The site seems different today because it is different. Not only have we entirely redesigned the way this site looks, we've changed the way it operates. Yesterday, you were a reader and a commenter. Today you can be a writer, an arbiter, an editor, and a publisher. You'll still read, but now you can also contribute.
With the full launch of Kinja 1.0, which you've known only as the 0.4 commenting platform, we've opened up Jalopnik to all of you.
Our philosophy has always been to demolish the walls that separate the conventional wisdom from the truth, the reader from the writer, and the powerful from the curious. Today we have the platform to match that philosophy. As of this moment you now have all the tools we have.
Gawker wanted this on Jalopnik first because of the strong community. Much of what's printed on these pages is plucked from the comments on our stories, the emails to our tips line, and the posts on our active subforum.
Here's how it works.
1. The Redesign
Websites, like cars, suffer from model bloat. We changed over to a new visual motif in late 2010, but everything was still built on a much older platform. It's all been thrown out and we've created a newer, simpler, and cleaner system with a design to match.
"Simplify and add lightness." It works for websites, too.
You'll notice we've nixed the two-rail system and returned to a free-flowing, endlessly scrolling blog. We've retained the "big picture" concept from the previous iteration that allows us to highlight our best work, but we've responded to your input and made everything easier to navigate.
There are a few great new tools, including the ability to "heart" stories and comments, as well as "follow" or "block" anyone in the system, including the Jalopnik staff. We've also added image annotation, which will allow you to comment directly on the photos at the top of a post.
The comments will look familiar to those of you who have been here since the launch of Kinja commenting last year, we've just opened it up and made it a little easier to navigate.
Everything here has been Beta-tested by readers and users over the past few months, but we're still rolling out improvements so if something seems odd please drop us a comment or open a ticket with our help desk. We also have a general FAQ and a more detailed explanation from the head of tech.
2. Your Personal Kinja Blog
When you login for the first time you'll notice you'll be invited to setup your personal Kinja blog. This is similar to what your personal page used to be with a few important changes. First, you'll notice it's hosted on whateveryouchoose.kinja.com (you can see me at matthardigree.kinja.com).
This is the hub at the center of our wheel.
Your personal Kinja blog will automatically record all the comments you make but if you've got no real desire to do anything but reply to the occasional article, you can stop here. If you've always wanted to do more keep reading.
You'll also notice your Kinja blog has the ability to compose. This is so you can use your page like an actual blog, creating original content to be shared, commented on, and viewed by others in the community.
Have you always wanted a blog in our network? You can do that, too.
Want to create a blog about Fox Body Fords? Go nuts. Want to create a site devoted to Starfox Cosplay? You're strange, but go ahead and do a barrel roll!.
All blogs are created equal. Your blog will look similar to our flagship sites and will have all the same tools, including image annotation. Any user in the Kinja universe can follow you. Tag something "Starfox" and it'll show up on the kinja.com/tag/starfox tag page so other people can find it.
If you want, you'll also be able to republish articles from our site (and eventually all Gawker sites) and we'll be able to do the same. If we do republish something you created you'll get the byline, the credit, and it'll be clear where it came from.
When we look for the next generation of writers for our site, and other sites, we'll be looking at who does well in Kinja.
There once was a time when we added an #oppositelock sub-forum to this site. There was much rejoicing in the land as you suddenly were given the power to post what you wanted to post about. You love it. We love it. It's not going away.
We're just moving the Oppositelock forum to its own blog, with everyone's favorite Oppnauts at the helm. We're also leaving open the #oppositelock tag at kinja.com/tag/oppositelock, which is where all stories you publish with that tag will go.
4. We Don't Know What Next Week Will Look Like
By opening up our universe to you we're giving up a lot of our ability to control the future. What will next week look like? I don't know. There will probably be a lot of posts about cars. There will be hoons du jour. There will probably be a lot more than that.
It's exciting and, maybe, a little terrifying. But mostly exciting.
To paraphrase Valve co-founder Gabe Newell: Giving control of the network to its users is the only logical choice. Open markets are what thrive in the digital age and so we're opening our market up to you.
Let's see what happens...