Topix, No More?
The Berkshire Eagle abruptly suspended its link to Topix on Friday, with a three-paragraph announcement on its website. The posting says the disconnect was done while "its managers examine options for online discussions."
The North Adams Transcript and Bennington Banner were still using Topix over the weekend.
The Eagle and its sister New England Newspaper publications signed onto the independent forum site and local news aggregator a couple years ago to use its platform for commenting on its articles. Topix, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., was launched with capital from the Knight Ridder, Tribune and Gannett news publishing groups.
In March, TechCrunch reported Topix overall was getting more than 125,000 comments a day and 120 million pageviews a month. It's the type of commenting that happens on Topix, however, that may be giving The Eagle pause. The site removes 45,000 comments a month and gets hit with 10 subpoenas a week. (For more on Topix's growth, the TechCrunch article is here.)
iBerkshires was posting some of its stories to the Topix discussions groups; we also are editors for North Adams, Pittsfield and Williamstown and the photos you see on the North Adams news page are ours. But the quick slide into nastiness in the Topix forums led me, the editor, to stop posting. The Topix aggregator roboblogger still picks up our stuff but there are rarely any comments. As far as I can tell, most readers around here arrive at Topix through the newspapers' online articles not through the town news pages.
Topix is not so much a community forum for the sharing of ideas, but a cesspool of name-calling, slander and really, really inappropriate comments. For every thoughtful idea or positive comment, there are 10, or a hundred, verbal assaults. The site's immediate posting of anonymous commentary certainly fuels the fiery ripostes and a coalition of attorneys general have targeted some of the site's practices.
We know that the newspapers' editors have removed abusive comments as best they can.
At iBerkshires, we're stodgy but clean. Every comment is reviewed before posting; sometimes it's a difficult call between snarky, honest-if-critical opinion and nastiness. We've had to pull some comments after initially posting them but overall we've done our best to keep posters on track. We are considering ways to make it easier to post that will likely mean some type of membership with us.
According The Eagle post, it wants "a forum for open and respectful discussions." We hope we've been providing our readers with that for the past few years. If we need to do more, let us know.
Update: The Transcript joined its sister paper in delinking from Topix on Tuesday, Aug. 10. It offered the same brief reasoning on its website, stating "The Transcript has suspended our Topix forum indefinitely due to continuing abuse."
Both papers say they're looking at other forms that will allow commenting to resume.
|Write a comment - 7 Comments Tags: Topix, Eagle, Transcript|
Big Musical Numbers
Avoiding patch spots along Route 183 (West Street) in Lenox last week.
I love facts and figures and stick them into articles where ever I can: size, volume, cost, width, pressure, number. But even I was a little taken aback by the numbers offered up by Tanglewood last week.
The Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home is very involved in the road reconstruction project along Route 183 and for good reason: Some 350,000 visit the campus during its eight-week opening during summer. That's a lot traffic on 183, better known as West Street to the natives.
The real stunner was the economic impact for the county, some $60 million, an amount no doubt reported broadly elsewhere when I wasn't looking. (Oh, here it is.) About half of that was through visitor spending — hotels, motels, restaurants, shopping, gas.
The total annual impact of nonprofits is nearly $2 billion, with Tanglewood responsible for nearly a third of that. Rep. Smitty Pignatelli wasn't kidding when he called it the "economic engine of the Berkshires."
It also, apparently, is major attraction in luring new residents. Town Manager Gregory Federspiel said second-home owners make up a third of the population, and most of those emigrants fleeing the dangers of the Big Apple after 9/11.
Which way to go?
The trend for summer Berkshire living (at a larger scale than the old money barons who transformed South County into a getaway a century ago and then left their mansions for those of lesser means to enjoy, including at Tanglewood) has actually led to a drop in hotel and restaurant revenue — everyone was eating at home.
But they're still driving down a well-beaten path to Tanglewood, one that could definitely use some fixing. The Boston Globe ran an interesting story two years ago on the automobile and Tanglewood that noted traffic jumped 28 percent from 1990 to 2004. Hardly news to natives.
Hopefully, next two years of digging up West Street and realigning the intersection with Route 7 will go smoothly for both town and Tanglewood.
|Write a comment - 0 Comment Tags: Lenox, Tanglewood|
A Lot of Things to Think About
|Write a comment - 0 Comments Tags: Shift, information, education|
Peek Into Rockwell's Window
The window at Jarvis Rockwell's "Maya III" on Main Street. It changes constantly and always entrances me. So I'm going to do an update on his window show each week. Why you ask? Because I can.
|Write a comment - 0 Comments Tags: Rockwell, window, art|
The New News
|Write a comment - 0 Comment Tags: Dilbert, Dogbert, comic|