Science on Google+ for the Win!

Drawing of protesters hold signs saying 'science serving the common good' and others

Here is a terrific, in-depth look at the passionate and dedicated discussions that take place every day on Google+ communities. Thanks to journalist Simon Owens for delving deeper into what makes G+ so special, and laying to rest the tired old argument that “Google Plus is a ghost town.”

Simon quotes Google product manager Danielle Buckley who says of G+ communities “People come up with really interesting ways of talking to each other that are community defined and make them really special.” 

I was interviewed for this piece, representing our tireless Science on Google+ Moderation team. Simon highlights our collective curation effort as well as the truly exceptional science posts by our members. I was super thrilled to see Simon chose to feature some of my favourite posters, Johnathan Chung, Jonah Miller as well as our fun ice spike post, and several others by our Community members.

Thank you to all our members who make our community one of the top 10 largest communities on Google+ as well as an amazing place for smart science discussion! Simon highlights some of our favourite posts by our community members.

From the article:

Many of the largest communities are growing at a rapid pace, a growth rate that has only continued to pick up in the past year. Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos, a Melbourne, Australia sociologist who is one of the moderators for the Science community, told me that Science has grown from 300,000 to 400,000 members in just a few months. And it was obvious, after spending more than an hour perusing through the community, that its moderation team of “20 qualified scientists who have PhDs, peer reviewed publications and who work in universities or as researchers” take the responsibility of managing such a large following seriously.

Its subcategories are divided among several scientific disciplines, ranging from earth science to physics, and each category is fastidiously policed to weed out pseudoscience and off-topic posts.

“We address misinformation, and we remove spam and non-science posts (like sci-fi),” Zevallos said in an instant message chat. “Our moderators also keep a close eye on threads and contribute via actively writing to our members. This means [the moderators] will guide the discussion by correcting issues, asking questions, providing links to peer-reviewed research, and generally maintaining a high general standard.”

The moderators often promote the best of these discussions via a regular series called “Curator’s Choice.” In August, for instance, a community member posted a photo of a bowl of water that had curiously frozen in such a way that seemed to defy gravity. A user named Casey Webster, who describes himself on his Google Plus profile as a meteorologist and programmer, posted a detailed roundup of research that explained how water vapor gradients can cause ice to spike when it freezes quickly. In another Curator’s Choice post, a fifth grader asked about the layers of the earth’s crust, a question that a user named Jonathan Chung devoted 400 words and a half dozen cited sources answering. “The types of posts we get range from introduction to key science topics such as how computers work, to more complex topics such as on various cancer research,” said Zevallos.

Originally published by Simon Owens.

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