Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sponsors as contributors - what would you do?

A bit of a different Going Pro article:  a situation online has provided us with an interesting thought experiment.
The past week, a large portion of the science blogosphere has been shifting.  I won't re-hash all the many posts and positions, but here's a brief summary as I understand it.

The ScienceBlogs.com network run by SEED Media has over 70 bloggers running their independent blogs (no editors, just bloggers) talking about science, and whatever other issues they like (atheism, gender issues, movies, shoes, politics and much more).  Scienceblogs.com put up a new blog, one paid for and run by Pepsico, to discuss advances in nutrition science.

Some bloggers felt betrayed: like Pepsico was buying credibility on the reputation the network had built up (it's indexed on Google News).  Others thought it was no big deal, they hadn't posted yet; wait for them to get out of line and address it.  Some complained about "Pepsi" and "nutrition".  Others cited this being the last straw in a number of complaints, some behind-the-scenes, and some public. A significant number of popular bloggers have left the network, including Laelaps by paleo-writer Brian Switek.

A Blog Around the Clock has a great list of posts on all sides of the issue.  Personally I'd recommend erv, Greg Laden, Living the Scientific Life (Scientist Interrupted) and Neuron Culture for a quick overview of some of the stances adopted.

* * * *

Now, here's the sauropod-meat of this article.  What would the various fans, contributors and artists here in the ART Evolved community do in a similar situation?

We're a smaller operation.  A large number of artists and illustrators and occasional posters but all on one blog.  We've all invested some of our online identity into this group, and most regular contributors have their own blogs. It's a loose network, but one I am proud to be a part of.

So, what if Peter, Craig and I announced one day, we were going to have one post a month from a corporate blogger, and they were giving money to us to maintain and keep AE afloat?  What if, the science-artsy street-cred of the corporate blogger seemed questionable:  a new Flintstones-type of unscientific t.v. series that popularized misconceptions about the prehistoric past,  (we could call it "Man & Dino", both sexist and inaccurate) and the articles seemed cobbled together by out of touch marketers?

What would you do?  As a reader, ignore those posts?  Ask for "paid advertisement" on the "Man & Dino" posts?  Not care, so long as it helped keep ART Evolved going?

There's not a right answer in my mind:  I have respect and see the points of people on both sides of the Pepsi divide. But here at ART Evolved, what would you do?