Heads up: At or around 11:00 a.m. today (Monday, March 2), we're re-merging the Gawker Newsfeed with the Gawker.com front page. The old Newsfeed URL will redirect to Gawker.com, and posts that were previously published or shared to Newsfeed will now be shared to the front page instead.
Update: Due to some unforeseen difficulties, we're leaving Newsfeed up for now while we work out kinks with the redirect. We won't be sharing anything to it, and with any luck the redirect should be complete in a day or so.
You will never see one of those "A reminder:" posts again.
Otherwise, the system will remain largely the same: We'll still be dividing up many of our posts section by section, and sharing the bulk of those posts to the front page, and we'll still be covering the same stories with the same mix of humor, fearlessness, self-righteousness, and juvenility.
So, if all you care about is the best way to get the most Gawker, you can go ahead and change (or re-change) (or not change, since the URL will redirect) your bookmarks and head back to Gawker.com. For explanation about why we're switching back, read on.
First, a reminder about why we introduced Newsfeed in the first place.
Gawker's CMS, Kinja, rigidly adheres to a chronologically ordered feed, with no real ability to feature or "pin" posts. This is fairly unique among publishers in our space. Buzzfeed, Vox, and Vice, to name three frenemies, all devote significant real estate, on desktop and mobile, to "featured" stories; of the three mystical axes of content organization—"latest," "popular," and "featured"—Kinja devotes space to only the first two.
This can make it difficult, in a direct comparison, for Gawker's front page to stand out. Newsfeed was an attempt to move the "latest" list to a sub-blog so the homepage could be devoted to "featured." Another way of thinking about it is that Gawker's front page would become the big top-story "splash" of the previous design, while Newsfeed would be the "latest stories" rail.
Ideally, this design would satisfy everyone: Obsessive readers, who could simply read the Newsfeed; regular but infrequent readers, who could load the front page to see the best of what we'd done in the period since they last visited; and drive-by social-traffic readers, who don't give a shit about our homepage since they came from Facebook.
This has worked to some extent. Newsfeed has seen a slow increase in adoption as a direct destination, but after six weeks is still only at around 40 percent of what our homepage traffic is. Overall traffic's held steady at a respectable 17.7ish million uniques for February, but we won't get a gold-and-white dress photo every month, and we were seeing frustrating dips in time spent on the site. We also were worried about SEO trouble, as the sub-blogs don't reflect as Gawker.com posts to Google, but that was a relatively obscure worry
The thing is, we could live with static traffic and slow adoption. But Newsfeed is also just kind of a pain.
We'd already largely solved the problem it was meant to combat—the overwhelming march of content pushing stuff down the page—by slowing ourselves down and focusing on things we cared about.
And the web-publishing truism that the "homepage is dead" is not quite as true as we thought it might be for Gawker. We still have a significant, loyal (and valuable) audience that visits the site daily or more, and while that audience will probably shrink some as people turn toward mobile and social networks for their bathroom and bored-at-the-office time, there's no reason to hasten that trend. If and when Facebook chokes all of us publishers out, it'll be nice to have some regular readers.
And, ultimately, Kinja just isn't designed for what we'd been using Newsfeed for. Without automated sharing or clear and frictionless navigation, it was very easy for writers to forget to share, and readers to get lost between blogs. And while the tech team, the wind beneath our wings, is hard at work on improving sharing and navigation, they're also working hard on a new product roadmap, and understandably don't want to waste resources on introducing features that they won't be able to support down the line.
(Also, the writers hated it!)