Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Asked To Be Super, But Not Up To The Task

This one goes out to ScienceBlogs readers.

Last month, I received emails from two different science bloggers inviting me to be a ScienceBlogs "Super Reader." Since I read several of Seed's ScienceBlogs and think that blogging is a good way to diversify the conversation about science, I agreed to be a reader. So what does a Super Reader do? Basically, Seed wanted to present a more qualitative metric by which a 'best of' list could be compiled. In the large ScienceBlogs venue, some of the most thoughtful writing may not be the most emailed or the most commented on; the former often are funny or cleverly sarcastic, while the latter are usually posts by PZ Meyers.

In a nutshell, Super Readers are tasked to post at most 3 entries a week to a del.icio.us account that the Seed blog editors have access to. This information is fed into a sidebar that indicates the readers' picks. This way, when I only have 15 minutes to surf the net, I can rely on well-informed readers to clue me into the most interesting posts. I imagine each blogger is allowed 2 super readers so that every blog is given a fair shot at making the hot list. While the "Most Active" feature is like the populist House of Representatives, the "Readers Choice" list is like the Senate - equal representation from each blog.

Some bloggers posted invitations for their readers to apply. I was solicited by folks who know I am a regular reader and commenter. The funny thing is, after I received the invitations and replied that I was willing to do a little bit of Seed's legwork for them (see the comment in this post), I haven't heard a thing.

Now comes the part of the post that presents fanciful theories. I am surely in the minority of folks who have been critical of how, well, overtly atheist the ScienceBlog community is. Often, I wish that folks like Rob Knop were still around to stir the pot. Perhaps knowledge of my minority view is why the Seed editors have not replied to my emails 'accepting' the role of SuperReader, but I doubt it. I bet there are some bloggers over there with religious beliefs from the East or West, old and new who see the conflict between science and religion as either constructed or impertinent to their mission as writer bloggers. Maybe I got the wrong email address in my response accepting the invitation. Or maybe, the Borg (a lovingly pejorative term for the ScienceBlog community) somehow knows that I only read 15 of the blogs over there. But in the end, there are already too many crackpot conspiracy theories out there about the blog collective than are reasonable. I have the sense that good things make for big targets, and rather than continue to assail, I'd rather contribute. My emails were probably and simply lost. (Update: this last theory is the correct one!)

I'm still happy to participate - It's not very hard to click a button when something you read is interesting! And I do think that participating in a community of commentators such as exists at ScienceBlogs is important. And if I don't fit into the Borg's demographic as an enthusiastic unpaid volunteer, that's fine. It would have been nice to have been told as such.

After sending another email and posting this mini-rant, I'm ready to move on.

Thanks for listening.


Nick Anthis said...

This is really unfortunate, Thomas. I'll see if I can find out what's going on. I had actually asked the Seed people if you had already been invited by one of the other bloggers to be a Super Reader, and I was told that you had been. I think some wires just got crossed somewhere.

Drugmonkey said...

Don't worry Thomas, you are loved! Seriously, this is likely an simple mistake. (Anyone else who thought they were nominated for SuperReader and haven't heard back, contact your nominating bloggers.)

The thing is, the OverLordz didn't want three different blogs nominating the same SuperReader. So we'd say "Hey Overlordz, anyone nominated Reader Smith yet?". If they said "Yeah, we got her already", the blogger had to nominate someone else. What I found, personally, is that even after forwarding my nominations to the OverLordz, it took a little emailing to make sure everything was cool. So if the person who originally nominated you didn't check up after saying "I nominate Thomas" then it could have easily dropped into the cracks.

In short, no atheist agenda at work, I'd estimate.

Greg Laden said...

It is totally us, we fucked up. Our system is not fool proof. Therefore...

thomas said...

It seems as though my last email in combination with this post has cleared up the situation. My suspicion of the lack of conspiracy has been confirmed.

Speaking of which, it is my position that science bloggers ought to post about atheism if that interests them. And there certainly is good reason to talk about the creationism debacle. Sometimes it all feels to me, well, suffocating.

And for those who sense I'm of two faces, this article should explain a lot.