31 October 2011

I get e-mail

Submitted without comment, except to note that I've been science-blogging for, like, three years now, and this is, to the best of my memory, the first time I've gotten this sort of e-mail. I'm not sure how that reflects on me, or on my readership.

hi i am a biology student doing an assignment on diversity and evolution

can you please tell me about the variation within weevils. how it came about and stuff like that

Thank you

[Name redacted]

And my response, in its entirety:

Hi, [Name redacted],

Well, I'm not an expert on weevils, although I've written about some specific work other people have done on specific species of weevils ([long URL]) and about that group of beetles in general ([long URL]). But I'm sure you've already read those posts, since you e-mailed me using the blog's address. I would suggest that you start your research by following up on the papers I cite in those posts, however. (I'm attaching PDF copies of each.)

Also, "variation within weevils" is an extremely vague, and potentially very broad, topic. Weevils are, after all, one of the most diverse groups within the beetles, which are themselves the most diverse group of animals on the planet. So unless you want me to pick your topic, too, I think maybe you'd better do some additional reading and figure out exactly what it is you want to do your assignment on.

Okay, fine, I will make one comment, in two parts: (1) [Name redacted]'s e-mail address is an academic one, and (2) the complete text of everything I've written on the subject of weevils is quite thoroughly indexed by Google, and therefore easily findable by both inquiring students, and suspicious professors. ◼

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