This bafflingly huge waste of my time (and yours) was prompted by two seemingly unlinked events. (Of course, no two events are truly unlinked, but let that ride.) First, there was a bafflingly stupid "article" from Mother Jones: Let’s Remember Some Blogs – Mother Jones. Why stupid?

Because as far as I am concerned, not one of the 15 things they listed was a blog as I understand the term. Maclej at Pinboard agreed: "Do these people even understand what a blog is?" he asked. To me, they are online magazines, rather like Mother Jones itself. Few of them presented anything like a timeline, which may not be the best way to present even a personal website, but is nevertheless one of the characteristics of a true blog.

The second event came as I was bringing an old post in here. Daniel Mosquin had complained gently that his blog, Botany Photo of the Day had been left off Nature's round-up of the top 50 science blogs written by scientists, as compiled by Technorati, when by Daniel's reckoning it ought to have come in at 35.

In my dull, slow approach to old posts, I check every link and try to find ones that are still alive. Nature's list is long gone, but, praise be, The Internet Archive had a copy. So, what the heck. I copied the HTML source, cleaned it up, and went looking for every one of the 50. I've taken the precaution of hiding the details in a table here:

Current status of 50 "top science blogs" in 2006
Current status of 50 popular science blogs written by scientists published by Nature in 2006
Original link Latest post (on 2019–11–15) Date And …
Pharyngula Friday Cephalopod: I succumb to peer pressure and will mention Octopolis | ScienceBlogs 2017–09
The Panda’s thumb Libellula luctuosa 2019–11 Still going strong
RealClimate Sensitive But Unclassified « RealClimate 2019–11 Still going strong
Cosmic Variance Cosmic Variance - : Cosmic Variance 2013–01 But the permalinks are broken
The Scientific Activist A More Reality-Based Poll | ScienceBlogs 2010–05
Respectful Insolence Turning out the lights and moving on: Goodbye, old ScienceBlogs blog, hello new blog | ScienceBlogs 2017–10 Marks the end of Science Blogs, has a new domain that has left the history behind.
Aetiology Movin‘… | ScienceBlogs 2017–10 No forwarding address
Cognitive Daily Cognitive Daily Closes Shop after a Fantastic Five-Year Run | ScienceBlogs 2010–01 Announces closure.
Effect Measure A note tacked to the door | ScienceBlogs 2010–05 Announces closure.
Adventures in Ethics and Science Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road. | ScienceBlogs 2010–08 New site at Scientopia tells me I am “trying to access a banned url” but Scientopia appears still to be alive.
Deltoid Scienceblogs is shutting down | ScienceBlogs 2017–10 Very sad redirection
Uncertain Principles Go On Till You Come to the End; Then Stop | ScienceBlogs 2017–10 New site includes archives.
Thoughts from Kansas Flashes visible then gives an error. Blogspot’s fault? Although the URL it redirects to looks very spammy.
John Hawks Anthropology Weblog Working toward more ethical anatomical collections at the University of Cape Town · john hawks weblog 2019–11 Still going strong.
blog.bioethics.net Duplicate of Thoughts from Kansas (Nature’s mistake, or Technorati’s) with the same spam problem.
In the pipeline Dead, or possibly at In the Pipeline | Derek Lowe’s commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry. An editorially independent blog from the publishers of Science Translational Medicine..
Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology A Group Blog El Cruce de la Muerte: Fieldwork and Carework at the Crossroad of Death | anthro{dendum} 2019–11 Still going strong. Archived and maintained, and moved to anthro{dendum}.
Stranger Fruit The time has come … | ScienceBlogs 2009–05 Announces move to stranger fruit | musings on life, science, history, and politics.. Nothing since 2017–12
The Disgruntled Chemist The Disgruntled Chemist: Beer Blogging - Steelhead White Dog Pale Ale 2008–06
A Blog Around the Clock New URL for this blog | ScienceBlogs 2011–07 Moved to Scientific American, last post there Quick update: UNESCO Belgrade, and NYTimes - Scientific American Blog Network. Nothing since 2013–10
Evolutionblog Farewell to EvolutionBlog! | ScienceBlogs 2016–10 No forwarding address
Gene Expression Remember to switch RSS feeds | ScienceBlogs 2010–04 Moved to Gene Expression - and then 2013–11 left that to own domain which appears to be dead.
Mike the Mad Biologist Mike the Mad Biologist: I Have Been Assimilated Into the Collective 2006–06 moves to Science Blogs (haha) Program Announcement: I’m Moving | ScienceBlogs, leaves that for own domain at Mike the Mad Biologist | Helping idiots who desperately need my assistance by calling them fucking morons since 2004. Still going strong.
Mixing Memory Marvin | ScienceBlogs 2008–08 No forwarding address
Archives of The Cheerful Oncologist Volume 2 Goodbye to ScienceBlogs | ScienceBlogs 2008–01 No forwarding address
The Questionable Authority Archive Goodbye | ScienceBlogs 2010–05 Departs to Scientopia, a banned URL.
Biosingularity ‘Brain wi-fi’ reverses leg paralysis in primate first – BBC News – Biosingularity 2016–11 Still alive
Evolgen This is a Good-bye Post | ScienceBlogs 2009–01 No forwarding address
bootstrap analysis No content left, spammish. I did track it down to bootstrap analysis — chronicles and musings of an urban field ecologist 2018–12
Evolving Thoughts My new blog | ScienceBlogs 2009–08 Moving on to Evolving Thoughts Still going strong
Terra Sigillata Terra Sigillata announces new home at CENtral Science | ScienceBlogs 2010–08 Moving on to Terra Sigillata | CENtral Science, which is an archive that ends 2014–06
Prometheus (Roger Pielke Jnr) Can’t connect to the server.
A Few Things Ill Considered A Few Things Ill Considered: Illconsidered on Science Blogs 2007–09 Move to Science Blogs (haha) Satellites Observe “Traffic Jams” in Antarctic Ice Stream Caused by Tides | ScienceBlogs 2017–01 No forwarding address
75 Degrees South Malicious site warning.
Discovering biology in a digital world New home for Discovering Biology in a Digital World | ScienceBlogs 2017–10 Moving to The importins of close protein relationships | Digital World Biology 2019–06 Still going strong
A Concerned Scientist Daniel Rhoads: Native Plants for Urban Gardens 2011–01 No forwarding address
Invasive Species Weblog Invasive Species Weblog: Singing Like A Bird 2011–07 Moved to Twitter
Developing Intelligence Site hijacked.
The Daily Transcript My Year in a Picture | ScienceBlogs 2009–12 No forwarding address
Biopeer Domain is for sale.
Stayin’ Alive Stayin’ Alive: Logical fallacies 2019–11 Still going strong
On being a scientist and a woman Site gone; asks me to login to Google????
Flags and Lollipops - Bioinformatics Blog Redirected to somewhere unexpected.
The Quantum Pontiff The open access wars | The Quantum Pontiff 2019–07 Still going strong
Good Math, Bad Math Moving on | ScienceBlogs 2010–08 Created Scientopia
nodalpoint.org - A bioinformatics weblog Nginx welcome splash screen.
Climate Science Cannot connect to server.
The Lancelet The Lancelet: Streamlining the site 2012–04
Afarensis Not found at Science Blogs, but apparently now at Laetoli Museum Closer To Reality | Afarensis: Anthropology, Evolution, and Science 2014–10
Three-Toed Sloth Goes to home page of U Mich Center for the Study of Complex Systems.

Good news and bad

Of the 50, I deem 7 to be still going strong; 8 if you count BPOTD. By that, I mean there has been a post in 2019. Congratulations to all of them. I don’t suppose any receive webmentions, but maybe they have automatic ego-searches and will discover this post and maybe even update me.

Twenty-three of the top 50 were hosted at Science Blogs. I vaguely remember Science Blogs storming onto the scene and hoovering up many of the bloggers I was following. I may even have harboured a little jealousy, wondering why my own effort never got the knock on the door, despite zealously Technorati-tagging every post. I strongly suspect that one reason why so many of the top 50 were at Science Blogs was a network effect of cross-publicising all their blogs, which might have affected the rankings on Technorati.

Science Blogs is still going, after a fashion. Look at the table, though, and you’ll see that a large number of its stable bolted in the second half of 2010. They were spooked by Pepsigate. Science Blogs took Pepsi’s money for PR disguised as independent content.

I cannot blame the science blogs that have gone AWOL or are MIA; enthusiasm fades, priorities change, people get tenure. Nobody says you have to carry on. Does it matter that in many cases the content might also have gone? Not really. If it was really important – and many posts on science blogs were – it will have been preserved in one form or another. For me, going through the links prompted a great deal of nostalgia and not a little pleasure, but I realise not everyone cares about the early days of weblogs or about science communication.

Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a comprehensive, though by now a little dated, survey of the whole science blog thing, I highly recommend this post from Bora Zivkovic, once at no. 20 in the top 50.

And where is he now? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that he still has his original domain, where I remember reading his stuff all those years ago. There, he’s “wondering what to do in the next decade”. I don’t know how long he’s been wondering. Maybe since late 2013: Don’t Be a Creep: Lessons from the latest terrible, sad, fascinating scandal in the science blogging world.

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