Tales From the Crypt

Posted June 21, 2012 at 12:01am

Are you new to Capitol Hill and trying to get your footing? Are you a veteran ready to pass along some of your hard-earned wisdom? Or do you just need to know what to do with the latest copy of Hustler magazine that Larry Flynt sent to your office and you’re too embarrassed to ask?

Well, the Internet is providing you a new forum where you can ask all your stupid and not-so-stupid questions: CapitolCrypt.com.

The Capitol Crypt is an invitation-only website for staffers, lobbyists and/or Hill enthusiasts to engage in some good old-fashioned bipartisan civil discourse and information sharing. It’s the type of forum that the site’s co-founder, Dan Grimm, says has been woefully lacking in Washington during the past couple of years.

The invite-only site began beta-testing several months ago with just a small group of about 50 users.

Last week, however, the Crypt decided to give this core group the go-ahead to start inviting their friends and contacts from around the Capitol.

Users can be anonymous. The more questions users ask and the more they answer, the more points they earn. Get enough points, you get an “expert” title.

Grimm says there is already a wide breadth of experience on the Crypt.

Still, this nascent online forum seems to be lacking in other kinds of diversity. This might prove to be a challenge to address because, by design, the site will only grow as fast the current users invite new users.

The Crypt will be battling for relevancy among a group of long-established and trusted information-sharing forums such as listservs, professional networks and social groups.

“I could see how it could be a useful tool for Hill staffers to bounce ideas off each other,” one HOH Crypt-tester said. “But, it could also turn douchey real quick.”

The site’s main challenge will be making sure it can mirror the diverse institution it is seeking to serve.