Why Scientopia?

Aug 02 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

If you're a reader who used to follow this blog on ScienceBlogs, odds are, you think that the reason Scientopia exists is because of the whole Pepsi incident. That did have something to do with the timing if this launch, but scientopia was in the works long before that happened.

When Seed started ScienceBlogs four years ago, they did something great. They showed us how science bloggers could come together into a virtual community. I don't think that any of us had the idea of doing that before Christopher Mims started approaching us for Seed.
But fairly quickly, it became apparent that the community that seed was building couldn't be the community that many of us really wanted. Part of that was due to Seed's mismanagement. But the larger part came from the basic conflict between the needs and priorities of a media company versus the needs and priorities of a community of science bloggers.
The idea behind Scientopia is to build an online science community that is focused on the  community. We don't have anyone outside the community deciding who gets to blog here, or what features we'll add to the site, or whether to take ads/which ads to take. Here at Scientopia, the bloggers call the shots.
We also want to provide a better resource for you, our readers. Over the next few months, as time permit, we'll be unveiling a lot of features geared towards making the site more fun and useful for you. We'll be adding user forums, so that you'll be able to have discussions that aren't tied to a specific blogger of blog post. We'll be adding a moderated wiki to host articles, by both bloggers and readers. We'll be adding a variety of feed-based tools, to make it easy for you to follow what you want to follow.
At the moment, you'll notice that there are no ads here. That's not because we're opposed to ads. We will, eventually, almost certainly have ads, to cover the cost of hosting and administration if nothing else. For now, there just wasn't time to set up the infrastructure that we would need to be able to manage ads and money. But when we take ads, they'll be as unobtrusive as possible, and we'll do our best to prevent the worst garbage from showing up on your screens.
At the moment, I'm the sole administrator around here. I'll do my best to keep everything running, and running smoothly. And I have to thank Scicurious for all of her help. When I started this, I sent an email around to a bunch of sciencebloggers to gauge interest, and Sci, despite the fact that she didn't know me at all, popped up and volunteered to help. She's done the bulk of the cat-herding while I've been doing the technical work. Scientopia wouldn't be here today without her help.

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  • I look forward to what you guys are doing here.

    Technical question: Are you planning on giving the option to have follow-up comments emailed, or does that require registration? That is one feature of places like blogger and WordPress that I really like--especially for blogs and posts that don't get tons of comments.

  • MarkCC says:

    Yes.

    In fact, if you look over in the sidebar under "meta", you'll see "Comments RSS". That's a comments feed for the comments on this blog.

    Soon, I'll be adding in per-post feeds of some sort. And eventually, I'm planning on setting up per-user feeds, so that you'll be able to have a custom feed that collects new comments from all of the posts on a particular blog where you've posted comments.

  • James Sweet says:

    Best of luck! I have to say, I like the uncluttered look right now.

    One quick comment, your blogroll still points to PalMD on ScienceBlogs, not at Scientopia.

  • Sean Carroll says:

    Congrats on what looks like an excellent project.

  • Sivi says:

    Orac pointed over this way, so I thought I'd say hi. I look forward to seeing this develop - it sounds like you guys have a good start, with some excellent, established science-bloggers.

    The idea of a collective science-blogging site not dependent on a third party is pretty attractive.

  • physioprof says:

    Dude, you're a fucken prince.

  • chezjake says:

    This sounds like a very worthwhile endeavor, and some of your plans for development are very intriguing. I'm looking forward to see where it all goes. And I wish you, collectively, the best of luck.

  • Gaythia says:

    This seems like a marvelous concept, and you are off to a great start! I appreciate the efforts that you and others have put into this, and will put into this. I'm delighted to be able to look forward to enjoying many of my favorite bloggers in a venue that will hopefully inspire even greater opportunities for inspiration and interaction.

  • Kevin Z says:

    I recommend the plugin AddToAny for sharing and bookmarking Scientopia posts and the Topsy Retweet button plugin (you know, so we can get your posts out there far and wide!).

    Excellent work, I love the fresh clean look. It is amazing how easily I can focus on the content without distraction.

  • Doug Little says:

    Good, finally you aren't homeless anymore. Hopefully your infrastructure can keep up with demand. Now on with those blog posts, I've been jonesn' for some Good Math/Bad Math and my local dealer aint got none of the good stuff. Quick before I accost some poor mathematician off the street with a barrage of questions.

  • John Farrell says:

    Just subscribed. Looking forward to more good posts.

  • usagi says:

    Congratulations. Good for you. This layout is already about 50 times more readable than Scienceblogs.

  • Kausik Datta says:

    Mark, since the platform is WordPress-based (as I understand), is it possible to add a preview button for the comments, and a notification that basic html is acceptable in responses? Also, can I find a list somewhere which html codes would be accepted?

    If you don't mind, may I request another feature? Is it possible to do away with comment moderation - perhaps, eventually - unless a specific blog author wishes to retain it? I have always found that it hinders free flow of discussion.

    The get-up of the blog is fantastic, very pleasing to the eye in an Apple-ish sort of way.

  • Food Frontiers says:

    And what better way to celebrate your new-found home than with a refreshing Pepsi-brand beverage!

    Pepsi! The choice of a new generation - of scientists!

  • Alex Besogonov says:

    Maybe you can open the code of the platform?

    I'd gladly help with technical work and new feature implementation.

  • Candid Engineer says:

    You're awesome, Mark.

  • [...] set up in the wake of the Pepsigate exodus by one of my favourite bloggers, Mark Chu-Carroll. Mark has written up a post explaining exactly why here — it’s not, as some might think, just a reaction to [...]

  • Arno says:

    He's back! ­čÖé Good luck with this initiative for a new blogging environment. Hope you'll have some fun too, next to the hard work it's probably taking. I look forward to reading your future ramblings and other interesting (and educational!) posts.

  • Matthew Cline says:

    Bad Behavior has blocked 36 access attempts in the last 7 days.

    Yikes, only up for a day and already 36 spam attempts!

  • Physicalist says:

    Wow. Good on ya for getting this up and running. Looks great!

  • Speaking of feed stuff, could you have a more complete RSS feed?

    The "teasers only" feed you have currently is an odd choice for a site that isn't driven by a drive to monetize traffic at all costs. You don't have to go to a full feed, the way places like pandagon do, but could you at least have as much in the RSS as you have of each post on the front page? (This is what your scienceblogs blog did)

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