Hyperlocal Focus Will Relaunch Topix

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Rich Skrenta of Topix.net thinks that the time has come where local community will drive Topix to greater heights, and that community-driven content merits re-organizing the site to emphasize it.

With 35 percent of Topix traffic represented by local community, Skrenta sees the news aggregating site’s future there.

“Local newspapers by all rights should own their local communities online,” Skrenta wrote in a recent blog post. “But there are 1,500 local newspapers in the US, and most of them don’t have a lot of spare resources to experiment online.”

This gave Topix the chance to consider its national hyperlocal play. A traditional newspaper media still mired in an anti-Internet mindset, one that fears the raucous debates that can take place when an online community rears its ugly side when a controversial issue comes into play, isn’t going to get this done.

“They typically pull community the minute things get hot — which, ironically, is when you need discussion and debate the most, and when the discussions often become the most interesting,” he said.

Skrenta believes Topix has the tools in place to make the hyperlocal focus work. They have been scaling their architecture to handle the communities. Within that effort comes the need to fight off spam, hate speech, and other downsides to online conversations.

Scalability isn’t just for users, but for moderation too. “If you don’t keep the quality sufficiently high, you stop adding users,” said Skrenta. Their software and human moderation helps Topix hit its goal of getting rid of the bottom 5 percent of posts each day.

The idea isn’t to run the conversation, but to prime it and keep it on topic. Skrenta and company just need to get enough people to follow along and participate. We’ll see how they plan to do this after the Topix relaunch.


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Hyperlocal Focus Will Relaunch Topix
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