The interwebs work in mysterious ways. Recently I heard that the work of one of my colleague's might be featured on the website FAILBlog Cheezburger. OK, I don't suppose anyone wants their research on a blog that posts behavior befitting the descriptor FAIL! Was this a big embarassment for one of my colleagues? Hardly.The research in question is that of Karen Osborn, whose most recent paper (with three colleagues) redescribes a hemichordate worm that had not been seen for more than 140 years. In fact, it had only been collected once, during the Challenger Expedition, but subsequently lost. Karen and her colleagues were able to use new material to better describe the animal. For those who want to divert to the cool science, see:
Holland, Nicholas D., Osborn, Karen J., Gebruk, Andrey V. and Rogacheva, Antonina 2013. Rediscovery and augmented description of the HMS 'Challenger' acorn worm (Hemichordata, Enteropneusta), Glandiceps abyssicola, in the equatorial Atlantic abyss.
But how did this worm, Glandiceps abyssicola, wind up on a FAIL Blog?
Well, it turns out that Karen's work was sufficiently interesting that it was picked up by numerous news outlets on the web, including NBC, LiveScience, many others, and YAHOO. It is a nice little article with a quote or two from Karen, and at this point in time, 640 people have commented upon it. No offense to Karen, but I am pretty sure it will be decades before 640 people have actually read the contents of her paper.
Among the 640 YAHOO comments, there is one from Ken M that reads "theres supposedly only 6 species in the ocean that we havent discovered yet". FAIL! Of course, the indignant and better informed commenters immediately set about curing the ignorance of this person going by Ken M. But, here's the funny thing. On the Failblog Cheezburger there have also been numerous commenters, and many mention that Ken M is a well known "comedy troll", someone who goes around posting comments with the aim of arousing indignant responses. Gee, is there a job for that? I know some people who do it for free.
They say, "No publicity is bad publicity", and if that is the case, then congratulations Karen. Not only has your work inspired Yahoo and comedy trolls, but it has also been featured on the IZ No Bones blog, where far fewer readers will ever stumble upon it.