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Welcome to Dale & Co

8 Jul 2011 at 21:51

Welcome to Dale & Co. When I stopped my old blog, Iain Dale’s Diary, I did it for several reasons, not least that I didn’t have time to update the site four or five times a day. But I already had it in mind to transform my blog into more of a group effort. Initially, I thought I’d get eight or ten friends to co-operate in a group blog, but as you will see from the Contributors page, it’s become rather bigger than that, and I now have more than 90 co-writers, some well known, some not. What they all have in common is that they have something to say and they are great writers. Many of them will be familiar to you as established, or lapsed bloggers. I had to laugh when I read a slightly quizzical article on the FT Westminster blog asking why anyone would want to read a site written by 60 contributors. Er, probably for the same reason that people read newspapers written by 60 journalists. Honestly.

This site will have no editorial slant. I’ll continue to give my views in the same way that I did before, but they will be balanced by the likes of Tom Harris, Jeremy Corbyn and Hazel Blears. Content wise, you’ll see from the header that we will be travelling far and wide, from world politics to sport, from policy to theatre reviews.

The Guardian, in their continuing quest to get things wrong, have written this site up as the UK’s answer to the Huffington Post. Well, it’s not. Seeing as the Huffington Post are launching here in the UK in a few days time it will be obvious to anyone that the two sites are very different in content, if not structure.

I gave my web designer the remit of producing an easy to use, easy to navigate site with a crisp, clean design. I think he has achieved that and more. We’re using Soho fonts, which are unusual, but give the typography a distinctive clarity and are very easy on the eye. We hope you like the design – it’s meant to be for ease of use on mobile device or iPad. I’m delighted with it. Especially since it works well on my Blackberry!

We have a dedicated server for this site, but any new server is by definition untested. We don’t know what the levels of traffic will be, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have chosen wisely.

Just a word on comments. Part of my reasons for stopping blogging in December was the disgusting nature of some of the comments. The comments system on this site will be fairly rigorous. Everyone must register on the site using a real email address. You can use a pseudonym to comment but we will retain your email address on file. Once you have registered and had two comments manually approved, you will be free to comment unmoderated. If you transgress the basic rules of politeness once, you will be issued with a yellow card. If you do it again, you’ll be banned with no further explanation. There will be a system (not yet active) whereby readers can report a comment they feel should be deleted.

I have no lofty ambitions for this site beyond providing a platform for some great writers with some interesting views. I hope it will get some traction and attract a lot of readers. I’m deliberately keeping it relatively free of advertising for the moment until I know there is a real demand for what we are providing. If it works, great, if it doesn’t get the audience my previous blog did, then so be it.

The site is very much in Beta mode at the moment so if there’s the odd glitsch, bear with us. Lots of bells and whistles will be dded in the coming days and weeks. We’ll be bringing back the Daley Dozen, but it will be constantly updated through the day. All posts will be tweetable and synced with your Facebook account. We’ll have a twitter feed from all our contributors, and there will be a very smart gizmo on the front page enabling you to access the posts of the last twenty people who have written articles for the site. If you have any suggestions for new features, do let me know.

I keep being asked by journalists whether contributors to the site are being paid. Clearly as this is a personal initiative and not allied to a business, that is not the case, as I made clear from the beginning. However, I do want to make one thing apparent. If the site takes off and I commercialise it – a big if – I won’t do an Arianna Huffington on my writers! I intend to come up with an arrangement whereby if the site is ever sold, everyone who has contributed will benefit from the sale – ie receive money. As I say, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on lawyers drafting this until I am confident that we have built something which can really be commercialised. In the initial phase I am bearing all the costs myself (setup, hosting, Grant’s time etc) and I will always own at least 51% of the site, but I feel it is important that I make it clear from the beginning that I won’t shaft you our contributors in an Arriana-esque way. For those who don’t know, she sold the Huffington Post to Aol for $315 million and didn’t give her contributors a cent. Nice, eh?

If you have comments on the site and how you’d like to see it improved, feel free to let us know via the Contact page. Grant Tucker will be in charge of the site on a day to day basis and you can email him grant AT iaindale DOT com.

Above all, I hope you enjoy the journey we’re about to embark on. And if you don’t, I’m sure you will let me know!

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