New version of Toledo Talk

    January 7, 2007

Swamp Bubbles - Visit this new local community Web site and create an account. A few days ago, I asked Chris Myers if he would host discussions on politics, school issues, big development projects, smoking bans, and other "hard stuff" or top news stories. It's something I've been thinking about for a couple months. Time for a change. I want Toledo Talk to focus on softer topics. I'll give more details later. All the old Toledo Talk content and all the current user accounts will remain, but Toledo Talk will eventually look and function differently, and it will have a new focus and tone.
posted by jr to media at 11:31 A.M. EST     (23 Comments)

Comments ...

Looking forward to it jr. Glad to see you have the site up and running.
posted by katie82640 at 11:40 A.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

The Toledo area blogosphere or Swamposphere is big enough to support multiple community Web sites that focus on different subjects just like with all the personal blog sites in the area.

An example of the differences between Swamp Bubbles and what I have in mind for the new Toledo Talk:

* Glass City Jungle - Politics in Mudville - Thurber's Thoughts - Swamp Bubbles

* Glass City Gourmet - The Futon Report - Toledo Talk

historymike covers both areas.

posted by jr at 12:12 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

Hopefully this will work out as you'd like it to, Jr. I think it's going to be difficult to make Toledo Talk non-political but I'll always support you and continue to visit.


posted by psyche777 at 12:44 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

thanks for the info, jr...looking forward to your new direction!
posted by MaggieThurber at 01:43 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

So you're saying a picture of BG basketball's leading scorer wearing a swimsuit and wig wouldn't fit in Swamp Bubbles?
posted by mattsussman at 06:17 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

So you're saying a picture of BG basketball's leading scorer wearing a swimsuit and wig wouldn't fit in Swamp Bubbles?

I'm not sure such a picture would fit anywhere...

posted by MaggieThurber at 09:20 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

MattSussman, I believe that story fits nicely on the Futon Report.
posted by chrismyers at 09:55 P.M. EST on Sun Jan 07, 2007     #

JR, why do you want to change the direction of ToledoTalk? Why do you want "softer topics"?
posted by pete at 01:49 A.M. EST on Mon Jan 08, 2007     #

I should not have been drinking my water while clicking on that link of the basketball player!
posted by gotoledogo at 10:06 A.M. EST on Mon Jan 08, 2007     #

Mr Myers, are you using Java to enable your buttons on the site? My Opera v.7 won't let me click on the button that allows one to open an account. Unfortunately, the "contact" form uses the same class of button, so I can't even send you email about it.

Discussion forums don't need Java to run. Consider simpler controls for simpler needs.

posted by GuestZero at 10:31 P.M. EST on Mon Jan 08, 2007     #

GZ, no javascript. I have noticed that the CSS sometimes will make the button appear to be pressed when it is actually not. It is the same log-in system as, which being the star you are there, I know you can get in. Can you e-mail me at admin at and I can try to get you in? I did try with Opera and I was not experiencing the issues you mention, so let's take it off-line and figure out what is going on.
posted by chrismyers at 12:42 P.M. EST on Tue Jan 09, 2007     #

Some additional info about changing Toledo Talk's focus.

Late last October in an e-mail conversation, I said the following:

"You are so right about me wanting to throw up my hands and walk away from Toledo Talk at times, especially in the past month or two. You nailed that observation."

"Just this week, I've been thinking about making a drastic change in the website's focus after the election. I've been inspired by the recent ear wax thread to make it more about people helping people, instead of just about arguing."

"We'll see. I'll give myself a few weeks to think about it and to cool off. It's probably just all talk by me to myself. After all, I do have an interest in local politics, and I enjoy jumping into the fray at times, so it would be hard for me to disconnect completely from the conversation. But I have three more community sites I want to launch, so I at least need to get away from Toledo Talk for a while."

Now that Chris with his Swamp Bubbles site has agreed to host political and other hard news discussions, I can focus on other subjects. And instead of planning to launch three additional community sites, I can drop that to two, as the new version of Toledo Talk will contain the content I had planned for its own site. Similar thinking was applied to another site that I created.

From January 2003 to August 2004, I managed a community site called The interest in that site didn't grow as much as I wanted, although I should have given it more time than 18 months. Anyway, I ultimately figured that the arts could be discussed at Toledo Talk.

If you look at the list of Toledo Talk's forums, you'll see that "politics" and "news" contain the most topics, as they probably should, since that's how I directed the site when it started in January 2003. But I now want to give more attention to other subjects, such as:

* art
* books
* environment
* events
* food
* health
* history
* home improvement
* outdoors
* parenting
* pets
* sports
* technology

And more attention to things like photography, movies, music, video games, gardening, crafts, etc. And as much as possible, with a local angle, of course. Some of the content could be simply reviews of music, movies, plays, video games, and so on.

In an e-mail to Chris last week, I said:

"I'm tired of the heated threads. I'm guilty of jumping into the fray as
well, since I cannot control myself at times when I read what others
post. And besides, I created the site four years ago with a bit of a
combative tone, which is evident when you read my postings from 2003 and

"Discussing current news events and politics is addictive, but I would
like the heated discussions on the new Toledo Talk site to be more about
Michigan vs Ohio State in football, organic vs non-organic produce,
charcoal vs gas grilling, Apple vs Windows vs Linux, Wii vs PS3 and not
about Democrats vs Republicans and public schools vs charter schools."

In another e-mail to Chris, I said:

"On the new, softer Toledo Talk, I will continue to stress the importance
of people taking photos of whatever they want in the Lake Erie West
area. More photos of area events and landscapes are needed, in my opinion."

"In the past, I have thought that if I went the softer route with Toledo
Talk, then I would seek out local "experts" in the areas of organic
gardening, art, local history, health, home repair, etc. and encourage
them to contribute something at least once a month or once a quarter.
For free, of course."

"On the new, softer Toledo Talk, we'll still link to stories created by
traditional media. Of course, they will only be news stories that cover
the subjects that are permitted on the new Toledo Talk. But I want the
new Toledo Talk to contain more original content from the users, along
the lines of [and]. I want users to share their experiences and
knowledge on a subject that can be helpful to others like what happened
in that ear problem thread or in the recipe and home remodeling threads."

"Several Toledo Talk threads were simply questions, seeking advice or
asking for help on a particular issue, and I think most times, the other
users on the site responded. I'm looking for more of that kind of
content and community input. I have found that I get more out of these
neighbor-helping-neighbor threads than I do out of the political threads
even though the political threads have been fun to read and participate
in. But I think I need a change."

"And I think two community sites, each with a different focus, will be
good for the local blogosphere. A user can choose red meat or a salad or

The "ear problem" thread I keep mentioning is this one from October 21, 2006 titled Ear Problem.

In that thread a user said, "People are posting questions about their earwax on this site now? Jeez, go to the doctor or visit or something. Seriously."

To which I responded, "I don't see anything wrong with someone asking for help. Nor is there anything wrong with people offering solutions. What's wrong with people helping people? And who knows, threads like this may help others."

Check out Ask MetaFilter.

A user can certainly find info on many subjects elsewhere on the web. For photography nuts, is a popular community site that's been around since the mid to late-90's.

But maybe it's about photography clubs or classes in the Lake Erie West region or about the National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark or about local camera stores or about photographing local landscapes. I think most subjects can have a local angle to them.

And unfortunately, most subjects can have politics applied to them too. Look at Major League Baseball with Congress getting involved in the steroids issue or net neutrality or politicians trying to legislate Internet activity. But hopefully, the new Toledo Talk can leave out most of the politics of a subject, but it won't be 100% free of politics.

I'll probably make the Lewiki app host the new Toledo Talk content. It's time to graduate from the message board-only format. Blogging or message board software is too limiting.

Blogging is probably the easiest way to publish content, but a wiki may be the easiest way to manage content. The software powering Lewiki does both. We'll be able to edit articles and organize the content.

Editing a blob of markup text may be intimidating for some users, but a user can post suggestions for changes to the article in the article's comment section. Then someone else can apply the changes. Eventually, I'll add WYSIWYG capabilities for creating and editing articles by using Wikiwyg or some other free add-on.

With the new Toledo Talk, each user will have his or her own personal blog and wiki workspace. It will be publicly viewable, but only the user can edit the content, unless the user sets the edit flag for the article to allow others to make changes.

People who already have personal blogs elsewhere will most likely have no reason for using the personal workspace in Toledo Talk. Last fall, I started doing some personal blogging on Lewiki.

While the main part of the new Toledo Talk will focus on the types of subjects I listed above, a user can write about any subject in the personal workspace. And in the personal workspace, a user can turn off commenting for the articles or posts the user creates.

Timeline for implementing the changes? Beats me. I'll probably put the site back in read-only mode again next week, so I can make some changes, and then bring it back online at the end of January or in February.

posted by jr at 10:04 P.M. EST on Wed Jan 10, 2007     #

A noble goal, but it may be difficult to go cold turkey without ad hominem. So once a day I can post a comment that says "fuck you, jr", then twice a day, then once a week, until you've kicked the habit
posted by mattsussman at 01:23 A.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

ahhhhhhhhh, jr, c'mon...where oh where did Sal The Barber go? You've been hanging out too much in AA, mellowing out with the hippies and peaceniks? TT going from Springer to Oprah?

Ah, okayyyyyyyy....

posted by McCaskey at 02:15 A.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

Hah, I forgot about my Sal "The Barber" Maglie reference.

So I guess it's less Sal and more Ripken and Gwynn.

posted by jr at 02:42 A.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

People are at their best when they are caring for and helping someone else. This is a good idea.

Of course, you realize people get heated up and yack more on controversial stuff. :-)

posted by katie82640 at 10:17 A.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

I think this is a bold move on Jr's part and it will increase the quality of "Online Toledo". I think this will work and if you look at the current threads, you notice T2 is still going nicely. I see good things to come from this move. Along with the distribution of Online Toledo, you can get better quality with both sites.

MattSussman, T2 is not stopping and you can get your fix on if you want. It is only one bookmark away and a few seconds from ToledoTalk.

A word of warning though: Ogre Bellows or Bloated Toads will not be welcome on the site. I noticed they look for swamp bubbles; well, keep looking my friends :).

posted by chrismyers at 07:57 P.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

Two years from now, the number of weekly contributions to Toledo Talk will be greater than the frequency the site has experienced over the past year.
posted by jr at 08:53 P.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

I agree. I think people will be surprised in the outcome.
posted by chrismyers at 09:14 P.M. EST on Thu Jan 11, 2007     #

Nice to see some new posters ... they may have been reading prior, but are now posting. Very nice!
posted by MaggieThurber at 09:48 A.M. EST on Sat Jan 13, 2007     #

Toledo Free Press is doing an article about the interviewed for it by email last night...
posted by MaggieThurber at 10:51 A.M. EST on Sun Jan 14, 2007     #

January 17, 2007 Toledo Free Press story titled "Toledo Talk passes political talk to SwampBubbles".

And today, the 17th, is Toledo Talk's 4th birthday. Actually, the birth posting occurred at 11:38 p.m. on January 17, 2003, and it weighed a little over 300 words.

And since then, over 3,000 threads have been started with nearly 50,000 comments added. And maybe a couple feelings were hurt along the way too, but no blood, no foul.

posted by jr at 12:53 A.M. EST on Wed Jan 17, 2007     #

Happy Birthday, Toledo Talk!

Congrats, jr!

posted by MaggieThurber at 08:37 A.M. EST on Wed Jan 17, 2007     #

<< Older Question to teachers - how much computer...    |    GM shows Chevy Plug-in concept car Newer >>

This is an old topic and is no longer allowing comments.

home | about | archives | customize | contact | forums | post | search

© 2003-2007
All posts are © their original authors.