Puny Banner and tip jar

By Ed Yong | March 10, 2011 9:14 am

A couple of house-keeping things.

Firstly, if you cast your eyes a few pixels upwards, you’ll notice the snazzy new banner. All the Discover blogs now have them to give us a bit more of an individual feel. I love mine/them. The designer’s done a great job with reconciling the “rocket science” bit with the fact that I write almost entirely about biology. You can see the rest of the logos on the sidebar, and I’ll probably be doing a Cafepress store at some point.

Secondly, you might have noticed that there’s also a “Support Science Writers” box in the sidebar. I’ve added this in light of my new initiative to voluntarily pay for the best science writing that I read. In the comments, people suggested various ways that these micropayments could be done easily, but all the best suggestions involve adding some sort of code to one’s site.

While a simple solution may take some more work, I’ve implemented these Paypal buttons as a temporary fix. The top one goes to the writers I pick every month, distributed equally (any donations this month will go to February’s picks, and so on). The bottom one goes to me and I’ll match a third of the donations and send that to the chosen writers too.

Both go to my Paypal account but they’re tagged differently so I can sort through all the donations and distribute them easily. This isn’t ideal by any means, but like many things on the Internet, I thought I’d give it a go and see what happens. So if any of you would like to support NERS or any of the other great blogs that I link to, please feel free to contribute. There is, of course, no expectation to do this.

For reference, here are the people who I’ve donated to this month:

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Journalism, Tip jar

Comments (5)

  1. Great idea – just curious to know more about the selection criteria. Is it simply based on articles that have caught your eye in casual browsing?

    Perhaps you could incorporate ‘reader’s choice’? This may motivate more readers to give and participate – if they feel they are active in the process of choosing great science writing, instead of just providing funds for others to decide on their behalf.

    Excellent initiative, regardless.

  2. Great initiative. I am curious to know whether this will help some of the best science writers to make a decent living from their blogging. I am totally amazed by the number of excellent science blogs by people who seem to do this next to their regular jobs, without any payment that I know of. Wonder how they manage to do it.
    So, yes, Ed. Keep om the good work.

  3. @Taylor – The selection criteria are fairly loose but they’re basically articles that caught my eye. So look at the list above. Delene’s story is a wonderful piece of reporting that I haven’t heard about before – it clearly took a lot of work to do. Likewise, Greg’s post is masterful – in an entirely meritocratic universe, that would be a feature in a mainstream magazine and he would have earned upwards of a grand for it. Kate’s post was illuminating – it taught me something I didn’t know and that I felt it was important know – likewise for Maryn’s. Carl’s post is on a topic that I love and that I was glad to see covered, and well. All the others fit into one or more of these categories.

    A readers’ choice might work but these things can be polljacked easily. If there’s going to be a button on the sidebar, I only really want to do this for posts that I would personally vouch for. Ideally, I’d love to see something like this expand so that there are plenty of ways for readers to support good writing if my specific choices aren’t their cup of tea. I hope that what I’ve done is merely an interim towards something more widespread and sophisticated.

    @Dick – if it’s just me doing it, I doubt it. But I’d hope that these sort of charitable micropayments spread. If anything, by doing this, the thing that I really want to champion is the idea that good writing is worth paying for.

  4. Good point about polljacking. Pharyngula could probably win any science writing competition (over and over again) if it was open to the public. Maybe after this thing gets going readers will suggest different ways in which it could evolve to be more participatory. And then after a few months the implicit criteria would be clearer, so better suggestions could be made.

    Looking forward to the monthly post. I’d pay just for the list itself!

  5. Another way to bring exposure to good pieces is to nominate them for Open Laboratory. Even pieces that do not get included in the book at the end of the year will still enjoy getting a weekly Monday morning link from me….

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