Over the last couple of years, online forum Topix has become increasingly focused on politics. Today at the Launch conference, the site took the next step in that direction — accompanied by a patriotic marching band, CEO Chris Tolles announced a new service called Politix.
There’s no shortage of political websites, but he says there’s “no place for your political profile online.” Sure, you might read a political article on The Huffington Post and even leave a comment, but there’s no centralized location for all that activity. And you might occasionally share those articles on your social network of choice, but “you don’t want to be that guy on Facebook” who’s constantly annoying his friends with political commentary.
With Politix, Tolles has hired a small editorial staff to curate a stream of news articles. You can comment on each article or share it with your friends (including those on Facebook and Twitter). There are issue-based polls such as, “Would same-sex marriage undermine traditional marriage?” And Tolles is recruiting academics, analysts, journalists, and others to create “verified profiles” — you can follow these big names and endorse statements than they make (which is easier than coming up with an insightful comment of your own). Then, when someone looks at your Politix profile, they see all of your activity.
Tolles says he also wanted to create a site that has a different tone than Topix (where commenters can be anonymous, and where the tone can get pretty toxic) — one that’s “less personal and more about the issues.” With this year’s election, there’s a lot more interest in national politics, and more political ad dollars that can be spent on a site like Politix.
The current version of Politix is designed for the mobile web. Tolles says he’ll be launching a desktop version soon, followed by a mobile app. The mobile-centric approach may seem like an odd fit for Topix’s core audience, which is largely suburban/exurban, but Tolles points out that iPhone usage isn’t exactly limited to big cities like San Francisco.
“When it comes down to it, we think that when people interact with media, they want to do it on mobile,” he says.