What happened to Phillyblog? A rival, Philadelphia Speaks and other online forums - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 2, 2009 8:30 am

What happened to Phillyblog? A rival, Philadelphia Speaks and other online forums

The 2,000 members shared links, discussed news, offered opinion and, in their own way, added to Philadelphia's landscape of hyper-localized content, but that all ended earlier this summer.

Five years ago yesterday, Wil Reynolds was named the executive director of the nonprofit that operated Phillyblog, the widely popular online discussion forum.

Wil Reynolds

Wil Reynolds

But rather than celebrating a milestone at the head of the most popular Web forum in Philadelphia, Phillyblog.com was rather suddenly closed in July, Reynolds is trumpeting a new forum, a third has risen from the ashes and questions surround it all, except, Reynolds says, the importance of a place for like-minded Philadelphians to meet online.

“When you have a city of neighborhoods, it’s hard to find one site that covers that phenomenon,” says Reynolds, who founded Northern Liberties design firm Seer Interactive in 2002, the same year Phillyblog first hit the Web. “We figured we’d create that around a kind of interaction, instead of the one-to-many platform of a blog.”

The 2,000 members shared links, discussed news, offered opinion and, in their own way, added to Philadelphia’s landscape of hyper-localized content, but that all ended earlier this summer.


It was in November that Reynolds co-founded an alternative online discussion forum called Philadelphia Speaks, about which time Phillyblog’s traffic began to tumble. Whether that has anything to do with that rather sudden closing of Phillyblog.com, the city’s chief online forum, is uncertain because Reynolds, who handled the site’s daily operations, told Technically Philly that he could not speak on just what precipitated its shuttering.

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Philadelphia has something of an obsession with the decidedly Web 1.0 online forum model. Phillyblog was shuttered and replaced, just in time for a third to appear.

Sometime this weekend, NewPhillyBlog.com was launched by at least one former disaffected Phillyblog user. The owner or owners of that site did not respond to repeated call for comment from Technically Philly, though a 30-year-old someone with the username “Gamerx” claimed to have launched the site. The NewPhillyBlog domain is registered with “GXEmpire,” an online handle used on a variety of social networking sites, including MySpace by a South Jersey-native and 2003 Art Institute of Philadelphia graduate.

Reynolds confirmed that he has no connection to the third forum.

New Phillyblog is too young for third-party metrics to meter, but, according to Compete.com, even despite the free falling traffic of Phillyblog, it still widely outpaces its new Speak incarnation.

A host of Phillyblog users did migrate to Speaks, which could also see some membership gains from the controversial close of Domelights, a discussion forum focused on Philadelphia police officers.

In 2004, Reynolds earned his role as director of Phillyblog by replacing marketing executive Jennifer Kronstain, who co-founded the site.

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VIEW COMMENTS
  • PhiladelphiaSpeaks also has many of the moderators that Phillyblog had.

    Will no one speak of what happened to PhillyBlog? Does it really need to be such a mystery?

  • chuckiezip

    if you know the story of PB, please tell it here – why not? the article is WAY off the mark. i left PB 1/31/09 because I couldn’t link to PB for several weeks. PBlog was dead long after PSpeaks started. That graph might be correct – it shows huge traffic drop Jan 09. I can’t even log onto Phillyblog right now! How can an article be so full of cr$p?

    • We heard complaints about Phillyblog being run over by spam and other calls, but I couldn’t get it on record. July is when Wil Reynolds confirmed the site was officially brought down.

      If we do a followup, I’ll reach out. I’d like to hear your insight. ..Thanks for the comment, though we could go without the coarse language 😉
      -cgw

      • digthepast

        Phillyblog was hardly “overrun with spam.” Occasional spam messages were seen, reported, and removed, but speaking as a user, the problem was no greater than on any free-post webforum.

        As a user who was involved in a spirited and long-running debate on Phillyblog, the sudden demise of the forum, which closed with no advance notice whatever, left me and many other users with the feeling that we were owed at least an explanation of events. However irrational that feeling might be, we generated the traffic and the resulting advertising revenue that enabled the forum to continue.

        Disagreements, differences in focus, and varying aspirations among the upper management emerged occasionally on the forum, and were no secret. I read this story expecting to see them discussed in a way that would put the demise of Philyblog in context. Consequently, I was disappointed in the article, though I acknowledge that this may be the result of the promise implied in the headline. Perhaps hard questions needed to be asked of all parties, and answers insisted upon. I don’t know. I’m not a journalist.

  • elbergel

    RIP P-blog.

    Around the time I first moved to Philly, I remember thinking how isolated it feels to live in the big city. Phillyblog helped make the city real to me as a living, breathing organism and for that I’m ever grateful.

  • It takes like 10 minutes to set up one of these forums, assuming you have a sandwich in one hand.

  • phillyblog was a public service that I thought made Philadelphia unique. I used it to check everything from what new shops were opening around town to checking out a potential contractor. When I last went looking for a masonry contractor, I was left clueless when the site was down. I launched chitchatphilly.com as a mimic of phillyblog. Hopefully one of the sites mentioned here will be able to get the swell of members to make it a useful site.

  • Aeg

    I wish that they had at least kept the forum pages in existence!! There was a lot of good advice and resources there. That’s where I found my trusted mechanic, found recommendations for places to go (and find the best unknown cheesesteaks) and how I kept up with the neighborhood every so often. Even if the owner didn’t want the forum to continue being active, couldn’t they leave the pages as they were, at least for a little while?

    elbergel, I feel the same as you. When I first came to philly I stumbled upon phillyblog, and it really made me feel like a part of the city. I’m very sad it’s gone 🙁

  • Joe

    Whaddya expect from Philly sites? Probably too much trash^ Anyway there’s also a Philly forum at http://www.city-data.com/forum/philadelphia/
    Though it isn’t really separated by neighborhoods and seems to be run by mostly yuppies…which also seemed to be the thing on the other local forums too.

  • Guys, its so good to hear those positive sentiments about what PB did for you guys, that was always the intent, use it to help connect people here in Philly. I must say that Philadelphiaspeaks.com is doing quite well, has the same group of people, many of the same moderators.

    Also the link above to my site is broken (it should be seerinteractive.com)

  • Pingback: Technically Philly » Philadelphia Speaks was hacked, to return in ‘day or two’ | Covering the Community of People Who Use Technology in Philadelphia.()

  • none of the mentioned sites appear to be working at the moment.

  • Ann

    When I try to go to Phillyspeaks, my computer warns me that the site could “harm” my computer. What’s up with that?

    • Polar Cub

      My warnings say the webpage is an attack page, with bad stuff to infect your computer. When Google tested 46 pages of the site, 24 pages resulted in malicious software being downloaded without user knowledge or consent.
      Not sure what this means. Was it hacked ?

  • Dan

    It was hacked. It should be up by tomorrow, although it might be still reported as an attack site. Check the PhiladelphiaSpeaks page on Facebook for more information.

  • jay

    Thanks, Dan, for the info. I’ve been missing the site all week. How pathetic that some people only enjoy life by ruining something that others enjoy.

  • Pingback: Technically Philly » Philly Speaks back up, again, hit with malware insertion | Covering the Community of People Who Use Technology in Philadelphia.()

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  • xxxTHX1138xxx

    http://www.phillyblog.com in my opinion was overrun with moderators that blocked people who had different conflicting opinions from the majority. phillyspeaks is now the same way, and they blocked me from it because I would not go along with the usual ‘collective thought’ of its moderators.

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