Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

ScienceBlogs: Beware the tornados

by PhilipJ on 5 May 2006

I was wondering how long it would take for this to happen.

ScienceBlogs is an extremely cool idea: grab a bunch of the interesting science writers from a variety of disciplines and localise them in one place. Basically a one-site-fits-all approach to science weblogging. This is great for a couple of reasons: it lends credibility and professionalism to scientists who enjoy writing on the web (Blogger templates leave something to be desired, no matter how intelligent the posts are!), and, by grabbing people from physics (Uncertain Principles), evolutionary biology (Pharyngula), climate science (Stoat), etc, we get exposed to excellent writing and opinions from areas that we aren’t all experts in, so for that I am truly grateful. But…

The problem with ScienceBlogs, of course, is that popular sites require a reasonable amount of resources to keep going, and and these resources aren’t cheap. Seed Media (the brains behind ScienceBlogs and Seed magazine) are offsetting these costs with ads. At first, the ads were unobtrusive, being relegated to the sidebar and were, for the most part, simply static images. Now, however, there are what basically amount to TV commercials sitting amidst the list of articles on the home page, and one particularly obnoxious ad gets overlaid on the excerpts of entries! (click for full size):

Holy cow indeed! This is doubly annoying because many of these sites didn’t have ads before the big move to ScienceBlogs. One way to get around this is to simply grab stories via RSS, but that doesn’t help when you want to participate in a comment thread of a particular entry. So, if enough of us voice our displeasure about these ads, perhaps Seed will require advertisers to be a little less obtrusive and get rid of the flashing, swirling, overlaying, and noise.

What’s wrong with simple, relevant text ads, anyway?

  1. Neil    4188 days ago    #

    The ads are really intrusive. You can eliminate the Flash ads using Flashblock ( if you use Firefox. You can also right-click on the animated image ads and choose to block images from that source.

  2. PZ Myers    4188 days ago    #

    We all hate those ads—we have a little backchannel where all the sciencebloggers can talk to the developers and managers, and, well, let’s just say there’s quite a bit of grumpiness being expressed there right now.

  3. PhilipJ    4188 days ago    #

    Neil—thanks for the tips! While that’s a good stopgap for now, I think we need to change the minds of those who post the ads instead of going out of our way to avoid them.

    PZ—I was sure there was more to the story than was being let on (nothing), but I think if you want to change their minds you have to take it public, and let the audience express its opinion. If the readers hate the ads then there is definitely no point in keeping them.

    I’m not a Google shill, but I think it is clear that their style of text ads are at least bearable by most people, while the flash animations are just tacky and obnoxious. I will never click on the latter, and while I’ll probably never click on the former either, at least they wont stop me from enjoying and/or visiting a site.

  4. RPM    4188 days ago    #

    So that’s what the tornado looks like. I’ve been hearing about this thing the last few days, but before I saw your screen grab I had yet to see it. There have been a couple of public outcries by ScienceBloggers about the ad. As PZ said, it ain’t very popular.

  Textile help