Field of Science

The Census of Science Bloggers Wants You!

The response thus far to the Census of Science Bloggers (2011) has been rather remarkable, especially when you consider it started on a Friday (never a good day to announce). But it's Monday now, which means it's time for this census worker--a hat I'll be wearing for the rest of August--to get to work.

The Challenge: How to circulate the Science Blogger Census to the whole of the science blogosphere in such a way that it doesn't become tedious?

Having thought about it, I can't say that I've come up with a perfect solution, but I do have a plan that at least tries to minimize the pain.

I would ask you, dear science blogger, to join me as a census worker and collect one census from one science blogger you personally know. You will send them a link to this very post (http://goo.gl/FzzZa) where they will find a link to the census form (http://goo.gl/2R31w) and these same instructions requesting that they do as you did--complete the census form and collect a single census from a science blogger they personally know.

If you are a contacted blogger but have already completed the census, simply proceed to part two and send the link to this post to a science blogger you personally know.

If you are a contacted blogger and have already completed the census and collected a single census from another science blogger, reply to the blogger trying to collect their census from you that they need to look elsewhere.
The key to this method is that you collect only one census--no more and no less. In this way, the effort (while not perfect) will eventually run its course and run out of steam. And in case it doesn't, the collection period ends September 1, 2011.

Thanks for your patience. I've taken a cursory look at the data collected so far, and can say the effort (and anoyance) are going to be well worth it.

Census of Science Bloggers (2011)

Form: Census of Science Bloggers (2011).  Short url: http://goo.gl/2R31w

Pass it on...

Census data will be used to create a 2011 snapshot of science bloggers. The data will be parsed and distilled down into hopefully helpful and informative charts and tables to be posted throughout the month of September.

2000-2010 Census
A portion of the data collected will also be added to the 2000-2010 census data flowchart.

Introducing /r/SciBlogs/

Starting (or launching if you like) a much needed subreddit for science blogs: http://www.reddit.com/r/sciblogs/

Think of it as Editor's Picks for the science blogosphere. It's also an effective way to introduce science blogs to the general public.

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I love science. I love blogging. Thus, FoS is a labor of love for me. But I don't just love and enjoy FoS. I'm a fan of all science blogs. The reason for this is an open secret among science blog readers--science blogs are the best place to get your science.

For example, we are expecting, and a few weeks back my wife came home with The Vaccine Book given to her by one of her coworkers. She asked me what I thought about it. Naturally I was skeptical. I first turned to google and quickly found myself sifting through anonymous opinions in a forum. Then it occurred to me that there was probably a reason the name "Dr. Sears" sounded familiar. I'd probably read about him on a science blog. So I went to The White Coat Underground and searched "Dr. Sears". The first result was a link in Respectful Insolence to Science-Based Medicine… That was easy.

However, this awareness of the value of science bloggers is relatively rare. Most people get their science news from mainstream media sources. Even science enthusiasts often rely on sources that simply regurgitate science press releases. What that suggests to me is there is a vast, untapped audience for science blogs out there. People who are interested in science and would happily choose a science blog over a press release, if only they new they had a choice.

Recently Bora launched his SciAm network. There was one reviewer who congratulated Bora for doing it right, but then went on to suggest that SciAm's rise might result in the demise of some of the smaller science blog networks. To paraphrase his reasoning, you can only read so many science blogs in the day.  There's some truth that the pool of science blog readers/fans can only read so many science blogs in a day, but it's a mistake to assume that the reader base for science blogs is currently anywhere near its true potential.

Reddit is populated by, for the most part, non-science blog readers. But as I suggest above, it's not that the typical redditor isn't interested in science, it's that the typical redditor isn't in on the open secret that is science blogs, and so ends up relying on press releases or the media's rehashing of those press releases for the majority of their science news.  If you want to reach this group, you have to go to them. That's what /r/sciblogs/ does--a subreddit devoted to science blogs where those of us who read science bloggers submit links to the gems we find.

Competition among science blogging entities is good, but the number of readers one network or blog can hope to poach from its peers pales in comparison to the number of potential science blog readers we can hope to persuade to turn away from mainstream media sources and press releases and turn to science blogs.

/r/sciblogs/ goal is to grow the audience for science blogs and to bring to that audience (and you and me) a daily dose of the best of science blogging.

Science Blogging and Reddit

Dear Science Bloggers Everywhere:

We spend a lot of time composing our blog posts. This is good because content is king. But unless you are wildly popular, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't spend a little more time smartly, efficiently and tastefully promoting your content after you post it. There are a lot of useful ways to market your latest posts, but here I want to talk about how best to submit your content to reddit.com.

Reddit is a collection of topical forums known as subreddits. There are subreddits for all sorts of topics, including many of the sciences:
 /r/Anthropology/, /r/Astronomy/, /r/biology/, /r/chemistry/, /r/geology/, /r/mycology/, /r/Ornithology/, /r/linguistics/, /r/PhilosophyofScience, etc.
Chances are good there is a subreddit devoted to your field of study and/or the specific topic of your post. When you submit your content to reddit, don't just submit it to the main page--/r/reddit.com/--but instead take a minute or two to identify the appropriate subreddit for your content.

A Reddit Submission Form

What does submitting to the appropriate subreddit accomplish vs. submitting to the main page of reddit?

The main page of reddit receives hundreds, if not thousands of submissions per hour, so the chances that a large enough number of people trying to wade through that flood of information are going to notice your submission and upvote it enough times to bring it to everyone else's attention are slim to none. On the other hand, the rate of new submissions to topical subreddits is vastly lower, so not only will your post have longer in the new submissions queue to be noticed, the people checking the new submissions in a topical subreddit have self selected as being interested in the type of content you are submitting. Contrast this with the people sifting through the font page of reddit who are likely more interested in finding rage comics or pictures of cats than a review of a scientific paper.

And that is reddit. Simple really. Just take an extra 30 seconds to make sure you are submitting to the appropriate subreddit and you will tap into a resevour of science friendly readers who are telling you in no uncertain terms that they are interested in what you are blogging about.