The Future of Lincolnite: Part 1

By: Mr. Wilson on June 10, 2013
We need to talk. Lincolnite is struggling right now. That's no secret. I haven't been blogging as prolifically as I once did. The number of comments has declined. Spam comments are a pain. The site is just a blog yet the site design implies a much broader reach. And so on. Things just aren't going real well for Lincolnite at the moment. It's my fault, of course. I'm the guy running the show and I'm just not keeping up. There are many reasons for that, all of which are predictable and understandable. But I'm not happy with the way things are going. I started the website called from my dorm room back in March 1999. It was, at that time, intended to be a bit of a Yahoo! clone, but at the local level. It would be a Yahoo!-style directory of local websites, plus reviews and commentaries on things from around town. Eventually it morphed into a blog when blogging was still in its infancy. I discovered how much I enjoyed writing about local topics, and how incredible it was that other people enjoyed reading and responding to my thoughts. I slowly built a base of readers, most of whom stayed with me even through the Great Database Disaster of 2004 during which I lost everything associated with the site. (Backups? Who needs backups?) Lincolnite's peak came a couple years ago. I posted like crazy and a wide variety of commenters participated in fun and engaging discussions. Although visitor numbers are still doing ok, participation has dropped way off because I'm simply not engaging people like I used to. There's no energy here. Lincolnite is and always has been my own personal project, so I could choose to not worry about all of this. It's my hobby. Why stress about something I'm putting out there for my own enjoyment? What I have learned over the years is that Lincolnite strikes a chord with people. It helps fulfill a desire that people have for participating in this community. People need to have an outlet like this. Indeed, the very same motivations that drive me to write about Lincoln drive others to come here day after day to read and to comment. I have discovered that folks so appreciate this little thing that I do that they trust me to filter and analyze news about local goings-on; they ask me to speak at their events; they donate generously to causes I support; they invite me onto their radio shows; and they've even encouraged me to run for public office, promising their votes, their money, and their time. All this based solely on my written rants and musings here on this blog. I'd be one hell of a fool to brush all that aside with a dismissive wave and say "Meh, it's just a hobby". There's are opportunities here, and I'm missing them. This week I'm going to ask for your help as I spend a lot of time thinking about Lincolnite. What is this place? What could it be? What ought it be? What can it be? These are big, complicated questions. This post is the first in a series that will continue for several days. Next I will look at the way things are with Lincolnite. What's going well? What's wrong with this site? You can help me think through the current state of things. In Part 3 we will examine the features we want from Lincolnite. We will look at all kinds of ideas, from the realistic to the pie-in-the-sky. Then in Part 4 I will talk about how you can help. I know some of you want to participate more broadly with Lincolnite because you've told me so. What might that look like? Finally in Part 5 we will talk about next steps. I will describe the decisions I have already made (based in part on the feedback you provide this week), and the things that still need to happen. I hope you take some time to think about all this. Whether you're a first-time reader, long-time lurker, or active participant, I want to hear what's on your mind. Good or bad. So please, let's get the conversation started and do plan to come back often throughout the week to read and respond to the comments. Thanks!


See what your neighbors have to say about this.

June 10, 2013 at 2:53PM

This place is a bastion of opinion about lincoln.  What I love is that it is an opinion column from someone who isn’t doing it for a paycheck.  This alone makes it almost more fun to read than the “professional” news from lincoln.  Although you’ll never cover the breadth and amount of information from the professional sources, your blog reads more like commentary from someone I’d call a friend, if I actually knew them.  I would like to see this page cultivate and support other Lincoln bloggers, socialites, and champions of the city.  More twitter and social media involvement is great and may draw in more readers, but to me the meat-and-potatoes of the site is content.  This content is why I’m still a reader (lurker) after 5+ years.

Mr. Wilson
June 10, 2013 at 4:01PM

That’s exactly the sort of feedback I’m looking for. Thank you, Jazzman! I hope you come back to comment on the other parts as I post them later this week.

June 10, 2013 at 4:19PM

I dig the blog. Readers may not notice, but I do comment here from time to time. It’s a must-stop for me daily. Always like a punch to the gut on a day with no new blog posts.

I really only read the blog entries, and always have. I think that is where your focus should lie. I think other blogs and websites in town cover the “events” and things like that.

I enjoy the restaurant reviews - maybe that’s an area that others would help you out with. Some of your readers seem to eat out and perhaps write reviews any way.

I don’t know that it’s ever featured classifieds - I guess I would ditch that area unless it becomes a way for you to monetize the place.

One feature that I used to really like was the highlighting of new comments (shading them in) on posts where a lot of comments were made. Undoubtedly, I would contribute something profound, so I would like to come back and scan to see the smart posts which agree with my take, and the ones that don’t.

The other thing I really enjoy are the games - 20 questions, etc. Those would seem to get some folks here and participating.

June 10, 2013 at 5:13PM

“What is this place? What could it be? What ought it be? What can it be? These are big, complicated questions.”

I don’t bookmark many sites anymore.  I either get them through RSS feed or Facebook.  This site is bookmarked and I visit it daily (sometimes more if I’m bored).  I talk about the blog with friends/family.  Its is something my husband and I discuss frequently.

Mr. Wilson is a type of “celebrity” to me :lol When I realized that we attend the same church, I whispered to my husband “LOOK!  Its Mr. Wilson!!” 

What can it be:  I could see it having a wider group of people authoring posts.  Opening it up to 5-6 different blog authors and having them post about going ons around town would be incredible.

A lot has changed since you started this blog Mr. Wilson.  Your family has gotten bigger, your priorities have shifted.  And that is okay!

Bill Dinger
June 10, 2013 at 5:47PM

I love lincolnite and really I think most of your problems can be summed up as “needs more content.”

If you don’t have the time - who does - perhaps ask for volunteer contributions? Not sure how much luck you’d have but hey.

I really do love the view you get from here and the take you won’t find elsewhere, just a good place for local news.

June 10, 2013 at 6:29PM

Ditto to all the other comments. I love the little essays and thoughts on where Lincoln is going. Maybe you can keep things fresh with deals, coupons, special sales or other commercial news from local biz. I also love the photography hunt game you do, even though I can never seem to guess the right location! LOL.

June 10, 2013 at 8:28PM

Like Fletch, I’m here for the blog.  It’s also one of my few daily stops, and I’m disappointed on days when nothing is posted.  I think you have a real talent for picking topics that are timely, & which resonate with fellow Lincolnites.  You run the gamut from council issues to bike trails to “where to find the best guacamole in town”.

I’m a sucker for any of the games (Where in Lincoln?, 20 Questions, mystery corner, etc)

I think you also excel at connecting with Lincoln’s Twitter community & media/tech nerds.  Plus, there don’t seem to be many trolls here, which I appreciate. 😊

Many of the comments here are still relevant:

Karin Dalziel
June 11, 2013 at 8:15PM

I really like the site as is, and I see nothing wrong with being “just a blog” - especially if blog posts were categorized. I have learned about many things here (too many, probably) that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

What I’d love to see (from here or elsewhere) is a place to discuss local news that doesn’t end up a cesspool that makes me hate humanity. It seems like maybe it could be done, but who knows?

June 12, 2013 at 12:59PM

I read the blog and like the Where in Lincoln and 20 Questions. The focus should be on city news and how it affects people and neighborhoods, this gets overlooked in the LJS and local radio. They’re concerned with how things affect the City Council, Chamber of Commerce and LIBA.

Share your thoughts with the community.

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