cyberNephrology, what a piece of cyberCrap–updated

I was browsing the Renal Fellow Network and saw a link to a website I hadn’t previously heard of, cyberNephrology. It had a prominent position on the list of Other Nephrology-Related Blogs, so I went to check it out. The prefix cyberis very 1990’s and cyberNephrology does not disappoint it. It has that a few years after the zombie apocalypse  feel.

Starting at the top the What’s New page links to a pair of talks from 2009.

The three large banners are role overs that open to text based pages. The communication page is essentially a link to an E-mail discussion group. In today’s world of Twitter and Facebook are e-mail discussion groups relevant? Hint: No.

According to cyberNephrology, e-mail discussion groups are not only a relevant form of communication, they are the only forms of communication.

The additional resources includes a link to the Highlights of the Nephrol e-mail discussion list, last updated in 2000. A link to a Nephrology Internet Bibliography, last updated in 2002.

The nephrology related websites is a page of links to a couple of dozen large institutions and a handful of defunct links to smaller sites, The Catalan Transplant Foundation (now a squatters site) KidneyWeb (a site that brings back memories of the worst of GeoCities), (now behind a paywall). Amazingly this page claims it was updated in January 2011, though they don’t show any link-love back to the Renal Fellow Network.

The Education link on the home page leads to a page that is similarly outdated with links to NKF’s spring meetings up through 2008. The funniest part is that 2008 is considered next years meeting, as there is a separate link to Past meetings.
The other trip down memory lane is the link to “New Technology–Palm OS, PDA.” Unfortunately, for nostalgia’s sake, the link is broken.
The last target on the home page is a new vision. This leads to more gobbley gook but does place the responsibility for this load of crap at the feet of none other than PBFluids hero, Dr. Robert Schrier. Shame on you Dr. Schrier.
The new vision page includes a contact form. I sent a comment and after pressing send I was redirected to this page of crap.
What’s the chance I ever hear word one from them?
There was a time when having a “homepage” counted for something, but now these are just embarrassing relics. NKF should just euthanize cyberNephrology. 
It also calls into question what type of editorial control RFN has after getting endorsed by NKF. Do the editors really feel that cyberNephrology is a worthy site that belongs on the same list as Clinical Cases-Nephrology and Dialysis from the Sharp End of the Needle? Or was cybernephrology added in deference to their new overlords?
Update 9/1/11:
About 16 hours after posting Dr. Kim Solez commented here. You can read his plans for cyberNephrology below, but part of his plans included shuttering cyberNephrology and starting a new google+ charged version of the Nephrol e-mail list serve. Additionally a number of readers have chimed in, through the comments and other communications, regarding the value of the Nephrol list serves. This maybe a case where this author judged a book by its cover.
That said Dr. Solez has not made good on his promise and cyberNephrology is still up, though I occasionally get pointed to the new NephrolPlus project (not sure what’s up with that). When cyberNephrology ultimately disappears you maybe able to dig up the bones at the NKF’s site, which currently carries a partial copy of cybernephrology. 
Lastly, the Renal Fellow Network has removed cyberNephrology from their website and have, to my satisfaction, established that there is no editorial control from the NKF. I feel a little foolish for pointing that finger. Sorry guys.

9 Replies to “cyberNephrology, what a piece of cyberCrap–updated”

  1. Although the site looks tired now, when we first started linking to Cybernephrology (in 2009?) it did show promise e.g. we thought the ability to sign up for a listserv was potentially useful, and there still isn't a good, private discussion forum for nephrologists IMO. The lack of follow through is disappointing, and I agree it probably needs to go.

    To answer your question, we have absolute editorial control at RFN and take responsibility for whatever we post. We've never been asked to link to anything by NKF, ASN, ISN or any other overlord.

  2. I was originally made aware of this site from various clinical nephrologists who use the list serve. I agree that the content is outdated. Maybe it is time to remove the link as they have not kept it current. Also just to reiterate. NKF did not ask us to put up this link.

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    We live in a time when everyone is concerned about editorial independence and credibility. I have little doubt that the writers of RFN have total editorial control and that the NKF or ASN or ISN provide little in the way of editorial support and have even less influence on the content. And in truth, if the NKF asked for a link in exchange for their endorsement I would be comfortable with that.

    The NKF is not a drug company. If they were to throw their weight around editorially its hard to imagine where that would be problematic. The RFN is not writing the K/DOQI guidelines.

    I asked a question regarding why cyberNephrology is a promoted link, because it does not deserve that position. The only thought I could come up with was connecting NKF's endorsement of the RFN required a link to NKF's cyberNephrology.

    After posting this I received an e-mail, a phone call and comments from two editors. I am completely satisfied that the driver for the link was the e-mail list. Apparently the e-mail list is still maintained and is a useful resource for nephrologists the world over, though I can't personally imagine volunteering to receive more e-mail.

    The link ultimately bothered me, because the Renal Fellow Network is, to my mind, the leader in Nephrology education on the web and it should act like a leader. And part of that leadership is being thoughtful with the websites it promotes. Seeing cyberNephrology on this list smacked of a site being given undue credit because of its pedigree (NKF and Schrier) and not its merit.

    Since the post the editors at the RFN have commented, phoned and e-mailed me. The NKF and editors of cyberNephrology have been silent.

  4. Hello all. Our current cyber-effort in nephrology is the new group NEPHROLPLUS This group was launched in late July 2011 and links to Google+, Facebook and . We will change the old link to refer to that page tomorrow. In the 14 years since was created this posting today is the first criticism it has received and there has been much praise. All the best. – Kim Solez, M.D.

  5. I have subscribed nephroplus and look forward to seeing this "cyber-effort." It would be great to be able to add nephroplus to my list of notable kidney/medical resources.

  6. It should be obvious to most of you but this is the situation: When you go to now you see the graphic of the page and then in 3 seconds end up at the description page for NEPHROLPLUS, i.e. the site redirects there. That seemed best for transparency, you can see what is happening. It also is what I said I would do. It would not make sense to completely destroy the cybernephrology site as there are derivative new pages we are creating with that branding almost daily with new content. So we have just redirected the main pages and left the rest of the site alone for now as we work on current projects. It is just a temporary situation until we have time to update the site completely. The new course we are teaching on Technology and the Future of Medicine is our main focus this week. You can see me talking about that last Sunday in Silicon Valley on YouTube:

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