Good post, Ed! I've been blogging for seven years, not just about science but about all of my diverse interests. Occasionally grateful readers will throw some cash my way, but that's really not why I do it.
 
Thanks for pointing this out, Ed. Indeed, the word 'unfair' sounds like sour grapes anytime it is said.

My type of vlogging (which is inching into it's 6 months of an unintentional hiatus-yikes) really doesn't fit with most science communities, so I had no concern about being accepted or not. I was thrilled that SciAm thought I could contribute in an innovative way with PsiVid about science in videos, which is something I never foresaw.

It takes at least a year to define yourself online. My original ideas for my blog, while serving a niche, were different than what has been most successful and fulfilling for me lately.

If you follow what you know is right to do for your talents and personality, you will make an impact at some level and it may look nothing like what everyone else is doing on the web...which is precisely what we need. :)
 
A certain concentration of readers will allways occur. Especially in the Blogosphere, the main influx of new readers is via recommendations of old readers or via networks of quoting and referring.
The first supports concentration since the potential of gaining readers that way grows with each new reader. Thus, older posts have had more time to accumulate more readers and will acquire more new readers easily.
The second supports concentration via the fact that social networks tend to form cross-connections. An older blog is more likely at the center of a highly interconnected network structure than a new one. This brings more referred readers and also improves the ranking in search engines.

So it is not as if newcomers have to be deliberately disadvantaged. It simply happens.

The balancing mechanism is, that tightly knit social networks reduce their influx of new ideas, breading redundancy and boredom So it is advisable for old players to point to new sources and aspects. Thus, new players have a strong incentive to both add new value to the blogosphere while trying to fit into its structures.
 
As one of those indy bloggers that never joined a network (until we started our own), I agree with you 100%. It's never been easier to start a science blog, but it's always required a ton of work to get to the top. You have to build an audience, it doesn't just show up as soon as you start writing. Most of those veterans are at the top of their game because they worked and created consistently good content that people wanted to read.

Some of the serious old timers had the benefit of less competition, but the fact that they're still around speaks to the above points.

I would add that science blogging comes with it's own collection of pitfalls and challenges. "Newbies" should spend some time in relative obscurity finding their voice and learning how to navigate the strange landscape we call the internet. As a brand new science blogger, do you really want to be thrown into the deep end with a huge audience?
 
Good content + posted regularly = eventual winning
 
Here's what I lodged at the same post:

"You argue that the science blogosphere has become a static place of "fixed communities" ... because it's been four whole months(!) since Scientific American launched its network? That very event, in which one of scientific publishing's most venerable, established brands raised the profiles of dozens of new or previously overlooked voices, was a spectacular display of the fluidity, flexibility, and meritocratic nature of the today's science blogosphere. Even at smaller, less fluid 'top-brand' networks, such as Wired (where I blog) or Discover, there is movement and change, as Wired has added two new bloggers in the last few months.

To anyone observing science journalism for more than 5 years or so — going back to a time when few had heard of Ed Yong, Kate Clancy, or Brian Switek — it's clear that the science blogosphere creates opportunities for new and emerging voices at an extraordinary rate. Four months of calm is rather thin grounds for a diagnosis of sclerosis."

This seems a case where knowing only a v v v v short span of history blinds you to what's going on at the present.
 
I am cutting this blogger some slack because he seems young and naive. I read one of his earlier blogs posted on Labcoat Life, entitled "Publish or Perish"..it came across as an artificial/ manufactured crisis. Perhaps he's working through the process of figuring it all out..I hope he reads the comments here.
 
Andrew, one note on your comment. You're spot on for most of it, but mistaken, I think, in saying some, um, more experienced writers (I think you used the phrase "old timers" -- come over here and say that!) faced less competition. We didn't face less competition. There was just as much before -- and far, far fewer places to publish. To someone who fought his or her way into publication during the pre-web days, the openness, variety, and sheer mass of opportunity to young writers to day is simply stunning. Despite all the crises, we live in blessed times.
 
I think that the author of the piece sounds like a bright young guy who is actually raising his profile by trying to implement at least some of the steps above. And as +Rajini Rao says, he seems to be still working through the process.
Conversely, I didn't start reading either +Ed Yong or +David Dobbs because you post good content. It turns out that you'd been doing that for quite some time before I got to you. Specifically, I connected with both blogs after some established bloggers highlighted your work and pointed you out. And isn't that pretty much what +Khalil A. Cassimally is advocating here? Maybe some of the points about history such as given by others here will be useful and instructive. He is young and has time on his side.
 
+David Dobbs Ah, I was referring to early science bloggers, not pre-web writers. Back in the days when the sum total of science bloggers could fit in your hand. Old timers was a bit tongue-in-cheek since that was what, ten years ago at the most?
 
Spot-on, Ed.

There should be, though, a distinction between Science Journalism Blogging (=what most people think of as Science Blogging) and Science Research Blogging (=scientists musing about their own fields). The former seems to benefit from association with established media brands, but the latter may not reap any particular advantage from networks.
 
Andrew -- thanks for clarification; truly no offense taken. I lodged that caveat/correction bc I do see now and then some misread of earlier times, and misconceived comparisons between now and Back Then -- of which that Scitable post is an extreme example.
 
Ed -- I love those 6 steps. Especially ... Go to 1.
 
Good points, Ed. Your suggestions are valid not only in the Science community, but also for just about any area that values content over personality (or at least purports to).

So, in the technology and software community that I am a part of, following your 6 simple steps is a sure path to anyone's success.

OK, simple is not the right word and the path is not certain, but I think your point is that a having fairly successful blogging career in almost any area is not magic, but takes a lot of hard work. and a little bit of smarts
 
+Gaythia Weis That's pretty much exactly what Ed said in his intro comment. :) The post does smack of entitlement... and more than a little naivete. And irony: Khalil is part of the Nature blog network. I'd add that the SciAm blog network -- apparently now in its establishment dotage after four months of existence (and doesn't that make us feel even older, +David Dobbs?) :) -- has a specific blog for young bloggers (students, etc.) designed to rotate every year to give these fresh new voices a high-profile platform. It was in place from the start; currently called Creatology.

Also, ditto what +Alex Wild said about blogging science journalists and blogging scientists. It's a big professional advantage for me to be part of a media network -- although I resisted joining one for a long time, because I was waiting for just the right fit. And I think I found it. Scientists who blog may well find that an independent network (Scientopia, etc.) is a better fit, or choose to remain independent.

Finally, not even being on a high-profile network is any guarantee of greatness. It's easy to point to Ed as an "overnight success story," when the truth is Ed worked himself to the bone (and still does, by the way) to get his voice heard, using every social media tool at this disposal in the bargain. That said, not everyone will experience his level of success, even if they do everything he did. And that's okay. That;s not why we do it. We all find our audience, big or small or in-between. We all play our part in this big messy ecosystem we call the science blogosphere. And there's plenty of us looking out for fresh young voices to promote as best we can -- there is no one more generous than Ed in this respect. To suggest otherwise is incredibly naive. And a bit ungracious. :)
 
These six steps are fantastic and can be applied more broadly than just science journalism blogging.

The author's note about how blogging networks are un-meritocratic sort of sticks in my mind as somewhat bothersome since I've found that there are precisely two types of people who believe in pure meritocracy: those too young and naive to the world to know otherwise and those whose luck in propelling their career forward is confused, in their own minds, with merit (think less any writer and more, say, Kardashians). In any field involving creativity I think there's a trend of underestimating the amount of work others in the same field put in before reaching the degree of success they have. Now, I'm not the oldest nor wisest man on the planet but I have learned so far that the best way to guarantee living in a state of perpetual frustration is to compare one's own successes only to the successes of others instead of focusing on building one's own career. The great thing about being an aspiring blogger in any field is that one's like a freelancer who, in exchange for not being paid (outright) for work, is able to determine one's own career path to such a greater degree than most folks are able to. Why sacrifice that for sweating about what other people are doing?
 
+Jennifer Ouellette As a donor to Ed Jong's tip jar, I certainly do respect what he has done and did not intend my comments to come off as ungracious. I do think that it is important for +Khalil A. Cassimally to participate in this conversation. David Dobbs has made his comment at the site as well as here, which I think is good. One thing I was hoping is that by using the + name that would bring Khalil in over here. Because many of you are making valid points. Points that someone who's byline is "Scientific research from a newbie's perspective" should hear directly. With opportunities given for improvement.
 
+Gaythia Weis Clarification: It wasn't my intent to call YOU ungracious; sloppy sentence structure on my part. You are anything but, as evidenced by you being far more willing to cut a young blogger some slack. :)
 
I appreciate where +Ed Yong is coming from with this and +David Dobbs's feeling that a sharp pushback is needed - (http://twitter.com/#!/David_Dobbs/status/133208075439063041) - I just wanted to point out, as others have, that from what I have seen over the last year +Khalil A. Cassimally is attempting to at least follow points 1-4 of Ed's list and I hope that fact doesn't get lost in this discussion. Then again I'm sure Khalil is happy having his writing critiqued by some of the blogosphere's finest :)
 
I think it is worth pointing out that Khalil is apparently in Melbourne, where it is 4AM Monday morning at the moment. The way Google + works this will be yesterdays news to many of the rest of us by the time that he is likely to even see it.
 
I commented on this at a re-post, but wanted to add here as well (slightly edited):

It also very much depends on your goals. And I find that some of the most crucial outreach needs to occur off of science-fan and choir sites. Those aren't necessarily the people who need the evidence-based stuff the most.

For me that has meant blogging at political sites that were not science sites. I think we can have real impact there. And the need is huge.
 
+Mary Mangan You're quite right, and kudos to you for trying to bring science into new spheres -- an uphill battle if ever there was one. :)
 
Really good stuff all around here, I mean in the comment thread in addition to Ed's post. I would just like to add that there has ALWAYS been an informal network people are enjoy each other's writing and personalities. This has not been branded by a media company or other organization but through interactions on each other's blogs or, later in life, through chattering on places like twitter and G+ and meeting up IRL. This goes along with +Cameron Neylon 's point of building and interacting the community you want to be with. I think all bloggers associated with success, or at least with a network, interact with people from a wide variety of blogging circumstances. This informal network is stronger than it ever has been and seems to circumvent and "celebrity" status. The reason some are successful is because of perseverance and time. It becomes inevitable if you do good things visibly for a long time. But more starting bloggers NEED to tell us when they have something good. It's ok to toot your horn, really! (just don't overdo it)

The following is anecdote and personal opinion (ha!) but after teaching biology courses at a couple institutions and being involved in several outreach initiatives over the 8-ish years, I feel the current crop of young 20-somethings as a generation feel they deserve some entitlement. Exceptions are granted of course, but it is a general feeling I get these days and might be an artifact of my last couple classes. But I get that sense from young people that they feel they shouldn't have to work so hard to get somewhere, like they were promised stellar careers upon receipt of a degree. This really bothers me, and feel free to disagree, but my last course of 90+ undergrads were terribly entitled, beyond the typical up-to-late-partying mentality. And it has opened my eyes to a subculture at least in America where people don't know what hard work is... Like I said, personal opinion, feel free to write it off.
 
Also, get off my lawn you damn kids.
 
I think I read +Khalil A. Cassimally 's post differently... Some of you seem to be under the impression that he wrote a "woe is me" post about how young bloggers are not getting exposure. That perhaps says more about Scitable's prominence than anything, because Khalil himself has been on the radar for a while in some circles. I actually just commissioned a book review from him for another blog a few days before he wrote this. He is not the one lacking the attention. To me this just read like a "where is this going" type of post - and indeed, where IS this going? Nobody needs or wants an ever expanding number of blog networks, or giant networks where nobody can find anything. So what will happen with the newer blogs? It's a fair question.
 
+kevin zelnio I think several things are true all at once. In the first place, I think that there is always a generational gap in which the ones who have gone before question the motivations of the ones coming up. Also, there are eras where people end up in school because the job market is closed to them (or they are trying to avoid the draft), whatever. That makes them grumpy students who don't really want to be there. Could it be that we oversold the idea that STEM fields were tickets to a bright future?

However, at this point in time, somewhere between your classrooms and Occupy Wall Street, I think that there is a strong sense that things are not just not going the way they ought to be going. And I happen to believe that those feelings are based on truth. It's not.

Journalists would have less to grouse about (and much less ability to do so) if they were all tied down by big media contracts. And, as +Eva Amsen points out there is a limit to the number of blogs that can be supported by us science blog readers. Although I do like +Mary Mangan suggestion of outreach beyond the typical science venues.
 
Though note that even if you do Steps 1-6, you might have a couple of hundred readers. Blogging fame, like all fame, is fickle.
Ed Yong
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Great comments folks. To clarify a few things:

- Disagreeing with Khalil's piece is not the same as slagging Khalil off. I'm not even slightly doing the latter.
- +Cameron Neylon is right that you set your own goals and caring about engagement; note that none of my six tips are specific to getting traffic or links etc.
- +Eva Amsen, a fair perspective, but that doesn't change my reading of the post's sentiments as being entitled. Regardless of whether those sentiments are Khalil's own or voiced on behalf of others, the suggestions are still framed in terms of "What can other people do for me?" rather than "What do I have to do?" And I think that's actually quite a dangerous perspective to present to newcomers.
 
Great discussion, and especially agree with Ed's original rebuttal. As a med student, I assure you that the science blogging community is far more dynamic and meritocratic than anything in medicine--and it's gratifying. Right now, I'm a second year student, still studying, and still feeling far from being remotely useful to anyone. I launched my blog a little over a year ago. Since then, I've gotten thousands of views, and I was eventually invited to join the PLoS network. The fast pace, sense of community, and feedback make me feel like I'm actually reaching people. For someone stuck in a textbook limbo in which it's hard to see the light and you wonder how much of what you do actually matters, this is what keeps me going.

Unlike in medicine, where I am perpetually the low man on the totem pole (and treated as such), I find that in blogging the hierarchy is far more fluid, and I am treated as an equal. If a post is good, others will retweet it, word will spread--people want to read it. I have tried to organize more writing activities at my medical school, and the red tape and disinterest have stymied it. Frankly, I don't want to wait years for something obviously inefficient to change. That is what I love about the blogging community--it makes more sense to me, effort and merit do yield results, and there's always at least someone who's listening. Or, at least, that is what I tell myself :)
 
Finding this a really interesting discussion as +Robby Bowles and I launched the first #ScienceSunday G+ Daily Photo Theme today. I can't speak for Robby, but I don't consider myself a blogger - I'm actually just a scientist with a passion for science outreach. I think that +Ed Yong's tips speak equally well to our situation though, and I particularly resonated to +Cameron Neylon and +Mary Mangan's points in the comments above. One needs to determine what one's own goals are, find a niche, and help deliver novel and interesting content. In the case of #ScienceSunday, we're trying to bring together folks from the arts and science spheres, and encourage interaction among the groups - so people with art can ask for information re: science, and vice-versa. In a sense, it's about facilitating content, rather than creating it, but I think that is an equally valid goal. I've been impressed with the range of contributions we're getting so far, even though this is the first time we've officially run #ScienceSunday. From my perspective, the more people who get involved the better, but it's not just about numbers, it's about trying to create a broader community of people with an interest in science - people who start to see that there is science everywhere we look, and who increase their interest and commitment by becoming contributors themselves.
 
I agree with +Allison Sekuler, I also don't consider myself a blogger but am also a scientist with an interest in outreach. It seems google+ has provided a unique opportunity to bring together my two interests in a unique way via #ScienceSunday. I can leverage all the people interested in photography on google+ and introduce some science into the conversation. This allows us to reach out to an audience that would likely not be reading a science blog. While traditional science blogging is good for many, as the internet evolves new opportunities will present themselves. Traditional blogging is not my cup of tea, but I'm certainly enjoying this new experiment and am excited to see where it goes.
 
Great conversation started here! Very awesome.

As the person who wrote the blog post, there are a couple of things I would like to point out:

1. When I wrote this post, I did so from the perspective of someone who manages a science blogging network. As the person responsible for the Scitable blogging network, I feel I am in a position to help and promote new quality bloggers out there. As such, the suggestions I proposed were not meant to be a what-new-bloggers-should-do (or what-new-bloggers-should-idly-expect-from-others) but rather what-community-managers-should-think-of-doing. +Ed Yong's list above is a very nice what-new-bloggers-should-do 'manifesto'. And I agree with his points--very much so. The 5 (or 6, rather) points mentioned are must-do things for any blogger who wants to reach a greater audience. But while it is necessary for new bloggers to put in much effort in their endeavour, it doesn't mean they should not be given a hand. Reputable science bloggers are great science communicators and are in a great position to further promote science by helping out quality newbies. So while the bloggers themselves must work hard (and this is the first requirement), those who can help should help. How should/can they help? I wrote some suggestions in the blog post and would love to hear what others think.

2. One of my main concerns is that fantastic opportunities such as those provided by SciAm, for instance, will not be available in the future. Why? Because how many more respected publications such as SciAm will decide to start a science blogging network? Not many, IMHO. This, to me, seems unfair to new bloggers who are (or will be) as good or better. From what I gathered, some people believe that the science blogosphere will just evolve to accommodate new bloggers (as it apparently has in the past). But I am under the impression that those people believe this is a passive process, in the sense that it will just happen. I don't think that's how it works or has ever worked for that matter. The evolution begins when people start thinking and talking about how to further promote science and science blogging. The long blog posts about science blogging from +Bora Zivkovic illustrate this. As the science blogosphere continues to evolve, perhaps even better opportunities will present themselves. But they won't just happen. The evolution happens thanks to the efforts of many people who strive to make things better. It is far from being a passive process!

3. Some saw the blog post as being naive. It might be! But surely this gives you an incentive to share your thoughts on the matter. How do you think things we should do? And by we, I mean bloggers and community managers.

I believe that this discussion had to start somewhere and I'm really happy that it's led to such a conversation. This can only help!

P.S. +Ed Yong, would like to hear why Scitable has really been "rubbing you up the wrong way". Feedback always welcome.
Ed Yong
 
No, see first sentence - the post, not Scitable, rubbed me up the wrong way.
 
Wow - Ed, you and I could not have read the post more differently. And now that I've read Khalil's response, I understand why. We're coming from completely different perspectives!

As the DEFINITION of a "new kid" on the science-blog-network-community-management block (say that ten times fast), I really appreciated Kahlil's post - and interpreted it as more about "where are we going together" than "waah, waah, we're entitled, make it easy to join your club."

I saw it as a call to reflection, and appreciated the opportunity. I'm trying to figure out how to bring willing and able science bloggers further into the "light" via greater visibility: creating syndication opportunities with publications that target my nonprofit BetterBio's target population; having them teach or contribute content to BetterBio curricula; getting them paid. As +Chris Mooney has pointed out time and time again, not everyone out there has time to sift through the blog networks for quality content to discuss at the dinner table (if they have the luxury of eating together). And as many of you know, I believe that those without such time are the most critical targets for our efforts. I also recognize that everyone in this community has limited time, energy and desire to perform science outreach - to translate their work to a new crop of readers. That's where I think the new kid bloggers come in. I see an increasing desire to do that translation work in the new crop of scibloggers - a sort of #OccupyWallStreet-meets-Schoolhouse Rock ethos that I find really fun and inspiring. And they want to be part of this community.

This leaves us in sort of a pickle, given the current framing of the system in separate "networks."

For example, if writers want to join the BetterBio blog network, or the Open Science Alliance blog network, or the emerging-as-yet-unnamed-women's-magazine-reader-centric blog network a few of us are working on (or, dare I imagine, all THREE) - how does that fit into the overall ecosystem? Naturally, as a new kid, I worry about how we ensure these new efforts are not competitive with or scoffed upon by the cool kids. But I also worry: how do I make sure it provides something new and helpful TO the cool kids - that we allow for cross-pollination and cross-communication between our differently-branded communities? As a natural "systems thinker," I worry about these things.

I don't know the answer, but I recommend for those of us that manage these communities to get together and have a brainstorm. And while we do, I recommend that those of you blogging in existing communities think about what your life will look like when you're not the only game in town - and that you let us know how you WANT it to look. I hope we can work together to create a future where such networks are networked - where we are cross-linked and referenced, multiplying each other's influence and revenue where appropriate, and just providing each other with cool, different perspectives where desired. This will take vision, and will require input from all stakeholders in this wonderful, funny, diverse - and yes, GROWING - community. But yeah, I think it's necessary, lest the science blogging world become as ossified, divided and generally miserable a place as, well, the print journalism world did. Shudder.

Anyone down to discuss, drop me a line. kmb@betterbio.org(or just ping me at my G+ profile.)
 
Would just like to point out that regardless of the intent of the piece, I recognize that it's probably overwhelming to be at the center of (mainly negative) attention from a bunch of reputable bloggers. So, thank you +Khalil A. Cassimally for taking criticism graciously.
Ed Yong
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Yes, that. Although that's sort of the flipside of a meritocracy ;-)

I stress again, though, that disagreeing with Khalil's POV is not the same as giving him grief, and I thank him for his gracious and considered response.
Ed Yong
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"The evolution happens thanks to the efforts of many people who strive to make things better. It is far from being a passive process!"

That would be intelligent design ;-) And I bring that up because I think the changes in the blogosphere are much closer to actual natural selection. The big structural changes - the dissolution of ScienceBlogs, the rise of many new networks, and so on - these aren't things that a group of people planned out. They're the result of people reacting and adapting to environmental flux.
 
Exactly how do you disagree with Khalil, Ed? Reading his response and re-reading your comments, it seems more like miscommunication than disagreement. Can you maybe respond to his clarification, for the sake of this conversation having some constructive benefit beyond this thread?
 
Sorry, Ed, our comments were like ships passing in the night!
 
+Khadijah Britton, I know you didn't ask me, but I think some of the disagreement stemmed from the fact that the piece was light on the history of science blogging--which causes a loss of credibility, since the author is asking about the future of science blogging.

IMO, there was also the implication that reputable science bloggers are not doing enough to promote newbies, when I think it's better now than it ever was. An acknowledgment of these bloggers' efforts before asking them to do something would have probably gone over better.

I also found it discouraging that the author thinks that the only reputable "stamps of approval" are SciAm, PLoS, and Wired, and that without them, one cannot compete. I think this thinking is defeatist and undermines all the other excellent outlets out there.
 
Khalil, hats off and thanks for a gracious response here. I think we all heartily agree on the value of spotting and drawing attention to quality bloggers, especially newer ones, and I don't think I'm misrepresenting things if I say both Ed and I have taken many pains to do just that, and to lend aid to many young writers and bloggers in less visible ways as well.

Where I disagreed with your post (and I think this holds for Ed somewhat as well) was in the suggestion that the science blogosphere has been growing more calcified and less flexible and open, when in fact the last 18 months have brought greater fluidity and change and more openings rather than less -- and that the example you cite in particular, the establishment of SciAm's blogs, is Exhibit A in that. So I think we're with you in the positive agenda you promote but skeptical, to put it lightly, about the argument you set it against, which was that the existing networks were "fixed communities" that allowed few doors in (and little attention to) new voices.

Hope that's a bit clearer — and that this rather amazing string of comments didn't provide a rude awakening over on your side of the glove.

Speaking of which, it's getting late here, so I'm off to lal-la land. See you 'round the net.

Yours,

David
Ed Yong
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I'm just going to let +David Dobbs and +Shara Yurkiewicz speak on my behalf becuase they're doing it more cogently than I would at 3.30 in the frickin' morning. (I am currently following rules 1 and 6).
 
Off to bed myself. But I truly hope this is the beginning, not the end, of the conversation.
 
I believe that we should all remember how new and how remarkable it is that we can have this global conversation at all. This gives all of us real access to one another that did not even exist a few short years ago. This is a powerful force. We should learn to use it well.
 
PS meant, above, "other side of the globe." Not sure what "other side of the glove" would mean. Best not think about it too much. In any case -- cheers and good wishes, whatever side of the globe -- near side, far side, inside out -- you find yourself in.
 
I'll just say, because I don't see it addressed upstream here, that Khalil's suggestion of more-established bloggers offering something along the lines of internships for beginning science writers is a very good one indeed, though if it's tailored to be suitable for the blog world perhaps another name for the relationship would be better.
 
+Chris Clarke isn't that the same as the good old-fashioned guest blogging?

I can't think of any examples from science blogs, but I can think of at least two major feminist blogs which were taken over by former guest bloggers. I can also think of many blogs of all types which were either started after the blogger had guest blogged for others or which became much more popular due to the blogger guest blogging for other bloggers.
 
Going back to +Ed Yong's commentary, I feel the need to expand a bit on the suggestion to be active commenters on other blogs - if you write interesting and insightful stuff at other blogs, then people will follow your back to your own blog.

Also, it will also make other bloggers more wiling to link to your blog when you start. When I started my blog (which is currently inactive), several science bloggers (Orac, Afarensis, PZ Myers) linked to it early on, since they knew me from their comment sections.
 
On the point +Kristjan Wager made to +Chris Clarke, I can relate to the phenomenon you described - "guest blogger becoming regular blogger". I blog at a comparatively minor and tiny little indie science blog - Parasite of the Day (http://dailyparasite.blogspot.com/). It was founded last year by Susan Perkins at the American Natural History Museum to celebrate the UN year of biodiversity by showcasing the diversity of parasites. I started out making regular contribution to the blog and ended up writing ~30-something of the 365 post in total (Susan wrote up most of the rest - one for everyday of 2010 - which I consider an enormous achievement on her part).

This year, because of her professional commitments, and also because I contributed regularly (and enthusiastically) last year, she made me a co-admin of that blog. This allows me post whenever I want/can, and I always try to do so regularly. So now I am the regular writer of that blog. I had also decided to switched up the style a bit half-way through the year. Instead of featuring random interesting parasites (which I still think was really fun to do), I decided to use the blog to write about new papers being published on parasites (which have not been covered in the major blogs) which we have not yet featured on the blog (and believe me, there are a lot ), so now the posts this year read something more like science journalism than "oh hai, check out this kewl parasite!".

Now, I can't say if that has made our little blog more popular or not - I always link to the blog here on G+ whenever I write a new post, and I know Susan links to any new posts I have written via her FB and Twitter, but it is an example of someone who was working in the background on a guest basis on a blog in the beginning and progressively worked towards taking a more regular and even major role.
 
Jason, thank you for linking to that conversation!
 
+Kristjan Wager I started at Deep Sea News as a guest blogger, as had one other contributor. In fact Deep Sea News has a very rich history of guest blogging http://deepseanews.com/about/guest-writers/. But we offer guest blogging on DSN because most scientists don't want to blog full time. They prefer to take advantage of our built in audience that we've curated for over 7 years. This is something we actively seek out and encourage. One our core values (stay tuned to DSN in the 2 weeks for more on these) is to provide "perspective through a plurality of voices". But it is cause I also know that most new bloggers fizzle out. One of these days I'll back through the science blog archives and prove this. The jump into it naively (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/evo-eco-lab/2011/10/04/on-naivete-among-scientists-who-wish-to-communicate/). Not a bad thing, just a reality.I think the Sci-Am and Scientopia guest blogs do an excellent job of doing the same.

Supporting new science bloggers is nothing new in the science blogosphere. We did it informally 2-5 years ago, now we do it actively through a variety other means (links of the day/week, guest blogging, Ed's tip jar, continuing conversations on other blogs). One thing I have anecdotally noticed in the last year is fewer people are letting me know that they've written something I'd be interested in. So maybe newer bloggers need to be more entrepreneurial and pimp their posts out. Remember, we are balancing on the consumer-producer line, plus many of us have our eyeballs on the screen at different times of the day. It is too easy to miss something really good. Tweet that shit out multiple times a day.
 
Just wanted to say I really appreciate +Ed Yong's and others' perspectives offered here. And I agree that the mechanism of change in the science blogs ecosystem looks an awful lot like natural selection to me. As for more established bloggers giving newer bloggers a leg up -- we've always done this (and it's been done for me, still being done for me, in all sorts of ways that I find truly moving and helpful). That's what's so great about social media. Someone pushes a cool article to you, you retweet it. Someone emails you about their website, you blog about it.

I also mentor my students in science communication: they are required to write occasional posts for my lab blog and I am constantly offering people spots to guest blog (alas, they almost never take me up on it). If any of you are students, and you are looking to do more writing and outreach, you need to choose your mentors and advisors wisely as well. I am in talks with several students looking to join my PhD program right now, and with a few I've had explicit conversations about my interest in mentoring people who prioritize outreach and communication. So you can get this with some of us while in grad school.
 
Interesting post. I generally distrust the whole "bootstrap" myth generally, having been around long enough to know better. But the hard work part is definitely essential.

As it happens, I am putting together a science blogging network to address general science topics, particularly how-to and encouragement for people doing their own science. So if there are science bloggers out there working on their craft, or looking for something new, we should talk. (http://citizenscientistsleague.com/write-for-csl/)
 
Thanks for this rich exchange, everyone! Nuff said.
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