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Newsweek's Newsweekopedia vs. Times' Topics

Newsweek.com's Topics a great idea, poorly executed.


Rex Hammock By Rex Hammock
06/24/2009 -09:37 AM






With its recent redesign (which I like), Newsweek.com cloned one of the lesser known but truly incredible parts of the New York Times Web site: an encyclopedia-like organization of its archives—including in most cases, an introductory overview—called “Topics,” that can be found at the easy-to-remember URL, http://topics.nytimes.com. Newsweek calls its clone Newsweekopedia but uses the Times-like URL: http://topics.newsweek.com.

That’s where all similarities end.

Newsweek broke rule #1 of building an encyclopedic resource—or anything that is "-opedia"-ish—they didn’t seed it properly. In fact, they barely seeded it at all. Compare, for example, the letter “H” on http://topics.nytimes.com to the letter “H” on http://topics.newsweek.com. The image above doesn’t do justice to the 1,000-plus entries on the Times site, but since Newsweekopedia has only one entry, I think you get the point.

Newsweek also broke cardinal rule #1 of anything you do on the Web: Don’t claim to be something that is drop-dead simple to disprove—like, say, that you have an “unmatched knowledge resource.”

My geek friends have a word for something like this: FAIL. (But please, keep trying.)

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Rex Hammock By Rex Hammock -- Rex is the founder and CEO of Hammock Inc., a Nashville-based custom publisher. He blogs about publishing, new media and other topics at the popular Rexblog.com.

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