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Interesting recruiting technique

The editor of biology online went off looking for new bloggers to join his group. I’ve been there, on both sides now — the usual approach is to tell the blogger you’re interested in their work, think they’d be a valuable addition to the roster, and here’s what we offer you: there’s usually some share of revenues, a list of the other people you’d be rubbing shoulders with, an altruistic appeal to sharing your ideas with the world.

Ofek the editor didn’t do that when he went courting DNLee. The only card he played was to say that they got 1.6 million monthly visitors — a respectable number, although I suspect most of their traffic is driven by their forum, which consists largely of people asking for help on their biology homework — and when asked, offered no remuneration at all. The whole exchange was very polite, until DNLee turned him down.

DNLee runs a blog on the Scientific American network called The Urban Scientist. She’s a working biologist, she already has a public platform for sharing her ideas, and it’s a bit higher profile than a network that gets 25,000 visitors a day. Ofek didn’t offer her anything but extra work, so here’s what she said:

Thank you very much for your reply.

But I will have to decline your offer.

Have a great day.

That’s all very professional. Here’s how Ofek replied.

Because we don’t pay for blog entries?

Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?

Wow. You’d have to be nuts to want to work with that guy. And the news is spreading everywhere about biology online and their aggressively insulting editor, so I think he has just managed to destroy any interest other potential participants might have in his network. It’s too bad, too, since he already has a few people writing for it, who aren’t going to deserve the opprobrium that Ofek has just earned.

Comments

  1. No One says

    Ofek… a suggestion… public apology… and do something about your blood sugar levels.

  2. frankb says

    I am trying to think what a non-pology would look like in this situation but my imagination is failing me. What can he possibly say after that but to fall on his knees begging forgiveness.

  3. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    Presumably Ofek isn’t a fool and can get along with people most of the time,even if it’s a fake friendliness. Why this sudden outbreak of psychopathological behaviour that a moment’s thought would show to be self-damaging and pointless?
    No, that isn’t a rhetorical question- it seems as if people stop thinking on the ‘net and I wonder why.

  4. captainahags says

    No, that isn’t a rhetorical question- it seems as if people stop thinking on the ‘net and I wonder why.

    No, it’s just that as many Very Intelligent People have told us, what is said on the internet is not real. Even though it may sound vile or sexist or stupid or threatening, it’s on the internet, which by definition is not a real place, and so you’re allowed to say whatever you want without any consequences ever, or else it’s a violation of your Freeze Peach.

  5. smhll says

    It seems like a classic story of a man “propositioning” a woman and then berating her for saying “no, thank you.”

    Notice how awesome it isn’t.

  6. says

    Are you an urban scientist or an urban whore?

    :blinkblink: Wow. A slight suggestion, Ofek. Change your name and title from Ofek the editor to Ofek the Offensive. At least that will provide a slight heads up to people before they are blindsided by your assholism.

  7. says

    Wow. Just wow. Time to go have some words with biology-online. If this is the kind of person they give influence to, with the racism and the misogyny, it makes me seriously question their organization and what will come out of it.

  8. Lyn M: ADM MinTruthiness says

    My, my, my. Height of professionalism. Slag someone who has been civil to you and who you want to work with to enhance yourself. Yep. That’s a heck of a recipe for success.

  9. chris61 says

    Wow. It’s hard to imagine anyone clueless enough to … How do you even apologize for a comment like that in a way that anyone can possibly take seriously? The only solution I see for this guy is witness protection.

  10. says

    Get it? Get it? She studies urban ecology… and she’s black… so not just a whore, but an “urban whore.”

    Yeah.

    I think this guy just needs to be fired. I don’t see how there can possibly be any apology or excuse that makes that kind of behavior a non-firing offense.

  11. says

    Here’s the message I sent to them via their online contact portal:

    I am writing to you to inform you that you have an editor who is damaging your reputation. You really need to fire “Ofek.” I am a fan of DNLee, I follow her on Twitter and have been a fan of her blogging on Scientific American for a while now. After she turned down “Ofek’s” request that she write for Biology Online, “Ofek” called her an “urban whore”. Since “urban” is a frequently used racist dog whistle, I am left with the impression that “Ofek’s” response combined racism and sexism. So, my first impression of Biology online is that of an entity which reinforces and encourages bigotry in STEM and is one of the reasons that women and people of color avoid STEM. Please fix this, otherwise you will fade into obscurity.

    Here is the “contact us” page in case you want to follow suit.

  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Caine:

    Ofek the Offensive

    Not 10 minutes ago Little #1 was still coming up with examples of alliteration after being given the definition less than an hour ago. Although my favorite is still hers, ostrich obstacle, now I get Ofek the Offensive. That goes on the list, and pretty high up there too.

    And, I guess, on the list of names to use for NPCs. Maybe a court functionary or town bureaucrat that has just enough power to abuse it, but not enough to keep people from expressing their deep contempt for his actions (depending on his power levels, possibly behind his back unlike the fabulous and note-perfect public criticism by DNLee).

  13. zenlike says

    DNLee blogged about this on her blog at SciAm, and of course SciAm censored her post.

    The shit runs deeper then just one sexist bigoted asshole at Biology Online.

  14. says

    zenlike:

    The shit runs deeper then just one sexist bigoted asshole at Biology Online.

    Of course it does. That does not mean one particular sexist bigoted asshole should not be addressed.

  15. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Why this sudden outbreak of psychopathological behaviour that a moment’s thought would show to be self-damaging and pointless?

    Ummm, because social restraint functions to prevent social injury, so many only use those social filters when they care about

    1. preventing injury to the someone/s with whom the first person is interacting
    or
    2. preventing injury to themselves that might happen if they offend someone with social power

    Since he was dealing with a black woman, I’m guessing neither kicked in.

    The form of the insult shows he was ever-so-conscious of the race and gender of the scientist with whom he was interacting. I’m sticking with this interpretation until contrary info is brought to bear.

  16. shouldbeworking says

    I just checked the biology online forum on this topic. So far, no response from the website admin team. They might all be enjoying the weekend.

  17. kantalope says

    Zenlike @15…. SciAm just added insult to the insult…or maybe it is a more exponential kind of thing. That is just disgusting. I wish I had a subscription at SciAm so I could cancel it with extensive use of expletives.

  18. zenlike says

    Caine @16

    That does not mean one particular sexist bigoted asshole should not be addressed.

    Indeed.

  19. stevem says

    it was just “tongue-in-cheek” /snark
    Too many people equate doing *anything* for “money”, to be “whoring it”. He was just over-emphasizing their request for free contributions and her declining their request (i.e. her refusal to work for free). Maybe he was just going “all Colbert” and taking the most extreme attitude he could think of to respond to her “so polite” refusal. [I think I’m giving him too much “benefit of the doubt”. Enough for now… ]

  20. says

    stevem

    [I think I’m giving him too much “benefit of the doubt”. Enough for now… ]

    Yes, you are, and you should stop it. Also, your posts would be much more readable if you laid off the scarequotes. Try using quotation marks only when you are actually directly quoting someone (although usually blockquote tags are better for that, so you don’t really need them there. So try just not using quotation marks at all for a while.).

  21. says

    stevem:

    it was just “tongue-in-cheek” /snark

    Do you think you might ever write something regarding blatant sexism which doesn’t paint you as a colossal asshole? If that moment ever arrives, please announce it, it will be a red letter day.

  22. says

    I’m confused; I don’t quite see where she specifically declined to “work for free”? I thought she simply declined to work with biology-online?

    Look. I do a fair amount of work for free, but I’m not going to do it for everyone.

  23. stevem says

    re Dalillama, Schmott Guy @22:

    I apologize for using “scarequotes” (sorry, did it again) Just trying to indicate ‘tone-of-voice’ without using ‘bold’, ‘italic’, nor other html things. Should I use the old ‘usenet’ (bbs) style of **? I’ll take your advice and just ‘stop it’ and use normal text to write what I’m trying to say. I’m sorry; trying to say too much with too little. ‘tone-of-voice’ is too much to want to convey here, anyway. Thanks for the advice, I’ll try to ‘tone it down’. Sorry.

  24. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    One thing I keep seeing come up among sex-worker bloggers is that their work tends to teach them that their time and effort are valuable, and that they don’t actually owe either just because someone asks.

    The idea of being paid for one’s work being silly and negotiable and expecting to be equaling entitlement is entirely too common among a lot of people. Any kind of artist or craftsperson is expected to just give away their time and money as well. Not surprising that a woman of colour is expected to automatically leap at the chance to work with that dipshit either, considering that attitudes toward women and POC in general.

    Speaking of, I like that Ofek managed to work in the racist dogwhistle in his sour grapes missive. Who wouldn’t want to work with such professionalism?

  25. says

    Happiestsadist:

    Any kind of artist or craftsperson is expected to just give away their time and money as well.

    Oh yes. I can’t count how many times people have expected me to do art work for free over the years. A surprisingly large amount of people seem to think it’s worth having, but not worth paying for at all.

  26. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    If it’s something you enjoy doing, clearly it’s all worth it just to have to joy of making it! Not like you are doing it for a living or something.

  27. thepalescot says

    After a look around it seems to me that bio online is an internet scam aggregator, an example of one is FunnyJunk and it’s ongoing theft of material by The Oatmeal and other cartoonists. The business model of FunnyJunk is to have anonymous users upload copywrited material and profit from the ad revenue generated, doing no work other than running a 90’s era website and cashing the checks. Bio Online provides a forum for others to discuss homework, a link farm to various other publications, and has uploaded what seems to be various 8th grade level biology texts.
    It’s a bit creepy that the only byline is “by biology-online”. How exactly does that exposure thing work?

  28. Emptyell says

    Besides the obvious racism and sexism there is also a strong whiff of classism. The idea that lesser folks should be honored to give tribute to their superiors.

  29. Bicarbonate says

    All this business about “scarequotes” has me much annoyed. Quotation marks can legitim

  30. Bicarbonate says

    … umm, sorry. … legitimately be used to set off a word or phrase to show some sort of distance with what it means, or to show that you are talking about the word itself. For instance,

    “Way” falls into different grammatical categories.

    The quotation marks just make it easier to read. Italics can be used similarly. This is simple courtesy to your readers.

  31. David Marjanović says

    Just trying to indicate ‘tone-of-voice’ without using ‘bold’, ‘italic’, nor other html things.

    …But why? You can use the HTML tags for bold and italics and several other things here. The list is right below the comment window. o_O

  32. Tethys says

    DavidM

    I think they meant that they were using quotes because it is easier and faster than using the html tags.

  33. johnmarley says

    @stevem (#21)
    You’re using scarequotes to emphasize words that don’t need to be emphasized, and they make your comments very difficult to read. It’s really annoying. As annoying as someone constantly using airquotes in real life conversation.

  34. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Hrm. The scarequotes are annoying used like that. Since such a significant fraction of the comment is intended to be sarcastic, you don’t even need them. Maybe just the /snark faux-tag at the end for clarity if you don’t think it will be recognized as such. For a single instance of sarcastic intent in a longer post, then possibly use the “scarequotes” as one option.

  35. twincats says

    Chris61 @11

    Wow. It’s hard to imagine anyone clueless enough to … How do you even apologize for a comment like that in a way that anyone can possibly take seriously? The only solution I see for this guy is witness witless protection.

    FIFY

  36. David Marjanović says

    I think they meant that they were using quotes because it is easier and faster than using the html tags.

    That’d be a rather mind-blowing amount of laziness.

  37. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    SciAm might still be in the notpology stage, but Biology-online site administrator honee_v announced on Monday morning that ‘Ofek’ has been fired: Apology to DNLee:

    We would like to express our sincerest apologies to Danielle N. Lee (DNLee) and anyone else who may have been offended by the way our recently hired employee, Ofek, handled the conversation with her. Ofek’s behaviour was completely out of line and after gathering the facts we immediately terminated his employment. Ofek failed to show the respect and prudent behavior expected of him as a contributor to Biology Online.

    From the moment that Biology Online started, it has always been a cordial avenue to exchange invaluable information and discussions among scientists, professionals, students, and biology savvy individuals from different parts of the world. Offensive and discriminatory behavior has always been discouraged. We intend to preserve this core function of the website. After an immediate and fair deliberation of the situation we decided to terminate the services of Ofek for his failure to represent and keep what we value in Biology Online.

    We would also like to express our gratitude to the people who made us aware of the situation and to all loyal patrons of the website for your continued support. We assure you that Biology Online will continue providing its audience a congenial place for discussions and free biological information for everyone.

    Biology Online Team