Top five science blogs

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  • 179th Myers, a biologist at the University ofMinnesota, Morris, puts his top rank down totapping into the broader areas of liberal politicsand atheism and a rich vein of resentmentagainst the reactionary religious nature ofAmerican culture. Scientists can easilytranslate their expertise into blog posts, addsMyers. Sometimes, I just summarize somebasic concepts as I would in the classroom. Butyou are certain to fail if you write as if for a peer-reviewed journal. It doesnt work on the web,says Myers. A blogs more like the conversationyoud have at the bar after a scientific meeting.


    www.pandasthumb.orgBeing a group blog is key, says contributor JackKrebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science.We have some of the most well-informedobservers and critics of the intelligent designand creationist movements. The nature of thetopic helps too, he adds. There is an interest, a hunger even, for thoughtful analysis of theissues related to evolution and creationism.


    www.realclimate.orgStefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist who blogsat RealClimate, puts its success down to thehot topic and expert contributors. It helps tohave a passion for explaining things as clearly

    as possible, and a hell of a lot of patience todeal with all those comments rolling in. GavinSchmidt, at NASAs Goddard Institute forSpace Studies in New York, says the blog fills ahunger for raw but accessible information thatgoes deeper than newspaper articles, but ismore easily understood than the scientificliterature. Magazines fill a void, but they cantreact or interact as effectively as blogs.


    http://cosmicvariance.comFrequent posting of original content is crucial to building an audience, says Sean Carroll atCosmic Variance, which is produced by fivephysicists. But taking stances that areprovocative and make people think also helps.One needs to become the place to go for asubject, he says. Citing other blogs is a sure-fireway to get their notice and maybe a citation inreturn, he adds. But he cautions that citationcounts and rankings can be a distraction. It would be a shame if people worried abouttraffic and not about having a good blog.

    3,429th Anthis, who only began blogging inJanuary, knows the reason for his sites swiftrise to fame. During a political censorship rowat NASA in February, Anthis was the first to reveal that a key official had lied aboutgraduating from Texas A&M University. BeforeI knew it, it had exploded into a major nationalnews story and he resigned. After an initial spikein traffic, many stayed on as regular readers.

    NATURE|Vol 442|6 July 2006 NEWS

    Weblogs written by scientists are relatively rare, but some of them areproving popular. Out of 46.7 million blogs indexed by the Technoratiblog search engine, five scientists sites make it into the top 3,500.Declan Butler asks the winners about the reasons for their success.

    Theres little agreement about how to rank blogs, so this exercise is best viewed as a roughsnapshot. Nature trawled the web to identify as many science blogs as possible. Although thereare many popular blogs produced by science writers, we included only those written by workingscientists covering scientific issues. We asked Technorati to give each one a rank this popularsearch engine ranks blogs by measuring the number of sites linking to them in the past six months. For more about the ranking or to comment on the results



    How the blogs were ranked

    6.7 News 9 MH 4/7/06 10:08 AM Page 9

    Nature Publishing Group 2006

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