Science 2.0 Gets A Version 2.0
    By Hank Campbell | October 19th 2008 01:00 AM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

    View Hank's Profile
    If you've been around Science 2.0 for a while, you may notice something different this weekend. We've gone through a bit of a makeover. 

    After 21 months, some 30,000 articles and a difficult to guess number of tens of millions of readers, something more like we had originally intended is finally here. Why did it take so long? Well, if it isn't broken, you don't need to fix it and clearly people have come here for quality writing. Appearance is secondary to our sort of audience.

    But at some level you want the appearance and 'ease of use' to reflect the same quality the writing has. Scientific Blogging, Science 2.0 v1, could do everything, you just had to know how to find it.  And it wasn't pretty.

    So what's new besides the look? Well, nothing really, but a lot of you may feel it is new because you didn't know how to find it before. Version 1.0 started as a core feature set - basically writing and reading - and a lot of other things got added in later but there was no way to really incorporate them. With version 2.0 we were able to look at the entire feature set we wanted and incorporate it into the design itself. Some people may feel like there is less content on the front page, for example, because the big teasers and pictures are not staring at you but in actuality we have gone from 15 articles on the front page to 35. Plus blogs.  Those are in the name of the site, and a lot of fun, so they deserve more attention.

    Each of the categories and sub-categories likewise has a lot more content available 'at a glance' than there ever was before without having a page that had endless scrolling.   Here's a quick rundown on how the header and footer looks 'new':


    All those things were available before, you just couldn't find them. So now you have a comment tracker in the upper right, so you never have to hunt around looking for replies to comments of yours or get a dozen emails a day - you can come to the site, look at the comment tracker and deal with them all at once.

    The avatars at the bottom tell you who is online and your friends have a lovely glow around their picture.   If you are mutual friends, you can send messages to each other.    Strangers still have to contact you through your profile page.

    To know everything that is happening in one spot, we have version 1 of our dashboard. It is still being enhanced so it will change a bit this week but it's basically one location to do everything you might want to do; customize your column, write great stuff or see what your fellow science writers have done.

    Article creation is a little different also.

    We are hoping we came up with a text editor that has the features and the ease-of-use that you want.   Nothing beats plain text and doing things in HTML (and that is still available right below text entry) for flexibility but for most people who like these features, it will be terrific.   We also have a new way to add pictures to articles - Flickr search.

    Is it finished?   Well, no, as you can see there's still work to do but even that is part of the plan.   For everything else, just like the reason we started this, we want community involvement.   

    So let us know what you think.   If you find a bug, be as specific as possible and tell us about it.    We did what we could in testing but there's nothing like 25,000 people a day to show you what you missed in QA.

    Before I sign off, I want to talk about the people who really did the bulk of the work in making this happen.  In version 1 it was really just me and I got Sefanja to come in at the end and do some things I could not do.  Since you're here, it obviously went okay.   Our brand of "just science, no ideology, no political agendas" science hadn't been done with user-generated content;  scientists and science writers speaking directly to the public.   And it really hit home.   

    We went from being non-existent less than two years ago to being in the top 25 science sites worldwide - and the largest independent science community.     That brought us attention and we have been lucky enough to find a group of people who pitched in and helped and did a terrific job.

    So let me introduce you to everyone:

    Me, of course, the creator, architect, designer, part programmer and somewhat editor of Science 2.0.   I had some work-for-hire help with some cosmetic stuff but since this was a project for love and not money, not much money got spent.

    Yes, I look confused.    You try and take a picture on a laptop without having it right up your nose.    For v2 I  did the concept and the architecture but most of the real work was done by these three guys:

    Sefanja (left) and Erik

    They're lumped in together because I don't have a picture of them separately.    Sefanja has been here since the launch of v1, so he handled the complicated stuff about our engine.  He's fixed every bug you can imagine and he created a number of the core features here.   He's kind of a Jedi Master but he doesn't think so.   We found Erik in July and he did things like that nifty featured block and much of the the dashboard you will come to know and love.

    Phrase I heard most often from Erik - "5 minutes", no matter what I requested.   Even when we were three weeks late finishing this.   That takes a special sort of confidence.

    Phrase I heard (well, read, he lives in Europe) most often from Sefanja, usually in response to an idea I had about doing some code to help since we were three weeks late; "Right. Lets not do that."

    Last, but not least, the actual 'look' of version 2 - and by that I mean the 'style', the cosmetic stuff, was done (and, really, is being done, since part of the optimizaton will be feedback from all of you) by Andrey

    Phrase I heard most often from him, "I am not sure that will look good", usually at 1 AM when I suggested a new color scheme of some kind.   He was also quite good at interpreting my elaborate, detailed instructions, which were something like, "I don't know, make it look good."   Not just anyone can speak fluent Hank right away.

    So there you go.  The Science 2.0 family members who brought this to life.    It's still a work in progress so have a little patience.   There will be bugs and there will be parts that look like someone's homework rather than the interface of a science community, but those are things we have left alone because we don't want to tell you what this should look and feel like, we want you to tell us.

    Happy Writing!

    P.S.  If you do find a problem you can send us an email at the contact button in the footer, or by clicking the link, or by leaving a comment.


    Hatice Cullingford
    Thanks guys, each and every one of you. What can I say other than sheer delight. New has its own rewards. Now if I could incorporate images and figures...that would be happier writing to me. Hank, this is success. Congratulations. I am honored to be with all of you. Hatice
    Now if I could incorporate images and figures...that would be happier writing to me.

    Oops.  We did all that work testing and being excited about it and we neglected to turn it on when we moved to the main site.  It is fixed now.   
    Kimberly Crandell
    I know hundreds of hours, extensive planning, and lots of old fashioned hard work went into the creation of this new version.  Personally, I love it.  It's got a sharp new look, and a feature set I can't wait to take advantage of. 

    Thanks to the whole team for putting it together.  It's like Christmas came early this year!

    Great job Hank, Sefanja, Erik, Andrey... and everyone else involved in the design and implementation. 
    Congratulations! Great result of tons of work, I'm sure. :-) I love it!

    I'll do my best and give you feed back on the functionality.

    Here, right away and immediately :-):

    1. As a visitor I didn't get the capcha to work and could not comment on this particular article.
    2. I've lost half of my SB friends in the process. I don't know if that was a deliberate act or a technical mishap, but worth mentioning anyhow.
    3. I "subscribed" to and that has disappeared while the two other subscriptions remains (livescience, science codex).

    Let me know if you prefer another channel for feed back.

    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Thanks to both of you for the comments! To Bente - 1. We will look into this captcha. In a quick test of 4 tries on 2 browsers, I got it to work 3 times but looking at the code there was no difference in behavior (we didn't see an error) so we may have it too tight, or it may not be 'seeing' punctuation properly. We tested like crazy but it's true that a whole lot of people will find problems we didn't know could exist. 2. It shouldn't be happening. That's a bug. (edit: Oops - Sefanja had fixed this by the time I wrote my reply. Even I can't keep up with these guys) 3. We are going to tailor much of the comment specifically. On the old site, everything was in these long sidebars that went for miles down the page. In this new one, content will appear that is more relevant. All blogs, for example, appear on the front page section but soon the blogs that appear in category sections will be relevant to that category. Likewise, is relevant primarily to Physical Sciences so it appears in that channel whereas the other two are general science news.
    Thanks, Hank! Concerning the captcha: I didn't even see the text I was supposed to write. It was just empty space. I run on Linux and use Firefox browser.
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    I edited this also to be in the article above but if you don't want to post a comment about something you see that is acting strangely, you can send us an email here or by using that Contact button in the footer.

    Great job I love it guys! :)
    The only thing I've noticed is with the "referrers" so when I view it they seep into my friends list..
    here's what I mean::

    Right, that's with Internet Explorer. IE will take weeks to get working properly. It really isn't very good - but it comes with Windows so people use it and we must also. We just didn't want to hold up everything while we fix each thing in IE (and two more will break) ... so for IE users the experience will be less than perfect, but we'll eventually get it right.
    Hi Hank,
    Very, very nice upgrade!  Thanks!
    Two questions:
    -  What is the difference between "articles" under the category headings and the stuff in the "blogs" column?
    -  As editor, do you determine the "Top 5" list on the front page, or is there some formula from the old "Featured Columns" or "Most Recent"?  Is there a schedule when an article "rolls off" the Top 5, or is that at your discretion?
    Thanks again!
    Articles have a minimum length and go out in our worldwide newsfeed and get syndicated. Blogs can be any length. Anyone can sign up and have a blog but there are requirements for columnists and then featured writers too. Moderators or admins can promote articles to featured (or blogs to articles) and they are also done on popularity. Everything goes on the front page for a while so even if someone is new they can have a popular article or blog but over time writers naturally build up an audience of their own here too.
    This upgrade looks fantastic - I love how you managed to fit more content on the front page.  We've had great content for a long time, and now the great content comes in a slick package. Excellent job - I know this was a lot of work - it's great to  see that work come to fruition.
    Hank, have you removed the possibility to message fellow bloggers on SB that you are not mutual with? I can't find that option, but maybe I'm blind.

    Also, can I block or be blocked from reading a SB bloggers column? Or article in general? We are mutuals, but I get a message that I have logged out and cannot chat with you. I can see that I am logged in because I get the option of 'sign out'. A bug perhaps? :-)
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    There's a 'contact form' but, as Mike noted earlier, it had gotten confused with the site contact form in the footer below. That's an easy way to send a message to people or for them to message you even if you're not on mutual friend lists. It should be fixed tomorrow and back on your profile. People just click it, fill it out and they can send it through the site - so your private email stays secure. We do the mutual friend thing for IM (if we didn't in v1, that was a bug - it was supposed to) because we have a lot of members and you may not want to have a lot of messages popping up at you from people who just sign up. Anyone can use Contact though. We don't have a way to block or be blocked. If someone is that annoying, they probably shouldn't be here. We've only thrown out a few people but they had it coming. P.S. I just logged on under a test account and tried to message myself here but it told me I was logged out. So you found a bug!! :)
    looks much better! good job.

    We were having some weirdness with chat, but it seems to be fixed now. If you get old messages that make no sense, they were simply biding their time to pounce.
    I haven't been around in a while.  It looks very very good.  The rich text editor works and behaves in Linux + Mozilla like it should.  Great work guys. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.