Of all the feedback we got from our recent readership survey, one very thoughtful and unusual comment (meaning, unlike any other comment) really jumped out at me. Here it is in full:
Sometimes I have the impression you are writing only to the top ecologists class. Not every one had the opportunity to have a Peter Morin as a supervisor or to study in Harvard (as Brian). Here in the third world things a much different. We sometimes think we are doing good science. Then, after reading some of your posts, we realize our hypothesis are disconnected from theory, out of date, or are not even true hypothesis. It seems, sometimes, that you are writing only to those that publish their work in top journals like eco lett. To tell you the truth, I have even considering given up as a “scientist” after reading some of your posts. I had the felling that everything I was doing was not science. Anyway, I am not asking you to take it easy in your posts. I really like the way you write. Maybe this is just a consequence of you being a top scientist, surrounded by top scientists – it’s your world.
A big thank you to whoever provided this comment. You’re absolutely right that this blog is aimed at what is, in a global sense, a very narrow audience: developed world professional ecologists (especially academics) and their graduate students. And you’re absolutely right that I write for that audience because that’s my world. It’s the only audience I know well enough to write for, the only audience to which I think I have something to say that’s worth reading. As much as I like to think of myself as a “fox”, as someone who reads and thinks about a broad range of things in the course of his professional life, in many respects my professional horizons are exceedingly narrow. There are vast swaths of ecology that I rarely, if ever write about on this blog. Whole subfields (landscape ecology or ecosystem ecology, for instance). Applied, conservation, or restoration ecology. And yes, ecology done by ecologists not employed in developed countries.
Which says something about me, not about all those things I don’t write about. Just because I don’t write about something doesn’t mean it’s not worth writing about, or that I’m not aware of it. This blog really is just the stuff I personally happen to be interested in, nothing more. It’s just me thinking out loud, about stuff that I think might be of interest to my rather narrow audience. (And I think much the same goes for Meg, Brian, and Chris) So yes, if you’re reading this blog, do keep in mind the audience I’m writing for.