Successes and … er… opportunities for improvement

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By Dave Munger

Less than a week after its official launch, now has 78 active, registered users. We’re already bigger than! Of course, many of our users are ScienceBloggers — these projects can definitely work together. We can also get much bigger. Over 200 bloggers have used our icon, and we need to get them signed up for the new aggregation site. There’s the potential to enroll literally hundreds more bloggers from all parts of the research community — not just scientists.

All in all the launch has gone amazingly smoothly. As far as I know, the site never went down, and I haven’t heard from any user whose post wasn’t aggregated successfully (if that happens to you, please do let me know, or post your issue in the forums) (Update: I’ve heard from one user. Details below).

We’ve also received compliments from dozens of blogs. Here are some of the really good ones:

Clastic Detritus:

I think this is great. Firstly, the reader can click on that right away to get the paper…that’s just plain and simple convenience. Secondly, it keeps posts out that aren’t really about a real paper. Most science blogs (including me) have other posts not really about any particular research paper. This is a great filter. I simply don’t have the time to sift through the hundreds or thousands of science-related posts per day to find good comments about a recent study, especially if it’s out of my field.

DMU Pathfinder:

Since the posts all have correctly formatted links to the research under discussion, the site is a good example of the value of things like citations.

Innovate this:

Wearing a badge can change the life of your blog

Golden Swamp:

It seems likely that good results will occur here, as so often when the best of analog and online learning work together. The pot and the kettle can will keep a virtual eye on each other.

Uncertain Principles:

A spiffy new aggregator and a nice home page collecting the most recent articles in different categories

Kevin Gamble:

If you’re wanting a snap-shot of what’s going on in the science blogosphere this is going to be an awesome site. The site was rushed out to premiere it yesterday, and it still has a few rough edges, for example the feed isn’t working. I’ve registered with the site (breaking my 2008 pledge of not registering with any site not supporting OpenID).

Wired Campus, from Chronicle of Higher Education:

Each post itself is peer-reviewed — registered bloggers on can report posts that don’t fall in line with the site’s guidelines. This, evidently, is part of the growing effort to ease communication in the research community.

Wired Science:

Many science bloggers like to mix business with pleasure. Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily has unveiled a service that allows them to clearly identify which of their posts are about peer-reviewed scientific publications with a tiny logo. Once flagged, those posts are also fed to a research blogging website, which will hopefully serve as a central hub for researchers that want to discuss hard science in its purest form.

ScienceBlogs (unfortunately, no permlink):

Want a site that aggregates and organizes blog posts about peer-reviewed research and only peer-reviewed research? Try

Not bad, eh? It’s really satisfying to see these great posts about a project we’ve worked so hard to create. I only wish these bloggers could also have seen the tremendous work that’s been done behind the scenes. I’m the public face of the organization, but whenever you see my name associated with the project, you should also think of Zach Tong, Sister Edith Bogue, Uriel Klieger, Eric Schnell, Vas Kottas, Michael Eisenstein, and the dozens of testers and commenters who’ve helped us hone our mission.

But before our arms get sore from patting ourselves on the back, the past five days have also shown us some of the things we need to do to improve Here’s a partial list:

  • Smooth out the registration process. A number of bloggers report that they see error messages when they sign in — even though their registrations have actually come through just fine.
  • Add an RSS feed. We’ve heard this from literally dozens of users — and of course, we’re working on it!
  • Better password management. Users can’t currently change passwords or find a password if they’ve forgotten it.
  • Fix bugs on the site. There are quite a few small glitches, many of which don’t show up on the main page, but are a bit of an annoyance to users. Previous/next page links show up on pages where there’s no previous/next page. The Citation Generator doesn’t give an error when it comes up with no data on a source. Some unusual characters such as accented letters don’t display properly. The BPR3 Blog feed isn’t getting updated.
  • Display posts in the order they were actually created instead of when they were aggregated.
  • Support multiple bloggers per blog.
  • Link the icon to instead of
  • Make the “back” button function correctly when entering a citation.

Any others? Let us know — either here in the comments or better yet, in our forums. As an all-volunteer organization, we can’t say for certain how soon we’ll get these problems solved, but we can assure you that we’ll work on them to the best of our abilities given our time/job constraints.

Update: One user tels me she can’t get posts aggregated because her blogging platform, Vox, doesn’t support embedded HTML except in a very crude fashion, utilizing a separate frame. We might be able to eventually fix this problem, but in cases where HTML can’t be embedded in the post directly, in general our aggregator isn’t going to work.

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