I was sworn to secrecy, but Roberto let the cat out of the bag so he can take the flack if it’s still supposed to be a secret.
The Gazette has been working on a West Island portal (called “West Island +” though its address is westislandgazette.com), a mix of newspaper stories and user-submitted content that pretty much fits that “hyper-local” mold that everyone’s talking about these days.
Its key feature is that stories are categorized based on location, allowing you to search for all things that take place in Pierrefonds (for example). The locations fall pretty well along the same borders as the former municipalities (though the 40 people who live in Ile Dorval might get ticked off at being lumped in with the bigger city). It also includes Ile Perrot and Vaudreuil-Dorion/St. Lazare/Hudson, which are also included in the Gazette’s West Island delivery area.
The site is still not quite ready for its official launch, which is expected later this month.
I think there are a lot of good things about it, and a lot that can be improved (it’s a bit wide for me, forcing a horizontal scroll bar for those dozen or so pixels off the side).
The big question, of course, is whether user-generated content will turn this into the online destination for thousands of West Islanders, or whether the signal-to-noise ratio will be too low for people to wade through it all.
There’s only one way to find out.
UPDATE: Craig Silverman, a freelancer and blogger, takes issue with the terms of service, which he accuses of “bad faith” because it demands you waive moral rights (i.e. the right not to have your work distorted to say the opposite of what you mean, or the right to not have your name and image used to endorse a product without your permission), it demands free reign to publish and sell your content to others (“in perpetuity throughout the world”) and it demands that you waive the right to sue them for defamation or anything else no matter what they do to you.
It’s the kind of clauses you’ll find on just about any big corporate website, whose administrators throw it on there without thinking about it (or even probably reading it). But that doesn’t make it right.