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Is This Thing On?

2011 March 19
by dan bertolet

Testing 1… 2… Testing 1… 2…

< Seattle - looking towards South Lake Union from the Denny Triangle; photo: Dan Bertolet >

Citytank is four days old. Twenty C200 posts (and many more to come). Google says ~2500 unique site visits, ~4300 page views.

But the comments sure are quiet. What’s up with that? Too much information? Too scattered? Nothing new here? Not strident enough? Not local enough? Would it help if I wrote something frothing at the mouth about the deep-bore tunnel? Do I need to stir things up with a self-righteous cycling post?

What the hell should I do with this Citytank thing? Please advise.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Matthew 'Anc' Johnson permalink
    March 19, 2011

    Stay the course.

    Four days isn’t really a long time to build a contributing membership. As comments tend to build off comments, maybe YOU should considering posting a comment on the posts…

  2. Matthew 'Anc' Johnson permalink
    March 19, 2011

    Stay the course. Four days isn’t really a long time to build a contributing membership.

    If you are really worried, maybe YOU should consider making comments on the various blog posts in an effort to get the ball rolling… Comments tend to snowball.

  3. NickBob permalink
    March 19, 2011

    ‘Tank’ is lousy substitute for ‘hugeass’ which had it been employed this site would be jumpin’! Irreverence sells.
    Seriously, what Anc said. Your content has done the trick in the past, you’ll get someone with traffic nodding or ired up soon enough for more linkage.

  4. Zef Wagner permalink
    March 19, 2011

    I actually think there is an overload of essays. Hugeasscity worked really well because you posted one provocative piece every few days. More is not better. I’ll admit I have started skipping many citytank articles because every day I check my RSS feed and there are five more to go through. If there was one a day I would definitely read it, ponder it, and comment on it. Going slower will also make sure you don’t run out of willing contributors anytime soon.

    I also think more focus to the essays would be good. Most of them have been so general that there is nothing to comment on. People like to discuss specific examples of how cities can be great, not the general notion that cities can be great. I think this is a great idea, but just needs more focus, less quantity, and more quality.

    My last suggestion would be to abandon the 200-word limit. If there is anything wrong with the internet, it is the trend towards shorter, shallower writing. I still get way more from a long, in-depth New Yorker article than a thousand blog posts. This is still a blog, but consider having one contributor each day compose a compelling, fleshed-out piece rather than a shotgun blast of single thoughts.

  5. James Lamb permalink
    March 19, 2011

    Like a TV show that keeps changing channels, it takes awhile people to find it again. (I didn’t follow you after the end of ha, so I was glad to hear you had a site and immediately added it to Google Reader. But it’s only serving partial feeds, so I have to click through to read, which means I’m going to skip over until I have time to “investigate the unknown” And with a backlog of stuff in Google Reader, it might be awhile. Regardless, glad you’ve got a site again.

  6. James Lamb permalink
    March 19, 2011

    And Feeddler on the iPad makes commenting difficult on this blog for some reason – doesn’t want to let you scroll down to the submit button.

  7. Stephanie Pure permalink
    March 19, 2011

    I’m sure this is in the works, but here’s my two cents in terms of a suggestion: Expansion of contributor base: Hearing from those toiling away in Human Services, Public Education, and Public Safety about their views/solutions re: cities would be interesting. (i.e. smart growth is often thwarted by the struggle faced by our urban public schools, people still think cities are filled with poor and/or dangerous people, etc, hence to keep making the case for cities.) What’s the take of those working in those fields on the ground?

  8. Matt the Engineer permalink
    March 19, 2011

    Ah, the art of blogging. In my experience, the type of posts that generate comments are: controversial issues, news items, common experiences (yesterday during the snowstorm my bus didn’t come…), and matters of opinion (example: any criticism you’ve ever posted about a building). The types of posts that don’t generate comments are: ideas that most people agree with (because a dozen “I agree”s makes for a very boring comment thread, so people don’t bother), posts from highly respected figures (you might pause before criticizing a post on peace by the Dali Lama), and statements of unquestionable fact.

    You’ve started out effectively with short lectures from experts. That’s interesting and entertaining. But doesn’t necessarily make for the best 2-way blog. I hope you continue the series, but I also hope you expand to items that generate debate.

    Here’s a completely biased idea for a blog post: have McGinn and several council members post a healthy debate about whether Seattle should build a gondola system. Or have your cast of experts post about a controversial change they’d make to the way things are done. Or criticize more buildings (I hear there are one or two actual new ones being built).

    Or just struggle to find what feels right to you. At long as there are hits, whether or not there are comments, then you’re doing something right.

  9. Devin Glaser permalink
    March 20, 2011

    I just heard about the site this morning (linked from Publicola) and wanted to give you a read. I found myself skimming past some of the essays because they all basically said the same thing. “City’s are great”. Nothing new, no new study, no relevant info about why, just pleonasms of the same concept that I think all of your readers are going to agree with. (Why no! Rural areas are better!)

    To get more comments, I’d try to push some new ideas. (Bike Blvds, pro-tunnel, anti-tunnel, new ways to fund a city during a recession, studies that show that mandatory parking requirements have such and such effect, traffic calming techniques, etc etc etc.)

    There’s tons of stuff to talk about. Dive into some of it. If all we wanted were opinion pieces, we’d check facebook. I go out searching the blogs to see what new information or ideas there are.

    Best of luck. Starting a new blog is challenging. Finding a voice and direction takes time, and I find if you lose track of it, you lose your readers.

  10. keith permalink
    March 20, 2011

    i’m enjoying the smattering of posts and am just easing my way into making insightful and illuminating comments ;)

  11. John Jensen permalink
    March 20, 2011

    It would be nice if the full text of articles was available through RSS.

  12. Amadeus Mozart permalink
    March 22, 2011

    Only because you asked…

    I followed you to Publicola… but then somehow completely missed the move to Citytank.

    I’ve never really been interested in what comments have to say or contributed myself though, so… I couldn’t care less whether they show up. The only time I get interested in what these people have to say is when they bother to show up to vote.

    The voices I’m most interested in are those aspiring to lead or already leading. I mean that a little loosely… Hugeass City was a “leading” voice on Seattle’s cruddy zoning and land use. I get the sense that Citytank is going to branch out a bit, but I hope some of the Hugeass voice lives on here.

  13. Jane Jacobs permalink
    March 22, 2011

    It’d be interesting if you discussed some of the cities in this country that are failing despite density and urbanization. While many cities are great determining what the subtleties to making them continue to be great would be tremendous. At the same time, how about some interviews with folks who live out in the suburbs to determine why they live there – and if there is anyway that they would be interested in moving to a city. A balanced view on the topic would lead to an interesting, engaging discussion rather than the typical blog blasts.

  14. SethGeiser permalink
    March 26, 2011

    Couple thoughts on this:
    1. Pretty glad to see that so far folks like Bailo and Mr Baker haven’t made their way over here yet. They definitely add to the comment tallies, but hardly add anything to discussions (case in point: I can no longer look at Publicola comments for fear of aneurysm)
    2. My suspicion is that it’ll take a while for people to figure out who they’re having a conversation with and whether making comments will be of interest/use (This seems to be proving out where comments jump when you post, in thinking that you’ll be a constant voice and reply, whereas the one-off authors make interesting posts, but there’s not much sense that they’ll ever be back or reply to comments)
    3. Some more explanation, to the degree you’re willing to share, why Hugeasscity and Publicola didn’t work out might help some comment fence-sitters (eg. me) in knowing that this project will have some longevity.

    All that said, citytank’s an interesting read and worth a daily check-in

  15. Giovanni Piranesi permalink
    March 30, 2011

    It really is only a few days.. Perhaps it is because some of us are at a loss for words. Spectacular clouds in that photo.

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