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Monday, February 06, 2006

PoliticsVT on hiatus

This happened on Saturday, but I was too busy taking my pregnant partner to the hospital (for a false alarm — no baby yet!) to notice. So I read this morning that PoliticsVT has suspended operations:

The last couple of days have been an interesting time for PoliticsVT, and an even more dismal time, at that.   We had our weekly phone conference, and discussed some things about the website, how we could improve it, in addition to the stream of comments on one particular post that we have re-produced thanks to the Valley News.\

The rhetoric has really taken a toll on a number of us, and some members of the Bureau are asking themselves if they really want to continue doing this, when their efforts seem “unappreciated by visitors to our site.”

This blog was created so that Vermonters could have a forum to debate the issues and keep themselves informed about our government. In my own, personal opinion – I believe that we have been successful. So, it was even more interesting when I received a phone call from our founder and former Bureau Chief, Cornelius “Con” Van Ness, asking why we were not addressing the problem with the blog’s visitors.

You don’t have to tolerate that kind of attitude from the bloggers. You are doing something with your time and energy, and providing them with something that Vermonters can enjoy, if they don’t appreciate it, than you will have to make a decision whether or not they deserve it.” 

 Even more important, Con asked me a very simple question:

"Are you having any fun doing this, anymore?”

The answer, according to 6 of the 8 PoliticsVT contributors, was no. So the blog's on hiatus for a couple weeks, possibly longer, while these folks figure out if they want to continue.

My thoughts: First, a hearty thank you to the folks at PoliticsVT for their pro bono contributions to the political process.

Second, I'm disappointed that I can't find any links to the heated discussions they're talking about. I missed it. What happened?

Third, I want to agree with some of the commentors to this post that Politics VT should have treated their material from other news sources differently. They often reprinted entire articles from other sources. They attributed those articles, but if I recall correctly, they didn't link to the source websites. This was a mistake. It's bad form to reprint entire articles to begin with — you ought to stick to printing excerpts, and if readers want the full story, they follow the link. That drives traffic to the source website. It's just polite. And shorter posts make for a snappier site, in my opinion.

That said, I want to add my voice to those calling for PoliticsVT to return. Obviously people are reading it, and find it useful.

It's too bad that the writers are so affected by critical comments. Sure, they're hard to take — I know, I get them, too, and I've gotten more than a few negative letters to the editor in the paper over the years. But you're not blogging so people will like you, are you? If you're going to participate in the public conversation, you've got to get used to critical feedback (and it's especially critical online). I find that if I can sift out the malicious bloviating, I get some good suggestions I can use.

So get back in the game already, you anonymous ninnies! You're doing a good job.

February 6, 2006 at 10:35 AM in Media/Keeping an eye on the competition | Permalink


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From what I have read over the past month, I would say that they are just tired of the blog in general. Cathy, you can attribute to the fact that it is a lot of work to post articles, research and all that jazz. I gotta give them credit for all their hard work in addition to the jobs that they have.

I also hope that they return.

Posted by: concerned citizen | Feb 6, 2006 11:26:59 AM

Geez. That's a shame. If any blog was primed to see a huge growth in traffic this year, it was theirs. The closer we get to November, the more intense the political scene will become. There's going to be a lot of people looking for a blog like theirs to read. I hope they come back.

If the issue is too much work, they could certainly simplify things for themselves by shirtening their articles and just posting some links (as you suggested, Cathy). They need to learn the expression "Link Dump".

Posted by: Murf | Feb 6, 2006 3:30:03 PM

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