I don’t consider the Minneapolis Metblog and MNspeak to be direct competitors. I don’t even have a good sense of whether folks out there consider us to be competitors. We both have the same basic goal of talking about what’s going on in the Twin Cities. The format’s different. The approach is different. Whatever the hell the metrics are of a “successful” site (metrics are debatable anyway) I don’t have enough data on either site to draw any comparisons.
I, for the most part, enjoy MNspeak. Let me just get that out of the way. I only started paying real attention to it near the end of the Rex Sorgatz era (Rex created the site). I think Max has done as fine as job as he can do in his duties as editor.
Why am I even talking about this?
Due to non-updated credit card information, MNspeak’s domain name expired yesterday and the site was down for the better part of the morning.
A comment at the Minnesota Monitor suggested that this misstep was indicative of the state of things behind the scenes at mnspeak. And I agreed.
Tom Bartel, who publishes The Rake and whose son, Matt, owns MNspeak, hopped in the comments and got snippy with me. He responded directly to me (not to the original commenter). And that’s what lead to this comment. I’m not mad or threatened. I’m just saying. Tom got touchy even though, when it’s convenient, he likes to remind people that he doesn’t actually own MNspeak or have anything to do with the operation thereof. That’s just how Tom is, I’ve learned. Blustery and cranky. That’s cool.
I’ve… expressed opinions about MNspeak  .
I still feel badly about the public accusation of bad netiquette on Max’s part. It just doesn’t seem like something Max would do, from what I know of Max. At the same time, anyone can post at mnspeak. Matt Bartel was in charge of daily posting for a long while. I still firmly believe that links which came through Metblogs (and other places) ended up in a mnspeak post without attribution and that one was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Today, rounding up the techier side of City Pages’ annual Best of the Twin Cities issue, Paul Schmelzer notes that “MNspeak hasn’t implemented any site updates since [Rex] sold it in 2006; by outward appearances, at least, that still seems to be the case.”
My point here is that on several occasions I’ve brought MNspeak up as a topic on Metblogs and there was an outpouring of opinions on MNspeak in the comments. The users have something to say about the state of the site.
As a Metblog captain, I have sympathy.
I have control of and responsibility for certain things. But there are certain things that I have no control of at all. This was most abundantly clear over the 6 months in which the new WordPress backend for the Metblog network was “almost ready.” Where we felt the pain the most in Minneapolis was new author sign ups. Every once in a while you have to recruit new folks when old folks get bored or busy. And previously those signups went through Metblogs “corporate.” We had no local control over account creation, and account creation was a manual process. So while we desperately needed new accounts created, we couldn’t do it because of the state of the backend conversion and the availability of folks responsible for account creation.
I do realize it was a massive technical undertaking with somewhat limited resources. I know a lot of that was a necessary evil. I really do. Doesn’t mean it didn’t still hurt us.
MNspeak and Metblog don’t necessarily have the same problems, but I can understand how it might be a little frustrating to have one’s hands tied.
While MNspeak may not be broken, per se, (okay, the local blog aggregator is totally broken) you need a little refresh every once in a while. Create some news. Classic marketing. The fact is that all outward appearances indicate that behind-the-scenes at MNspeak is murky. I’m a little bored with it. I read the posts, but I don’t hang out in the comments like I used to.
MNspeak, for better or for worse, gets lots of public feedback. I have yet to come across more than a thumbnail sketch of what Minneapolis Metblog might be doing right or wrong. Maybe folks don’t pay us that much attention. I can tell you what I have on my to do list (whether or not it’s actually getting done). I can tell you what I think of the new design and the new features (including those which have not yet debuted). But my perspective is different from y’all’s. And that’s a whole ‘nother post.