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