A little over two years ago, Baristanet passed the 10 million visits marker. Over the weekend, I noticed another significant number: we had just passed 15 million visits to the site. (That’s 34.4 million pageviews!)
It’s hard to believe that in May 2004, when we first started publishing Baristanet, the idea of getting local news online, in a timely fashion, was utterly novel. The Montclair Times barely used its website in those days, saving all its content for Thursdays. And Patch did not exist. When Scot Surbeck sent us this photo of a car fire in Watchung Plaza in 2005, and we published it the same day, people found that timeliness extraordinary. Now it’s expected. And we’ll get scolded if one of our competitors has it first.
But it’s not just news that we do at Baristanet. We think that in 2004, we started a conversation that has been humming along ever since.
In a TED talk in Victoria a few weeks ago, David Leach talked about kibbutzes and kibitzing, and the importance of what sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls the “Third Place” — not home, not work, but another place, where people can gather to talk.
“Community is as much an action as it is an area code,” Leach said. “It’s a conversation.”
After racking up 269,015 comments over the past 7 1/2 years, we think that Baristanet has become that third place. Despite criticism of anonymous commenting by Montclair mayor Jerry Fried and others, a recent study found that the highest quality comments on websites are actually from people who use pseudonyms. We certainly like it when people sign their names, but our pseudonymous commenters have been invaluable as well. We recently had a great conversation about Glen Ridge’s decision to award its 10-year fire services contract to Montclair. So far, 73 people — including declared council candidate Harvey Susswein — chimed in.
So thanks for visiting, commenting, sending us tips, waving to us in the parade, and joining us as Baristanet advertisers. Remember to follow us on Twitter and to like us on Facebook. Stop by any time, any time at all. We’ll leave the lights on for you.