There is, let’s face it, a pervasive and annoying trend on the internet of instant dismissal and disparagement of anything someone doesn’t like or disagrees with. While I have just about got to grips with that as a fact of life for most of the web, it is frustrating and irritating when certain people do it about certain subjects.
I came across a comment on a science blog the other day where someone had linked to Ask A Biologist (which was nice). It was not at all clear if the comment that followed was direct to AAB or another site given how the thread was running, but that’s none too critical here. The substance of it was that said commenter has seen an unnamed science education website and thought much of their stuff that covered his field of research was inaccurate and badly handled.
Well, that will help eh? I mean, you know, you *could* communicate with that site yourself and let them know that they might have problem. You could send them some better information so they can make some corrections. You could put them in touch with colleagues who might help out. You could offer to help out yourself. But no, helping out is not right for you. Don’t worry that others are doing all the work on their own time and money to try and do the job they can and might not be perfect, just sit back and tell them that they are going a bad job and that you know much better and that other people should not use that site as it’s not very good.
Well thanks for that. It helps no one a single iota (since nothing will be fixed or can be fixed if there is no more information forthcoming) and spreads unnecessary criticism and disharmony among your colleagues (imply the site is badly done and the people involved unqualified or ignorant) and the people who might use the site. So every single aspect of that 2 line comment is not only not helpful, but actively unhelpful. Nice. I’ve remarked before just how welcoming and helpful the average scientist is and how respectful they are of the expertise and efforts of others be it from a senior professor to an undergraduate, or vice versa. It is then especially unwelcome and indeed unbecoming of people to put up comments like this, and while it might be the norm for the internet, it’s not the norm for conversations between researchers (or comments left by researchers) on the internet, and soon may it discontinue.