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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.
Topix supports itself with a variety of types of geographically targeted advertising, most of which are paid, though its single-city business ads remain free. Its classified ads were initially offered for free.
Topix began as a network of aggregated local news sites generated by algorithms, but allowed users to post messages and comments in late 2005. In 2007, Topix reinvented itself as a network of community-edited blogs alongside automated local news aggregation. User content has become a major part of the site, with more than 110 million comments posted since its launch.
Topix has faced several legal challenges to its anonymous comments, with one judge forcing it to give up information about anonymous commenters accused of making libelous statements and two attorneys general criticizing it for charging users for priority review of inappropriate comments.
In 2010, Topix added a Twitter feature that gives local news to users based on their location.
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…