Platisher: A new media hybrid that combines elements of an open publishing platform—such as WordPress or TypePad—with characteristics of a traditional publisher such as the New York Times. A portmanteau of platform and publisher.
Platisher is the rare neologism that can be traced to a single creator on a specific date. The word was first used in “Rise of the Platishers,” a February 7, 2014, post for Re/Code by Jonathan Glick, CEO of the “subject-based social-media network” Sulia:
What should we call a publisher — like Gawker — that provides a tech platform on which anybody, not just its staff, can create content? What should we call a tech platform — like Medium* — that has a team of editors and pays some contributors to create content?
It’s something in between a publisher and a platform — something that weaves together the strengths of both.
Don’t laugh. Okay, you can laugh, but we still need a name. There’s something new going on right now. A new generation of media companies is experimenting with opening their content-management systems to outsiders. Tech platforms are realizing the benefits of combining algorithms with editors and experts. This is resulting in a new hybrid.
Hybrid phenomenon apparently requires hybrid name, at least if you’re working on deadline.
The response to Glick’s invention was quick and mostly merciless.
Gawker pointed with alarm to platisher in a “Word Terrorism” post published the same day as Glick’s “Rise of the Platishers”:
What do you call an online publisher that also wants people to create content (for free) using the publisher’s platform? As this situation applies to all websites with comments, you could probably call these publishers “website publishers.” But that's not stupid enough for the Tech Press, so today we were introduced to the make-believe word platisher, which is apparently a special kind of company that has its employees and contractors and freelancers post things to the Internet, and also lets random strangers post comments or whatever. Don’t just be a publisher! Be something that sounds much, much worse ... be a platisher!
Others piled on.
Matthew Ingram wrote on Gigaom that platisher “borders on the gag-inducing.”
Nieman Journalism Lab called platisher “the worst name in the history of names.”
And Twitter was equally snarky.
Is "platisher" yiddish for a plate of appetizers or small delicacies? h/t @nancyfranklin— Jason Pontin (@jason_pontin) March 15, 2014
— Poynter (@Poynter) February 22, 2014
The publisher + platform = the ‘platisher’. Possibly the worst invented word in the history of digital journalism http://t.co/ZFpGUGGLSu— Sarah Marshall (@SarahMarshall) February 19, 2014
Here’s an elegant variation:
In Xanadu did Kublai Khan a stately platisher decree— Jacob Harris (@harrisj) February 18, 2014
Before I immersed myself in the story, I came down on the side of Yiddish interpretation: “A Hasidic sect in Williamsburg that follows the teachings of the Platisher Rebbe (originally from Platish, Lithuania).”
Or perhaps simply: Gesundheit!
If platisher sticks, it will beat the odds for neologisms. “Most newly coined words fail,” observes language maven Allan Metcalf in Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success (2002). (One exception is “OK,” which was coined in 1839 and is the subject of Metcalf’s second book.) For a new word to succeed, Metcalf suggests, it has to meet the FUDGE test: Frequency of use, Unobtrusiveness, Diversity of users and sources, Generation of additional forms and meanings, and Endurance of the thing or concept that the word refers to.
“Of the five factors,” Metcalf writes, “Unobtrusiveness seems especially important. If a word seems familiar rather than new, it will insinuate itself into our vocabulary, as a cowbird insinuates its look-alike eggs into the nests of other birds, who then raise the chicks as their own.”
On those criteria, platisher does not appear destined for flight. For the time being, though, it’s fun to talk about.
* Medium was founded in 2012 by Ev Williams, the co-founder of Twitter and Blogger, as “a personalized blogging site that allows users to post their writings of more than 140 characters with embedded images.” Each Medium story is accompanied by an estimated reading time in minutes. Note that it “pays some contributors” (emphasis added).