November 4, 2008

Turkey Day is coming!

by at 3:23 PM

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Now that kids have had their fair share of Halloween candy and November is here, the Thanksgiving page needs some love from our beloved Topix editors!

91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Share your family recipes and favorite traditions with other Topix users. Add some festive headlines about modern traditions like serving Turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.) A traditional cornucopia was a curved goat's horn filled to brim with fruits and grains…what kinds of goodies do you put in yours?


Sign up to be an editor on the Thanksgiving page!

Election Day 2008

by emily at 10:41 AM

Hello again, Topix Editors,

It is a big day around these parts. I hit the polls early this morning, then tuned in to news on my way into the office. Election coverage is happening everywhere you look. Some of you might even be a little tired of hearing about it by this point, but we're in the home stretch. Today is the last day of pre-election coverage, so let's use it!

I'd like to see every editor take a few minutes today and post a story on their page about how the election is going in their neck of the woods. No matter what topic you edit, I am willing to bet that there is an election story out there waiting to be posted. I say post it! Drop us a comment with the link, so you can show off your story!

Wherever you are, whatever you do, make sure your voice is heard at the polls and on Topix!

October 21, 2008

Topix Editor Spotlight: HOGstr

by at 9:31 AM

Today we turn the spotlight on HOGstr, an active editor who never lets the dust settle on the Offbeat news forum. HOGstr is a shining example of a Topix editor, constantly keeping the news page updated with interesting stories. Who would have ever imagined one could share a passion for both Harley Davidsons and Chihuahuas? Let’s see what she has to say!

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What are some editing pitfalls you’ve learned to avoid?
Posting a duplicate a story is the main pitfall for editors that I see. An editor should always review the page to make sure another editor hasn't already linked to a story already on that page. Having two (or more) comment threads splits the conversation and confuses the reader. I also find it annoying when an editor posts a story on a page that's not relevant to that page.


What is your prior editing and writing experience?
I owned a photography business for 15 years before going back to college and getting my journalism degree. After graduation, I started as a reporter/photographer for a small weekly newspaper group in southern New Jersey before moving up to become the managing editor. When Gannett bought the papers, I was transferred to the Asbury Park Press as a night desk editor. Eventually, I morphed into a humor columnist and social interaction Web editor. I now write a weekly humor column called Kickin' Back and blog Say What? about unusual news two or three times a day as well as approve user-generated articles and photos for app.com. I also monitor user blogs, online forums and story chats.

What is your editing environment like? Do you post from work or home?
Because I'm an offbeat news junkie, I post stories I come across while I'm at work and from home. I'm constantly looking at the news wire to see what's new. Because of this, I'll see stories that are posted before they make most major Web sites. This gives me an advantage to blog about breaking stories and post them right away. I almost feel obligated to post on Topix as often as I can because I don't want readers to miss out on the latest offbeat news and what's happening around the world. It can become obsessive at times.


What do you do when you are not on Topix?
I own and ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle, thus my screen name HOGstr (Harley Owners Group). I also spend a lot of time with my three beautiful grandchildren who are very young, of course ... :)


What is your most memorable editing experience on Topix? Big story? Reader response?
Possibly the story I posted about the man assaulting his father with a bag of Cheetos. I think that got a lot of response.


What advice would you give to other editors in making a great page?
Post photos with your stories.


The Offbeat forum has a close family-knit feel to it. Would you say being an Offbeat news editor has helped your relationship within the Offbeat community?
Ah, yes. This is so true. The Offbeat community has many, many regular posters who are smart and witty. They make my day with their unusual and creative comments! I don't think there's a day that goes by when they don't make me LOL! And, they have been very receptive to my story selections. I can't thank them enough.


One of us at Topix has an obsession with her two Chihuahuas, and noticed you have an insanely cute picture of one in your avatar. Does he have a Dogster page?
I have three Chihuahuas. I call them perma pups (they always look like puppies no matter how old they get). My avatar is a picture of my first little girl, Elsie, who got her name because she has cow markings. When I first brought her home, she was very lonely and used to chase flies for fun. So ... because her only friends were flies ... I adopted an older female Chihuahua who became her mom so to speak. I then figured well, I have two, why not three, and bought Toots who is my plus-sized girl. None of them have a Dogster page, but as soon as I get time, I'll see that they sign up.


What other user-edited pages on Topix would you recommend?
As an owner of three Chihuahuas, I think the Pet page is excellent. I'd like to contribute to it more, but never seem to get the time.


Anything you'd like to say or comment on?
I have to say that Topix is the best online site that I've come across in a long time. The moderators are great and allow readers to express their feelings without taking away their individuality. Nothing worse than having to say (because of site restrictions) "I have to urinate" when you really want to say "I have to pee."


Bravo Topix, for allowing your readers to be themselves and still maintain a wonderful site where they can politely interact and, at the same time, have a hell of a good time!


Kudos to you, HOGstr, and carry on!

October 8, 2008

Poor Johnny One Note

by emily at 3:19 PM

When editing a local news page, there is a trap that as an editor, you should avoid at all costs. Small towns definitely suffer from a lack of new news sometimes. That said, when a big story happens, they can become inundated with new content very quickly. Unfortunately, 99.9% of that new content is going to be about that one big story, right? This is where the trap lies.

If all this new content is now added to the news page in a flurry of excitement, you soon end up with a news page devoted to that one big event instead of your town as a whole.

When that happens and continues for any length of time, you lose readers. Really! You lose readers!

You know how sometimes you hear a song that you just LOVE and you play it and play it and play it, until you get so tired of it that you hope you never hear it again? That’s what happens to your readers. If every time they visit your news page, all they see are multiple headlines about a particularly bad car wreck or a church scandal that made national headlines, they start to get bored and move on. It is always important to cover the big news, but try to never lose sight of the rest of what goes on in your town.

Even in the midst of real tragedy, life goes on in small ways all around you. Make sure those other stories make the news. Don’t forget the local sheriff’s race or the Founder’s Day parade or that giant flour truck that overturned, mixed with rainwater and made pancakes that grilled right there on the asphalt. That’s all good stuff! Make sure it makes headlines too!

Sign up to edit the Halloween news page!

by at 12:35 PM

pumpkin

You don’t need to visit Sarah Palin’s hairdresser in Wasilla to copy her hairdo, just visit the Halloween forum on Topix and read the article posted on “How you can look like Sarah Palin on Halloween.”


Halloween is coming up fast, and there are no editors for the Halloween news page. You could be the first one! Other fun stories to post could be healthy alternatives to candy and treats, recommended horror flicks or tasty holiday recipes.


Apply here!

October 7, 2008

Why was my post killed?

by at 11:21 AM

As a Topix editor, you may have had a posted story killed before.

Here are the 2 main reasons why a story may be removed.

Off topic

Stories are most often killed due to being off topic. If you are a local editor, you’ll want to keep your stories on topic about your town and surrounding areas. For example, posting about Yoda, the four-eared cat from Chicago, is certainly interesting but is not on topic for the town of Utica, NY. The same rule of thumb goes for posting in a top node. A news story about Pakistan has nothing to do with the 2008 Presidential Election.

Duplicates

Sometimes there are duplicate stories. Let’s say you post a story about a local fire. As time passes, there may be more details known about the incident, another editor may post an updated story and your story may be killed. At the same time, if there isn’t much editor activity, roboblogger may be posting the same stories as well.

September 24, 2008

Topix on Facebook

by at 12:22 PM

Did you know Topix has a fan page on Facebook?

If you're a Facebook user, feel free to join the Topix fanbase!

Hope to see you there!

September 23, 2008

Change: Page Design

by at 3:16 PM

Hello Topix Editors!

We wanted to make sure you were aware of our newest page design change and clear up any confusion.

Currently all stories that wrap around the vertical ad (highlighted in the image below) on news pages will not show story photos. Once there are enough stories to push your story past the advertisement, your story's photo will reappear again.



We made this change to allow more stories on the page, and make the overall page presentation cleaner.

June 27, 2008

Redesign Preview

by torres at 11:21 AM

In our ongoing effort to make Topix better and easier to use, we're introducing a few updates to the site. Below I'll outline some of the major visual and structural changes that you, as regular users, will notice.

The "hat"
Overall, we've compressed and simplified the hat (the top part of every page that includes search, navigation, logo, etc). We also made a concentrated effort to improve the navigation, which is no small task considering we've got over 450,000 topics.
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1. Promo bubble
We'll use this area to introduce and promote new features, as well as provide links to helpful information for Topix newbies.

2. Change city button
An easy-to-find widget that allows users to change the location for their local news.

3. Navigation
The top layer (in dark blue) is the general site-wide navigation, and the lower level (in light blue) shows the sections within that topic. So, for example, in this illustration, our top-level topic is "Palo Alto" and the sub-sections for it are Forums, News, NewsWire, Yellow Pages, Jobs, etc.

4. Editor button
A new position for the Editor button.

5. Other Topics
In addition to the general site-wide navigation, we're adding a drop-menu to called "Other Topics." We're going to use this menu to showcase more popular topics, as well as a dynamic list of the last 10 topics you visit on the site.

6. Browse/Search
A more prominent display and position for our Spotlight (browse)/search widget.

7. Sign In/Sign Out/User Info
New position for User info



The body
While most of our pages (Forums, Detail pages, NewsWire, etc.) have not changed in this redesign, we have upgraded the news pages to take advantage of a three equal column layout. Below are the highlights.
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1. Section Title
Centered and with a little more white-space around it to make it easier for users to know what topic they're on.

2. More news
We've upped the count from 10 to 20 news stories on the News page.

3. New ad position
We gotta keep paying the bills...

4. Upgraded Forum Widget
A more prominent placement for the forum widget. Top-center, and now with double (10 instead of 5) threads showing.

5. Photo widget
If you're on a local news topic (Palo Alto, CA, for example) we're highlighting our new user uploaded photos. On other non-local topics, we're showcasing a nifty new photo slideshow widget that dynamically pulls in related photos.

The rest of the page widgets (polls, weather, etc.) are still on the page.



NEW! Also on Topix
We're adding a new feature to all our topic pages, the "Also on Topics" block. The idea is that from any news page, you can get a glimpse of what's going on across the entire site in a quick, easy-to-browse view. Below are the highlights.
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1. Site mini-navigation
Quick links to the most popular topics on the site.

2. The Skybox
We love this feature. And so do a lot of you. So, as we were working on compressing the "hat," we realized that we just couldn't remove the Skybox. Instead, we're keeping it alive in the "Also on Topix" block, to show you the biggest stories in the news right now.

3. Recent Forum Discussions
The top ten most popular discussions across the entire site.

4. Video
Video news is becoming one of our more popular topics, so we're adding a new widget with links to our latest video clips.

5. Topix Extras
Not necessarily the news, but more about Topix, including our blog and our growing community of users and editors. Look for a link to the new Topix store coming soon.

6. News Trends
The topics getting the most attention by our users at that moment.

7. Most Popular
The 20 most popular stories on Topics.



That covers the majority of the upgrades in this redesign. As always, your input is a huge factor in helping us determine the changes we make here at Topix ... so keep those suggestions coming.

May 30, 2008

Adding Some Local Color...

by emily at 1:31 PM

You might have seen something new on the news and forum pages in the last couple days.


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That's right, Topix has added photo albums to our local news pages. Users can now fill the albums for their town with all the sights that make your hometown feel like home. Of course, the judge it feature is right there with new choices customized just for photos. Go check it out! Look for the widget below on your local pages.


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Now that you have the means, we want to see you! Show us where the news happens.