Holovaty: EveryBlock’s new community focus will ‘help you make your block a better place’

Monday afternoon, EveryBlock announced a major shift in focus, from a geographically-based, hyperlocal news site to a “platform for discussion around neighborhood news.”

In describing the changes, founder Adrian Holovaty wrote on the EveryBlock Blog that the site is moving away from a one-way, data-oriented news feed to a platform for human interaction based on that news:

While we’re not removing our existing aggregation of public records and other neighborhood information (more on this in a bit), we’ve come to realize that human participation is essential, not only as a layer on top but as the bedrock of the site.

“With this in mind, we’ve changed our site to be oriented around community discussion. The EveryBlock experience is still centered around places — blocks, neighborhoods, custom locations — but we’ve rebuilt it from the ground up to be about participation more than passive consumption. … (Instead of the “social graph,” it’s the ‘geo graph.’)”

The site now highlights “neighbor messages” on the home page and on place pages, and it invites people to add their own messages. To foster community, EveryBlock now enables users to thank each other for posts and has established a reputation system.

By clicking a star next to a post, users can subscribe to receive notifications of any comments. EveryBlock will use the most-subscribed items to create a feed of “top news” for any city.

The other major change – in addition to the new look — is the ability to “follow” places. Holovaty explains:

“Previously, if you were interested in the news around multiple places — say, your home and your office — it was very manual. You had to search for your home address, read the news, then search for your work address, read the news, etc. Now, you can log into your EveryBlock account, “follow” those places by clicking the big “follow” button or using our quick follow page, and your EveryBlock homepage will give you all the news from your followed places, in one place, along with an easy way to post messages to those places.”

Holovaty will join us Tuesday for a live chat at 1 p.m. ET to talk about EveryBlocks’ new focus and look. One question I’ll ask, and I’m sure he’ll be ready for, is what role geographically-based data has in this new vision of EveryBlock. Come with your questions.

Twitter users can ask questions ahead of time or during the chat using the #poynterchats hashtag. You can revisit this page at any time to replay the chat after it has ended.

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