At the STB Quarterly Board Meeting last Saturday –ok, informed nerds having brunch– we discussed at length various ways to improve STB. We want to grow our readership, fix technical challenges, and improve the reader experience. This thread is your chance to let us know what you’d like to see on STB. A few seed thoughts:
(1. Comments. Trolling is significantly diminishing the quality of comment threads. Of course, please don’t feed the trolls, but STB also has a strong position against blocking commenters unless they are abusive. To improve everyone’s experience, we are beginning the process of overhauling the comment system. What would you like to see? Possibilities include :
- Up/down ratings to bury trolls at the bottom of the thread and reward smart comments
- A return to deeper threading
- Integration with Facebook comments
- A preview/edit feature
(2. Template and Design. We’ve taken pride in the lightweight, minimalist framing of STB. Articles are always on the front page, there are no sections, etc… We’ve wanted to keep the posts timely, on-point, frequent, and accessible, and a simple site has been great at doing that. Nonetheless, cross-referencing with past posts is more difficult than it should be, and there is currently no organization of posts by thematic content. We’re considering adding tab-like features just above the current article, with your standard array of reference articles, such as About Us, Best Arguments, Seattle for Visitors, Agency Links, Blogroll, etc. We’re also working on a mobile theme. Aesthetic comments from information designers would be quite helpful.
(3. Content and Audience. We know that STB is a high-concept, incurably wonky blog. We attempt to conduct good analysis, have good conversation, and hopefully have a political impact. With a few exceptions (we’re human) we try to avoid the polemical, lazily framed writing that predominates at many other transportation sites. Most items here are news+analysis, with occasional strong editorials, guest pieces, and of course Sunday Open Threads. But what types of articles do you want more and less of?
(4. Advertising. How is the current advertising working for you? Our goal is for it to be mostly transportation related, non-intrusive, and bring in a healthy revenue stream. We value the ability to make the site financially self-sustaining and subsidize meetups, and advertising has been successful for us so far.