What we're not talking about

Without trying to sound too sensationalist: ScienceBlogs is seeing a mass exodus of writers. The main reason revolves around Seed Media, the parent company of ScienceBlogs, selling blog space to advertisers. As MarkCC, of Good Math, Bad Math, notes:

Seed has, in its corporate wisdom, decided to let Pepsico buy its way into a blog on ScienceBlogs. Pepsi writes SMG a nice check, and suddenly their content gets mixed in to the ScienceBlog RSS feeds, the ScienceBlog feed to Google News, etc., exactly the way that my blog posts do.

This is not acceptable.

For now, I’m suspending my blog for a few days. If Seed decides to back out of this spectacular stupidity, then I’ll start posting here again. If not, then I’ll go looking for a new home for GM/BM. The money that I’ve made from the ads that Seed has sold has been nice – but it’s not worth my integrity.

If Blogs here are for sale, then I’m gone.

The blog in question is Food Frontiers. What’s it all about? Well, as the opening article itself states:

On behalf of the team here at ScienceBlogs, I’d like to welcome you to Food Frontiers, a new project presented by PepsiCo.

As part of this partnership, we’ll hear from a wide range of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous, science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning more about the transformation of PepsiCo’s product portfolio, we’ll be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its use of energy, water and packaging.

Is it just me, or does that paragraph leave a sickly taste in your mouth? Maybe I’m just a synaesthete for blatantly corporate PR gimmicks. There are, of course, many arguments to be had about the role of advertising on blogs — it needs to generate money, after all. Still, whether you care or not about the ethics of the situation, I think ScienceBlogs made a very bad move not to consult their writers before going ahead with this.

N.B. If you’re worried about who has left and, more importantly, where they’ve gone, then Skulls in the Stars is keeping track of the situation: The Sciencebloggosphere is a changing. Of the blogs I regularly read, only one of them has made the move: Neuron Culture. The other blog I read, Laelaps, is still undecided as to where he’s going to take up permanent residence. You can, however, follow his twitter feed: http://twitter.com/laelaps.

3 thoughts on “What we're not talking about”

  1. strange days. obviously allah is watching out for me, as i left just in time. though to be fair, even a mortal could scry that another fuck-up was in the offing.

  2. Praise be to Allah, and his continued interest in the purity of blogging… But as a outsider, I was quite surprised by their move. I didn’t realise things had gotten quite so shitty. Still, on reflection, I discovered that much of my blog-based reading takes place outside of ScienceBlogs anyway.

  3. Update from Seed:

    We have removed Food Frontiers from SB.

    We apologize for what some of you viewed as a violation of your immense trust in ScienceBlogs. Although we (and many of you) believe strongly in the need to engage industry in pursuit of science-driven social change, this was clearly not the right way.

    How do we empower top scientists working in industry to lead science-minded positive change within their organizations? How can a large and diverse online community made up of scientists and the science-minded public help? How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage? We’ll open this challenge up to everyone on SB and beyond in the coming days so that we can all find the right solution.

Leave a Reply