|Founded||Palo Alto, California (2002)|
|Headquarters||Palo Alto, California, USA|
Topix began as a news aggregator which categorizes news stories by topic and geography. It was created by Bryn Dole, Rich Skrenta, Bob Truel, Tom Markson, Mike Markson and Chris Tolles, many of whom founded the Open Directory Project. In March 2005, the Knight Ridder (later taken over by The McClatchy Company), Tribune Company and Gannett media companies purchased a 75% share of the company.2 On April 1, 2007, it acquired the topix.com domain name and invited volunteers to edit the topics of their choice, on top of over 100 journalists and editors from various newspapers already signed up. Some time in 2012 they took that volunteer edit option away without any communication to the thousands of volunteers.3
Topix went on to create a community news editing platform, and popular forum system, allowing users to comment on news articles and the goings on of local communities.4 Topix also created forums, organized by locality as well as by subject matter, which allow visitors to post comments whether or not they are relevant to a particular news story.
The founders of Topix initially wanted it to be a news aggregator, with specific pages for every community in the United States. As Topix matured, most of its growth occurred in small cities and towns in the United States. The people who commented in the Topix forums wanted to focus the discussions on more traditional small community gossip.5
Topix's main user base consists of posters from small cities and towns in the United States, particularly those with several thousand or hundred residents. Few people from major American cities use Topix. Topix has a large following in Appalachia, rural areas in the Southern United States, and the Ozarks. Discussions that traditionally took place in person in rural areas began to be posted on Topix. Chris Tolles, the chief executive of Topix LLC, said that Topix is very popular in "the feud states."6
Many posters, using anonymous accounts, are posting negative gossip about people within small American towns. A. G. Sulzberger of The New York Times said that "The same Web sites created as places for candid talk about local news and politics are also hubs of unsubstantiated gossip, stirring widespread resentment in communities where ties run deep, memories run long and anonymity is something of a novel concept."6 He added that "Whereas online negativity seems to dissipate naturally in a large city, it often grates like steel wool in a small town where insults are not easily forgotten."6 Various local governments censured the Topix forums. Many lawsuits resulted from content posted on Topix.6 When Topix began removing all negative posts, people stopped posting on Topix, so the company stopped removing all negative posts.5
On February 3, 2009, Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a lawsuit against anonymous posters on Topix.com. According to the Leshers' petition, over 1,700 defamatory statements were made about them by anonymous posters, resulting in 2,568 allegations of defamation and libel. Although Topix was not a party to the lawsuit, it was forced to reveal the IP addresses of the posters and the dangers of unmoderated anonymous posting on Topix were brought to light for the first time in the public eye.citation needed
Initially Topix charged money to people who requested that Topix take expedited removal of negative posts. After thirty states' attorneys generals protested, Topix stopped charging. Jack Conway, the Kentucky Attorney General, said the charging scheme "smacked of having to pay a fee to get your good name back."5
"Judging" of posts can use the following labels:
- "About Topix." Topix. Retrieved on September 19, 2011.
- "New Partners, Same Topix.Net". Topix.net Blog. March 2005.
- "Reinventing Topix: Topix.Com(munity)". Topix.net Blog. April 2007.
- Lieberman, David (2007-04-01). "Topix.com homes in on citizen journalists". USA Today.
- Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 2. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
- Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 1. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
- Topix Weblog
- Becoming a Topix Editor Weblog
- Nieman Journalism Lab. "Topix". Encyclo: an encyclopedia of the future of news. Retrieved 1 April 2012.