July 5, 2012 | 2
Today is the first anniversary of the Scientific American Blog Network. Yeay! Congratulations to us!
Before the network was launched on July 5th 2011, SciAm already had eight blogs, some of them going back almost a decade. The Guest Blog is one of those older blogs, thus already having a number of readers and subscribers at the moment of launch. With an average of one post per day, this is also one of our busier blogs and, over the past 18 months or so, has become one of the most visited spots on our site (on occasion, it would even beat Observations on the top traffic spot for the month).
It has also gained some serious reputation. It was said that: “Based on #OpenLab nominations, @SciAm Guest Blog is becoming science blogging’s #TED: a place people step up and do their best work. ” And we overheard later: “The @sciam @sciamblogs Guest Blog is an incredible resource: a forest of stories planted by wonderful scientist-writers”.
One of our Guest Blog authors, covering breaking news, was invited to no less than four TV appearances that week, all due, as the four producers told the author, to their appearance at Scientific American. Several regulars on the Guest Blog did so well, they ended up being invited to become part of the Network. Two Guest Blog authors got book deals out of their posts (one for a single post, the other for a series of posts being turned into books). And that is just what I was told…
Some of the authors on the Guest Blog are veteran writers or scientists. Others are new to science writing, trying their first attempts at communicating to a wider audience (please be nice to them in the comments – they are our guests, after all). Some write about the most recent news or scientific papers, others write on broader or historical topics, yet others write opinion pieces or delve into perennial controversies. And occasionally we have the #StorySaturday in which the authors are invited to try other formats, e.g,. science fiction, poetry or cartoons.
Some posts are easy to understand by everyone, while others are targeting connoisseurs already familiar with the topic (and its terminology). Some are short, but most are quite long pieces that do wonderfully well – lots of traffic and incoming links, and you all spend a lot of time on the page reading, adding comments, and more. There is something for everyone. And not everything is for everyone. Yet you keep coming back. And unlike at an individual’s blog, you are not coming back to see what your favorite bloggers is saying, but to see who is the blogger for the day. It is much harder to gain and sustain reader loyalty if there isn’t one familiar voice on the blog every day. So, we’d like to know why do you keep coming back to the Guest Blog. Why is it one of the most popular spots on our entire site?
Four years ago, Ed Yong started a tradition, picked up by many science bloggers, to ask readers who they are and why they keep coming back. He just did it again recently. So we thought it would be interesting to ask you the same questions (#1 and 2), as well as question #3, later added to the tradition by Drugmonkey, and a fourth question devised specifically about this blog.
Commenting here is really easy (and will become even easier by the end of the year). “Registration” is a misnomer, it’s just a login on a separate page from the blog post. When you click on “Register” you are taken to a page where you give us a name/nym, an email address and a password. Pseudonyms are welcome. Then you come back (there is no confirmation email you need to wait for, etc), click on “Log In” and enter the same name/nym and password and are ready to commment. Please do – here are the questions:
1) Tell me about you. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed? Let loose with those comments.
2) Tell someone else about this blog and in particular, try and choose someone who’s not a scientist but who you think might be interested in the type of stuff found in this blog. Ever had family members or groups of friends who’ve been giving you strange, pitying looks when you try to wax scientific on them? Send ‘em here and let’s see what they say.
3) Where did you come from? I’m interested in whether you found us, or regularly follow us, through Twitter, Facebook and/or other beyond-RSS mechanisms that you may use to corral your information stream.
4) What is it specifically about Guest Blog that you like? What posts do you remember well? What types of posts do you especially like? What keeps you coming back again and again?