Topix (website)

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Industry Internet
Founded 2002; 14 years ago (2002)
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
Headquarters Palo Alto, California, U.S.

Topix is an American internet news media company. Topix LLC, the controlling company, has its headquarters in Palo Alto, California.[1]

Topix began as a news aggregator[2] which categorizes news stories by topic and geography. In the last few years, Topix changed its focus from aggregation and curation, to content creation. Topix removed the human sexuality topic, which was one of its most popular topics, from its forums on June 26th, 2016. Topix launched new entertainment-focused slideshow based sites Stars and Offbeat and has continued to launch additional new sites since 2015. Topix is in the top 100 largest US based website according to Quantcast.[3]


"" as it was originally known, was created in 2004 by Bryn Dole, Rich Skrenta, Bob Truel, Tom Markson, Mike Markson and Chris Tolles, many of whom founded the Open Directory Project. In March 2005, the Knight Ridder (later taken over by The McClatchy Company), Tribune Company and Gannett media companies purchased a 75% share of the company.[4] On April 1, 2007, it acquired the domain name and invited volunteers to edit the topics of their choice, on top of over 100 journalists and editors from various newspapers already signed up. Sometime in 2012 they took that volunteer edit option away without any communication to the thousands of volunteers.[5]

Topix went on to create a community news editing platform, and popular forum system, allowing users to comment on news articles and the goings on of local communities.[6] Topix also created forums, organized by locality as well as by subject matter, which allow visitors to post comments whether or not they are relevant to a particular news story.

The founders of Topix initially wanted it to be a news aggregator, with specific pages for every community in the United States. As Topix matured, most of its growth occurred in small cities and towns in the United States. The people who commented in the Topix forums wanted to focus the discussions on more traditional small community gossip.[7] Topix's main user base consists of posters from cities and towns in the United States. Chris Tolles, the chief executive of Topix LLC since June 2007, said that Topix is very popular in "the feud states".[8]


In addition to the Topix Local content, the company has other category-specific sites which are subdomains of

  • Stars (Celebrity and Entertainment)
  • Offbeat (Pop Culture)
  • Wellnest (Health and Wellness)
  • Sideline (Sports)
  • Blackbeat (Black Entertainment)
  • Parenthood (Parenting)
  • Pawsome (Pets)
  • Estrellas (Spanish Language Entertainment)


Management Team at Topix[9]

  • Chris Tolles - Co-founder and CEO
  • Steve Rubinstein - COO
  • Mike Sawka - VP Engineering


A. G. Sulzberger of the New York Times wrote that "The same Web sites created as places for candid talk about local news and politics are also hubs of unsubstantiated gossip, stirring widespread resentment in communities where ties run deep, memories run long and anonymity is something of a novel concept".[8] He added that "Whereas online negativity seems to dissipate naturally in a large city, it often grates like steel wool in a small town where insults are not easily forgotten".[8] Various local governments censured the Topix forums. Many lawsuits resulted from content posted on Topix.[8] When Topix began removing all negative posts, people stopped posting on Topix, so the company stopped removing all negative posts.[7]

On February 3, 2009, Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a lawsuit against anonymous posters on According to their petition, over 1,700 defamatory statements were made about them by anonymous posters, resulting in 2,568 allegations of defamation and libel. Although Topix was not a party to the lawsuit, it was forced to reveal the IP addresses of the posters and the dangers of unmoderated anonymous posting on Topix were brought to light for the first time in the public eye.[citation needed]

Initially Topix charged money to people who requested that Topix take expedited removal of negative posts. After thirty state attorneys general protested, Topix stopped charging. Jack Conway, the Kentucky Attorney General, said the charging scheme "smacked of having to pay a fee to get your good name back".[7]

On March 20, 2012, online gossip was the subject of a story called "Innocent Man's Life Destroyed by Anonymous Topix Poster" on Good Morning America. Topix CEO Chris Tolles was interviewed for the piece.[10]


  1. ^ "About Topix." Topix. Retrieved on September 19, 2011.
  2. ^ "Seo is Dead"
  3. ^ "Quantcast"
  4. ^ "New Partners, Same Topix.Net". Blog. March 2005. 
  5. ^ "Reinventing Topix: Topix.Com(munity)". Blog. April 2007. 
  6. ^ Lieberman, David (2007-04-01). " homes in on citizen journalists". USA Today. 
  7. ^ a b c Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 2. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 1. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Management Team". 
  10. ^ "Innocent Man's Life Destroyed by Anonymous Topix Poster". 

External links[edit]

  • Official website
  • Nieman Journalism Lab. "Topix". Encyclo: an encyclopedia of the future of news. Retrieved 1 April 2012.