Back in April of 2016, io9’s second editor, Charlie Jane Anders, left io9.
The Observation Deck felt the impact of this, because Charlie Jane actually commented and wrote here. On more than one occasion, a writer for Observation Deck would write a story about meeting or reading Charlie Jane Anders, and Charlie Jane Anders would show up in the comments. She chose to interact with this community, which made sense because the entire point of Observation Deck was that it was an open discussion forum for io9ers. And io9ers wasn’t just a term for the writing and editing staff of io9, it was a term for everybody who chose to contribute (… good things, preferably) to io9. There’s a Steam group for it and everything.
I don’t think Rob Bricken ever commented or wrote at Observation Deck. I am trying to make that statement as value-neutral as possible, and to help I have to reiterate some of the silly Kinja history of the time.
The relationship between io9 and Observation Deck was already strained in the first half of 2015 as a consequence of changing Gawker Media Group in general (and Gizmodo.com in particular) policies concerning interactions between their staff blogs and the commenter blogs. Observation Deck moved from io9.com to kinja.com during that time. Although the staff of some sites kept on good terms with their commenter blogs, most of the staff of io9 did not. Over the second half of the year, things just kept falling apart. August 12th was the last time that io9 shared an article from Observation Deck. Concept art writing prompt dropped its fairly regular appearances; since the end of 2015 it’s only reappeared six times. Comment of the Day stopped being a fairly regular occurrence at io9 in July and it just plain stopped in December, replaced with the not-nearly-as-regular Open Channel prompts. Sunday Puzzle died. These were also the months wherein io9 was most actively being absorbed into Gizmodo, which created large-scale io9 staff changes, culminating in the departure of Annalee Newitz from Gawker Media Group.
The io9 that Charlie Jane Anders handed to Rob Bricken in April of 2016 was that io9, it was the one that had just spent months separating itself from its own user forum and just generally toning down its interactions with both the Observation Deck community and the io9 commenting community as a whole. It was not surprising in the middle of January of 2017 that io9 stopped linking to Observation Deck. This blog is not part of io9, and it hasn’t been since 2015.
Which is why I am weirded out that io9 has, since 25th July, started linking to Observation Deck again. It’s probably just an accident; whoever is posting that blurb is only reading the first three sentences and doesn’t notice the fourth sentence, which links to here. But maybe it’s not. The timing, before and during the Bricken-Pantozzi transition, is probably also just an accident. But maybe it’s not.
July 2018 had been a weird month for Gizmodo in particular and the Gizmodo Media Group in general. Earther folded into Gizmodo. Sploid maybe finally died (maybe?). All of the GMG properties were put on sale. io9 wanting to make nice with Observation Deck again would just be one more weird thing that happened within the GMG.
If our overlords want to return, I encourage them to. Observation Deck was, and is, a community for anyone interested in science fiction, fantasy, science, and futurism. I’d like to think that includes all of the staff of io9, and Observation Deck would only be improved if any of the io9 staff wish to join in.