Scientopia transitions

April 18, 2012

You will notice a new PayPal button on the sidebar of this blog and possibly other blogs around the Scientopia collective. Very likely you did not notice new amendments to our Code. The short version is, we finally have a way to handle money. This is good because it allows us to try to cover the operational costs of this blog collective which had heretofore been borne by a single member. It was thought that we should get our financial/tax/LLC/blahdeblah in order first and this apparently prevented even donations from ourselves to the cause.

We have apparently negotiated those rough waters. There are three issues on the table at the moment for your understanding and consideration.

First the button and my sidebar text: Your donation helps to support the operation of Scientopia – thanks for your consideration.

This is provided for anyone who would care to support Scientopia. Our expenses are the hosting and bandwidth charges, at the moment there is nobody getting paid to do anything service-related for the upkeep.

Second, the Scientopia schwag shop items now have a modest markup. Said markup will be routed into the Scientopia coffers.

Third, at some point in the future there will be ads on the blogs. Not sure who/what/how just yet, but it is in the works.

I won’t make the NPR style plea, you folks can do the maths for yourselves.

On blogging

January 24, 2012

You know you are doing your proper job as a blogger when SiteMeter shows you a bunch of folks on the site for 20-40 min plus, just waiting around to enjoy the comment fireworks.

SciAm bloggers get pizzaid!

January 19, 2012

A tweet from one @robinlloyd99 indicates that the pay structure worked out for the Scientific American blogs runs a fixed $200 per month.

.@BoraZ: some networks pay more to those who bring more traffic. @sciam network doesn’t. same monthly pay for every blogger. $200

Not too shabby. I may have reached that in one or two big months at but for the most part the paystructure there was running maybe $100-$150 per month for the DM blog, which was right around 20% or so down the traffic list. So the vast majority of Sb bloggers were not making anything near what SciAm blogs is paying. Including Sb escapees such as Myrmecos, SciCurious and Aunt Janet.


This is fantastic.

A new post by Erick Schonfeld up at techcrunch points to some data from online comment management system DISQUS.

The take home as interpreted by Schonfeld:

According to the data, 61 percent of all Disqus comments are made via pseudonyms, versus 35 percent anonymous and 4 percent using real names (i.e. Facebook). People with pseudonyms also comment 6.5 times more than those who comment anonymously and 4.7 times more than commenters who use real names.

Okay, but what about the trolls? Disqus maintains that only does allowing pseudonyms produce more comments, but the quality of the comments is also better, as measured by likes and replies. Disqus maintains that 61 percent of pseudonymous comments on its system are positive in that regard, versus only 34 percent positive for anonymous comments (I knew it!) and 51 percent positive for comments made using real names. People who use pseudonyms post better comments on Disqus. Their comments are liked more and generate more discussion.

There you have it folks. Data to prove what I’ve maintained nearly constantly since starting a pseudonymous blog that allows anonymous commentary. And, more specifically, since I’ve started pointing out that online venues that 1) overtly desire vigorous commentary and 2) require real name registration are shooting themselves in the foot….after tying one hand behind their back.

The rules for this blog meme are quite simple.
-Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.
I originally did this meme, after seeing similar posted by Janet Stemwedel and John Lynch. Prior editions include 2010, 2009 and 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Well this news is big. HUGE, in fact.

It is no secret that these two guys’ political content draws the lion’s share of the traffic to Sb. Meaning two-thirds or better, day in and year out.

I will be absolutely fascinated to see how much remains at Sb after they move to on Monday.

My prediction is: Very Little.

Three years ago Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science asked his readers a simple question:

1) Tell me about you. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed? Let loose with those comments.

2) Tell someone else about this blog and in particular, try and choose someone who’s not a scientist but who you think might be interested in the type of stuff found in this blog. Ever had family members or groups of friends who’ve been giving you strange, pitying looks when you try to wax scientific on them? Send ’em here and let’s see what they say.

I found the comments in response to this fascinating and used the excuse to meme it here. Things kinda took off after that. Read the rest of this entry »

What is the point of NIH having dual assignment of grant applications if it ends up being a huge negotiating hassle to even get the second IC to consider picking up the award if the primary passes on it? And how many successful secondary pickups of applications are there?

I really should apologize to my readers who get their feelings hurt when 1) I bash GlamourMag science and 2) CPP bashes society journal level science. I just couldn’t figure out how to make it something other than a nonpology. So the nonpology version is, sorry dudes, sorry that your feelings are hurt if there is some implication that you are a trivial fame-chasing, probably data faking GlamourHound. also, if the ranting that I trigger from certain commenters has the effect of making you feel as though you are a trivial, meaningless speedbump who is wasting NIH dollars better spent on RealScientists who do RealGrandeWorkEleven. The fact is, CPP and I are in relatively comfortable situations compared with many of our readers. It is no secret that we have jobs and grant funding. Although it is true that both of us are not above making an exaggerated point for dramatic discussion-encouraging purposes, it is probably no surprise that we come from distinctly different points of view ForRealz on this particular issue. Speaking only for myself in this case, I’ve been around long enough and enjoyed enough of what I consider to be success in what I want to do as a scientist that it tends to insulate me against criticism. I get that this is not true for all of you. If my intent in raising these issues (i.e., to show that the dominant meme is not reflective of the only way to have a career) backfires for some of you, I do regret that.

Louis CK is so fucking funny it makes my teeth hurt.

Sen Tom Coburn is a jerk but he comes from a long tradition of right wingers trying to make hay out of ridiculing science. Don’t fall for it. [update: read Namnezia, Neurodojo and Dr.O on this issue]

I still haven’t worked out if the idea that there are a host of “good” postdocs out there if the PI could only get them to come to their lab is a pleasant fantasy, a recipe for mentoring disaster or a truth that is only available to that guy, over there.

What IS it with people who arrive at these unshakable assumptions about others based on only the tiniest sliver of the available evidence, and cling fast to these assumptions no matter the additional evidence?


This kind of dude is a stone cold professorial mensch for doing thankless labor on behalf of very young would-be scientists. Really. I mean that.

Huh, I wonder how the Britlandisher science blog collective has been getting along?

I just don’t get what is in the heads of these journalists. Look at sports journalists. They get the box score right. They pursue the injury story, ask questions, do the follow up. Heck, they even do follow up on contract negotiations FFS. Coverage of a drug story in the press, though? Forget about it. No details, no followup. A million stories in the news these days about “bath salts” or “plant food” and allegations of emergency room visits and overdose deaths. Do you think we EVER see followup stories with definitive identification of the drug content (methylenedioxypyrovalerone and 4-methylmethcathinone, we presume)? Never. Journalism sucks.


Update 2: Oh, man, this Gallup poll on estimating the proportion of Gay-Americans is gonna reverberate. I would’a said 5-10% myself. Srsly though, 43% of Democrats think more than 25% of Americans are gay? Really?


Blogrolling: sex nerd

April 16, 2011

To be honest, I spent some time reading and I’m still trying to work out if this is scientifically informed, half-baked opinion blather, feminist sex lib stuff, or what.

Interesting threads though.


[ source ]


March 4, 2011

What animals could you take in hand to hand* combat?

*damn pedantic scientists

An open thread with a simple query.

We’ve been operating for a few months now, with time for you to get to know us. We’ve had a little wave of new recruiting in the past month as well.

So whaddaya think? Ups, downs and other comments all welcome…

ok, not really. But I think we’re going to look back and say that this is when scientific blogging started being mainstream activities. I view it through the blog collective lens.

Prior to 2010, Nature Network and Scienceblogs sucked up all the air. Which was cool and all but it didn’t leave a lot of room. Or there wasn’t enough of a market, so to speak.

So what happened?

Discover magazine got serious by acquiring Ed Yong and Razib and by so doing created a third-way of collectivized scienceblogging.

Then, Scienceblogs and Nature Network had major (the former) and minor (the latter) assplosions. Talent departed with various levels of spleen being vented and rancor being…rancored.

This led, inevitably perhaps, to the formation of Scientopia and Occam’s Typewriter from a core group of emigres from each of the large collectives, respectively.

In parallel Wired magazine tried the Discover Magazine blogs model and Scientific American at least laid the groundwork (i.e., hired Bora Zivkovic as community manager) for what I suspect will be another instance of the Discover Magazine blog collective model.

PLoS blogs launched…unclear to me under which model but I bet it will eventually look more like the Sb / Nat Net / Scientopia / Occam’s Typewriter type of model.

In the breech, the wily upstart LabSpaces pulled a fast move by emulating the path buried in the origins of They pulled together a healthy number of existing privateer blogs, created a great deal of enthusiasm and really went to town. I’d say they easily won the enthusiasm and energy title for new blog collectives.

Along with this, the model of blog collective organized by scientific topic expanded as well. The all-geo site is currently just Highly Allochthonous but going by the Twitter energy of recent geoscience meetings I see a lot of upside future. Perhaps more interestingly, The Gam joined oldtimer Deep Sea News as a second Oceans blog collective. Strong work.

So science blogging continues to grow and, more importantly, become more formalized into go-to collectives and organizations. Some commercial, some not.

I can’t help but think this is related, perhaps not causally but as a reflection of the same trends, to a growth in recognition of

The Society for Neuroscience continues to tip toe but the Twitter chatter at the 2010 meeting was much more substantial. Even the tiny (and, let us admit, conservative) College on Problems of Drug Dependence started a blog.

I see many more local Universities and research institutes using Twitter and Facebook…and even establishing blogs as part of their PR mission. PR as institutions, sure, but part of that is to brag about the science their investigators are conducting and publishing.

Last but not least, Jeremy Berg, Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences used blogging with skill and enthusiasm to advance his agenda.

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010

Wishing a very merry day to all of my readers who celebrate Christmas!

Although it was narrow going at the wire, I’m pleased to report that all members of the DrugMonkey household appear to have made the Nice list. I’m sure you did as well, DearReader.

cross posting from

A bunch of refugees from the Nature Network blogging outfit have set up shop as Occam’s Typewriter. Very nice. Been waiting to hear about this since the mutterings over at Nature Network turned ugly a few months back. Okay, maybe it was several months back. Anyway, we can consider this part of the great 2010 science-blog-collective asplosion.

First look– Read the rest of this entry »