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IDEA #63 – Become the next Michael Arrington

I really love this idea, but here it goes to the world. A tech news website where the community reports — people write posts (news, reviews, interviews), they are submitted, and then an editor (or a few) edits/publishes those posts that should be posted. Thus, the news is reported by the tech community. If you submit stuff that ultimately gets posted, your submissions get a higher rating on the back-end editor system — and you likely would continue getting posted more and more, because you’ve proven your quality.

BTW – You may have heard of Korean-based OhMyNews (mentioned in The Long Tail). They have like 50 editors now and 50,000 submissions (I don’t know how often) — and if your post is selected to be put on their homepage, you get paid $25. I’m not sure if they post every story and then just hand-select which ones get featured on the homepage — that’d be a good way of doing it too (so that every story is posted). Could even let the community ‘digg-style’ thumbs-up/down posts to help you as an editor.

How is this different from Techmeme? Techmeme figures out what news is hot, by seeing what tech bloggers are linking to and writing about the news — the focus of this website would be generating new news, reviews, and interviews.

Why would someone submit a post to this site, rather than their own blog? Power of the people. If your post is approved, you are given ad revenue from your post’s webpages (maybe your AdSense code for any AdSense ads on the page). The company (aka “me” in this example) retains ad revenue from the homepage and likely some consistent ads that display throughout the website on every webpage. If the site can get some quality writers, it’ll earn respect in the community, people will want to be recognized and thus submit, and more quality content will be published.

I question whether you could get the respect behind it like a TechCrunch, Mashable, VentureBeat, etc. And would people write articles for this website, rather than on their blog. In my opinion, this could focus on tech news / startup reviews / interviews and it could have editorials too, if someone wanted to contribute a piece that would typically be found on their own blog, but instead on this site. If it gained respect in the tech community, I think it’d get plenty of writers.

So who wants to try and become the next Michael Arrington?

P.S. You’ll need some insiders that’ll provide you tips in order to get some real stories and generate some real interest/heat/linking/respect.

If someone runs with this idea — think of me for an advisory seat (with a small % of equity). 😉 Or if you’re an Angel, ping me.

Here’s the original conversation with my buddy, colleague, and fellow mathlete from back in highschool… Eric — and this is a first, because he typically hates all of my ideas, but he actually told me this was a good one:

Steve: Go to
Steve: I want to create that for the tech community
Steve: rival TechCrunch, Mashable, etc
Steve: the community writes and submits the news to me, i edit/oversee.. and publish the good submissions..
Steve: then allow them to use their adsense account, they get full compensation on pages.. then i’m allowed a banner or two on pages for my big sponsors
Steve: also homepage is all my revenue
Eric: that’s a good idea
Steve: hold the phones
Steve: i have to sit down
Steve: wait, i’m sitting
Eric: hahaha… I didn’t say for *you* to go after it
Eric: but it’s a good idea, nonetheless

  • Robert

    I’ve been thinking pretty heavily on a citizen journalism kind of site, and I really like this idea as well. Being a software developer I’m pretty sure I could build such a beast as well :).

    The adsense part isn’t a bad idea and I’m aware of at least one forum that doesn’t something similar. However I think with the tech community adsense may not be that big of an incentive as it is pretty well known that techies block ads. The $25 idea would definitely be a pretty good incentive.

    As long as you can avoid people trying to game the system (think Digg), it could be a pretty good venture.

    If you are serious on this one, I’m game.

  • Lars Koudal

    This is actually a pretty good idea! I think the biggest problem would be to get initial visitors, to drive the traffic. From then on it would be to ensure steady subscribers to the site.

    You could consider WordPress actually, that via plugins has a lot of these features built-in. … Editors, SEO friendly backend, and I am 99% sure I ran over a plugin not long ago where you could change the adsense key per post, which would be what you were looking for.

    I think a lot of people would be happy to get their ideas and posts out to a bigger crowd, especially if you get enough traffic to the site.

    Set it up in wordpress, make sure the plugins and system is running smoothly, get a custom theme, buy some reviewme’s to drive initial traffic, and then you could be golden :)

    I can help with the wordpress part. If you need help, drop me a note.

  • Colin Dowling

    Doing it for tech would be a new spin. However, a number of places – including offline papers building an online presence – are doing this for local communities and neighborhoods. Great artcile in this week’s Time magazine about citizen journalism.

    Assuming you would be looking for news and not just op/ed pieces, the one issue I see would be that you would have to “get up early in the morning” to find people to submit stories who weren’t already leaking to TechCrunch, GigaOm, etc.

    Interesting idea.

  • Eric Nagel

    Great follow-up comments so far… I like the WP idea – this could be built in a day with the proper WP plugins.

    As for AdSense… sure, many techies, who will write the posts, may block AdSense, but the readers are more likely to have it turned on.

    How do you reach critical mass? Break a story, get it dugg, get Arrington’s team to cover it and link back to you.

    Would you allow authors to link to their own blogs? Or do you limit external links?

  • Steve Poland

    Let authors link back to their blogs for sure.

  • Gary

    >>> Why would someone submit a post to this site, rather than their own blog?

    There’s no reason for a post to this site or to their own blog to be mutually exclusive. You should allow people to post to their own blog and the site. Or, better yet, allow their own blog postings to simply be automatically imported or posted to this site.

  • Steve Poland

    Would want to have a few editors that could approve posts — also would need some evangelists [probably the editors] to really solicit people to write and contribute their posts to this proposed website. Also need inside information, as to get the breaking stories that TC/Mashable/VentureBeat/bloggers/digg will link to.

  • Azzam

    This kind of seyup is easy, I could do it in a couple of days; But the problem is PR, thats what it all bottles down to. Look at plugIM created using pligg (a digg clone), it is getting some popularity in the underground marketing world but no mainstream hype yet. A lot of coding has been invested in it with 100% adsense revenue share.
    If someone is going to take care of PR then it may flourish.

  • Laura7

    I suppose and already do this. Seems like we are heading towards a news overload.

  • Yusuf Motiwala

    I liked the idea, especially using contributors ad-sense code.