How is your Scientopia reading experience going?

Jan 20 2011 Published by under BlogBlather

An open thread with a simple query.

We've been operating for a few months now, with time for you to get to know us. We've had a little wave of new recruiting in the past month as well.

So whaddaya think? Ups, downs and other comments all welcome...

52 responses so far

  • Geeka says:

    So this might be personal preference and all, but I find the site hard to read. A lot of things are in muted tones. I do like the non-busy-ness of the layout.

    (and yes, I'm commenting on this because I'm on the edge of a migraine) šŸ™‚

    Content-wise it's ace.

  • KBHC says:

    I think it's a great community of scientists and science writer like folk. Some of my favorite people to read are here.

  • Bashir says:

    No major downs. I mostly read via RSS so I look at the site infrequently, though I agree some minor layout changes might be useful.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    What sucks about the layout? Individual blogs or the splash page? Hard to read...font or size issues?

  • chezjake says:

    I love the community and most of what's written here.

    Perhaps Mark has found and fixed the bug, but for a couple months reloading the front Scientopia page would frequently (but not always) crash Firefox on my iMac. I did a workaround by looking for new posts via the Scienceblogging Aggregated page.

  • jobgrabber says:

    Yes, I agree with geeka. Content-wise is awesome and improving the mute tones will make it fascinating to read and learn. Thanks.

  • becca says:

    The left side of my monitor is lonely.

  • bsci says:

    I simply don't read scientopia as a community. I follow a lot of scientopia blogs (mostly through RSS) and, sometimes add new ones when they're announced, but I almost never go to the frontpage and rarely read posts from blogs I don't regularly follow. There seems to be very little positive or negative conversations across blogs except link dumps or conversations within interest areas. To ask a provocative question, does it matter if the geoscientists made their own network and scientopia is diverse if the diversity doesn't enhance interblog communication?

    I just looked at the front page and it doesn't seem useful. I think the simplicity everywhere on the site is appealing, but particularly on the front page, there is nothing to grab my attention. Having post titles in bold is useless if almost the entire page is titles. A bold title and a few sentence lead for post seems to work a bit better at parsing topics (a modest use of different colored fonts could also help). I was also surprised that I couldn't see more posts within each topic and couldn't make a cross-blog page of posts based on a tag or even a formal sub-topic. It looks like each blog has an internal tagging system so one can't use tags to search across blogs?

    The frontpage also amplified a format weakness on the blogs. While I love the minimalism, there is a huge amount of dead space. At least in Chrome, the text and sidebars have a hard coded size which doesn't scale when I change my window size. This means I have to do horizontal scrolling in a narrow window and have wasted space in a wider window. Particularly on the front page where the right link bar ends well below the bottom of the page, 1/3 of the horizontal text space is completely unused.

    As a general issue, the site can be very slow. For example, I just clicked on the "older posts" link on the front page and it repeatedly took 20 seconds to load the next page of text. This is definitely not due to my internet connection. I also had regular Mac Firefox crashes on the site, but I'm now using Chrome.

    I'm being surprisingly negative. I really do like a lot of the content and writers here! There's more that needs to be done to make it a community. Perhaps if the front page is too complex to fix in the short term, links to other bloggers' posts on the side bar or at the bottom of a post might get more of my attention. A modest use of community building gimmicks might also help (common questions, cooking contests, an Ask Scientopia aggregator...).

  • WeiterGen says:

    The community is built by common content, which is great! I don't think "bloggy" community things are necessary. I read the combined feed and I hardly ever look at the frontpage. The search on the frontpage does not work.

    I like the minimalistic layout of the site, but the design could be improved.

    For me personally, Scientopia beats all other scienceblog-networks out there because the content of most blogs here is enjoyable to read and relevant for me. I am a postdoc.

  • Fucken TimeCubeScientopia unreadable appearance!

    Actually, I prefer the muted tones. I would perhaps darken the grey boxes surrounding every other reply, but otherwise it looks good to me. In regards to the front page, it's too damn long. Who is going to scroll down through all those categories?

    Additionally, in regards to this specific blog, you might want to get a banner that doesn't look like it was made with MS Paint. Your blog deserves better.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    I find the front page takes a long time to load sometimes.

    Also, in the mobile version of the site, there are no names/blogs attached to the "Latest posts", only the titles of the posts.

  • I like the layout and colours of individual blogs - nice and easy to read. I'm another reader who rarely visits the front page - I follow the blogs I'm interested in via RSS - so I have no comments on that.

    One thing I'd like is a way to subscribe to comments, or at least see new comments since my last one. LabSpaces, NatNet and Occam's Typewriter have this, as well as most indie Blogger and WordPress blogs, and I use it a lot to follow conversations I've taken part in. It's definitely something I notice as missing on Scientopia and ScienceBlogs posts.

  • (I specifically mean subscribe by email, not by RSS. I'm not interested in adding 5-10 new RSS feeds to Google Reader every single day!)

  • fizzchick says:

    I second chezjake's comment on crashing in firefox - I noted that as a regular bug for a while, though I don't think I've noticed it lately. However, I still find the scientopia pages, especially the front page, take a very long time to load. I don't think it's purely a number of links issue, as pages like the NYT or ScienceBlogs 24 hour page are much faster. Finally, yes, a little more color and selectivity on the front page would be helpful.

  • drugmonkey says:

    TJ, I swear I've been meaning to have a banner contest ever since joining Sb. (when was that, a couple of month ago, right? )

  • I like the simplicity. I also don't look at the front page as I mainly read through my RSS feed. Would definitely like an ability to subscribe to comments!

  • I'm going to bitch here too. The front page takes a long time to load, too long. I usually just go to a specific blog and hit the other blogs through the drop down box to see if anything new is out because it takes so long for the front page to load. Don't know if anyone else has this problem?

  • Bashir says:

    The font colors seem to be either black or a kind of medium grey. The grey could be a little darker, less muted I suppose.

    I can't really think of what else I would change. I do like the minimalist feel, so don't do anything too crazy.

    I've not had the crashing issues in Firefox.

  • Namnezia says:

    I agree, the front page takes forever to load.

  • brooksPhD says:

    Getting new bloggers announced seems to take long time *fumes impotently*

  • The existing DM banner is the greatest blogge banner known to humankind.

  • The #comments links are broken on every Scientopia blogge, taking you to the top of the post instead of the first comment.

  • anon says:

    I wish the comments were numbered. I like numbers. I have the same problem loading the front page, so I don't bother.

  • Juniper Shoemaker says:

    Until a week ago, every Scientopia blog I visited made my Firefox browser crash. But you seem to have solved the problem. Good work!

  • Drugmonkey says:

    The existing DM banner is the greatest blogge banner known to humankind.

    That's just because it reminds you of a Tequila Sunrise holmes.....

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Only slightly OT, but I am consistently struck by how much less frequently the Sb refugees post here, compared to when they were working for The Man. (YHN excluded, of course).

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Not OT in the least. Interesting point.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Had you not noticed it before? To me it is the elephant in the room about this place (that, and the slow-loading front page).

  • samantha says:

    Had the same firefox/mac issue; cleared the cookies for firefox and it stopped. But it was a few weeks of irritation before I came to that conclusion.

    I know people complain about the front page, but I *do* like the latest posts section - I check in every couple days, and it's a quick way for me to see who's written what without going to every. single. blog. The rest of it, though - the classification - I don't know that it's ever been useful to me.

    Otherwise, great bloggers, great blogs, great content. If I had my way, every website would exist with a dark background and a light text, but that's just me and my high-contrasty preferences.

  • bsci says:

    I'm not overly concerned by less posting in itself. I suspect the raw number of posts by each blogger on scientific or practice of science topics has remained constant. The cross-blog banter posts, complaints about the SB overlords, etc have almost disappeared. Some of that is a welcome disappearance, but some of it was interesting or, at least, entertaining.

  • Heavy says:

    The site frequently crashes my browser (Firefox) and takes forever to load despite my fast connection. It is extremely annoying.

  • drugmonkey says:

    To me it is the elephant in the room about this place

    Since I know some of these folks on a little more personal level than escapes on the blog, I guess I am more aware of the stuff going on in their lives that pushes blogging to the back burner. And it is perhaps the case that part of what drove certain folks to leave Sb is that they'd reached a point where they were looking to cut back. Changing contexts has a way of permitting big changes in a habitual behavior, does it not?

  • How the fucke is it an "elephant" that people here at Scientopia don't publish a thousand Youtubes videos and "News Flash: Religious Fuckewitte Assholes are Still Religious Fuckewitte Assholes" posts per day?

  • Isabel says:

    Haha have to agree with Physioprof on that one, and on not changing the banner. I like the retro 70's style šŸ˜‰

    One bug that has bugged me (though I haven't been reading much so it may have been fixed) is that the 'recent comments' change once you are in a thread. So if you get to a blog and there are 6 recent comments on two threads that you want to catch up on, if you click on one and read the latest and then want to click on a comment in the list from the other thread (as a quick way to navigate there from the page you're on) it's not there anymore in the 'recent comments' on the side. They seem to be older comments or comments in that thread only, which is not useful and you have to go back to the home page to get to the next thread.

    If a blog gets a lot of comments it's sometimes hard to know which threads have updated. It was nice the way IBTP used to do it, where you had a list of recent commenters on each thread that had updates, so it was always easy to stop by after a few days and immediately get a picture of which threads were active, who had been commenting.

  • Isabel says:

    BTW DM, your featured comment from GL is rather offensive, and anyway why don't you ever feature any of my great comments??

  • Drugmonkey says:

    Almost everything Laden writes is offensive! But what specifically is wrong with this one? (it's the chimp one, right?)

    As far as your comments go, I mostly have quotes from other blogs. Point is to direct people to interesting threads elsewhere...

  • becca says:

    So doesn't linking to him mean you are endorsing him? and therefore endorsing offensiveness? /bloglogicfail

  • DrugMonkey says:

    No, becca it does not imply endorsement.

  • I miss Laden. He was the most fun person on the entire fucken Internet to fucke withe. I fear I will never again recapture that intense crystalline high.

  • Cashmoney says:

    Why did Laden quit blogging?

  • Isabel says:

    DM it was some anti-racist crap. And I still think you could feature a couple of my comments.

    I didn't know he stopped blogging. I had a run-in with him a couple of months ago and was banned from his blog. He went on and on about how I have two personalities, that there is a good Isabel and a bad Isabel. The guy is a wacko.

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/11/omfg_words_fail_me.php#comments

  • Juniper Shoemaker says:

    P.S. I do wish that Firefox's killfile application worked on Scientopia, DrugMonkey. It works everywhere else.

  • I had a run-in with him a couple of months ago and was banned from his blog.

    Aww, fucke. I can't believe I missed what must have been a totally fucken hilarious imbroglio between you two wackos.

  • Isabel says:

    It wasn't funny at all, check the link. I barely said anything, and as you know I am hardly 'wacko'. It's very offensive that you keep saying that, is it because I am a working class woman who tells it like it is and stands up to you from time to time?

    In fact, I found it interesting that you made the same exact point I was making, the comment he was freaking out about, on your own blog more recently, CPP.

  • Isabel says:

    Also, I should have put "antiracist" in quotes in my comment above. It was actual racist, one of those provocative statements that GL makes to prove what a non racist he is.

  • Loonabel, I've got a challenge for you: See if you can post a comment and then wait for someone else to comment before you post another one.

    BTW, how come you hardly post at my blogge anymore? We miss you!

  • Isabel says:

    I have a challenge for you: show some evidence, any at all that I am 'crazy' so we can believe that you are not being sexist when you refer to me as 'Loonabell" and 'wacko'.

  • Anon says:

    I would like to see more physics posts that aren't astrophysics / cosmology on scientopia. Stars and galaxies ect are cool, and they do get the layperson interested in the physical sciences, I think because it is so easy to look out your window at night or grab a pair of binoculars and view the stars and constellations and the pictures are very pretty. There is just so much more in the physical sciences that I feel is rarely if at all looked at through blogging. This is obviously not a comment specifically about your blog. For me this is something missing in the blogosphere and it would be nice if scientopia could fill this.

    I'd also like to see a bit more color around Scientopia.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    Color?

  • Anon says:

    Specifically on the main page, because the section headings and then the lists of recent posts are grey and blue in color, the headings don't stand out, and its easy to skim and miss the section you're looking for. If the headings where brighter, or contrasted more in color, then this might not be a problem.

  • becca says:

    I would also like to see more color around scientopia. Yes, that kind (spectral/pigment). Also, that other kind (pigment/melatonin). Also, that other kind (AHAHAHAHAHA).

    And not have the front page load time HATEEVILDEATHKILL.

    Also, can I have a pony?

  • Then you'll know which is right for you.

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