Same as the old Gawker. Sort of. As you can see, a few things are different around here this morning. But let's start with what's not changing.
Gawker has adopted a number of different personalities over the course of its 10 (ish?) year history, from sneering New York media outsider to sneering New York media insider to sneering enfant terrible to sneering group lifecasting blog to sneering national news site. But at its core, it has always been committed to stripping back the veneer and assailing shibboleth. We have the advantage of independence, and an institutional aversion to cozy relationships with our peers, and when we're at our best we deploy both to say things that others are unable or unwilling to say. Hamilton Nolan, our longest-serving staffer, is a far better writer than me (or you), so I'll let him say it:
The thing I like most about Gawker is that we are able to dispense with all of the politesse bullshit that surrounds so much establishment journalism and just speak the truth (as we see it, at least). We’re not required to hem and haw and couch what we want to say in euphemisms. If something is bullshit, we can say “this is bullshit."
I think that this is ultimately Gawker’s most important role in the media. Amid all the funny things and time-wasting things and ridiculous things we publish, we tell the truth, in far more direct way than readers can find in most other places. And I sincerely believe this is noble, even if we sometimes surround it in a bunch of cat videos. One of the old proposed but not adopted slogans for the site was, “Honesty is our only virtue.” I like that.
Consider that slogan adopted. We will continue to publish ridiculous, time-wasting things because we are ridiculous people who like to waste time, ours and yours. But we will continue to try to puncture egos and butcher sacred cows and jump on radioactive stories without regard to consequences, careers, or the intricate ethical straitjackets so many in our profession impress themselves with. We won't always be right, but we will always be honest.
Speaking of sacred cows: Today, we relaunch Valleywag, our site dedicated to mocking the stupidity, incompetence, and avarice of Silicon Valley and the gargantuan grift known as the "tech sector." The young and furious Sam Biddle, late of Gizmodo, will run the site. Gawker's newest writer Nitasha Tiku, who starts today and was formerly the editor of the New York Observer's tech coverage, will lend her expertise to that project as well when circumstances warrant. Sam has written a manifesto of sorts here, but suffice it to say: A reckoning is coming, and we intend to be a part of it.
Which brings us to Kinja. Our commitment to honesty is enforced in part by you, and your ability to savage and correct and amplify and redirect us with your comments. Working in an environment of constant heckling, often from people who know more than we do about the topics at hand, tends to cultivate a self-defensive, pre-emptive transparency. The revamped commenting system debuting today will refine and sharpen that heckling, and make it more likely, we hope, that informed sources and subjects will bring their voices to bear on our stories, unmediated and of their own volition. It banishes untrusted or new sources to the outer reaches in a "pending queue," while privileging and highlighting threads started by readers that have been found useful in the past. What determines the sort of comment that gets privileged, and hence read? We tend to like it when people read our stories to the end, and then write something approximating an argument. Dumb jokes and contentless insults will be found in "pending."
But wait there's more. In Kinja, any registered user of the site is given their own page—yourcleverusername.kinja.com—from which you can expound on all manner of topics great and small with precisely the same tools we have here. You simply log in, click on the little pencil icon, and type your little heart out. With the click of a button, you can republish posts from us, and we from you (with byline and credit, of course), in a grand frictionless content circle-jerk. Your Kinja blog will also show the comments you've made on Gawker and other Gawker Media sites.
The system also encourages you to "star" posts and "follow" their writers, and makes sharing posts to Twitter and Facebook, etc. much more easy and intuitive. And it permits you, and us, to annotate images by associating comments with specific spots on a photograph. That's one reason that we've decided to start a photo blog, which we'll introduce shortly, as a way to bring beautiful and provocative images to the site.
There will probably be some glitches as we continue to roll this out. When you encounter them, you should contact our help desk here. And while you're at it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how much you hate everything. And here's a handy FAQ that ought to explain everything if you get lost.
There has been a lot of hype, both internally and externally, about what Kinja will accomplish and won't. Will it kill Tumblr? Will it fulfill our owner's longstanding dream of building a "dark Facebook?" Who knows. It's a free thing you can use to say dumb stuff. Go for it.