Community Post

Site Housekeeping

First, a big thanks to everyone who’s been contributing this week. I just got back into town after attending a conference, and it’s really cool to see everyone getting so involved and keeping things informative and lively in my absence.

And another thanks to everyone who has posted an ad on the site so far during our beta period. So many cool neighborhood businesses, great artists, and unique services that I never even knew about. And don’t forget that you can also add your business to our directory & review system for free, and have a totally separate way for neighbors to find out about what you have to offer.

But the main thing I want to talk about is the scanner. Over the last week or so there’s been several different discussions about the scanner, with some frustration expressed about our focus on crime and the prominence of the daily scanner reports.

It’s important to remember that this is a community-driven site. Anyone can join, and anyone can post stories about what is important to them. If there’s topics and stories that we’re missing, I really hope that the people in the know will take some time and tell us all about them, just like so many people have over the last several days. There’s no excuse to complain about the mix of content on the site if you’re not actively adding to it.

We’ll definitely be keeping the scanner. I think it’s very common and understandable for people in the neighborhood to want to know what is happening when they hear sirens or see flashing lights. And I think the scanner provides a lot of those answers. More generally, it provides a lot of raw information on what happens every day in our area. I’m a strong believer that information, truthfully reported, is very empowering on a number of different levels.

On top of all the above, I personally enjoy hearing and writing about the little bits of drama that play out across the east precinct every day. Some are sad, some are funny, some are frightening, and some are a bit boring, but it’s real-life drama that I had no idea was going on until we started listening. And since I enjoy it, and since our metrics indicate that a bunch of other people do too, it will be staying.

0 thoughts on “Site Housekeeping

  1. Thanks, I like having the resource but I think Joanna and I were more interested that the front page not all be scanners. Everyone doesn’t have enough interesting stuff to interleave other stories every day. So, if that is what you meant to do, thanks.

    Also, I met the guy who owns the house from the 6/2 scanner:
    “2:55PM – 1800 31st Ave – Alarm – An alarm was set off on a house. Evidently the last time this happened on this property, it was due to someone throwing a rock through the window. Update: Police arrived to find a broken window. They’re requesting backup before doing a search”

    The kids stole his car, then drove to another house to try to break in, then drove the car to Northgate where it was recovered. The guy lived north of 23rd and Jackson for a long time and nothing like this happened even though it was a lot less quiet there and there was a lot more ‘action’ on the street.

    He asked me how to start a block watch. I told him that his break in is on CD News.

  2. Scott,
    Would it be possible to just put a link for the scanner on the side, like Joanna and KtKeller suggested? What would be your opposition to creating another way to view it? If so many people love to read up on crime, I don’t anticipate that people will read it any less, right?
    I know you personally enjoy listening and recording all the activity on the scanner, but can you understand the other side of the argument at all?

  3. We’ve typically only kept the most recent 2 or 3 scanner reports on the front page. Sometimes we forget and they pile up, but it is a goal.

    I do understand that some readers aren’t into the scanner or feel that it isn’t beneficial for the neighborhood. And I totally respect your opinion and don’t want you to feel unwelcome because of their presence. But at the same time, only their title currently shows up on the front page. You have to click through to read them, so for now it seems pretty easy for people to avoid them if they wish.

    Long term we can look at a different tab structure that would give scanner reports their own home. But that requires some technical effort that we don’t currently have time for due to other projects. We will look at in sometime in the future.

  4. Scott,
    Great, thanks for the explanation. That makes sense to me, and I do appreciate that you’ve cleaned up the old scanners off the main page. I totally understand wanting to know about incidents in the neighborhood – I was just worried about the crowding out effect.
    Thanks again.

  5. Here’s the issue as I see it:
    With a community driven site, those with the most access and time to dedicate end up with the largest voice. As I understand it, currently Scott and his brother are working on this venture as their full-time business, thus they generate the majority of the posts. Many of the posts are valuable, but a disproportionate share are crime focused. If this is a truly a community driven site I think these two either need to a) stop adding a disproportionate amount of content and 2) focus your time and energy for this project primarily on outreach – getting a wider swath of the community engaged and posting. I suggest a concerted campaign to request community groups, churches, local business and nonprofits to make regular posts. Ask them post about what they’re up to in regular intervals. Surely this would be a more valuable use of your time than listening to the scanner all day. You’ve created a valuable tool – but you’ve only gone half way. Left as it is it may do more to divide the neighborhood than bring it together.

  6. One small correction: Our full time job is building the software that runs this site. Central District News is our beta application that lets us get real-world testing of that software. We’re only able to spend 10-15% of our time on the content of Central District News directly.

    And scanner time isn’t necessarily transferable to other pursuits. The scanner runs in the office all day as we do other work. Writing up the occasional entry doesn’t take much time, so it’s easy to multitask between that and all the other things we do as part of the overall business.

  7. I would also note that asking the designers of this open site to search out content means there is confusion on their purpose.

    If you sold this to someone and they set up the site and said, “hi, post here, this is my site”, we would go to them and ask them to help with outreach, and change posts, etc… Are you the Admin or the developer? Just something to keep in mind.

    Scott, perhaps you should be looking at ways to help motivate and empower the users of a community website so they feel they can work on these changes themselves. If you intend to roll this out more generally, the future users will need ideas on the “outreach”, as that is a really good idea, for the site’s _users_. Because you are serving a dual role here, you could be setting yourself up for this confusion.

    On a side note,
    I would really like to see the ability to access hot commontary via a recent posts list. The most commented list doesn’t mean it’s the most currently engaged conversation. And I didn’t realize I could find that list for some time because it was so far down the page on the right.