Friday, July 14, 2006

VastLane comeback

VastLane.org, the once very popular Grand Forks community message board and online gathering place, is back up again after a hiatus.

VastLane used to get many hits every day and was read by a large local following, but things started to die off a year or two ago. In ways, the "Grand Forks Blogosphere" that has emerged recently has become somewhat of a "replacement" for the old VastLane community.

It would be nice to see VastLane pick up again and become a part of the local blogging community. That's really what it is, in my opinion - a blog. However, instead of just one poster like most Grand Forks blogs, VastLane is a blog where many people are able to put forward topics or news.

I would encourage all Grand Forks Life readers to visit VastLane from time to time and bookmark it along with all of the Grand Forks blogs that I know many of you check out on a daily basis.

Elvis did it in '68, Bill Clinton was the "comeback kid"...why can't VastLane make a comeback too???

BTW, it was nice to see VastLane list all of us members of the Grand Forks Blogosphere. Thanks!

14 comments:

Tu-Uyen said...

Hey, good news. Since I started blogging, I kept checking Vastlane and couldn't figure out what happened to the place.

Elucidarian said...

Vastlane is a remnant from what I think of as a mini-Golden Age in Grand Forks that took place in the mid to late 90s. There were a certain bunch of people doing things artistically on campus and around town who were in cahoots with the site's creators. Now, as happens, they've graduated, married, had kids, some moved away, and their vision lies in the aether, awaiting the next generation of local trend-setters.

Dave Miller said...

Vastlane needs a re-design... maybe they could hire the city of Grand Forks?

Well, geez Dave, that was low. Take it back.

I won't take it back.

Seriously though. Incorporate an 'actual blog', get a feed, change the drapes and then I'll visit.

Damn, lighten up

Anonymous said...

of course, I can't get the link to load. Times out from here, from work, from Starbucks...

oh well

Anonymous said...

What's the story with the sudden disappearance of jgs and coffee guy?

Mark@vastlane said...

Dave, the difference between our vastlane and the city's new site is that while their site looks five years old, ours is five years old.

The question isn't could vastlane make a comeback, but should it? Many of the things we were attempting are now being done (in many cases much better) by other entities like local blogs, Culture|Pulse, GGFYP , and hometown rock shows by Mike's Pizza.

GFG is right, VL was always supposed to be a group weblog, where anyone with an interest can submit content and discuss it. Outside of a news feed, I'm not sure what Dave means by "real blog" but this particular format (slashdot ripoff) offers a lot over many run of the mill blog hosts, such as user accounts, threaded comments, comments moderated by score, user chooseable themes, file downloads, and other plug and play modules.

Interestingly enough, we got a lot of complaints when we first started that the format was too hard to digest. Considering the recent explosion of weblogs, maybe now is a better time than ever to give it another shot, probably with another engine. This one is dated, and a lot of the modules are missing and broken.

We let the site deteriorate basically for the reasons Elucidarian describes. We didn't maintain the server with enough diligence creating some security issues and the engine became susceptible to comment spam, forcing us to turn off anon comments. That really killed it, along with a general malaise in writing for the site.

The upside is that Synergist is the guy really keeping the site alive; he is someone that I've only met personally one time. I had always hoped the site could have a life of its own with a new group of users supporting and managing it.

Maybe it's time for another shot. One of the downsides of utilizing blogs for community discussion is that the ensuing discussion is visually linear, making it hard to maintain anything of substance. I personally feel that community discussion, in any form, is extremely valuable. The nice thing about this kind of website is that it allows for more voices than other formats such as talk radio.

So what's the point? I guess it is this: if there is anyone out there interested in participating in some kind of resurgance, let's hear from you. email mark dot schill at gmail, if you prefer.

Tu-Uyen said...

I agree with Mark that Vastlane is a good alternative to blogs. In blogs, it's a top down thing. I, the owner of the blog, set the agenda and you, the reader, discuss the subject I want you to discuss. Vastlane is bottom up with readers setting the agenda. I like that idea a lot. If I could build a blog from scratch, I would incorporate a feature like that.

Dakota has tried a compromise where she sometimes puts in an open thread post. Only problem is you have to guess when readers feel like starting a new post and one post might end up with several different threads, which is confusing.

I've tried to get readers to submit ideas and I'd create a new post but haven't had many takers so far.

Giving readers more control can only open up more topics for discussion.

mitch@vastlane.org said...

You hit the nail on the head Tu-Uyen. We've got the engine started but you are in the drivers seat. Think back to your first time behind the wheel, you had to put all your trepidations aside and just go for it. Same thing here, now go post something. :)

Anonymous said...

Vastlane's last two nails in it's coffin were ndindienation and aoj's relentless defense of everything remotely critical of Grand Forks. aoj doesn't even live in Grand Forks, does he? Another outmigrator I suppose.

mitch@vastlane.org said...

he does (i'm him), and please point to an example of my relentless defense? I guess thats why you posted anonymously.

and ndindienation has their new site up at site http://www.ndrocks.com as you can see they have choosen orange as their main color which nicely complements vastlane's green :)

Anonymous said...

I used to lurk on vastlane in the past but, the weak extreme leftie politics became a big turn off (I'm independent btw). I decided to give it a shot, it's been over a year. OMG! The most recent article is an article on Iraq and WMD's! Unbelievable! Stay tuned, the next article will be on Bush stealing the 2000 election.

"Vastlane, Where Old News is 'Culture'"

mitch@vastlane.org said...

Maybe the problem is you're lurking. http://www.vastlane.org is a participation site, go to "Submit Article" and post something YOU are intersted in and change the dynamic of the site to your liking. If enough people engage at this level a community forms. Not a difficult concept to grasp.

Anonymous said...

If a "participation site" has no particpants...did the tree really fall?

webmasterzero said...

VL will always have a mark in GF, whether it was popular or not.

Anyway, we did alot of good things in relation to VL - the art.digital.picnic is one example of locals coming together to share ideas. We need more of that...

If that would carry over to now it would be incredible.

WMZ