How to launch a new court reporting community website that does not suck

Here's a burning question I am sure that has kept you up at night... How do I  launch a new court reporting community website that does not suck? There are a million reasons to not try new things in life.  Here's a partial list of some of the biggies:

  • It will be hard
  • I'm afraid
  • I hate change
  • It might be uncomfortable
  • I'm afraid it might not succeed
  • I'm afraid it might succeed
  • A unicorn might eat me

Of all the reasons listed above, I can relate to each one.  Some more than others, yes. :)
I have used them all at various times to avoid trying something...  Here's a partial list of some of the things I have avoided trying:

  • Asking that girl out (at first)
  • Asking for a raise
  • Mushrooms
  • Joining a sports team
  • Holding public office
  • Looking for unicorns

Maybe my life has seriously been depleted of all promise since I've avoided those things.  I said, maybe.  Because truth be told, I have forged ahead on many things that have initially been scary or weird:

  • Being in a band
  • Starting court reporting school
  • Becoming a CSR
  • Getting my own clients
  • Starting a court reporting agency
  • Having kids, changing poopy diapers

And now, I am proud to add the following feat to my list of previously-unattempted-due-to-fear-of-failure tasks:

Start a social media website for court reporters called

Ah, yes, that was indeed a long lead in merely to announce  But, thanks for bearing with me as I describe what exactly it is that I have done.

Oh, No!  What Have I Done? is a website that is specfically for court reporters, depositions reporters, and students.  It is designed to function as a Q & A site but with the added versatility of being able to vote on the best answers.  Plus there is a social networking component to it.  You can invite friends, you can tell Facebook that you Recommmend It, you can subscribe to it, you can follow it on Twitter, you can take it with you on long walks,  blah blah blah.

Aren't There A Million Such Sites as  Why Another One?
There are seemingly a million (at least) websites out there, for sure.  Not many of them are dedicated strictly to our fine reporting profession.  The few that are, are doing a fine job.  For example, I like,, and formerly (RIP).  I chime in to Depoman now and again.  It's a neat forum.  However, is not a forum in the Web 1.0 sense.  Meaning, what makes so different is that it is not designed for discussion.  Yes, discussion of topics will take place.  You can comment and chirp away all you want.  But the end goal is to share information on a One-Question-to-One-Answer basis. 

Here is what I mean: you'll notice that in most forums, someone will post something along the lines of:

  • Help with this please...
  • What the hay...
  • Does anyone else feel this way?...
  • Whatcha talkin' 'bout Willis?...

And then a bunch of folks will chime in with their takes on exactly what Willis is indeed talking about.  (Please let me know since I'm still at a loss.)  While there may be some useful interchange going on -- and specifically on the sites I mentioned above, there is -- but the threads meander.  They swerve and dodge to where they were never intended.  They take twists and turns.  So in effect were you to start a post entitled, Do you have a brief for curmudgeon? You would get a few correct answers, yes, but only if you sift through page after page of interesting yet irrelevant anecdotes like:

  • I once knew this old lawyer who used that word so many times that my head fell off...
  • I have never heard of that word, what does it mean?
  • I once knew a unicorn with a curmudgeonly grin...

Nice stories but what the poster really wanted to know was if someone had a great brief for curmudgeon.  That's it.  No offense to the yarn spinners.  But it's true. The poster asked a question and wants an answer.  (The best or most correct one possible.) is specifically designed -- via the ability to vote on the best answer -- to make sure that the best answers are at the top.  So at the end of the day, the question is followed by the answer.  No hunting and digging looking for the golden nugget answer.  No wasted time.  No unnecessary (yet fascinating) unicorn diatribe. is not a great place to post questions that cannot be answered, in an objective sense.  The site is best used for marrying together a very specific question with the most correct and best answer possible.  It's the holy matrimony of Q + A.  Not Q + Opinion + Opinion + Rant + Opinion + Unicorn.

Here is an example of some great questions that have already been asked and answered:

Here are some that are not as great, due to their subjective nature:

So, I'm trying something new here.  I have launched this thing in the hopes that it accomplishes the following goals:

  • I hope it grows to 30,000 members
  • I hope to have 100,000 questions with at least two answers each
  • I hope it becomes a trusted resource for court reporters to find answers
  • I hope it helps the court reporting community share information
  • I hope it doesn't suck

Will you help me by joining and interacting with the Q & A community that is already developing over there?  If you have insanely made it through this entire blog post, then you must care about the court reporting community.  A whole boat load!  And thus, you probably know a thing a two that would be helpful to share with others.

Check out!






Friday, May 14, 2010

Todd Olivas

Todd Olivas is a court reporter and entrepreneur.
He founded TO&A in 2003.

  Comment by Todd Olivas | Monday, July 28, 2014
Update... I closed earlier this year due to many software and server nightmares. The community grew pretty well at first but I was not able to focus a lot of energy on it to keep it growing. I want to thank all the people who did contribute their Qs and As. I still have all that content in a database and will be posting it randomnly on this blog. On to bigger and better things.

Leave a Comment

Your Name (Required)

Your Email (Required but will not be posted)

Please enter the following letters into the box:
(This is to help fight against spam. The letters are NOT case sensitive.)