Many out there in the science blogging community have been rightly angered and frustrated by what transpired last week regarding Danielle Lee's blog at Scientific American. Much as it pains me to link there, Jezebel actually has a cogent summary of what went on. Short version: Dr. Lee politely declined a request to guest blog (at a paying advertising partner of SciAm), and was shocked and angered when she was denigrated in sexist, degrading language for her declination. She posted about this on her blog, and SciAm took down the post, arguing feebly that it wasn't really about science. This is weak sauce, of course, because SciAm has allowed many of its bloggers to post about topics that aren't directly science. Pretty much they mishandled this about as thoroughly as possible.
Blogging is a tricky business. Outfits like SciAm, NatGeo, Wired, etc. clearly value the perspective (and clicks) that bloggers can bring, and must view bloggers as a very inexpensive source of content. Bloggers generally value the greater readership and exposure that is afforded by a widely recognized host - certainly my readership is much lower than it could be if I blogged for scienceblogs (of course, then I'd feel obligated to post more often). However, by being independent of these corporate hosts, I have greater editorial control. I don't have to worry about ticking off advertisers; I just have to keep some level of a lid on my sarcasm and desire to vent.
This whole thing of course reinforces the standard dictum that seems to be ignored by a surprisingly large number of allegedly smart people: Beyond trying to be a good person, don't write things in email (or post on the internet) that you would be sorry to see on the front page of the New York Times (perhaps I should say "homepage", since we are approaching the supposed death of print media). Hopefully someone at biology-online.org (who started all of this with their inexcusable behavior) now appreciates this lesson.