Recently in Announcements Category

Election Day 2008

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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!

Redesign Preview

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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.
also_on_illustration.png
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.

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


Picture%207%20copy.png

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.


Picture%205.png

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

Here Comes the Judge

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We've talked for a long time around the office about ways to make the forums more interactive, and last week we launched a new feature that does just that. More fun than a barrel of monkeys, more addicting than mom's mac and cheese, I bring you "Judge it!".

Clicking on the Judge it! link in the header of any post will give you a list of adjectives to choose from, each with their own fancy icon. You can select up to three descriptors for each post, but be warned, the robots are savvy. You can not click two contradicting adjectives for one post. In other words, you can't judge something "brilliant" and "clueless" at the same time.

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We've had over 250,000 posts judged in just the first few days and we're showing no signs of slowing. One side effect you might notice in more heated discussions is that the addition of these fun little icons on a post can have quite a disarming effect to the reader. This isn't to say that posters shouldn't treat each other with respect and mind their manners, but it is hard to let even very controversial posts get under your skin when you see a cartoon peanut at the top of them, don't you think?

Technically, the forums don't fall under editorship at this stage, but many of our editors are very active in the forums, so I'm sure you guys have something to say about this.

P.S. Feel free to mark all my posts as Brilliant.

Vote for Topix

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We interrupt this blog for an unabashed solicitation from our Editors.

We realize that this is primary season. You may have already had your day at the polls, or maybe your day is coming, but this is America. Any chance to vote is a GOOD chance to vote.

As it happens, Topix is a finalist for CNET's Webware 100 Awards. How about throwing one of those spare votes you have laying around our way?

Vote for Topix


We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog.

New News at Your Request

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We're rolling out even more Newspages as we speak. Thanks to the hard work and toil of our engineer tasked with news node creation, we are flush with new possibilities. These nodes are brand spanking new and have no editors, so if they strike your fancy, apply to edit!

On the health news front, we have a new node devoted to fibromyalgia at the request of a fellow Topix user, though our feedback form.

One of our extremely prolific forum users suggested a page for Dario Franchitti. Along with that, we've added a bunch of new Nascar driver newspages, like Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier.

If YOU have a news page you think we are missing or (even better) you want to edit, fire off an email to our team at topixadmin (at) topix.com OR use this feedback link.

Calling All Cars

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We've got a major publication writing a piece about Topix, and guess who they want to talk to.

YOU.

We're looking for a couple Editors that work on local pages (as opposed to topic-driven pages) that might be interested in speaking with some journalists about their experiences editing on Topix. If you fit the bill, give us a shout. Fire off an email to editor (at) topix.com and include your name, page(s) you edit, contact information and the best times to reach you.

Let the deluge begin!

By Popular Demand...

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Topix Editors asked repeatedly for a discussion space and it has arrived.

We have created a new playground for editors. Your cruise director, Topix Ed, is there waiting to chat about any questions you have or any suggestions you would like to make about the editing platform. He's all ears. Actually, he's no ears, but he's got a clipboard and a pencil.

topixed.jpeg


Feel free to jump into the existing threads and start threads of your own. I like to think of this new news page and forum as a kind of "Editor University" where we can all learn from each other. Many of our seasoned editors have some spiffy ideas on editing and we've got brand new Editors coming on board every day. Our hope is that by putting you all together in this virtual mosh pit, you can gain a sense of community among yourselves and build upon your already overflowing pool of talent. Let's face it, this is a news community. We like to talk here. We live to talk here. Let's have at it.

Happy New Year!

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What would January 1st be without grand proclamations and resolutions? I find that as New Year's Day presents itself every year, I tend to renew the pledges of the previous year that fell somewhat short, or maybe petered out about mid-February. Not so, this year! This year, I add a few new resolutions related to editing and perhaps you will join me.

1. Lead Horses to Water - Evangelize the glory of editing Topix pages to my buddies. You know you have that friend that talks endlessly about some obscure topic. I bet you also know that chances are, we have a news page for that topic. We also add pages all the time. For instance, I'm queuing up a page for Bigfoot and I have just the friend to bamboozle into editing it. Who do *you* know?

2. Drink Up! - Promote at least one new story on every page I edit EVERY DAY. I edit a few random pages, so this is tricky, but entirely doable. We do have the vast knowledge bank of the internet at our fingertips, right? There are also some fun rumblings afoot for cool bling for editor profiles for those really active editors - more on that later.

3. Raise the Bar - When I peruse our edited news pages, the standouts are obvious, and always more compelling. Editors that make use of the less standard tools, like promoting forum topics to the news pages or seeking out and adding photos to all of their stories create the most impressive pages. They've thrown down the gauntlet and I accept the challenge. Let's show them we have the stuff.

4. Original Content - Let's pledge to write original stories. ( You see how I'm roping you all into my resolutions? ) There are some great editors that do this routinely. If you can't find the news, make the news! If you are out and living in your community, you are seeing news happen all the time. Put cursor to page and let 'er rip.

5. Editor Love - You guys are awesome. We're working on ways to increase your access to us and boost interactivity between editors themselves and between editors and Topix staff. This one is front burner. Expect an announcement soon on implementation of the first of many changes in that direction.

With that, let's hear from those of you coming on board for these resolutions or making some of your own.

On to '08!

Stopping for Directions

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Topix currently boasts about 400 thousand different news pages, all available for editing. (hint hint) One thing we have wrestled with in the past is how to make those nodes easier to find for both our readers and for our editors. I mean, that is a lot of news pages. Exposing those pages in a way that is useful, easy to navigate, and not a blinding wholesale list of hyperlinks is no walk in the park. We've been hard at work and I think you just might like the results.

Introducing, the new and improved Topix directory.


directory


This new directory organizes the content in a way that allows you to easily navigate through the top levels and dig deeper into the more granular topics that interest you. Recently, one of our editors asked us for a better way to find the news pages for individual soap operas. Check out the tag cloud in this image.


television


By clicking on the Soap tag, you dig deeper. Sometimes, specificity is king. There it is, right there in front of you.


soap


Another bonus of this directory is that you should also be able to see if a page you are looking for is there at all. If you don't see it, send us a note and tell us what we are missing. We are adding new nodes all the time. This is your chance to mold the universe.

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