The Rapidian

Why we do what we do: categorization on The Rapidian

A little bit about the hows and whys of The Rapidian’s revised system of categorizing content,
An expanded view of the new culture menu hierarchy

An expanded view of the new culture menu hierarchy

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From the Rapidian staff

Each week, a Rapidian staffer will publish a piece related to goings-on at The Rapidian, developments in the world of citizen journalism and tips for making the most of the site. Click here for past editorials.

It’s been over two weeks since The Rapidian relaunched, high time we start talking about what we did and why we did it. This is the first part in a brief series of recaps detailing recent technical changes on The Rapidian, both behind the scenes and not. There are a lot of changes, so hold on to your hats.


One of the biggest things I've learned from helping to build The Rapidian is how important it is to stay nimble and user driven. This is especially true with setting up the category system of the site. 

When we first launched two years ago, we could not have predicted what type of content would come in to The Rapidian. We fell back on the traditional categories that you see with the majority of news outlets: news, local life (a.k.a. features) and opinion. 

Since then, we've had a chance to see how people submit content when they have the power to set the news agenda. And the thing is, nobody's going to deliver rants about how passionate they feel about local life or about news and opinions. They will, however, tell you what's news worthy about sports. The coolest things happening in the local economy. What you didn't know was going on at the city commission meetings.

The buckets we originally emphasized—news, local life, opinion—were limiting on an editorial level as well. It required that users submit a certain amount of each article type every day to make the front page reflect how flashy and fresh it really is. The bucket system just wasn’t reflecting the true volume and flow of content on The Rapidian.

And so, we've reorganized. All content on The Rapidian has always had two base layers of categorization: the article type and subjects—stuff like music, technology, history, etc. Together, these categories provide valuable context for the reader. For example, a news story about a boxing match is likely to have a different tone and feel from a profile about a boxer. Both relevant sports-page coverage, but ultimately different article types.

We have reorganized the main menu structure of the site, making it easier to get to articles by subject rather than type. We now emphasize the subjects under umbrella sections. We have divided most of the existing subjects into two main categories, "Metro" and "Culture," and added a few new ones. Check them out in the navigation at the top of the page.

By eliminating article type-specific bottlenecks we will be able to give more content their day in the sun on the front page.

Our main goal with this newest iteration of The Rapidian is to make it easier to connect with content on the site. We hope these changes will help you do just that.

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