A better EveryBlock digest (and more)

Jul312012

Today we’re excited to reveal some big changes to the way we deliver your news.

As a news service, EveryBlock is out of the ordinary in that we deliver every single piece of news to you, every day, via email. Your daily news email is an aggregation of everything that was posted to the places you follow over the previous day (or week). We’ve heard from lots of you that you treat this email like you treat a daily newspaper — reading it over breakfast, taking a few minutes to get informed about your neighborhood before starting your day. We love this.

But there’s one big difference between a physical newspaper, or even a website, and email. It’s easy to flip around in a newspaper, or click around on a website. In an email, it’s much more difficult. Far and away, you read your email linearly. This becomes a problem when emails start to get long, or filled with information you don’t care about.

Today we’re introducing 3 new features to help make those daily emails easier to read and more relevant to you:

1. Focus on the day’s news

A large amount of user activity means a long email the next day. We love all the activity on EveryBlock, but we hate the idea that it’s making your email burdensomely long. With the new email design, we’ve consolidated the neighbor message and neighbor events sections to be dramatically more readable.

We’ve also altered which comments you see. It used to be that you saw three arbitrary comments posted in the places you follow. In the new digests, we only show you one comment per thread, and only from threads you to which you’re subscribed. This is a big change, but our hope here is that by focusing on the newest news, you’ll find these emails much more digestible, and you’ll want to read the whole thing, instead of skimming a lot of noise for the few good bits within.

Meanwhile, we’re aware some of you want to read a lot more comments. For you, we suggest that you subscribe to the threads that interest you, so you get emails alerting you to comments, as they’re posted.

(Note: Originally this section said we truncated neighbor messages and events at 5 per digest. We’ve since removed this limit, and I updated this post to reflect that.)

2. Top Nearby News

We’re also introducing a new feature — to both the site and digests — that highlights interesting topics just outside the places you follow. Before today, your EveryBlock homepage and digest would often include news beyond your areas of interest, but not in any meaningful way. For those of you in busy neighborhoods, this resulted in a lot of noise. We’ve fixed things up so that your feeds are now more focused on the places you’ve specified — but we’re also including the best threads that you would otherwise not see.

In the digests, these are collected in a section at the bottom. On your homepage and in the app, you’ll see them interspersed with your other news.

3. Keep track of ongoing conversations

At the top of every digest, you’ll now see a list of conversations that have been commented on in the last day, along with the most-thanked of those comments. We know that some of you prefer to turn off emails announcing new comments — so this is an easy way to keep tabs on your subscriptions without relying on those alerts.

A cleaner look

In addition to these features, we’ve redesigned the emails from the ground up. They are cleaner and easier to read. For instance, in the old emails, each item was given the same weight. The new format gives greater weight to one headline in each section. Different types of news are laid out differently, so you can more easily scan for the news that’s important to you.

Finally, we’re making one more small but expansive email change on our site: we’re removing the hyphen. We follow AP styles here on EveryBlock, and up until recently, the AP spelled it “e-mail.” They’ve removed it, so it’s time we do too. :-)

We hope you find these changes helpful. We’re always looking to hear from you, so please let us know by emailing feedback@everyblock.com or posting a comment below.

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