Ch Ch Ch Changes Coming to TiLaV

Just as the seasons go round and round, we are riding on the carousel of life.   Less than two weeks ago we celebrated the fourth anniversary of This is LaVergne.  This site was started with the intention of sharing information about the city, talking with neighbors, observing our government, and building community.   It’s my belief that we’ve been successful in establishing dialogue with many, ruffling feathers of others, and generating discussion among residents.

However, my hope was we could eventually expand the site to take the role of an online magazine for the city that would feature restaurant reviews, business announcements, city government news, events, and the ability for residents to also write posts, ask questions, and share their own reviews and opinions about places to go, things to do, books, movies, schools, and more. (Whew, that was a looong sentence!)   The bottom line is we need a vehicle for mass media communication in the absence of a newspaper specific to our town – something not limited by my resources and technical skills.

I mentioned in a separate post at the end of January that the HobNob folks were considering setting up shop in LaVergne and in Smyrna.  Following many conversations, I have been invited to become an administrator of http://www.HobNobLaVergne.com, to provide content like the posts written here at This is LaVergne.  In the end, we are merging This is LaVergne with HobNobLaVergne.

What will change?

In just a few days when you go to http://www.thisislavergne.com, you will be taken to http://www.hobnoblavergne.com.

The site, of course, will have a different design (see HobNobMurfreesboro).

YOU as a reader will have the ability to directly upload photos and videos.

YOU will be able to add events.  For example, if your church is holding an Easter Egg Hunt it can be put on the calendar. Car shows in the parking lot of a local burger place?  Find it here.  Story hour at the library? Ding! Here again!

YOU can submit your own stories for the site, in your own words. Have a gripe? Let it rip.  Want to brag about someone or something fantastic?  HobNob it.

There will be the ability for local businesses to advertise their products and services.  All businesses can sign up for the directory free of charge, but more extensive advertising will also be available.  You won’t see me as the only real estate agent hanging around anymore.  You’ll also find auto supply stores (because they’re hard to find in LaVergne), insurance agents, pharmacies, restaurants, apartments, doctors, computer repairs, towing companies, accountants, and more.   If you own or manage a business, if you’re an independent contractor (Avon? PartyLite? Pampered Chef?), or if you have a franchise you’d like to market you can contact me or the big boys at HobNob.  We can set you up.

It’ll take awhile to figure out the ins and outs of the new HobNob site.  Be patient, ask questions, explore.  I think you’ll like it.

What will not change?

Content… I’ll still be there to write news and updates.  The other writers on the site are all being invited to also continue writing.  Our stories may be filed under schools, family, pets, entertainment, restaurants, business, and more but we’ll be there talking about it all.

The more readers participate on the site, the bigger and better it will be.  We’ve proven through This is LaVergne that we are residents who speak up, participate, have opinions.  And it will take our very vocal participation to get this new venture going strong.  There are going to be HobNobs across the country, across the state, and even in our sister cities.   In the spirit of friendly competition and with all due respect, I want LaVergne’s to grow faster, bigger, better!

It’s been a long, fun four years my friends but the time has now come to grow, expand, and become what I’ve always hoped we could be… a genuine community portal allowing for full participation by everyone.

And maybe I’ll try to spell LaVergne correctly now and again (what with that space between La and Vergne).   Then again the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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20 Responses

  1. Thanks Kathy for sharing with everyone the BIG NEWS we have been working on. As you know, John Iaccheri and I are finalizing the date and time for La Vergne’s 1st Town Hall Meeting to formally introduce HOBNOB La VERGNE to the entire community!

  2. This is great news for LaVergne, a town hall meeting sounds interesting, what topics and who would be invited, community and city officials?

    • Yes, that is correct. Everyone will be invited (business owners, La Vergne residents, school leaders, non-profit organizations, local bloggers, city workers / officials, etc..) The Town Hall Meeting will be led by myself with special guest – Mr. John Iaccheri. The only topic of discussion will be introducing what I believe will be the beginning of La Vergne’s new era of prosperity — HOB NOB La VERGNE! An online information vehicle which has the ability to produce the following results:

      *CREATING NEW JOBS
      *ALLOWING AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LA VERGNE BUSINESSES TO ADVERTISE THEIR BUSINESS
      *PROVIDES AN ATTRACTIVE OUTLET TO UPCOMING RETAIL BUSINESS TO LOCATE TO LA VERGNE
      *OPPRTUNITY TO BOOST THE LA VERGNE ECONOMY
      * …AND MUCH, MUCH MORE

      I’m very pleased with the current responses received and truly hope many more will be able to come out and see the presentation.

      *Note: There has been speculation that I may need to hold a 2nd Town Hall Meeting shortly after due to increased participation. I am prepared and willing to ensure a successful launch while delivering results the people can be proud of and want to be connected with. I will be honest in my leadership efforts and will provide a platform to communicate ongoing updates and progress reports as they occur once this online information source is launched.

      The next decade for La Vergne will be critical and will require a special type of leader. My hope is that I am given a chance to be found trusted not by what I say, nor by the position I hold, but what I do and the results that follow. Are you ready? I am. Let’s do it together — one goal at a time.

      Good night, everyone. Sleep well and be safe. We’ll be talking soon…

      Mike Slinker

  3. I’m rather disappointed by one part of this change; I already have too many password-required memberships on the Web. The open web nature of This Is LaVergne made it easy to use.

  4. I am a huge fan of this blog, and enjoy reading all the content. I DO NOT want to read ads, even if they are local. I use this site as information about events and discussions, not what I want to buy in La Vergne.
    I am confused who pushed for this decision, and have a feeling it wasn’t Kathy who thought of this idea first.
    I believe it would be better to have a link on the side under “Friends of La Vergne” for ads that we can choose to view, not shoved down our throats. I’m also having trouble finding the last post Mr. Slinker has left other than this post…unless Mike goes by LC.
    If this is only to boost peoples business and provide another advertising base, other than the La Vergne and Rutherford Co. television channels, browser ads, Tennessean ads, and all the other outlets provided…then I think this is a terrible decision. Especially if someone wants to add this to their political belt. Everything, as Mike has pointed out, boils down to the bottom dollar, and how much money people can get.
    Leave this blog alone, and pay for your advertising like everyone else does.
    Someone needs to be honest about this decision, instead of using smoke and mirrors.

  5. I’m just now looking over this and have looked at the Murfreesboro website. At first glance I don’t like it. The Murfreesboro sight is cluttered with information, I cannot figure out what’s what. The simple nature of TILV as it stands is what makes this blog attractive.

    I too understand the desire to expand what is offered here, as has been tried many times (The forum link, the guy who setup the La Vergne yellow pages site, et al…). But I think there’s a difference between improving and replacing. I know that blogs have in many cases been replaced by twitter and facebook, but I think that’s moreso for indivuduals than businesses/organizations. There are still many blogs out there, they simply integrate with facebook and twitter, and I think that is the better route to follow.

    I’m not writing this off because we haven’t seen everything, but I am not at all impressed with Hob Nob Murfreesboro. I also think we need to see the substantial difference in dynamics from La Vergne to Murfreesboro. We have fewer residents, fewer businesses, and encompass a smaller area. Some might say we are a bunch of Smyrna wannabees!

    I’m not completely dismissing this idea, but I think it’s a shame to eliminate this blog 100% in favor of Hob Nob Murfreesboro

    (BTW, who came up with that name anyway? Will Andrew Carnegie and John Rockafeller be leaving Murfreesboro to come join us in La Vergne?)”

  6. I agree with Michael. The Murfreesboro site is cluttered and difficult. Why are we changing this site to something different.

    *CREATING NEW JOBS
    *ALLOWING AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LA VERGNE BUSINESSES TO ADVERTISE THEIR BUSINESS
    *PROVIDES AN ATTRACTIVE OUTLET TO UPCOMING RETAIL BUSINESS TO LOCATE TO LA VERGNE
    *OPPRTUNITY TO BOOST THE LA VERGNE ECONOMY
    * …AND MUCH, MUCH MORE

    I don’t see these reasons reflected in the Murfreesboro site.

    I guess that explains my decisions at the polls.

    Besides, Michael, you’re on here ALOT more than Mr. Slinker. Maybe you should be a writer on this blog, haha.

    This site is not about fueling politics or agendas. This site’s purpose is to help our community grow stronger together through discussion… not advertisement.

    Poor decision on this one guys.

  7. I am taking everyone’s comments into serious consideration at this point. I think it really could be a great combination of Hob Nob and This is LaVergne, but am also concerned about some other feedback I’ve received outside this site, specifically related to fueling politics and agendas. If my concerns are being echoed here, it’s a pretty strong message.

    BTW, I do think Michael in LV *should* run for alderman. One of my concerns is actually that I would be unable to endorse specific candidates for office … or more importantly NOT endorse.

    My poor colleagues at Hob Nob may get tired of all my questions soon. Sigh.

  8. I have found a blog I read from along time ago. Unfortunately it seems to have been forgotten. UPDATE FROM MIKE SLINKER is a blog we should re-read again.
    It would explain alot about Mr. Slinkers “point of view” and why he is pushing this change.

    Another notch on the belt for the next Mayor’s race?

    It also explains why my view is Anti-Slinker anything.
    Sorry Mike, can’t win them all.

  9. Kathy, you have earned alot of respect with me because of the work you do on this site. I am not picking on mike, seriously. I just see things that do not help La Vergne when I see this change. I would love to talk to you sometime about my feelings and opinions on this matter.

    — With respect —

  10. Hey everyone,

    My name is John Iaccheri, owner and operator of HobNobMurfreesboro.com. We’ve had much success with our HobNob site in Murfreesboro and were looking to expand into the Smyrna and La Vergne areas. After an initial meeting with Mike Slinker at the La Vergne rotary meeting, he introduced myself to Kathy Tyson of ThisisLavergne.com. Kathy and I both agreed that one comprehensive site would be much more beneficial to the community rather than two competing sites for the same town.

    The site is meant to be community driven. Meaning that people in La Vergne can go submit their own pictures, videos, articles, etc for the rest of the town to see. We can set up the site to where anyone can post whatever they’d like without logging into the site, but then all content will be heavily moderated OR we can set it up to where you have to log in to the site to post anything which will give us the ability to track who is posting what. This is to prevent posting of inappropriate material.

    Kathy and I are addressing all the questions and concerns that have been brought up. If politicians wish to use the site as a forum to the community to run for office, then so be it. However, we will give ample opportunity to all candidates who are running, not exclusively to one or two. By the same token, site administrators such as Kathy or myself, or any other content providers, will not have their hands tied if they wish to endorse a candidate for office. HobNob itself cannot endorse any specific candidate now or in the future.

    Being that running these sites does cost money, we have to generate revenue somehow. The advertising on the site is meant to be non-intrusive, but still visible. There is a certain point where you can’t help but advertise, for example when you provide a restaurant review. Whether it be a good or bad review, it’s still advertising for that restaurant.

    Kathy and I are interested in hearing all your responses, so please keep them coming. The transition will be a learning curve for everyone, but we are open to adjustments that will accommodate all.

    Thank you all for your responses. We appreciate everyone’s involvement. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have further questions or concerns.

    John Iaccheri
    615-542-4521
    john@hobnoblocal.com

  11. Hi, I’m David.

    I run the TILav Forum.

    As you can see, it’s stagnant. Not because I want it to be, but because people like the format of the TiLav blog. They don’t need to maintain passwords, shuffle through posts or login. They’re not cluttered by advertising, and the “Beef”, if you will, is right in your face, right on the front page.

    I, too, like the TiLavergne format; even more than my little forum experiment (mainly because my little forum experiment has gone nowhere – but I leave it up anyway).

    Unfortunately, as previously echoed by many others here, the layout of the HobNob Mufreesboro website – aside from having a rather stupid name (just my opinion); isn’t intuitive. I closed the window inside 30 seconds of paying a visit. The beef isn’t on the front page, you have to click through it.

    This is common in the web industry that depends upon advertising; you spread your content out over several pages so that you maximize the number of advertisements you show to an individual. Clicking through, however, is cumbersome and unattractive. HobNob Murfreesboro makes me feel more like I’m visiting a news feed website, not a Blog.

    I think the history of the forum that I have up should and likely will be a clear indicator of how well accepted HobNob will be in the community. Perhaps if you force us to change we’ll have no other choice – but if it comes down to it there stands to be a good chance that another TILav blog will pop up, somewhere.

    Then, aside from everything else, there’s one major inherent problem to a community website driven by a corporation: The allegiance of the website lies with the revenue – and thus the advertisers. If someone posts a review or a comment about a local company of any sort that’s accurate and less than glowing; assuming that advertiser has an agreement with the website, you can expect the company driving the website to censor or pull the review in an effort to maintain those advertising dollars.

    Any Company in the world that dabbles in third party advertising in this sort of arena is going to deny this till hell freezes over, but I can promise you that without a doubt it will happen. IT will happen because corporations primary interest is the bottom line.

    This, my friend, is why a community website featuring commentary from local citizens both positive and negative, is best run by the COMMUNITY – from top to bottom — without the meddling of a corporation and related interests.

    • Aside from my personal feelings with Mr. Slinker driving for this choice, I agree with you David, and am glad you put this into perspective. This is a blog by the people for the people. I feel this should never change. I believe that HobNob approached Kathy because they are afraid of how successful her site is, and wants to “accept” their competition. I’m still confused on one matter. It seems strange that a website would go through someone else other than Kathy to present this idea. Couldn’t someone be able to contact Kathy directly? Seems strange to me.
      I also think that no one should advertise on a community site for political purpose. We are not here to argue politics, just focus on the needs of the community in an open forum.
      If an elected official wants to blog, that’s their right, but not push their campaign.
      Lets keep Kathy’s great work like it always has been, clean, clear, and to the point.

  12. David, I think you eloquently stated what many (including myself) have been thinking.

    Your comment on advertisers specifically makes me think of an insurance forum I used to participate on (I work in insurance for those of you who don’t know). One day the forum added a primary sponsor that is a competitor of ours. We read the nice intro post saying this advertiser would have no affect on content posted by users, and yet suddenly I found many of my comments being “moderated.” As John stated.

    If it’s not an open, anonymous forum like this then I see no chance of success. I’m not writing it off right now, but am not excited about this change.

    I don’t think the concept of keeping TILV and Hob Nob as seperate sites is competiting. If hob nob can’t stand on it’s own, then why drag TILV down with it?

    John, I don’t understand the comments regarding costs involved. I understand there’s the cost of purchasing a domain name ($10-$20/yr), and hosting for a basic website ($10/mnth), but heck for that cost I’d be willing to sponsor the site, 1 ad, and be done with it and no changes!

    I am as much a capitalist as anyone and certainly don’t begrudge someone making money where possible, but I just don’t see this user environment being successful in the hob nob realm.

  13. Always good to see you post Michael. Keep “hitting the nail on the head”

  14. Michael,
    Congrats on the new addition joining your household. Ronnie and I have the empty nest syndome. Enjoy the little ones while you can!!!!

  15. Great comments David & Michael.

    What I really dislike about the Hob Nob Murfreesboro site, is that it really looks like a canned website. It actually reminds me of some of the pages you see if you type a website address incorrectly or go to a website where the registration has expired. My knee jerk reaction is to close the window and move on.

    Upon closer inspection, I’m guessing that roughly half of the content on the site is canned, and the rest is actually relevant to Murfreesboro. Good luck finding anything out about Murfreesboro. The whole concept of “Local Favorites” is a good indicator of this problem.

    It’s like an attempt to merge Yahoo with local information, which they already created with Yahoo local. Personally, I don’t think Yahoo local has much relevant information to offer, particularly for a city like La Vergne. I think it’s still better than Hob Nob.

    If I want general news & information, I’ll search online. If I want a listing of restaurants, I’ll use Yahoo or Bing or Google map search. If I want truely local information – the real La Vergne scoop, I read TiLaV.

  16. Hi, it’s David again. I just want to keep this thread in the sunlight if I can.

    I’ve been over to hobnoblocal.com and paid particular attention to the Privacy section, as well as the contents under Advertising at the bottom of the page.

    HobNob isn’t some fantastic thing that’s going to make the city better with business and traffic and whatnot; it’s trying to stamp out websites where people socialize in order to monopolize viewership.

    The entire business model is centered around advertising. The puppethead for HobNob spoke above about advertising for the website being a necessary evil to keep it alive – but if you do careful research into how they’ve deployed their services, they’re using one central server to host all of the HobNob.com websites at theplanet.com’s hosting services, who’s most expensive plan is about $700/mo.

    The profit potential here is very easy to see. $700/mo is very easy to squeeze out of a dozen advertisers; and when you can aggregate all of your websites back to a single server hosted under one account by one provider, you can rake in a ton of cash.

    Taken from HobNobLocal.com:
    “30% of all online searches are “local” in nature. A Local search is defined as someone searching the internet for a source, resource or service provided in their community.

    HobNobLocal was created in response to that particular need. Our community portals are geo-targeted to specific zip codes and IP addresses. In addition, our advertisers’ campaigns are built with techniques specifically tailored to expose their product, business or service to their audience-specific market. We make sure that your business is found!”

    By their own words, they’re not here to serve the community as an outlet for it’s people to communicate, the primary focus is on directing advertising.

    That’s not to say that TilLav doesn’t have advertising, there’s some on the left page, and a little on the right; but it’s down the page. not in your face. Go check out hobnobnashville.com and enjoy the two advertisements on the top of the page, right in your face, before you get to ANY content; and then the one on the right side when you scroll down.

    I’m not against capitalism, or a corporation making money; but I’m against a corporation making money under the guise of doing us a favor and making things better; that’s not what’s happening here.

    TilLav is community driven and non-profit, and that’s the way it should remain.

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