WellCommons grows to 120K+ page views, receives award -- thanks to all of you!

It takes a community to grow a site like WellCommons. We're 15 months old now, and we're really starting to take off. In the last 30 days, according to Google Analytics, the site's seen more than 120,000 page views, with 35,000 unique visitors. And that means, on average, every day, more than a thousand people who are interested in health are checking out one or more of the posts on the site -- Karrey Britt's posts, Dave Johnson's posts, Marilyn Hull's posts, Megan Stuke's posts....everyone in our community who posts or makes a comment. There's no doubt that more stories and information from more people means that more people come to the site. And, compared to other similar community sites, we're on a trajectory of solid growth.

When we started WellCommons, we hoped for two things:

  • that the site would become the go-to place for local health news for our community;
  • and that members of our community involved and interested in health would consider the site theirs, and want to post their news and information, thoughts and essays to the site.

It's happening! Groups, which are the core of any community and its ability to address its challenges, are also the backbone of WellCommons. People have started more than 130 groups, which more than 2,000 people have joined. We wanted at least half of the posts every day to come from the community, and on two or three days a week, they do.

A while ago, when we were gathering information to submit WellCommons for an award, we asked a few people if they thought WellCommons was useful to the community. Here are some responses:

Marilyn Hull, LiveWell Lawrence facilitator

One solution Wellcommons provides is that it puts us in the driver’s seat. I used to send news releases to the paper, and they seldom resulted in stories. Now, we don’t have editors deciding what is newsworthy. We get to post our news, and then our community can decide if it is worth reading.

Wellcommons is the only place I need to go to see the health news of the day in my community and beyond.   It has put me in contact with others in the community who share my passion. Just the other day, a nutritionist from a major local grocery store messaged me through Wellcommons. We set up a meeting, and she volunteered to help with one of our projects.

Sean Cailteux, D.C., The Chiropractic Experience 

WellCommons has:

Increased awareness of the Biggest Winner fitness class that I teach every morning. I have even had 2 people sign up because they saw my Wellcommons post.

Discussions on various health topics that are well-"policed" (for lack of a better term). The discussions occur in an accountable environment, so they operate in a friendly manner, with the material usually well supported.

I am able to stay up on other community events that I would otherwise have to search for at various websites/event pages. It's very handy having it all in one place.

Linda Cottin, Cottin's Hardware & Rental (site of a weekly farmer's market)

I have seen a noted increase in local food awareness and local food consumption.  I have seen numerous people becoming involved, shopping at farmers markets and attending local food related events because of what they have seen or read on WellCommons.

Lisa Horn, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department spokesperson

WellCommons continues to bring to the forefront a number of issues surrounding health that people in our community may not realize. Each day, health topics are in the news. It makes perfect sense to have a central website devoted to health and especially, local health issues. The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has benefited from WellCommons  by connecting with our community partners and residents. Through the site, our agency also has been able to bring awareness to upcoming events such as our drive-through flu shot clinic and current issues such as teen birth rates and emergency preparedness.

Ali Edwards, Heartland Community Health Center spokesperson

Only months ago, HCHC was quite unknown to the health community (and the Lawrence community in general). Because of Wellcommons, we were able to "reintroduce" ourselves to the health community quite easily. I have no doubt that Wellcommons has strengthened our relationships and partnerships with other health organizations in town. Wellcommons is an amazing tool to get the word out about different events HCHC is hosting (Free Pap Day, Diabetes Screening Day, 100 push-up challenge), and I believe that Wellcommons, along with the LJWorld, has been responsible for most of the response we received from the community.

As a result of this input, and our track record over the last 15 months, the Associated Press Managing Editors awarded WellCommons the Innovator of the Month award. It wasn't Innovator of the Year, as we'd hoped, but our managing editor, Dennis Anderson, who's on the APME board, says it's like getting second place. And that's something to crow about, considering our competitors are thousands of news organizations across the U.S., many of them a LOT larger and with more resources than the World Company.

We've also been getting some other national attention. Nieman Reports asked for an account of WellCommons' development, which I provided. That essay was published this month. And Streetfight, a national site that focuses on this country's explosion of community sites, did a Q-and-A.

Besides my heartfelt thanks to you for embracing WellCommons as a place to feature the many health activities in this community, I'd also like to thank our health reporter Karrey Britt for her unflagging devotion, enthusiasm and quality reporting; assistant director of media strategies Jonathan Kealing for making sure everything works and for coming up with more good ideas on how to improve the site; and digital designers Ben Turner and Ben Spaulding for continuing to improve how the site looks and functions. Other staff members deeply involved in WellCommons' development -- digital developers Christian Metts, Eric Holscher and James Bennett -- have moved on, but are with us in spirit. Charlie Leifer, also instrumental in the site's formation, has moved to our commercial software division, where he's been working on commercializing the site so that other communities can also use it.

We're not resting on our laurels. Among the praise from our community came a list of things we need to fix or add. We know that we still have a lot of work to do to make WellCommons more useful. In the Fall, we hope to be finishing up our resources section. Your continuous feedback to the site has us making small changes as often as we can, given our limited resources. We still want to add a goals application, topic pages, a section to showcase all the health data that's available from local, state and federal sources, and a better calendaring system. We want to work closer with our local businesses who support WellCommons to show how to best use the site to get their information to people who are looking for it. Some of you have requested more hands-on training sessions on how best to use WellCommons. We'll set those up.

Those of you who've been waiting to jump in, please do! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to message us through the site, email us, or scroll down to the bottom of any page on WellCommons and leave a message, even if it's just to say "Hi!".

Tagged: WellCommons

Comments

fastwalker 5 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years, 9 months ago

This is an amazing column and feature series, and I am very excited about it. But I anticipate I will be taken off of the list because I haven't used my name as well. It's amazing that this series, which in my opinion is unmatched in the United States--except for a wonderful column in the San Francisco paper--gets rid of its readers, especially those who like it very much.

Incredible!

What it really is is incredibly stupid! I like this feature much in the Journal World, but my comments are removed.

There should be a general discussion about this. Goodby!

jestevens 5 years, 9 months ago

Hi, kansasplains1:

Thanks for your kind words. Anyone can read WellCommons. To participate, however, and leave comments or make posts, you'll need to use your real name, like Facebook or the new Google+. The community has had the discussion, and asked for real names to be used, which is why we require them. The community wants to know who's in the discussion, and believes that it makes for a more civil discourse.

You can always participate with your real name on WellCommons and keep your anonymity on LJWorld by getting another email address (free with gmail or hotmail), and signing on to WellCommons with it.

We value your participation.

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 9 months ago

kansasplains1:

As one of the more vocal members of the community Jane is referring to, I can share my reason for encouraging the use of real names.

To promote a healthy civic culture, I think we all need to be accountable for what we say. Imagine a town hall meeting in which most people are wearing brown bags over their heads to obscure their identities. These bag-people are saying all sorts of things, some helpful, some true but unnecessarily mean-spirited, some distorted, some patently false. Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn't it? But that's what we have on ljworld.com. It's a public forum in which there is no individual accountability.

I know a lot of smart, caring people in Lawrence who would make very good public officials, but would never consider those jobs because anonymous commenters will say many things about them that they would never say to their faces. We all lose as a result.

Marilyn Hull 5 years, 9 months ago

Congrats, Jane and Karrey and all those behind the scenes. This is a great community service..

Commenting has been disabled for this item.