You can follow developments with the project on its blog or Twitter account. But we thought it was time for an update from the man himself:
What changes are being made that will affect the user?
[Sholin] It’s an absolute re-imagining of the network. The first time out, I built it to be quite Twitter-esque in the hopes that journalists would use it like Twitter, asking questions of their followers and sharing ideas about stories they were working on. That didn’t happen organically, or if it was going to, it was going to take years.
So, with the help of a professional development and design team, we’ve rebuilt the site from the ground up, framed around the act of asking and answering questions. There’s no 140-character limit, but what you will find are lots of basic features that make sense in this sort of social network. You can ‘watch’ users, beats, or a particular question, viewing everything in an activity feed that brings you the latest questions and answers from the journalists, topics, and particular issues you’re interested in. [See Sholin's demo of the service as it stood on June 17 below]
Why was it necessary to make these changes?
Although the first version of ReportingOn was a great proof of concept, a fun experiment, and a solid first iteration of the network, doing all the development myself didn’t produce a feature-complete, extensible codebase that I could open-source and let the community build on. I wanted to take the next step to develop a backchannel for beat reporters that could be used as is, or reproduced as a question & answer tool for any purpose, especially by a news organization.
Has this involved significant amounts of back-end work/technological change?
Most definitely. The site has been completely rebuilt. It’s still built on the Django platform, but rather than me teaching myself this style of programming in the middle of the night and at the crack of dawn to demonstrate what one curious journalist might be capable of, it was built by the professional team at Lion Burger, who are also responsible for tools like Snipt.net and recently built afeedapart.com for the popular ‘An Event Apart’ series of Web design conferences in the US.