Archive for March, 2009

Whats next for News Mixer

Mar 11 2009 Published by Ryan under Projects

News Mixer

The initial release of News Mixer was the result of eleven weeks of intensive research and development by graduate students at Northwestern University’s Medill school of journalism and sponsorship from the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The goal of the first release was to demonstrate different ways of thinking about how foster communities and conversations around news articles on the web, and not to build a real news website or software to power a real news website.

Version 1.0 of News Mixer is a standalone application built on Python and Django. It is meant as a technology demo. For those who liked the ideas and wanted the software, News Mixer is a great commenting system, but it lacks depth. There was very little time put into anything but the commenting. The content management component is minimal. There is no support for posting media. There was a lot of thought but little dev time put into comment moderation, either for site owners or visitors. It’s what happens when you only have 11 weeks to go from “you can do whatever you want” to working software + report + polished presentation.

Despite the minimalism of News Mixer 1.0, it was a hit. People were impressed and inspired by it. So for a tech demo it was a success. Now to make it usable …


Yes, there will be a WordPress plugin.

The next release of News Mixer will be a more useful application built to actually be used by folks. The plan is to build an API on top of News Mixer and build a plug-in to make the features available for WordPress. In addition to an API, we’re going to give News Mixer the ability to handle commenting for multiple sites.

Why not just put all the commenting features into a standalone WordPress plug in?

So the wheel re-invention is kept to a minimum. So we can plug the features into other applications without writing everything from scratch. So folks can manage the comments for many sites in one place. And so maybe it will grow up to be its own web service someday.

There is a big list of things that our team came up with that could make News Mixer better: more commenting systems, rating systems, moderation. But right now we need to make it accessible for people to use.


Keep tabs on us at the News Mixer Google Code Project.


This project has been dead for a while. Sorry for the disappointment.

Andy Dickinson built a plugin for WordPress called Feedback by Paragraph that accomplishes much of the paragraph commenting that was implemented in News Mixer.

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