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Our Community Guidelines

The following guidelines have been drafted by the cofounders of ScienceOnline, Inc. in consultation with various leaders of local ScienceOnline groups in order to provide a common vision for the health and growth of our community.

The guidelines as written below will be considered provisional – they’ll be what we ask local organizers to agree to – and ratified once the new Board of Advisors is constituted (see below under Representation), then reviewed annually at the ScienceOnline conference.

If you are interested in starting a ScienceOnline group or event in your city, please contact Karyn Traphagen, Executive Director, to discuss the steps.


ScienceOnline started in 2007 as a one-day conference with 135 people who wanted to explore the world of science blogging. Today, ScienceOnline has grown into nonprofit that cultivates the ways that science is conducted, shared, and communicated online. Those who have participated in ScienceOnline events have become an international and interconnected network of thousands of individuals. ScienceOnline works hard to support and encourage the community that has grown from the shared experience of the events we organize.

The guidelines below are designed to encourage and foster the growth of the local ScienceOnline activities while maintaining consistent identity and cultivating connections across all of our efforts. We encourage all in our community to review this guide, share their feedback, and help us broaden and strengthen the ScienceOnline community in the years to come.


ScienceOnline cultivates science conversations both online and face-to-face. At our face-to-face events, we provide an atmosphere that encourages creativity, collaborations, connections, and fun. Through social media, we listen, support, share, recommend, and reach out. Through all of this, we celebrate science.


ScienceOnline values every voice. Affiliation and prestige are not prerequisites to be heard or appreciated. We pride ourselves on creating opportunities to learn and to teach, to listen and to talk, to experiment and revise.

Here’s how the community characterizes our values:

Respect. Generosity. Acceptance. Open-mindedness. Compassion. Kindness. Curiosity. Enthusiasm. Humor, Wit. Inclusivity. Collaboration. Open-mindedness, Humility. Support. Sharing. Cooperation, rather than competition. Encouragement, Transparency, Engaging all with science. Inclusive, Encouraging Individuality, Cooperation, Creative, Innovative, Engagement. Critical, challenging, enthusiastic. Passion, Great at connecting the dots in a pattern that makes sense :) Principled, Generous, Profound, Profoundly fun.

Local ScienceOnline groups agree to embrace and exhibit these values in their activities, outreach and events.


The ScienceOnline name has come to symbolize inclusive conversation about science that are inspiring, enlightening and can lead to unique collaborations.

Consistent branding reduces confusion and helps us all publicize and promote our activities, thereby bringing more voices to the conversation. By seeking out the ScienceOnline name, science-minded people can find local events and communities that share our respected core values.

Organizers of ScienceOnline local events, activities and groups agree to align with the ScienceOnline brand by following these guidelines:

  1. Use the common naming format: ScienceOnlineCityName (one word)
  2. Use the logo and branding colors of ScienceOnline; a style guide will be made available online, along with logo files, instructions for customizing for your group, and assistance, if needed, for modifying any logo files.
  3. Acquire a twitter account with a prefix “scio” and then some shorthand for the local area (SEA, VAN, etc). Similarly, find a hashtag for your events that is not (overly) used by others (to avoid confusion). #soBAY, #soVAN, #soSEA etc.
  4. Similarly, Facebook, Google+ and other social media tools, if used, should follow the naming protocol outlined above.
  5. ScienceOnline will provide for each local group an email with our domain (e.g.
  6. Include the provided boilerplate text on the local group’s website/print materials that
    • identifies the local group as a satellite of the nonprofit ScienceOnline organization;
    • identifies supporters and sponsors as appropriate;
    • includes a link to the hub to facilitate learning about the nonprofit organization.

Support offered by the ScienceOnline organization

The ScienceOnline organization exists to serve and guide the community. As the organization builds its resources, it will seek to provide local groups with the following tools and services:

  • Web space and online portal;
  • promotion and linking on and other social media;
  • livestreaming and video archive support;
  • fundraising and/or central grant support;
  • participation in the planning of the signature annual event.


The programming of any local events should be determined by the local leadership. We encourage each local group to find the format that works best for their community. We can provide suggestions and assistance if requested, but we look forward to seeing the variety of events that will spring out of the diverse local groups.

Coordination of sponsorship relations

ScienceOnline has grown through the generous support of individuals, foundations, corporations, and other organizations. We know how valuable relationships can be when seeking support for our activities. Together, the ScienceOnline community seeks to coordinate our fundraising efforts to maximize the benefit to the local and national groups.

We ask local leaders to communicate with the ScienceOnline leadership when seeking sponsorship support for a local activity to be sure we are not duplicating efforts. If a local group approaches a major corporation for support, the sponsor may be confused when approached by ScienceOnline for national support. This doesn’t mean that local groups can’t work with national partners — we just want to be aware of sponsorship relationships and coordinate our efforts. Local groups are encouraged to cultivate local sponsors who may not have a broad geographic presence and who would be interested in supporting a grassroots event in their own area.

ScienceOnline (the organization) is working to be a clearinghouse for major grants, with funds directed to local events (for livestream subscriptions, etc) which would benefit all local groups, not just one.

It is important to identify all partnering organizations (i.e., hosts, co-presenters, funders, in-kind donors) to show the community’s gratitude for supporting science.

While sponsors may be critical to the process of establishing local groups (for funding and/or support), the community must promote and cultivate its open identity, and so always remain at the forefront of the event. This is one reason why the ScienceOnline organization was formed. We felt it was better to have a formal nonprofit organization — with no specific corporate ties — as the umbrella structure for the community. This better captures the spirit of the community and allows for more voices to be heard.

We realize that local organizers, through your work for a company, foundation or other institution, may get time, resources, encouragement and other support from your employers. We’ve received the same. Similarly, sponsoring entities may want to be associated with an event or activity. It is important, though, that ScienceOnline events preserve the independent and open nature of our our community. In order to reflect this priority of independence, ScienceOnline satellites will avoid the appearance of sponsor control in how events are promoted and presented.

If, at a future time, your group wishes to branch off from the larger ScienceOnline community and identity to participate more closely with a particular company or institution, you’re free to do so, but we will request that you change names (for clarity of affiliation). Nevertheless, we still value, and are happy to encourage, the many other local and national outreach programs that share our passion for doing and communicating science. There is much work to be done and many ways to do it!

Memorandum of Understanding

ScienceOnline asks that organizers and leaders of local activities agree to these Community Guidelines by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to keep us all on the same page. The MOU will be renewed each February after the annual conference, during which the Board and local group leaders will convene to discuss the Community Guidelines. Each local group is thus agreeing to the guidelines for a year at a time.

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