Newsweek.com’s Topics is a great idea, not executed

With its recent re-design (which I like), Newsweek.com cloned one of the lesser known, but truly incredible, parts of the New York Times website: an encyclopedia-like organization of its archives — including in most cases, an introductory overview — called “Topics,” that can be found at the easy-to-remember URL, http://topics.nytimes.com. Newsweek calls its clone Newsweekopedia but uses the Times-like URL: http://topics.newsweek.com.

That’s where all similarities end.

Newsweek broke cardinal rule #1 of building an encyclopedic resource — or anything that is “-opedia” -ish — they didn’t seed it properly. In fact, they barely seeded it at all. Compare, for example, the letter “H” on http://topics.nytimes.com to the letter “H” on http://topics.newsweek.com. The image below doesn’t do justice to the 1,000+ entries on the NYTimes site, but since Newsweekopedia has only one entry, I think you get the point.

Newsweek also broke cardinal rule #1 of anything you do on the web: Don’t claim to be something that is drop-dead simple to disprove, like, say, that you have an “unmatched knowledge resource.”

My geek friends have a word for something like this: FAIL. (But please, keep trying.)