Hyperlocal launch: Backfence.com

Hyperlocal launch: Backfence.com

: BackFence.com, the hyperlocal venture started by Mark Potts (ex WashingtonPost.com), is up and it looks very good.

I am days (I hope) away from launching town blogs in three day-job markets and they will look quite similar because Mark and I have lshared notes and have long been following the same good local efforts — most notably, NorthwestVoice.com and GoSkokie — and have long agreed about what a town web site can and should be.

The question remains for all of us what a town web site will be once it is handed over to the people. Will they write? Will they read? Will they talk? Will they advertise? I believe they will. Mark is betting a new company on the belief that they will. And so it is a brave move to be the guy to do that.

If Backfence succeeds a lot of good things come out of it for local news: We’ll get more news, more conversation, more viewpoints, and a new medium for very local advertising to support all that.

  • That’s a great idea, and the zine looks great but a lot of work for a volunteer. Do they have paid staff and who manages it?

  • I thought Backfence was what James Lileks calls his Star Tribune column. Wonder why they didn’t take the URL.

  • A Guy

    great idea, but amazingly copyable. It almost would be better if it were copied, so each town could have its own look and feel.

  • button

    Good luck to him on it; nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    From my personal experience with this sort of thing: it is very difficult to predict whether you can get people to post something. My cousin Stellie took on the challenge of operating a family website which included a sort of bulletin board. To begin with, at least, it was very difficult to prompt family members to post even a little something– and my extended family is an especially verbal one. Frankly, I wouldn’t even try to give him advice.
    Two postscripts:
    I did not succeed in clicking through to the Skokie site. Got ‘couldn’t find server.’ Please check your link.
    I have relatives in the area he is setting up for. My cousin is a cardiologist there. Considering how difficult it’s been to get them to post on their own family’s website, I don’t think they make a good contibuting prospect to the community web center; but you never know.