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Backfence was a network of user-driven hyperlocal news sites that launched in 2005 and closed in 2007.
Backfence was founded in 2005 by Mark Potts and Susan DeFife with five staff members and two community sites in the Washington, D.C., area. It raised $3 million in local and national investment and eventually expanded to 13 sites near Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco.
Backfence averaged about one full-time staff member per site, though its content came from users, who could blog, edit wikis or post photos there. The company was supported by self-service display and classified advertising. The site was considered at the time one of the bellwethers of the “citizen journalism” movement.
Topix is a network of aggregated local news and community forums. Topix was launched in 2004 in Palo Alto, Calif., by the founders of the Open Directory Project. Three newspaper companies — Gannett, Knight-Ridder, and the Tribune Co. — each bought a quarter of the company in 2005. The site claims about 125 million page…