What happened to Phillyblog? A rival, Philadelphia Speaks and other online forums

Five years ago yesterday, Wil Reynolds was appointed executive director of the nonprofit that operated Phillyblog, the popular online discussion forum.

Wil Reynolds

But rather than celebrating a milestone at the helm of Philadelphia’s most popular web forum, Phillyblog.com was shut down rather suddenly in July, Reynolds trumpets a new forum, a third has risen from the ashes and questions surround everything, except, Reynolds says, the importance of an online hangout for like-minded Philadelphians.
“When you have a city of neighborhoods, it’s hard to find a site that covers this phenomenon,” says Reynolds, who founded design firm Northern Liberties Seer Interactive in 2002, the same year Phillyblog first appeared on the website. “We thought we would create this around a kind of interaction, instead of the one-to-many platform of a blog.”
The 2,000 members shared links, discussed news, gave their thoughts, and in their own way added to Philadelphia’s hyper-localized content landscape, but it all ended earlier this summer.

It was in November that Reynolds co-founded an alternative online discussion forum called Philadelphia Speaks, where Phillyblog traffic began to plummet. Whether that had anything to do with this rather sudden shutdown of Phillyblog.com, the city’s main online forum, is uncertain as Reynolds, who handled the day-to-day operations of the site, told Technically Philly he couldn’t talk about what had precipitated its closure.
Philadelphia has a sort of obsession with the decidedly Web 1.0 online forum model. Phillyblog was shut down and replaced, just in time for a third to appear.
Over the weekend, NewPhillyBlog.com was started by at least one disgruntled former Phillyblog user. The owner or owners of this site did not respond to Technically Philly’s repeated call for comment, although a 30-year-old with the username “Gamerx” claimed to have started the site. The NewPhillyBlog domain is registered with “GXEmpire”, an online identifier used on a variety of social networking sites, including MySpace by a South Jersey native and 2003 graduate of the Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Reynolds confirmed that he had no connection with the third forum.
New Phillyblog is too young for third-party metrics to be measured, but, according to Compete.com, even despite Phillyblog’s plummeting traffic, it still far outpaces its newer Speak incarnation.

A host of Phillyblog users have migrated to Speaks, which could also see membership gains from the controversial closure of Domelights, a discussion forum focused on Philadelphia police officers.
In 2004, Reynolds got her role as director of Phillyblog, replacing marketing manager Jennifer Kronstain, who co-founded the site. -30-

Harry L. Blanchard