The Guardian Media Group is now slowly releasing its new community noticeboard platform, n0tice.com, into the public sphere. It’s still currently an invite only affair, but we’ve been taking a look around, and even caught up with the people behind n0tice to talk about the new project.
What I like
The hyperlocal focus is excellent and, as Sarah mentions in the interview, the platform uses some really interesting location-based technology. n0tice allows you to set a location, and then view all news within a X-mile radius. It’s flexible and will allow you to scale from the hyperlocal, to local, to regional postings at will.
It’s a flexibility you simply don’t see anywhere else; it blurs the boundaries between hyperlocal and local. However, should the platform come into wider usage, I can’t see much reason for having a wide radius of news, as it’ll lose that communal feel, and users could be flooded with irrelevant updates.
The platform allows users to set up their own notice boards, with a unique url. A nice example of customisation and use of a url can be seen here. The owner may still be talking to themself in all likelihood, but they’ve started getting reports up, have customised their background, and have an upcoming event publicised. This kind of approach could easily result in people starting to contribute, and the owner is talking about it with those in their community, then I’d hope it’s a matter of time.
I’d advise snapping up your own unique url if you’re doing/considering doing anything hyperlocal, as you can pretty much have whatever you want at the moment.
It’s about the user. When speaking to Sarah, she really drove this point home. The focus is very much placed on what the user is asking for, which is quite refreshing in a world where most local news platforms are squeezing every last penny out of their advertising space. For example, there’s a Google group of users all talking about what they want to see, and the team seems to be structuring ongoing development largely around that, such as with the introduction of analytics.
n0tice isn’t being overtly branded as part of the Guardian, for better or worse, and I kind of like that. It come across as a startup, and this is reflected in the design. It’s clean, sleek, and really user-friendly. It’s also a small team that’s currently working on it, again much like a startup (check out the team here). I think it’s quite a nice example of what can be achieved in collaboration with the right people, and should bode well for those considering their own startups.
What I’m unsure about
Where’s the money? While I think it’s fantastic that companies like Guardian Media Group are investing in this kind of innovation, I always have a niggling concern about profitability. Especially seeing as the loss-making media giant recently cut its Christmas party. Sad times. If the platform takes off, then there are advertising possibilities, but I’m not convinced that I’d choose to advertise here rather than on another platform. Sarah says that they hope to find their own niche and they don’t intend to “compete” with sites like Gumtree, but I think competition is inevitable.
Spreading the userbase. The low user count is currently an issue (there are very few stories outside of London or Manchester, in my experience) and I’ve yet to see a really engaged community, but I hope that’ll appear with time, as the site becomes more widely available.
SPAM SPAM SPAM. It’s inevitable that as the platform grows and develops, there will be spamming, shameless PR, and dubious content. It’ll take some heavy moderation from an engaged community lead by the core team to keep things in check when it starts to show up.
n0tice then, is an interesting new concepts that appears to coming along nicely. The focus on satisfying users should allow n0tice to develop naturally, and potentially gain it the niche place in the market it’s hunting for. As a platform, I think it presents an opportunity for wannabes too: this is a young platform, and if you join early and learn how to best exploit and use it, there’s the potential to become a core part of a developing community.
From a career perspective, there’s plenty to learn here about community management and local news, so it’s definitely worth a look.
As n0tice is still invite only to hold an account, you can’t yet sign up, but we have 10 invites to give out. If you want one, just comment or tweet us @wannabehacks.
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