How to Start

Top 5 Twitter Etiquette Tips

While I claim to be no expert on Twitter etiquette, I would hope that over the past 2 years of tweeting I have picked up at least a few morsels of useful info.

Whenever I’ve tried to explain how Twitter works, I use the analogy of attending a large party with some potentially important guests in attendance.

Tip #1: How to make a Twitter entrance

As is the case with large parties, you know very few people there. Thus, when you first get there, you want to introduce yourself to as many people as possible.

But you wouldn’t simply enter through the front door holding a megaphone and announce to everyone present: “HELLO I AM JOHN AND I WOULD LIKE TO TALK TO ALL OF YOU!”

That is, you don’t want to just blindly follow hundreds or even thousands of people without really getting to know any of them, and giving them an opportunity to learn something about you.

Most appropriate method would be to introduce yourself to a few people at a time, and to move around the room, slowly building contacts. More >

What factors make a blog successful?

I know, I know – this question is terribly open-ended. There are obviously any number of factors that can contribute to the success of any given blog.

Some blogs may be horribly written and contain largely useless information, but if authored by some celebrity, it will likely become popular regardless.

Also, something as simple as the blog design, is surely going to impact its popularity; we like to look at things that are appealing to the eye. Thus, I predict, all else being equal, the blog with a more visually-appealing interface is going to be more successful.

Blog interactivity – in terms of the degree of discussion that is encouraged, and how easy it might be to share the information on a given blog might also influence popularity.

While I could go on forever making semi-plausible assertions of factors that influence blog success, the reason I am writing this post is because I recently came across (thanks to random Googling) a Master’s thesis published online looking at this very issue.

The Study of Blog Success Factors and Their Effects on Web Business” is a thesis written by Kuan-ting Lin and defended just under a year ago. More >

If you can write an email, you can write a science blog

I’ve been blogging about my research for a little over 2 years now, and in general the response from my colleagues has been quite positive.  People are often quite interested in the use of social media to spread the word about their research or network within their field of study, and some of my grad-student colleagues have even been convinced to start blogs of their own (e.g. here, here and here).  And yet, when I speak to more established researchers, even ones just out of grad school, they invariably bring up 2 key objections to blogging:

1.  They don’t have the computer skills.

2.  They don’t have time.

Today I’m going to tackle the first of these objections, and I’ll come back to objection number 2 later this week. More >

To be or not to be a pseudonymous blogger

Editor’s Note: As a follow up to Scicurious’ excellent post on how to start a science blog, today Sci discusses the pros and cons of authoring a blog under a pseudonym. As one of the most recognizable pseudonymous science bloggers, Sci knows a thing or two about the topic. And take it from me – Sci takes her pseudonymity very seriously. When we met at a conference last year, she continued to go by Scicurious. To this day, I have not the slightest clue what her real name might be. I certainly would have slipped up by now.

Sci has a pseudonym, and while it’s fine sometimes with other bloggers, many real life people discount me because they think I am “anonymous” and cannot be serious.  Keep in mind that pseudonymity and anonymity are different things.  While anyone can be “anonymous” and their voices will change all the time, a pseudonym is a fake name that is constant through time as one or more specific people with specific voices.  This means that you can, over time and with quality work, build up the trust of people who read you, and develop a reputation online as your pseudonym.

There are often good reasons for being a pseud.  Many people assume that those writing under a pseudonym must be cowards, trolls, or otherwise untrustworthy.  While this is true for some pseuds, not all pseudonyms are equal, and with time you can recognize those who work to build up reputations under their pseudonym.   The reality is that there are lots of good reasons to be pseudonymous, from worries about people not taking you seriously, to professional considerations.  Sci is a pseud because I don’t want animal rights activists coming after the real life work I do, not to mention the work of my colleagues, just because I’m supportive of carefully performed animal research (yes, I’ve gotten death threats, and I’m by no means the only one). More >

8 Tips on Starting a Science Blog

Editor’s Note: We could not be more delighted to have Scicurious, one of the top science bloggers out there, share her plentiful wisdom on how to start a science blog. Scicurious is a fellow ex-ScienceBlogs blogger, and now runs a fascinating blog called Neurotic Physiology over at the Scientopia network. All of Sci’s posts are brilliant and engaging, and her “Friday Weird Science” series can not be missed. Here’s Scicurious!

So You Want to Start a Science Blog?

Good for you! No doubt you are looking forward to huge amounts of flattery and fame, millions of hits, and a whole line of merchandise with your face plastered all over it.

Well, maybe those goals are a bit lofty.

Nonetheless, Science Blogging is important. It’s a great way to increase communication between scientists and the public. It’s a good way to do outreach and get more people interested in science. It’s an excellent way to learn to analyze papers and get feedback on your analysis in a public forum. And it’s a really good way to improve your writing skills!

But of course, everyone wants to know where to start. In my case, I pretty much just started a blog, and learned as I went. School of hard knocks and all that. But there’s no reason that you should have to do the same, and starting a blog doesn’t have to be uphill through the snow both ways.

Over the years, I have collected some tips on blogging and things to think about as you get started. And Peter has been kind enough to let me share them with you! More >