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.

Sometimes, people suck

As Ophelia has discovered, there is a facebook page titled Should Miri Mogilevsky be murdered? It claims

This page does not advocate any violence, or the breaking of any laws. It is, rather, an exercise in Free Speech.

It also asks,

Is Miri Mogilevsky, who blogs at Brute Reason at Freethought blogs! a loyal American ?
Has she ever had sex with PZ Myers ?
Has she ever had sex with Rebecca Watson ?

Because, obviously, all of those are offenses that warrant execution. It’s revealing, though: this is a person who does not understand the concept of free speech at all (it is not an idea that encourages harassment or intimidation), and also has the usual anti-skepchick/ftb obsession.

Anyway, as Ophelia suggests, if you have a facebook account, go to the page, click on the the gear icon just beneath the cover photo at the top, and select “report page”. As a bonus, you’ll discover how pathetic Facebook’s reporting mechanism is!

Around FtB

There’s stuff to read around here!

  • Stephanie has a very dirty wall.

  • Aron Ra has been hanging out in Boston.

  • Ashley passed her comps!

  • The Atheist Experience is getting all namby-pamby.

  • The Black Skeptics point out a great injustice: WHY IS MARISSA ALEXANDER IN JAIL?

  • Jen wants you to stop calling her.

  • Digital Cuttlefish finds a world of spite aimed at a competent woman.

  • Ed comments on the Martyrdom of Tebow.

  • Dana is watching Whidbey Island wash away.

  • Greta is crowdsourcing social justice.

  • Kate is getting all sporty. Hockey season isn’t here yet, is it?

  • Ally discusses sexual aggression…by women.

  • Tauriq recommends a game. Hey, it was pretty good!

  • Jason is scolded for watching porn.

  • Maryam Namazie updates us all on the death threats against Nahla Mahmoud.

  • Nirmukta explains that race is not biology.

  • Mano has been doing a phenomenal job covering our inevitable quagmire in Syria.

  • Taslima tells off the Pope.

  • Yemmy has yet another scandalous tale of a pastor abusing his influence.

  • Zinnia has been Chelsea Manning Central.

  • And shave off that beard, Ophelia!

  • Eww, Miri is grossing everyone out with talk about miscarriages and abortion.

New commenting rules

What are they?

The ongoing meltdown in Thunderdome and the departure of Chris tell me we’ve got something that needs to be fixed. I don’t quite know how to fix everything, so let’s crowdsource it — you people leave comments here telling me what rules you think might work to get the knifey-bitey-smashy atmosphere to lighten up a little. Just a little.

Farewell, Chris!

As many of you know, Chris Clarke has decided to leave Pharyngula. This is mostly an amicable decision on his part, although he’ll also tell you that the sharks’ teeth and knives and snarling comments section here was taking a toll on his soul, which is more of a bunny rabbits and adorable puppy dogs sort of place.

I would hope you’d put down the weapons now and then and visit his blog, Coyote Crossing, and I also recommend all of the blogs on his network, coyot.es.

Don’t say goodbye here. Go there and be appreciative.

We’re all bad together here…and proud of it

Zinnia Jones is rightly resentful when a blogger who goes by the name “the atheist asshole” calls her “one of the good ones”. They’re missing the truth: while she’s all straightforward and civil and all that, she’s also one of our top bad-asses on Freethoughtblogs.

For that matter, we’ve got a fairly thorough review procedure in place right now, and we don’t add bloggers who aren’t fierce, intelligent, outspoken advocates for their ideas…and we also don’t let dumbasses in. You ought to take a look around — I’m pretty damn proud of the entirety of the network right now.


It’s been a busy morning on twitter for this Emperor of All the Universe. First I got some cheezwit telling me, Ophelia Benson, and Rebecca Watson to take people off the Block Bot. I replied by telling him that none of the people he was adressing have anything to do with the Block Bot. Then he tried to say, ‘but you’re all big shots in Atheism+…’ to which I tried to explain that I didn’t have any power over Atheism+, either, and I could have also explained that Atheism+ and the Block Bot are separate and independent entities, too, except that I was already tired of that fool. Anyway, I guess I’m master of Atheism+ and the Block Bot now. Go ahead, send me your complaints, I’ll deal with them appropriately.

Then, after I said I wasn’t in charge of Atheism+, this idiot comes along:

Did PZ just break his allegiance to A+?

Aaargh. I am neither master of nor slave to Atheism+. I think it’s a fine idea, I like that it’s a grassroots effort for people to place their priorities within atheism in social justice, but for the last time, I do not run it and while I’ve read it a few times and left a few comments, I’m not affiliated with it. It’s good people trying to do good.

And why are people so fixated on me as the Big Boss? Jen and Greta are more closely affiliated with Atheism+ than I am…is it just that the same pea-brained thugs who hate the whole idea of social justice are also incapable of wrapping their minds around the idea that a man isn’t in charge?

And finally, some guy announces that he’s not going to the American Atheist conference because I’m speaking there. He argues with Dave Silverman about it. He’s afraid of me, he claims.

@MrAtheistPants @pzmyers maybe you are not aware but a lot of people are scared of openly opposing ftb. We don’t want to be labelled rapists

Oooh, we’re scary. Why? Because we aren’t afraid to criticize the assumption of masculine authority, apparently. But they’re not so afraid to denounce us publicly and demand our withdrawal from participation in atheist conferences. I guess I’m just not scaring them enough.

But you “don’t want to be labelled rapists”? Give me a fucking break. Please. If I’m in an audience listening to some speaker, and I raise my hand to ask a relevant question, and then the speaker’s answer is to shout that I’m a rapist, who’s reputation is harmed: mine or the speaker’s? Because I love it when other participants in an argument try to shout me down with “ATHEIST!”, a charge that is actually true, and I’d be even more enthused and filled with bloodlust if the charge was blatantly false.

Right now, I’ve got dozens of blogs and forum comments and emails with elaborate stories about how I raped someone, illustrated with clumsy photoshop illustrations or ragged childish cartoons, and I am completely unperturbed. I have a clear conscience and the claims are so over-the-top that I know no one can take them seriously. It’s a whole web of hatred focuse on me right now, and I can take it in stride because I remain true to myself.

But there are apparently a lot of cowards out there who refuse to enter my presence because they believe I’ll call them a “rapist”. Why do I detect a swarm of guilty consciences?

Those dang comments

Scalzi is discussing comment management. There are…ideas…floating around there; some suck, some are interesting. Here are My Opinions™ on comments.

  • Comments are absolutely essential and are not going away. What do you think I read the site for? Besides, we’ve long had an interesting community here.

  • I’m not going to require real names. Consistent pseudonyms are good enough. I really, really hate sockpuppets; they undermine the credibility of all pseudonyms. I will burn all puppets to the ground on discovery.

  • My smartest recent move was appointing monitors who write in to report troublemakers. I don’t have to read everything constantly to track comments, which relieves a lot of strain.

  • The banhammer: too much or too little? I’ve been a little bit more heavy-handed lately, because of all the sexist jerkwads who’ve been popping in. I’m leaning in favor of more.

  • With the loss of the dungeon, I’ve thrown away most of my tracking of bannings, which doesn’t bother me much…but one thing I’ve long been missing is some way to achieve redemption. Once you’re banned, you’re dropped into a bottomless pit of blackness, never to be seen again, and there isn’t any way to gain forgiveness. How could we arrange to have a ban removed?

  • One capability I wish WordPress had was a way to require a certain minimum of words in a comment. I’d rather see fewer one-liners and more thoughtful discussion.

  • Should I implement a comment limit? I don’t think it’s currently a problem, except for that one guy who would dump German opera librettos or whatever into comments.

  • I do have keyword filtering, and I use it to block a lot of the language misogynists use, which is remarkably effective (there sure is a lot of rapey hatey talk stuck in the spam filter now). Other suggestions for words that magically disappear the bad guys would be useful. Also maybe words that block some of the knee-jerk responses from the good guys. What words/phrases do you hate to see popping up?

  • Never gonna implement comment threading or comment rating, so don’t mention ‘em.

  • Scalzi shuts off some comments while he’s sleeping. I’m not going to do that: it discriminates against Australians and Europeans, and we have too many of that furrin ilk here.

  • Any wordpress experts know of any useful plugins for comments? I can pass suggestions along to the tech guy…who’s supposed to fix the main page first, of course.

  • I know the crappy preview function is a sore point for lots of you. Anything else that bugs you?

  • Styles. While we’re wating for the tech guy to get everything else done, one thing I can do all by myself is tweak the stylesheet. Any comment layout stuff you desperately want?

Oh, yeah? Are you going to provide evidence for that?

I must call attention to this article on Salon.

How Google flushes knowledge down the toilet

Search engine optimization is filling the Internet with misinformation about human bathroom habits and more

In the sidebar: 5 pointless pop posts from the Huffington Post. 10 listicles from Buzzfeed. 8 more random links from aggregators Upworthy and GigaOm.

Below the article: 3 more listicles. An ad for Biblical Money Code. Pictures of Kate Middleton. “We recommend” money advice from the Bible, cheap auctions, health benefits of blueberries, etc., etc., etc.

And more! The week in 10 pics, 10 summer food festivals, you get the idea.

I know, we have annoying random ads on this site, too, but we’re pathetic pikers compared to anyone who intentionally taps into the HuffPo/Buzzfeed Vortex of Misinformation.

An article marvels at the bad information infesting the internet, and all the advertising clutter in which it wallows demonstrates exactly why it’s such a mess.

Maybe we need to think harder about going to a subscription model here.

Around FtB

I’ve got another busy morning in the lab followed by some travelin’ to the Big City, so I’ll help you find some other stuff to read.