Like Scienceblogs.com, Discover was a pioneer in science blogging communities, and began to draw blogs away from Seed’s community as early as 2008 and 2009, when it acquired, respectively, Carl Zimmer’s The Loom and Chris Mooney’s The Intersection. Yong joined in 2010, a few months before the scandal that would usher in a more precipitous decline for Scienceblogs. In July 2010, Seed Media Group was forced to cancel a nutrition blog that it had allowed the Pepsi Company to create after its members began defecting in protest.
But that was long after Mims left and way ahead of his story. After requiring some help from a number of followers remembering how many blogs made up Scienceblogs.com at the outset (it was fourteen, pointed out Bora Zivkovic, the editor of Scientific American’s blog network, who moved his personal blog off Scienceblogs after the Pepsi incident), he kept going:
Basically, after that it was just about finding other interesting bloggers to bring on board. The site literally ran itself. Editorially I mean. The upside of no oversight was… no work for editors. Thus was born the term “cat herding” We tried to come up with ways to incentive ppl to write on the same subject, because we couldn’t tell them what to do. It was an education in the ‘future’ of journalism — no control, no hierarchy, just… self organization.
The worst thing that happened under my tenure was a “takeover” ad that basically broke the site. Flash sucked even worse then. Everything that ScienceBlogs was through the end of my tenure was due entirely to the bloggers. It was 100% them. I was just their chief enabler. ;) I left pretty soon after the site reached about 30 bloggers. For the rest of the history, you’ll have to drag it out of @arikia or @katherinesharpe.
Mims was referring to Katherine Sharpe and Arikia Millikan, former employees of Scienceblogs.com. “No work for editors, just underpaid and unappreciated interns who had to code the whole front page daily,” tweeted back the latter, now the community manager of Wired.com at Wired Digital.
It was nearing 8 p.m. and Mims had been tweeting for an hour by then, but he threw in a few parting thoughts, including some trivia questions for insiders (“Which blogger earned the nickname ‘The Dork?’) and what he’d learned from helping to launch Scienceblogs.com:
1. If you are building a business, ask for an equity stake.
2. The world does not revolve around you. If you leave, things continue.
3. Eventually, bloggers who are talented will be paid what they’re worth and recruited by others accordingly. Labor: market.
Oh and the last thing I’ll say is, SB totally launched my career even though I never wrote for it. I owe it, and Seed, a lot.
So thanks to all the bloggers at SB for being such excellent ppl. I still believe you are the future of science edu/coverage.
“Ditto!” Milliken tweeted.
“My twopence? @mims @katherinesharpe @virginiahughes @arikia made #SBhistory worth being part of. Thank you. Always,” wrote scientist David Kroll, who moved his blog from Sciencblogs.com to Chemical & Engineering News’s CENtral Science network after the Pepsi affair (he was referring to freelance science writer Virginia Hughes, another former employee at Scienceblogs, in addition to the others already mentioned).
Fifteen minutes after Mims had signed off, Rennie and Yong, two of Twitter’s finest comedians, began riffing on a separate hashtag, #FakeSBHistory, most of it directed at Bly, the founder and captain of Seed Media Group. It caught on, and as the campfire died down, a number of people lingered to take cracks.
A new story for Scienceblogs will undoubtedly begin soon. According to Oransky’s post at Retraction Watch, David Braun, vice president of news and editorial service at National Geographic Digital Media, told bloggers on the conference call:
I’m looking forward to working with ScienceBloggers - Sciblings, I believe you call yourselves - to complement what National Geographic and ScienceBlogs do. I know that you’re respected in your blogging fields.