Topix is evolving. They’ve increased their focus on geographical communities and bought the domain “”. But, most importantly, they’ve done a great deal in their new launch to empower the people who are posting to their sites.
Topix’s software does a pretty good job of surfacing locally relevant news. And their message boards are active, but they do contain a lot of aggressive and dumb comments. However, their mass-market, laissez-faire approach has resulted in steady growth in audience and intensity of use in the last year.
Now, by empowering locals to become editors for their community pages, Topix should be able to increase the relevance and interest of the stories on their community sites and create an atmosphere where people want to participate.
Rather than cherry-picking markets as Backfence did, Topix is throwing their creation on the mercies of Web. This is a bottom-up approach to widescale citizen journalism. The result is likely to be spotty. There will be great sites where Topix is adopted by the locals, and probably some places where the crazies will take over. Topix has already seen some great adoptions in some communities, just as individuals in other places have adopted Yahoo and Google groups for local communication.
Topix is evolving into a good community journalism platform for people who don’t have the skills to install WordPress or Expression Engine, and don’t want to pay a fee to TypePad, and aren’t prepared to deal with the limitations of Blogger.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.