TBD Colorado: Don't do it!
In the coming weeks you will hear details about a privately funded and non-partisan process of civic engagement called "TBD Colorado."
Really, we tried to come up with a catchy name but TBD truly captures the intended outcome — it's to be determined.
Like the Colorado Blueprint, TBD Colorado will focus on listening and not imposing top-down, government-driven solutions. Coloradans will be invited to share their vision and priorities for our state. In the sense that entrepreneurs try to find solutions to the needs and challenges of society, TBD Colorado will seek to tap that same spirit that exists, in part, in all of us in Colorado.
—Text of Col. Gov. John Hickenlooper's State of the State speech, which he'll deliver tonight.
Gov. Hickenlooper: Please rethink this decision. If not for your sake, for the sake of the people who work for TBD Colorado . They're the ones who will spend half of each day having the following phone conversation: "TDD?" No, TBD. "TBB?" No, TBD. "TBD? What does that stand for?"
What indeed. When this website launched in August 2010, there was enough press attention focused on our operations — aggregation! Zip Code localization! — that the moniker, explained in this eerily similar blog post from April 2010, stayed off most media reporters' list of questions. The Washington Post's Paul Farhi called it "odd" but quickly added "let's move on."
Every former TBD reporter I called says moving on was easier said than done.
"I just remember having to repeat it over and over again for people," says Dave Jamieson, who worked at TBD as a transportation reporter and now reports on workplace issues for the Huffington Post.
"Once you're tied to an entity named TBD," he says, "you start to realize how many people don't have an idea what that refers to. Once you do explain that, they'll ask you what needs to be determined. And by that time you are very far from the topic you need to be discussing."
"It was kind of like a 'Who's on First' thing sometimes," says Maura Judkis, who covered theater here and now works at the Washington Post. "People would say, 'When you know who you're writing the story for, let me know.'"
"I think it being a new venture affected me more than the name itself, but that’s probably true for anyone reporting for a new outlet," says Elahe Izadi, who reported on Montgomery County here and now reports on the District for WAMU's DCentric blog. "To be honest, the main challenge I ran into with the name was having to explain and spell out the letters over the phone – 'TBD as in To Be Determined.' But I’m used to that. I spell out letters in my name like that: 'I, Z as in Zebra,' etc."
"In almost every interview I conducted, I had to explain that yes, the name TBD was the name of our site, and no, it was not a joke," says Sarah Larimer, who covered crime here and is now an editor at Grantland. "Even after that spiel, I think a lot of people were still skeptical."
"I wish Erik [Wemple, TBD's editor at launch] had named the site The Washington Poste," Larimer says. "That would have made my life so much easier."
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