I used to frequent Newsvine -- obsess over might be a better phrase -- and now I don't. Mostly, I scan the headlines and lurk in the politics and technology sections. The vast majority of my comments are deleted before they're published -- my own doing -- because they're not productive and the people they're aimed at don't deserve the attention.
Today, I saw this:
How likely are you to recommend newsvine.com to a colleague or friend?
3-4 years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated: 10.
Today? Today is a different story: 0.
The inmates are running the asylum. There's no direction on the site. Nasty politics all but overwhelm the front page and the content actually worth reading -- less than 1% of what is posted, probably -- is ruined when nasty political rhetoric takes hold in the comment threads.
Then there's the great content which no one reads because no one finds it.
There's a real Wild West sensibility, an "us or them" mentality, and it's survival of the meanest.
My sense is that there's no real attempt to corral those who actually care about quality content from the best (or at least diverse) sources. This is true of seeds and it's true of original content. (I use the term "original" very loosely.) Calvin Tang used to handle much of the "community" stuff -- he was what is now commonly called a social-media manager, whether that was his official role or not -- and that role hasn't really existed for some time, now.
There's no one to channel energy, to encourage content, to lead by example. Because there's no sense of community, there is instead all of the negative things that I mention above. It's a pretty toxic environment -- maybe not as toxic as some communities -- but it's really bad for anyone who hopes to produce quality content. Most communities start at the bottom and feed there. Newsvine sank from the top. No one who cares about quality (or at least effort) wants to compete against the sort of claptrap that is most commonly featured here.
My 0 is based on the fact that I'd only ever recommend Newsvine to people who care about quality, and I'd hate to waste anyone's time.
With all that said, I've seen Newsvine at its best, and I think there's room to grow even from there. The building blocks are in place. There's still nothing quite like what Mike and Co. built and even though it's gotten bad, no one has stepped up to fill the void. I learned to love social-media and citizen journalism after joining Newsvine, I co-founded my own social site because of the things I learned here, and I'd love nothing more than to see this leader in social-news return to greatness.
Of course, any hope for a meaningful and lasting turnaround depends on where MSNBC wants to take Newsvine and what they're willing to do to get there.
Fill Calvin Tang's vacant role. Harvest and encourage talent. Give quality content a shot, event if that means promoting it artificially rather than democratically. (The popular vote doesn't seem to work.) Promote effort. Discourage lazy rhetoric and me-too seeding.
Give the community something to feed on.