Richard P Grant and his BioLOG (biolog); the wee blog, weblog, or web blog; things not necessarily biology related. The anti-blogger.


10 October 2010

Lost at sea

If I might be permitted an observation, there is something wrong when, in a forum expressly for the purpose of bug reports and feedback, a user’s perfectly valid comments are dismissed out of hand.

It’s bad enough when an unaffiliated Nature staffer who does not have an active blog on Nature Network (and yet maintains a presence on the private forum) weighs in and completely misses the point. It is far worse when one of the admins says something patently untrue—and then implies that the user shouldn’t be so silly as to ask for pretty basic features.

First, WordPress comes with an ‘Admin login’ straight out of the box. Second, I have used a Moveable Type install where the login link was in plain sight—and connected to an entire University’s user database. They managed to solve the ‘logging in across different sites’ problem that seems to be beyond Nature Publishing Group’s ken. Third, bookmarks are not necessarily “always in a fixed location on the screen” as anybody with more than one bookmark will be able to verify for themselves.

See how I manage to log in

And let’s get to the nitty gritty here. It’s one line of code we’re arguing about.

The comment made on 27 September was, actually, pretty good and said all that needed to be said for the time being (I suspect that was Lou). There was an apology, an understanding of the issue, and what looked like positive moves in the direction of working things out together with us, the users. Compare and contrast with what followed.

But apart from Lou, Nature Network isn’t that good at communicating with its users. Take this new Microsoft group blog for example: I know that a few people have been thinking “Pepsi“—but all we have heard from the Network is that “there’s no commercial connection here”. What does that mean? Does that mean Microsoft aren’t paying NPG for the privilege—and if not, why not?. Will Microsoft products or Microsoft-funded research never be mentioned in “The Fourth Paradigm”? At this stage, you know as much as I do, which is a truly woeful position to be in (and I should know).

Has Nature Network lost its way? Who is steering the ship? And is anybody left rowing?

Filed under: Rants — rpg @ 20:29


  1. Actually, Microsoft produces quite a bit of interesting research – they are very active in Human Computer Interaction, for example (believe it or not!), so there is a high likelihood of good, original content. Not all blogs by companies are a bad idea, and I say that as somebody who was disgusted with PepsiGate. Take for example AT&T research in its heyday. Now that would have been a cracker of a blog …

    Comment by mariawolters — 10 October 2010 @ 22:06

  2. That’s true—but completely besides the point.

    Comment by rpg — 11 October 2010 @ 5:51

  3. Ye gods. I cannot believe that anyone (let’s name names – “Maxine”) would argue that hitting “enter” should leave a blank line after the carriage return. For goodness’ sake, I intentionally turn OFF the “after paragraph spacing” feature in Word (for example) unless I really decide I want it for a specific document.

    I’ve pretty much abandoned reading all NN blogs now as a result of the other persistently-discussed issue (i.e., the obfuscatingly awful “log in then log in again and then one more time, why not” problem). What a waste of my time, which, of course, is highly valuable.


    Comment by ricardipus — 15 October 2010 @ 20:43

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