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.