What is with this RIP crap? This is not rocket science

agonistFirst, thank you steeleweed and others who are trying to contact the owner to have some continuity.

Second, rumors of the Agonist’s demise are greatly exaggerated.  In fact, there should be no demise.  The Agonist has that rare quality of a busines (as it were) called good will.  Why are people coming back and commenting about the status of the site?  Why did long time members who were not active as editors step up and take over those duties?  Why are people still taking feeds from the Agonist RSS?

With volunteer editors and a rturn of DIARIES, this would be a viable site and it could pobaby build up to the unique visitor levels over the past few years.

Who knows how the owners make money on this?  That opportunity will vanish if the site disappears.  The owner can arrange for continuity and why not.  Even if the owner wants to let it go, that could be done without killing the site.

I’ve seen much worse at blogs that are doing well.  I’ve seen sites left up and abandoned that did well.  RIP is totally unnecessary.  In fact, it’s the most unreasonable of outcomes.

Let’s figure it out.

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Michael Collins

DC area

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  • Actually, I very much hope you’re right. I and others would like to see the site survive. I believe from prior comments the Diary functionality could now be implemented whereas it couldn’t when the site was first migrated from Drupal to WP.
    It would take a level of technical expertise which I don’t have. Whether a volunteer could be found, I don’t know and the owners might or might not be willing to pay for professionals. They might if they thought it would increase the site’s pageviews.

    As I commented earlier, without someone willing to devote several hours a day, the site would be ‘functionally leaderless’.
    The owners aren’t willing or able to pay and it may be difficult to find someone who has the necessary time and is willing to devote it essentially for free.
    Prior to Steve’s departure he spent 5+ hours/day. Others spent time building up the newswire ‘around-the’internet’ and ‘middle-east-thread’ I probably averaged a hour or two a day, commenting, adding links, the occasional post. I also spent perhaps 8-10 hours preparing the featured Tuesday post when my turn came around.
    I do not have the time, ambition, contacts, skills or interests to become EIC. All I’m doing now is keeping the lights on.

    The site does enjoy much ‘good will’ both in the blogsphere and our own community. I think if we had a good EIC, we could prosper. The question is finding someone willing to spend 5-6 hours a day at it. For free or for peanuts.

    • I don’t think it can be a one person operation. I could see things divided up by days. I’d take a day, maybe 4-5 other would for the week and have someone “on call” over the weekend.

      There was a lot of traffic when I came on board here but it began tanking, over time, simply due to a lack of “upkeep.” If there is a way to access the RSS from the previous site (or whatever it was called on that site), that would be key. As a poster who follows my post, Agonist was the source for many referrers back here, oh, like Times of India. Something happened to that, before the conversion, and I don’t see the referrals like I did before.

      To me, there are enough users posting comments on what they liked and their general attitude to make it worthwhile keeping this afloat. At the very very least, it must be archived. But that’s a low a bar. A few tweaks and fixes here and there and a feed to Google News and bingo, it would be back to it’s former level, maybe. But at least it would be around.

      It’s a good discussion to have. Maybe there are a few more who would volunteer part of a day.

      This all depends on the owners (the situation reminds me of “management” in the series, Carnival;)

      Look my email up and send me one.

  • I’d like it to be noted that I did not advocate the closing of the site, nor did I advocate the other members of the editorial team take the action they did (although I agree with their reasons for doing so). If the Agonist can be rescued, all to the good. I think everyone’s under-estimating how easy that would be and how much power they have to determine the course instead of that course being determined by the owner, but I could be wrong there. However, I won’t be a part of it – if I continue to blog I’ll go back to running my own place in association with a small group of partners who will share equally in the costs and any success of the venture, as I did at Newshoggers for a decade.

    On the sudden plethora of old names who are showing up in comments after a long absence – well, I guess they didn’t like my style. That’s OK. It takes all sorts.

    In my defense, I’ll say that in the immediate years before I took up the EiC, the site’s traffic was nose-diving at around 30% a year (and so we can assume ad revenue was doing likewise). Pretty soon it would have been a very small community indeed. In the year since, the first six months continued that decline although it slowed slightly – in other words, the closed community was the problem and no number of diaries from that closed community would have fixed it. Since moving to WP, the decline had halted and we were running at rough parity on the same six months the year before – with good signs of gradually increasing traffic. Open comments and regular content, with someone spending considerable time pushing outreach by Facebook, twitter and email to other bloggers – not user diaries or forums – did that. Them’s the facts as I see them, you are of course free to disagree.

    This will be my very last comment on The Agonist, as I don’t intend spending any more time hanging around like an old uncle who smells a bit. The very best of luck to all the community, whether they liked my style or not.

    Warmest regards, Steve

  • While I think the odds are against survival of this site I will still be participating in the efforts to keep it alive and kicking. But lets face it, absent a clear signal from the so-called owners there can be absolutely no long term future. It sounds at the moment like it is not a particularly profitable site and the prospects for it to generate much money beyond self sufficiency are nil to small. Indeed it sounds like it might always require additional support beyond its own revenues. The public radio reality.

    That kind of support requires a not-for-profit setup and one with as much true democratic structure as possible. Again it can’t happen without the so-called owner giving a clear signal that a path to blog self-ownersip is possible.

    I agree with Steeleweed that there is quite a bit of work needed to keep it going and I agree with Collins that many hands make light work. And I would hope that Hynd would stick around enough to remind us every now and then of the realities that he is aware of from this last years experience.

    Is the community strong enough to pull it all off? I really don’t know but I am up for trying to find out.

    • At this point the most valuable asset associated with The Agonist is probably the URL (which Valuate estimates is worth over seven grand). Hopefully an arrangement can be met to port content over to a new site (as previously mentioned, totally doable with WP) and let TPTB do what they want with the URL (assuming the community at large even wants to be resurrected in a different body).

      Whatever happens I wish everyone good fortune.

      • Re porting contents to new site:
        Despite the copyright notice at the bottom of the page, I wonder who really owns the posts (and comments), since most of them were not ‘written-for-hire’ or as part of a job. Several of us also crosspost between Agonist and our own blogs.
        I’m not a lawyer but I suspect if push ever came to shove, the owners would find out all they owned was the domain name and possibly Steve’s & SPK’s posts and maybe not even those.

    • The notification is traditionally posted to deter people from copying material from this site to use elsewhere.

      If you create something if intellectual value such as a book, it is automatically copyrighted the instant it is created.
      The copyright give the author the exclusive right to benefit from the book for a specific period of time. If someone copies the book and passes it off as his own, that is a violation and he could be sued. Such copyrights should be registered with the US Copyright office because registration establishes ownership if a dispute should arise.
      There are exceptions to copyright protection – parts of an article or book can be copied as book review or for education, for example under a ‘fair use’ provision, on the grounds that this does not deprive the creator of his profit.

      In the case of a TV station, magazine or newspaper, where the content is ‘dynamic’, the registration process is different but the protection is pretty much the same, with the copyright owned by the TV or periodical corporation because the creation was done ‘for hire’. In the case of a blog, I suspect the blogger owns the copyright if he/she is not being paid to write the blog.

      In this case, it’s pretty meaningless. Many bloggers cross-post to their own private blogs as well as on Agonist.
      If you want to do the same, I don’t think you need to worry about being sued by the owners of the domain name.

  • Ok, so there are three people willing to take a day or so of editorial duties to keep Agonist operational: steeleweed, JeffW, and me.

    That’s a good start. Maybe more and others willing to keep posting, do whatever.

    It requires something from the owners – re they there, what do they do to benefit from the site, and a few other details.

    We’ll see what happens.

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