Monday, April 02, 2007 becomes and follows Wikia’s path is undergoing a change, involving that much-hyped word, citizen journalism. This change process could easily be termed as "How Topix ditched a working .net address and got a personality..." was basically an aggregator of news from over 50,000 sources, claiming to cover 500,000 topics. Like other aggregators based on clustering (Google News, Techmeme) Topix touted its own special algorithmic sauce.

Moreover, it searched for news and classifieds on a ZIP code basis.

However, the only success Topix may have had was the Topix Forum service. People were still not sure about the effectiveness of the 500,000 topic pages.

One problem with the topic pages is that the news is often not up to the mark. The pages were not great like Techmeme which uses lesser sources and is more interesting to read. For example, look for Social software news in Topix and you will find what I mean - boring and often stale news.

There was no personality. Your RSS reader worked better.

Moreover, the claim to cover 500,000 topics is redundant. Google News and Yahoo News can search more than that in their news index but they do not advertise this.

Rich Skrenta and his group at Topix have decided to change things and come up with what else, but a copy of’s model – open source/citizen journalism pages for every zip code in Topix database. With this, Topix aims to drive its commenters onto local pages.

These ‘community-edited blogs’ will be supplemented by the ‘roboblogger’ concept, where automatic aggregation populates a city page if citizen bloggers are not coming in large number.

Now why didn’t all other local news sites think of this? If citizen contributions are not coming in, hack your RSS reader - aggregate and populate the pages.

All this will be ad-supported by Adsense. However, for Topix, the words will be limited to town or community names, enabling local businesses to get valu for money.

However, I am not sure things will be that easy. Commenting freely on topic pages is one thing – writing news items for the local town blog is other.

Plus, what about revenue sharing? For example, when I comment on other sites I am aware that the site owner gets to benefit from my efforts. However, when I write a story, I may expect something in return. On, the new submitter can at least remove his articles and pots them elsewhere.

Topix ought to spend some of that $15 million VC money on citizen journalists and give the faltering movement a proverbial 'shot in the arm'.

The fight between man and software is not over yet. We still have to see a mix of Google and Techmeme’s automatic ranking algorithm and NYT’s journalistic brain.

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At 2:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will at least give credit Topix for being successful with its forums.


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