Bittersweet End: GovTwit directory turns three, but forced to shut down

The short story: GovTwit.com is dead and I’m looking for ideas on how to get it back up and running.

The slightly longer version: I recently sat on a panel hosted by Market Connections, which was releasing their third annual report around the use of social media in government (you can download the overview here), and was excited to see their latest research showed use of the GovTwit directory grew from 5% to 30% between 2010 and 2011, keeping on pace with efforts from other organizations that are much larger than my one-man-band.

I was also excited that GovTwit had recently surpassed 4,500 IDs (+300 in past three months) and was fast approaching its third birthday, having first launched on November 20, 2008. For the world’s largest government social media directory, things were running steady.

Then I learned last week that Floxee, the software and service that powers the directory, was being shuttered by its owner. Floxee was hot when it made its debut in 2009, allowing me to take GovTwit from a static listing to a service that included live tweetstreams, profile pages, follow buttons, directory stats, pics, videos and more.

Over the past year, I was hoping for a way to grow the directory beyond Twitter, to include other social media site IDs, and refresh the platform. The ability to better allow crowdsourcing of directory entries was top of the list. But Floxee wasn’t in active development, and as a personal hobby site, I didn’t have the financial resource or expertise to fund or build a new back-end for GovTwit that allow the new features I wanted to add.

With the death of Floxee, however, the GovTwit directory will no longer be available online, as of tonight (I will redirect the site to this blog). My hope is to make this just a temporary situation, and I’m open to any ideas anyone may have for how to move forward to bring the resource back online and potentially build something even better. If you have an idea on a service, a platform, or a way forward, I’m more than happy to listen. While just a “hobbyist site,” I’ve put a lot of time and effort into growing the directory over the last three years and don’t want to see it wither away.

Feel free to add a comment or lead at the GovTwit blog, send me a tweet @GovTwit or ping me via email at [email protected].

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