Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

SpeakOut has become popular hang out

January 9, 2002

When opinions and news collide, there's an easy answer for what the newest player in Baldwin City was in 2001 the Signal's SpeakOut section on the Web page.

Although visits to the Web site at www.baldwincity.com have always been high since it was launched in November of 1998, interest peaked in March of 2001 when more than 92,000 hits were recorded on the site. Even more interesting is there are more hits per page at SpeakOut than even the front page. That means people have SpeakOut bookmarked, allowing them to go straight to that page.

The reason for that? Well, in looking back on the year for our annual review, it was just as easy to go to SpeakOut to track what was interesting as it was to go back through each issue of the Signal.

Web readers "discovered" in 2001 that they could throw their two-cents worth in on what was going on in Baldwin, whether they live here or hundreds of miles away. Going back through the posts to the page revealed the "hot buttons" that people had on news items.

Right now, the investigation into the Baldwin City Police Department and the punishment that resulted is the hot item on SpeakOut. The most current post is titled "Mayor's stance on Police Dept." But, there are others: "Pennies for Justice!!! More problems with the Baldwin City PD;" "Quote on shooting;" "Let's hear from the students about ...;" "Police Department---What do you think?" and "Right to know-police probe."

But that's not the only item posters have been interested in over the year. The Oct. 14 shooting in West Baldwin set a new record for posts with 24. Prior to that, "New BHS principal" with 20 posts was the top "vote getter." It was eclipsed first by "sonic hangout," which had 21 posts.

Those are only a few of the hot topics. Through the year, posters had plenty to say about the last city council election where voters said no to the incumbents and yes to "four new faces." Right after the spring incident at Baldwin High when junior Anthony McClintock was injured when struck by a broom handle, posters had plenty to say about that.

Opinions were shared about the city's ongoing electrical problems; pro and anti "skateboarders" checked in; concerns were raised about the BHS counselor; and a wide variety of other topics were discussed.

The site hasn't just been used to express opinions, either. Many people have posted to inform people about events. Others have used it to make general comments on just about anything.

The forum is open to anyone and only requires adhering to a few rules. People can remain anonymous with their posts, but others choose to include their name and e-mail address.

Baldwin City residents have always been willing to share their opinions. The Signal's letters to the editor have always been a big part of the opinion page.

But SpeakOut has taken that to a new level because posters can not only share their views, but also interact with others. If you haven't tried it yet, go to www.baldwincity.com and SpeakOut. You won't be alone.

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