I decided to start running Blogads on cvillenews.com over two years ago, and classified it as an “experiment.” That’s still how I think of it, but it’s probably time to revisit the decision so I can decide if they’re worthwhile or not. From my perspective, they’re useful. I turn down all of the ads that advertise things that I don’t think would be of interest to some cvillenews.com readers, which is 20-30% of those ads that are submitted. The prices are about as cheap as they can be made on Blogads, and all of the money that I make off of ’em go to local charities. (Legal Aid got the last payout.)
What do you think? Are they a useless distraction? Or are they relevant enough to you that they’re worth keeping?
I slapped together a new website last night: Charlottesville News Headlines. It’s just an aggregator for the RSS feeds of local media outlets. The two most recent stories are featured at the top, with the ten most recent headlines below. Every media outlet is queried every thirty minutes, but the schedule is staggered, so new articles can appear at any time. Sports fans, rejoice — NBC-29 and CBS-19’s game coverage is included.
Of course, it only includes those media outlets that have extracted themselves from the mid-90s and actually have an RSS feed, or those for whom I’ve scraped together an RSS feed (WINA, Daily Progress, Cav. Daily, all of whom shocking remain without feeds of their own).
Another year, another anniversary for cvillenews.com. Since I celebrated last year by doing absolutely nothing, this year I’m partying like it’s 2005 by making some changes.
The site is still running WordPress, the software that I switched it over to two years ago now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. But now I’m using the K2 modifications to it, along with a series of plugins to provide new functionality.
It’s the major new features that I’m geeked about.
- Sideblog: In the top of the center column there’s no space for really brief blog entries that really don’t merit a full write up. Though I’m mostly interested in using this to regularly link to Charlottesville blog entries that I want to promote, I imagine I’ll end up abusing it for all sorts of things. These entries are carried in the RSS feed, too.
- Elimination of Registration: Originally, anybody could comment. But 75% of people posted as “Anonymous,” and some behaved as if they were anonymous, too, thus demonstrating John Gabriel’s now-classic theory about anonymity. This created a lousy community, and I ended up requiring registration. Now that most folks likely to read cvillenews.com are familiar with blogs, and know not to behave like feces-throwing chimps, I feel pretty good about letting people post a comment as they would to any other blog. If I end up being wrong about this then I guess I’ll just go back to how things were. I anticipate a much higher participation rate with an open commenting system. (Note that this makes the site newly subject to comment spam. If you post a comment and it doesn’t show up immediately, it’s just caught in the spam filter. Don’t worry, I’ll rescue it.)
- Flickr in the Sidebar: I’ve been wanting to make Flickr images of Charlottesville more widely available. It just annoys people when I include them in Charlottesville Blogs, so now they’ll be in the sidebar here. If you want your pictures of Charlottesville to show up in the sidebar of cvillenews.com, just post them to the Charlottesville Flickr group.
K2 provides a series of minor quality-of-life improvements to the site, too — better access to archives, improved searching, and some clever little Ajax-y elements.
Every page on the site is now ridiculously wide. But, honestly, it’s the only way that I could pack everything in. It’s structured so that you can have a narrow browser window and see the basics — the main blog entries, or make it a bit wider and see more, or make it fully 995 pixels wide and see the whole affair. I really love having the canvas at the top for a random photo to appear. At the moment I’ve just selected a dozen or so photos that I’ve taken around town that seem nice. I hope to take a bunch more photos to stick up there, and maybe get some other people to contribute images, too. (If you’re interested, it has to be 995 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. If you want a credit, put it in tastefully small white Verdana in the lower right-hand corner.) The layout is a bit goofy in some of the sidebars right now, but a few tweaks should settle that.
There’s nothing major here, but I think it’s a good step forward for the site. The more that this site is a community pastiche — such as Flickr photos and local blog entries — the happier I am.
There are a good number of local businesses wondering how to reach the thousands of people who read local blogs; here’s how to do it.
Some folks have taken to advertising here via Blogads (the image-and-text vertical rectangles often found at right), but there are now a couple of other local blogs that are newly part of the Blogads network. Sean Tubbs’ Charlottesville Podcasting Network starts at $10 for a one-week run of a full-sized Blogad, and nailgun (the excellent and popular local music blog) starts at the same rate. Also, I’m now accepting them over at Charlottesville Blogs for $15/week.
I think local businesses would do well to give ’em a whirl.
I hope y’all will tolerate a bit more navel-gazing. I’ve been curious which media outlets that I link to the most, and how that’s changed over time. A database query and some quality time with Excel later…
That’s a stacked, filled line graph totaled to 100%. Click to embiggen.
The spike in Progress links came when the Progress started archiving stories. And the recent disappearance of WINA links comes from their new website eliminating their archives, wiping years of great news records off of the internet. The Progress definitely gets the bulk of links at this point, but once I get in the habit of reading CBS 19 via their RSS feed and C-Ville Weekly now that they have archives, I certainly hope to widen the scope of sources.