Blog, reborn: cVillain returns with new masters
Less than two months after its founder shut it down, two-year-old Charlottesville social gossip blog cVillain.com is back with new webmasters but the same mission.
"What built the concept was the active reporting, restaurant reviews, getting people excited about what's going on in Charlottesville today," says Ian Saul, 28, an IT consultant who, along with his business partner Jeff Parsons, took the site over from founder Kyle Redinger.
Saul says he'd long enjoyed reading cVillain and participating in some of the social events the site organized. But over time, he says, the online atmosphere strayed from its original purpose as comments grew more personal and off-topic.
"People in their mid-to late 30s found it to be kind of hipster-ish," he says, adding that he and 45-year-old Parsons "want it to be much more accessible to all age-ranges– to try to get better sense of overall community rather than the one specific hipster-esque ideology that it got tagged with."
Much of the site's future content, Saul hopes, will be the product of its readers-turned-reporters.
"We're picking up individuals to do reviews," he says, not just of restaurants but of concerts and other community events. "We're giving it back to people who are regular readers who want to take a swing at writing an article."
Such reader-produced posts created trouble for Cvillain last spring when photographer Matthew Rosenberg sued the site for copyright infringement after two posts about tiny local music and art venue The Garage were accompanied by a thumbnail version of a Rosenberg photo. Cvillain eventually settled with Rosenberg, but announced hours later that it was shutting down, with Redinger bemoaning the site's shift from "fun and innocent" to a "stressful endeavor which exposes us to unneeded issues."
To avoid such sticky situations in the future, Saul says he and Parsons are consulting with attorneys to hammer out guidelines for uploading content. He hopes tackling that on the front end will allow the site to run smoothly. And to help generate income, he and Parsons are hiring a VP of marketing to help find sponsors to pay for their time and overhead.
"I'm excited to see Ian and Jeff run the new cVillain," says Redinger, who says he looks forward to participating as a reader and not as the moderator. "They came to me with exactly the right qualities," he adds, "passion for the site, interest in expanding to a larger audience, technical knowledge and a plan to better involve the entire Charlottesville community."
For Saul, the site's future fortune will be measured in new readers and its ability to present news and reviews– not in dollars and cents.
"As long as it breaks even," Saul says, "we'll look at it as a success."