July 9th, 2010

Friday Foolery #92: Ephemeral SBFail

This is one of those “I wish this were really a joke” entries but unfortunately the train wreck is real.

To sum up: A well-respected scientific blogging community, ScienceBlogs, announced on Tuesday that PepsiCo would have a paid nutrition blog there even though one already exists on Pepsi’s own website. After widespread outcry and several of their prominent bloggers leaving the community in protest, ScienceBlogs reversed course on Thursday.

According to the Columbia Journalism Review’s (CJR) coverage, the focus of the Food Frontiers blog was to offer

a wide range of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous, science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning more about the transformation of PepsiCo’s product portfolio, we’ll be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its use of energy, water and packaging.

Why do I have to go to CJR and not ScienceBlogs itself for this announcement?

ScienceBlogs put a redirect on Tuesday’s Food Frontiers announcement URL of http://scienceblogs.com/foodfrontiers/2010/07/welcome_to_food_frontiers.php, thus wiping the slate clean on both their original announcement and community comments at the time.

Others have already written a great Analysis of ‘PepsiGate’, keeping track of the bloggers who left (maybe they’ll come back?), and the need for transparency, communication and respect when it comes to corporate funding in science journalism. Remember Elsevier last May?

For my perspective, I call bad form on ScienceBlogs for not editing the original announcement URL with updated information instead of trying to erase their history with a redirect two days later. The Clinical Reader fiasco was last July, this is another caution to all about the changing nature of online information and how easily original sources can be rewritten to meet current needs.

There is no permanence or revision control online, but is the deletion of information and a URL redirect the hallmark of quality scientific blogging?

Posted at 08 42 AM | 2 Comments » | print this post

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2 Responses to “Friday Foolery #92: Ephemeral SBFail”

  1. Erika says:

    Ooh, good point Nikki. I just posted to Adam Bly’s new blog w/ a suggestion about that. http://scienceblogs.com/scienceisculture/2010/07/science_is_culture.php

  2. Alison says:

    PLoS’s Online Community Manager is leaving SB and wrote this analysis of why (not about Pepsi): http://scienceblogs.com/clock/2010/07/scienceblogs_and_me_and_the_ch.php

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