Wikia Acquires ValueWiki

February 9, 2010

Zach and I are pleased to announce that ValueWiki will be joining the Wikia family. The new URL is

View the Press Release from Wikia

Wikia is upgrading ValueWiki to a more stable platform with WYSIWYG editing, better user interface, and access to a broader user base. The day to day operation of the site is continuing unchanged. ValueWiki will maintain its free license and community control of the site, while staying true to its mission and core values.

Zach and I are very excited for the added value Wikia is bringing to ValueWiki and look forward to the site’s continued growth under Wikia’s stewardship. Thank you all for an exciting four years.


Zach and Jonathan


Update: I’m Alive

May 9, 2007

This morning the AP is reporting the fire is 40% contained. Metroblogging LA has good ongoing coverage.

Here is a photo my friend took last night when we were watching from the LA river. It’s difficult to shoot at night and get the full effect. Suffice it to say the flames were 60 – 100 feet and spread down the hillside in about 15 minutes.


For those of you who missed it in my post at 1:30am last night, here is video another friend took of one of the hundreds of fire tornadoes. This is from our vantage point on the LA River.

As I type this, I still hear the water helicopters and firetrucks, but people seem more confident today. I was worried about losing power like nothern Los Feliz, but so far so good.

My Neighborhood is Burning

May 8, 2007

This is just my opinion, but people need to stop setting Los Angeles on fire. My neighborhood is burning down again. They’re evacuating Los Feliz. Everything is barackaded up to three blocks north of my house. I feel safe for now because the evacuees are being kept in the highschool on my street.

I blogged about the fire in my neighborhood last month, as well as the drug bust the month before. So this should be another typical day in Los Angeles. But I’ve never watched a mile long wall of fire sweep down a hillside.

Some friends and I got some Del Taco and some beers and walked to the Los Feliz overpass. I regret not having my camera, but found these on flickr. Each photo is linked to that user’s flickr page for attribution. Here is the view from the overpass.


Apparently the fire was set by a homeless man who fell asleep while smoking. Deer and Coyotes have been spotted fleeing the park.


We watched, transfixed, as flames shot 60 – 100 feet in the air. The air is hot and smoky, and my eyes are still burning from the heat and ash. Raging tornadoes form in the heat, shooting columns of fire, smoke, and cinders hundreds of feet in the air – it’s one of the most incredible things I’ve seen in my life.

The tornadoes shoot up one after another and spin around the hillsides, a hundred feet in diameter and just swallowing everything in a whirling inferno. The embers seem to spin at hundreds of miles per hour. The crowd gasps in wonder like it’s the Fourth of July firework display. We sit along the cement ground of the Los Angeles river sharing beers and cellphone cameras. Strangers feel comfortable talking with one another. I meet my friends and neighbors, people from college, and get text messages from all over the city. I feel a part of Los Angeles.


The police shut down Los Feliz boulevard to use as a fireroad. They are organized and efficient, and Los Angelinos pump their fists in support as the firetrucks thunder past. 75 fire companies have responded so far – we saw trucks from as far away as Monrovia. The helicopters fill their water tanks in Silverlake reservoir, then thunder over my house to make dangerous water dumps into the massive wall of flames.

Squadrons of police cars – 30 at a time – more than I’ve ever seen at one time, sweep through the streets shutting off traffic. They order everyone off the streets. Los Feliz Boulevard is a 6 lane thoroughfare that connects with the 5 Freeway, but tonight it is a fire road for the hundreds of firetrucks. And hopefully a fire wall to protect greater Los Feliz. The LAFD is trying to save the Griffith Park Observatory which just completed years of restoration. Those guys are going to have a tough night.


One of my roommates packed her belongings and left to go stay with her mother. The flames are a good half-mile away and I’m going to wait it out.

Update 1:30am My roommate took this video of one of the fire-tornadoes and placed it on a friend’s website. They were launching every minute or so. She also took this video of the inferno from Los Feliz boulevard. Mayor Villaraigosa is stationed on my street, so I’m assuming things are safe. Boing Boing (a directory of wonderful things) reported looting, but I think things seem orderly. The LA Times Blog has good coverage.

Cellphone Eulogy

May 1, 2007

My alarm clock is my cellphone. I’ve become fairly adept and hitting snooze without opening my eyes. But this morning this strategy backfired…

I somehow managed to start my day by fumbling my cellphone into the glass of water on my nightstand.

I desperately tried to resuscitate it with a hairdryer. It was like a scene from ER, with me blowing air into the cellphone and shouting, “I’m not giving up on you!”

I performed emergency surgery, completely dismantling the phone (which always helps) and blow drying the individual pieces. But to no avail.

It was my cellphone’s time to go. So long, little RAZR. Do not go gentle into that good night.

Update: Blogging is Time Consuming

April 30, 2007

Business Week has the scoop; the number of active blogs in English is decreasing. David Sifry, whose Technorati reports can make it sound like the internet’s 70 million blogs will continue expanding ad infinitum, was called into question by Heather Green at Business Week.

Sifry’s numbers on the actual number of active English language blogs (at least one posting in the past three months) reveal there are really only 15.5 million active blogs worldwide.

Total English Language Blogs in Decline

In May 2006, 36% of all blogs tracked were active, and as of March 2007, that number has fallen to 21%.

In a further sign of decline, the number of daily English language posts has fallen to 495,000 in March from 507,000 in October.

Why Are Blogs in Decline?

ValleyWag offers some speculation on why blogging is levelling off. Namely, after the initial gold rush, people are realizing that successful blogging is time consuming and requires hard work!

The blogosphere is filled with experts touting how-to’s on Part Time Blogging, Full Time Income. I chafe a bit when I come across these as I think they are a bit deceptive and may lead people to blog for the wrong reasons.

Zach and I have never monetized the ValueWiki blog, but I can hardly imagine what our eCPM would need to be to justify the mind-numbing hours it takes to research and format a post like Top 100 Finance Blogs or Top 50 Web 2.0 Blogs. I’m not convinced that ad income is a good rationale for anyone to begin blogging. It could very well be that blogging simply because you enjoy it is the only sustainable motivation.

Blogging is a Time Suck

I think I went into blogging with some misconceptions about the time requirement. Tracking my traffic and feedreaders, I suspect I need at least 10 posts a week to retain my readership, and at least 15 posts a week to grow my readership. This really stretches the definition of “part time.” It’s not that I’m a slow writer so much as a slow reader…staying current on the blogosphere requires a lot of daily reading.

I also notice that most of the “A List” Bloggers came early to the race. Developing a loyal readership was arguably easier in 2005 than it is in 2007. I imagine it will be increasingly difficult for new bloggers to penetrate into the ranks of the A-List. The increased competition for eyeballs may be a part of the reason why new blogs are declining.

Rowing Upstream

Growing blog traffic and technorati rank is like rowing a boat upstream; if you’re not going forward you’re going backwards. If I go a lazy week without posting anything noteworthy, my technorati rank slides quickly since the rest of the blogosphere is continuing to build their link cache. For those like me who make the mistake of occasionally following their stats and rankings, it is a never-ending arms race!

I’m not surprised to view these charts of the blogosphere plateauxing. Like other internet booms, we may be entering a period of “consolidation.”

I would be curious to see numbers on average time bloggers spend blogging. If anyone has these numbers, or would like to provide their own, please drop a note in the comments.

8:31pm…done blogging today…

Where in the World is Jonathan Stokes?

April 19, 2007

I am going to be out of town again, tomorrow! So this week will not go down as my most prolific week of blogging. I am under the work tidal wave. Hope to swim to the surface soon.

In the meantime, look at Jimmy Wales’ travel schedule. I want his job! Netherlands, India, China, Switzerland, Australia, South Africa…

Back from San Francisco…

April 16, 2007

…And I am now digging my way out from a pile of work.

To all the people who I owe emails to, please do not form a lynch mob.

By the way, San Francisco was awesome.