Topix (website)

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Topix was an American Internet media company. Topix LLC, the controlling company, had its headquarters in Palo Alto, California.[1]

Topix LLC
Type of site
Founded2004; 18 years ago (2004)
Key people

Topix began as a news aggregator[2] which categorizes news stories by topic and geography. In the last few years, Topix changed its focus from aggregation and curation, to content creation. Topix removed the human sexuality topic, which was one of its most popular topics, from its forums on June 26, 2016. The Topix local news and forums were shut down on December 20, 2018.[3] Topix launched new entertainment-focused slideshow and quiz-based sites named Stars and Offbeat in 2015, and has continued to launch additional new sites since. Topix was in the top 100 largest US-based websites according to Quantcast.[4]

In 2019, Publishers Clearing House acquired Topix and its website was redirected to[5]


It was co-founded in 2004 by Bryn Dole, Rich Skrenta, Bob Truel, Tom Markson, Mike Markson and Chris Tolles, many of whom founded the Open Directory Project. In March 2005, the Knight Ridder (later taken over by The McClatchy Company), Tribune Company and Gannett media companies purchased a 75% share of the company.[6] On April 1, 2007, it acquired the domain name and invited volunteers to edit the topics of their choice, on top of over 100 journalists and editors from various newspapers already signed up. Sometime in 2012 they took that volunteer edit option away without any communication to the thousands of volunteers.[7]

Topix went on to create a community news editing platform, and popular forum system, allowing users to comment on news articles and the goings on of local communities.[8] Topix also created forums, organized by locality as well as by subject matter, which allow visitors to post comments whether or not they are relevant to a particular news story.

The founders of Topix initially wanted it to be a news aggregator, with specific pages for every community in the United States. As Topix matured, most of its growth occurred in small cities and towns in the United States. The people who commented in the Topix forums wanted to focus the discussions on more traditional small community gossip.[9] Topix's main user base consists of posters from cities and towns in the United States. Chris Tolles, the chief executive of Topix LLC since June 2007, said that Topix is very popular in "the feud states".[10]


Topix has the following category-specific sites:

  • Stars (Celebrity and Entertainment)
  • Offbeat (Pop Culture and Humor)
  • Wellnest (Health and Wellness)
  • Sideline (Sports)
  • Blackbeat (Black Entertainment)
  • Parenthood (Parenting)
  • Pawsome (Pets)
  • Estrellas (Spanish Language Entertainment)
  • Rewind (History)
  • Tempo (Music)
  • Passport (Travel)


Management Team at Topix[11]

  • Chris Tolles - Co-founder and CEO
  • Steve Rubinstein - COO
  • Mike Sawka - CTO and VP Engineering


A. G. Sulzberger of The New York Times wrote that "The same Web sites created as places for candid talk about local news and politics are also hubs of unsubstantiated gossip, stirring widespread resentment in communities where ties run deep, memories run long and anonymity is something of a novel concept".[10] He added that "Whereas online negativity seems to dissipate naturally in a large city, it often grates like steel wool in a small town where insults are not easily forgotten".[10] Various local governments censured the Topix forums. Many lawsuits resulted from content posted on Topix.[10]

On February 3, 2009, Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a lawsuit against anonymous posters on According to their petition, over 1,700 defamatory statements were made about them by anonymous posters, resulting in 2,568 allegations of defamation and libel. Although Topix was not a party to the lawsuit, it was forced to reveal the IP addresses of the posters.[12][13] The jury awarded the Leshers $13.8 million dollars against several Topix posters but the court later overturned the award.[13][14]

Initially Topix charged money to people who requested that Topix expedite the removal of negative posts. After thirty state attorneys general protested, Topix stopped charging. Jack Conway, the Kentucky Attorney General, said the charging scheme "smacked of having to pay a fee to get your good name back".[9]

On March 20, 2012, online gossip was the subject of a story called "Innocent Man's Life Destroyed by Anonymous Topix Poster" on Good Morning America. Topix CEO Chris Tolles was interviewed for the piece.[15]


  1. ^ "About Topix." Topix.
  2. ^ "Seo is Dead". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04."
  3. ^ "Topix forums bids the internet farewell, shuts down website". WKYT News. Retrieved Jun 24, 2020.
  4. ^ "Quantcast"
  5. ^ "Publishers Clearing House Acquires Topix". Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  6. ^ "New Partners, Same Topix.Net". Blog. March 2005.
  7. ^ "Reinventing Topix: Topic . com(munity)". Blog. April 2007.
  8. ^ Lieberman, David (2007-04-01). " homes in on citizen journalists". USA Today.
  9. ^ a b Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 2. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d Sulzberger, A. G. "In Small Towns, Gossip Moves to the Web, and Turns Vicious." The New York Times. September 19, 2011. 1. Retrieved on September 20, 2011.
  11. ^ "Management Team".
  12. ^ "Lesher v. Topix". Digital Media Law Project. March 11, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Huessner, Ki Mae; Kim, Susanna (April 24, 2012). "'Anonymous' Posters to Pay $13 Million for Defamatory Comments". ABC News. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  14. ^ "MEMORANDUM OPINION" (PDF). Justia Law. Retrieved 5 February 2022. Mark Lesher and Rhonda Lesher v. Charlie Doescher, Pat Doescher, Apache Iron Metal & Auto Salvage, Inc. d/b/a Apache Truck & Van Parts, Gerald Coyel (aka Jerry Coyel) in his individual capacity and d/b/a Apache Truck & Van Parts, and Shannon Coyel Appeal from 348th District Court of Tarrant County (Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice Livingston)
  15. ^ "Innocent Man's Life Destroyed by Anonymous Topix Poster".