Portland is lucky to have some very strong local blogs. Very strong. Blogs that cover things that are important to residents of the town—and of interest to folks outside Portland, looking in. And even though it’s rare for those blogs to be run by traditional journalists, there is no doubt that they provide coverage and insight that rivals even the most seasoned reporter. Read More
As many of you know, OregonLive—the primary Web site for The Oregonian, the largest paper in Oregon—is managed far beyond the control of the local reporters and Web designers here in Portland. Like in New Jersey. What’s more, OregonLive runs exactly the same codebase as all of the other Web sites managed by Advance Internet, like New Orleans’ paper The Times-Picayune.
And since we all love to carp about the shortcomings of OregonLive, it seems only appropriate that we give them kudos for making marked improvements. Recently, Advance Internet has rolled out a few changes to OregonLive that are worth mentioning. Read More
Couple that with the fact that I’m still incredibly interested in making sure that people are getting their stories heard, that people are getting to see the cool stuff happening in the Silicon Forest, and that people are getting the chance to voice their opinions and share their thoughts, and suddenly it seems like I should quit whining.
And actually try to do something about it.
Back when it became obvious that composing posts was never going to be an adequate means of keeping up with all the news around here, I began experimenting with ma.gnolia.
Now, those ma.gnolia link posts have become a near-daily addition to the writing here. And a way of sharing more of what’s happening—and giving more folks coverage.
And as I noticed that the Silicon Florist group on ma.gnolia was approaching 1000 bookmarks, it dawned on me: that’s still too filtered. And it’s only really filtered by me.
So I’d like to try new experiment: Silicon Florist reddit.
How can you participate in Silicon Florist reddit?
First, you can work submitting sites and stories that you like to Silicon Florist reddit. Tech? Events? News? Cool blog posts? Good geek hangouts? They’re all fair game. Just so long as they have something to do with the Silicon Forest.
Second, I’ve already created a button that you can embed in your blog posts (and all of the Silicon Florist posts will now carry this button in place of the Oregon reddit button):
And I’ve created a little bookmarklet (Silicon Florist reddit) that you can drag to your browser. This will allow you to submit pages you find to Silicon Florist reddit at the push of a button.
Third, I’m still trying to work out the widget, but this is what I’ve got so far:
In a perfect world, any number of Silicon Forest blogs throughout Oregon and Washington could be running something like this, giving folks more broad exposure to what’s happening and what people choose to highlight.
Is this a perfect solution? Nope. Is it a start? I think it may be.
And I’m hoping you’ll join me in the experiment.
[Update] I just noticed that reddit is running a competition for the fastest growing reddit. If we win? Friends of the Florist will be cashing in on all the cool loot. We’re already at 6 subscribers. We are so winning this thing.
Since I had written an earlier editorial on OregonLive Reddit about its wealth of potential, I thought it appropriate to post that—until further notice—that potential is now completely gone.
Why? Because now OregonLive Reddit stories make the front page of the OregonLive not as a result of their popularity or user voting, but as a result of the order in which the OregonLive Reddit articles were submitted.
It’s important to note that the OregonLive home page now features the most recent submissions, and not the hottest posts.
And here’s my favorite part…
This change took place about one week ago in order to keep the Reddit posts fresh on the home page.
Perhaps the folks at The Oregonian and OregonLive are even more Web 2.0 than I thought, given that the new system follows the logic that “shiny and new” far outweighs “relevant and interesting.”
So go ahead and vote the Silicon Florist submissions up or down. It doesn’t really matter.
-1 for social media
At a time when the OregonLive Reddit user base was in the midst of asking good questions and having deep discussions about the nature of the service—at a time when many were working to embrace the potential of this feature—the team at OregonLive chose to remove the one and only thing that made the feature worth using: the voting that allowed the populous to determine what appeared on the front page.
Currently, the social feature has absolutely no bearing on what appears on the front page. It’s all chronological.
Kind of like, oh I don’t know, a printed newspaper?
I hear you, “Sounds like sour grapes to me, Turoczy. You’re just mad that you can’t keep content on the front page.”
You’re right. You’re absolutely right.
But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
As I mentioned in my earlier editorial, I felt this service was one of the more promising avenues to give startups in town some of the much needed limelight they deserved from traditional media. And I find it unfortunate that that avenue—an avenue that I thought had so much potential—has taken a hit.
Here’s hoping they reconsider this move.
Until that point, I’ll continue my search for other resources that truly have the potential to highlight the great work many of you are doing here in the Silicon Forest.
Because the people around here need to see the amazing things you’re doing.
Just not on OregonLive, I guess.
Granted, mine is a small voice, but I do what I can.
One of the ways I’ve found to help get some of this cool stuff out in front of a wider audience has been working with OregonLive Oregon Reddit, as both a submitter and an active participant.
To date, I’ve found the service a valuable means of helping put what you’re doing on the virtual front page of The Oregonian, if only for a brief time. And, undoubtedly, garner exposure from a much wider and diverse audience than the existing Silicon Florist reader base.
But, this morning, I noticed the image above. No stories. And it got me to thinking. Either the staff was working to tweak the algorithm or—worse yet—there were actually no stories submitted.
Which, as much as I like the potential of the service, brings me to the drawbacks to Oregon Reddit:
- Participation is exceptionally low for a social media service
- Due to low participation, political stumpers tend to downvote other stories in favor of getting the latest Merkley or Novick post on the front page
- Even though it should be a vehicle to get other publications on the site, the stories that tend to get the most attention are stories that are from The Oregonian or OregonLive staff, already
That said, Oregon Reddit isn’t by any means broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as it should. The majority of the users vote down stories they don’t want to see and vote up stories that appeal to them.
The problem is that the user base of Oregon Reddit is too small, not very diverse, and generally working with an ulterior—if not paid—motive. And that makes those votes largely irrelevant.
So, here’s what I’m asking you to do: participate.
I would much rather receive 100 downvotes that help me understand what kind of content readers are seeking. Or split of 50 up and 50 down that help me determine when a story is appropriate to submit to Oregon Reddit.
Some may say that Oregon Reddit isn’t the answer at all. That another locally focused news service would help garner this kind of feedback. I’d love to come around to that argument—if the potential for Oregon startups getting the recognition they deserve from a wider audience is just as high as it is with Oregon Reddit.
Long story short, I’d rather get completely negative feedback, than little to no response on the stories I submit.
Maybe the stuff I write isn’t interesting at all. Maybe it’s only interesting to an incredibly small subset of the population.
But I would like to know that. I simply don’t have the data points to make that determination.
I mean, other than the fact that the Merkley and Novick folks hate my writing.