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A new blogging platform… – In Scientio, Veritas

A new blogging platform…

Do say, ‘Hello!’, ‘Hola!’, ‘Bonjour!’, ‘Namaskar!’, and whatever other form of greeting you feel comfortable with, to the Scientopia Blogs, a WordPress based new blogging platform, that features many of my oft-read and favorite bloggers, including (but not limited to) our very own GrrlScientist and her consort-in-science Arney Boh* Bob O’Hara (This Scientific Life), Drugmonkey and the irrepressible Comrade Physioprof (Drugmonkey), the excellent Mark Chu-Caroll (Good Math, Bad Math), and so forth. The fact that many (all? IDK) of these bloggers parted their lots with the Seed Magazine Scienceblogs matters not a whit to me. I am just excited to read great posts, thought-provoking, puzzling, funny, cute (Yes, Bob! Love your posted photos), and so forth. The site overlay is visually pleasing, too, in an Apple-ish kind of way.

The only problem is that now I shall have one more platform (and several corresponding blogs) to keep track of. Sigh! The price I pay to retain the veneer of intellectual literacy…

The Scientopia platform did a rather unique thing. In order to be transparent in their operations, they have come up with a code governing their site, the Scientopia Code. The code lays out their vision and site governance practices, the gist of which appears to be that the individual bloggers will be in absolute control, without much editorial supervision, and that the site shall run by consensus. Mark Chu-Caroll, currently the sole site admin, offers more insight in his blog.

In keeping with the skeptical tradition, PZ Myers made a few salient observations about the wording of the code; while liking the site generally and wishing its success, he pointed out the apparent over-use of the word “respect” in the code. To the cognoscenti, this word has attained a special status as a buzzword in the intertubes, being bandied about whenever one feels the need to silence a dissenting opinion or criticism somewhere. Mike Dunford, one of the bloggers in Scientopia (The Questionable Authority), posted a rejoinder in which he played with the semantics of the word “respect”. He also followed it up with a response to my question. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very convinced that the “respect” wasn’t a demand, but a request, in the site’s charter under the current wording. But… the good thing is that as Mark Chu-Carrol promised in his blog, individual bloggers will be in absolute control, so that in the end, all that would come down to the blogger to decide as (s)he pleases.

I was, on the other hand, a bit leery of the multiple use of the word “Collective” in their Code. Goodness gracious! Is resistance futile? Will my biological and technological distinctiveness be added to their own, and will my culture be adapted to service theirs? More importantly, will I have to sleep standing up instead of spooning my wife?… Ahem! TMI.

But if there is one thing in their site that I abso-bleeping-lutely hate, it is the idiotic comment moderation system. In my experience with various sites, it always hinders free flow of discussion; it epitomizes anti-climax, particularly during a vigorous discussion. It is difficult to expect the blogger to sit by the blog approving comments whether they trickle or gush in. However, since the final controls will be in the hands of the bloggers, perhaps at least some of them will relax this requirement. I shall have no problem registering at the site even, if that’s what it takes.

Now, if you’ll kindly excuse me, I gotta go read This Scientific Life. I am glad that both Bob O’Hara and GrrlScientist have decided to maintain their respective NN blogs also.

* You know I’m gonna call you that, Bob, until you clear up the mystery of rni… ๐Ÿ™‚
Thank you, Bob!


  1. Bob O'Hara

    Oh, yes. Sorry – I was in a workshop last week and things slipped.

    When I was in Finland, I ended up working in the Rolf Nevanlinna Institute (Rolf Nevanlinna was a mathematician – I was cheating and doing statistics). So I got an RNI account. Last summer I went on gholiday (and ended up getting married), so I created a gmail account, to which I could automatically forward emails from my RNI account. Hence the rni.boh (boh was my user name). I didn’t mean it, but I now use that account as my main non-work account.

    Glad you like the new place, and I respect appreciate your criticisms. Hopefully the code of conduct won’t be needed, though.

  2. Bob O'Hara

    Damn, that was 2 paragraphs. Somebody call M@!

  3. Lou Woodley

    I think I fixed it, Bob…

    Kausik, it’s interesting to hear another POV on the whole commenting debate – so can I safely assume you don’t mind needing a NN account to comment on the blogs here?

  4. Kausik Datta

    Thank you, Bob. I can breathe easier now! ๐Ÿ™‚
    BTW, I think your TexTile strikethrough tag did not come through. Which kinda marred the effect. Ah! well.

    Lou, for me personally, I think it is moot, since I already have an NN account. I do understand some bloggers’ unease with anonymous commenting (it makes commenting difficult too), but I would draw the line at requiring every commenter to go through a tortuous NN account sign in process. There are other technologies available and in widespread use, like signing in through Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, TypePad, OpenID and so forth.

    Also, your team should perhaps look into a single sign on (SSO) mechanism, as well as a way to make the sign on persistent for a session, so that one doesn’t need to ‘Sign In’ separately for every NN blog page one wants to comment on – as happens now.

  5. Lou Woodley

    Kausik, we’re investigating both of the things you mention – how we ask users to sign up as well as resolving the problem with needing to login separately to each blog post on NN to comment. I’ll post a more thorough update when I have news to share, I was just curious to hear your perspective.

  6. Christina Pikas

    I the default is to hold comments for moderation for anyone who has not commented before. I’ve just removed that on my blog ( ). We’re still settling in to our new home so we’re fixing things like that as we find them. Thanks!

  7. Kausik Datta

    Lou, you and Matt have been – as I have mentioned before elsewhere – bright beacons of hope in an otherwise dismal setting. Thank you for the updates.

    Christina, grazie! ๐Ÿ™‚ You are in JHU APL!! That’s in Laurel, right? I work at the School of Medicine.

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