Examiner.com acquires NowPublic

As reported in the New York Times, NowPublic, a citizen journalism website built on Drupal, was acquired by Examiner.com. Soon, one of the top-100 websites in the world will be running Drupal!Congratulations to the NowPublic team!

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

NowPublic using Mollom

NowPublic is a Vancouver-based news network that mobilizes an army of reporters to cover events around the world. During Hurricane Katrina, NowPublic had more reporters in affected areas than most news organizations have on their entire staff.

Unfortunately, NowPublic was up against as many as 25,000 spam attempts a day, so it needed a solution that would allow the site to grow faster and more effectively without being slowed by comment spam. About one year ago, NowPublic implemented Mollom to protect their site against spam. They use Drupal, so all they needed to do was install the Mollom module for Drupal.

Two major challenges arise from trying to control website spam. First, visitors may lose their motivation to comment or contribute content because they are required so often to prove that they are human and not spam by registering. This erodes participation. Secondly, whether visitors are asked to register or not, site moderation becomes more time-consuming and expensive. Website moderators have to scan comments and other content to find spam instead of interact with the community. Mollom differs from other spam protection solutions, in that it tries to address both problems.

While Mollom is not perfect (it is a work in progress), it works really well for the vast majority of our users. In NowPublic's case, Mollom has prevented more than one million spam attempts since they started using Mollom. Plus, because Mollom removed barriers to participation, they saw an 180% increase in the average number of comments posted per month by users since implementing Mollom's spam-filtering service. Last but not least, according to Jordan Yerman, NowPublic's Contributor Support Manager, Mollom saved NowPublic at least one hour per day dealing with spam. So by the end of the first month, they saved more money than Mollom cost them for the year.

Needless to say, NowPublic is one of my favorite Mollom success stories. Now they are one year into using Mollom, it is rewarding to look back and see how well it has worked for them.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

NowPublic Drupal Scan

NowPublic launched an interesting new feature called Scan. First, they aggregate data from sites like Twitter, identi.ca and Pownce in near real-time. Then they aggregate the information, filter it by keywords, geo-locate it, and conveniently present it on a dashboard. Like that, you can see what is happening in different places around the world.

Being the sucker for statistics that I am, I asked Michael Meyers (CTO, NowPublic) to setup a special NowPublic Drupal Channel so that we can have our very own NowPublic Drupal Scan. Michael did, so check out the Drupal Scan at http://www.nowpublic.com/tags/drupal/scan. It is a great showcase of what can be done with activity streams or lifestreams, and with Twitter data specifically. What is not to like?

Nowpublic drupal scan

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

DrupalCon Barcelona wrapup

On my way home from DrupalCon Barcelona ...

Executive summary: DrupalCon Barcelona blew my socks off.

I have yet to process all the inputs but these are some of the highlights:

  • September last year DrupalCon Brussels had 150 attendees. Exactly one year later, DrupalCon Barcelona had 450 attendees. We tripled in size.
  • There were 84 presentations but I only managed to attend 6 of them ... I've been really busy.
  • I've been to Barcelona before, but I was instantly reminded about what a great location Barcelona is.
  • Adobe relaunched their Flex showcase using Drupal and announced it on stage at the Drupal conference. This will go in history as the first strategically timed release/announcement at a Drupal conference.
  • Sun Microsystems was a gold sponsor and is working on integrating Drupal and Java (legacy) applications as well as industrial grade deployment of Drupal sites on SAMP (Solaris - Apache - MySQL - PHP). Impressive technology!
  • NowPublic is going to help drive the development of regression tests for Drupal core. They hired testing talent Rok Žlender to write these tests in the open and hope other people in the Drupal community will start collaborating.
  • Raincity Studios committed to helping us redesign drupal.org.
  • Robert Scales (CEO of Raincity Studio) wants to organize a Drupal conference in Shanghai, China.
  • There were more Drupal users from Belgium, than there were Drupal users from The Netherlands. This might be the last time as the Dutchmen made plans to do more outreach in The Netherlands.
  • Robert Garrigos, Bert Boerland, Dries Knapen, the Drupal Catalan user group, the Drupal Association and Citilab did a great job organizing and facilitating this conference. Thanks!

NowPublic in De Standaard

Belgian newspaper De Standaard (read daily by 80,000 people in Flanders) picked up the news about NowPublic's series A funding and published a one-page article on NowPublic and citizen journalism.

As my photos illustrate, professional journalists and media companies need to loosen up a little or they might go numb. Amateur journalists have learned to drive; it's almost time to hand over the keys -- or at least, to let us be the co-pilot. Denial will not protect the barricades around your residual self image.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

The one page article about NowPublic and citizen journalism as published in the August 4 edition of De Standaard. The article has good things to say about NowPublic.
Steve Paulussen (post-doctoral fellow at Ghent University) states that Belgian's most popular city blog, Gentblogt, can't compete with De Standaard's online news outlet. Steve argues that Belgium doesn't have enough amateur journalists.
Pol Deltour, secretary of the Flemish Association of Journalists claims that citizen journalism is less credible and not as trustworthy as professional journalism. He argues that NowPublic does not have the resources to verify the correctness of their correspondents' footage.

NowPublic gets 10.6 million USD

The press embargo finally lifted, so I'm happy to share that NowPublic closed a 10.6 milion USD series A round from Rho Ventures/Rho Canada, Brightspark, and the Working Opportunity Fund.

That's a lot of money and a big series A. However, since NowPublic's start two years ago, it has become one of the fastest growing news organizations in the world. By harnessing the wisdom of crowds and tapping into the news reporting potential of the hundreds of millions of internet users, eye witnesses, bloggers and photography enthusiasts, NowPublic is changing the way news is produced and distributed.

Step by step, NowPublic is building the platform that lets major news agencies outsource their news gathering process, and that is not to be taken lightly and not to be confused with sites like Digg or Slashdot. It won't be long until more major news agencies realize that NowPublic's on-the-ground network of news contributors will help them break more and better news stories at lower costs.

And of course, as NowPublic is built on Drupal, this is good news for Drupal too.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

NowPublic partners with AP

The news just keeps getting better. Today the Associated Press (AP) and NowPublic announced that they have agreed to a deal that will bring NowPublic's citizen content into AP's news gathering network. According to the press release, the two companies will work together to explore ways of involving NowPublic's on-the-ground network of news contributors with AP's breaking news coverage – increasing the worlds access to news as it happens.

To put this into perspective, on any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP – so this is an unparalleled distribution opportunity for citizen created content and contributors to NowPublic. And of course, as NowPublic is built on Drupal, it's good news for Drupal too.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

NowPublic names Chairman of the Board

NowPublic just announced that former MSNBC editor-in-chief Merrill Brown will become Chairman of the Board. Remarkable!

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

NowPublic flirts with ABC News

Last week, NowPublic redesigned once more. They just keep getting better! If you don't know NowPublic, it is a Drupal website that is a combination of Slashdot, Digg and Flickr (albeit not as popular yet). Every user can help report the news, provide valuable information, footage, context and insight.

What is more? As of this week, ABC News and NowPublic started to flirt by sharing some footage. That is good news because every other day, news organizations around the planet announce that they are going to take a similar approach and tap into the wisdom of crowds.

(Disclosure: I am an advisor to NowPublic.)

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