Just recently, RealClimate topped 500,000 visits (and well over a million page views) since starting in December 2004. And by happy coincidence, a present arrives in the form of RealClimate being selected for the “Science & Technology Web Awards 2005” by Scientific American, with the citation:
A refreshing antidote to the political and economic slants that commonly color and distort news coverage of topics like the greenhouse effect, air quality, natural disasters and global warming, Real Climate is a focused, objective blog written by scientists for a brainy community that likes its climate commentary served hot. Always precise and timely, the site’s resident meteorologists, geoscientists and oceanographers sound off on all news climatalogical, from tropical glacial retreat to “doubts about the advent of spring.”
Nature this week published a letter from Dr. Huang (U. Mich) highlighting how this ‘brave new world’ of science blogging works. He writes:
I was concerned to find that … [a figure] included an outdated and erroneous reconstruction of borehole data. … In my view, the website should have used a later version … To be fair, the authors of the website added a correction after I drew their attention to this.
In an early post, we used a figure that contained a minor error regarding how a borehole temperature reconstruction had been scaled. This mistake had been properly corrected in the literature, and so this was indeed an oversight on our part. Dr Huang was kind enough to remind us of this and we amended the caption immediately to point this out and direct readers to the correction should they be interested. Since this mistake was not central to the point being made in the post, we left the original figure in place.
The Internet is nothing if not flexible, and unlike in journals where mistakes can persist an awfully long time, we are able to correct such problems very quickly. In this respect, Dr. Huang’s letter seems to indicate that things are actually working quite well here.
We would like to take this opportunity to re-iterate our commitment to getting the science right, and as importantly, getting it right in real-time. We welcome all corrections or clarifications and we will endeavour to fix any errors, great or small, as quickly as we can.
Readers of the Feb. 14th, 2005 Wall Street Journal may have gotten the impression that RealClimate is in some way affiliated with an environmental organisation. We wish to stress that although our domain is being hosted by Environmental Media Services, and our initial press release was organised for us by Fenton Communications, neither organization was in any way involved in the initial planning for RealClimate, and have never had any editorial or other control over content. Neither Fenton nor EMS has ever paid any contributor to RealClimate.org any money for any purpose at any time. Neither do they pay us expenses, buy our lunch or contract us to do research. All of these facts have always been made clear to everyone who asked (see for instance: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol306/issue5705/netwatch.shtml).
Getting a serious paper into Nature or Science is deservedly hard. Getting a mention for your climate blog is apparently a little easier!
We are of course collectively very pleased that Nature has welcomed the RealClimate.org effort so forthrightly. We only hope that we will be able to match up to their expectations. As with anything new, done by inexperienced first-timers who really should be concentrating on their actual jobs, there are bound to be teething problems. One, alluded to in the editorial and accompanying news story, is who gets to decide what’s posted, and getting the balance right between inclusiveness and clarity.
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