The Sydney Morning Herald published an article titled ‘Spread the News’, it which several of the social bookmarking and sharing sites were named and discussed. Overall the article is a good introduction to a few of the bookmarking and sharing services however I have this to add;
- None of the sites mentioned are particularly good for Australian (or New Zealand) content. There is certainly an opportunity for an Australian/New Zealand specific site.
- The sentence ‘they return the favor by driving large amounts of traffic back to the content provider’s site’ is ambitious. Certainly digg, reddit and the others may drive significant traffic to the content site but this is rare and is dependent on users of digg etc. clicking on the link to the content provider’s site within digg etc.
- The author of the article, Kaufman, is correct in that the prime differentiating factors are the ‘people who use them and their sources’; Digg, for example is very simple to use however there is a lot of duplicate and often self promoting content because it is so simple to submit links. Mixx however requires more time to submit links due to selecting categories, a brief summary and tagging and therefore there is less duplicate content and much less self-promotion content.
- There are numerous more straightforward alternatives to Socializer. The problem with Socializer is that one cannot submit directly to the various bookmarking and sharing services (one first needs to go to the Socializer). Services such as AddThis and ShareThis offer the same functionality as Socializer and more (such as the ability to email links) without having to first access an external page.
Here is the article in question (from http://www.smh.com.au/news/technology/web/spread-the-news/2009/03/21/1237526384655.html) :
Use online portals to explore your interests and share comments with like-minded users, writes Dan Kaufman.
Ten years ago, if you liked a story you read in the paper you might mention it to a friend over coffee. These days, if you read that story online you could link it to bookmarking and sharing sites that are read by millions of people, allowing them to comment on the story and vote on how important they think it is.
The most well-known sharing sites are Digg (www.digg.com) and Delicious (www.delicious.com) but their success has spawned a legion of competitors (more than 40 if you count the foreign language ones). Some, such as Blink List (www.blinklist.com) and Faves (www.faves.com), follow the Delicious model of letting people bookmark stories remotely so they can access them on any computer while also letting other people see them. Digg and its closer competitors, including Reddit (www.reddit.com), Mixx (www.mixx.com) and more recently Yahoo! Buzz (www.buzz.yahoo.com), are more about having people recommend stories and vote on their importance.
In other words, on these sites it’s readers, not editors, who decide the compelling stories of the day.
Most of these sites allow you to choose the categories (ranging from politics to entertainment) appearing on the homepage, leading Mixx to boast that users can create their own newspaper – albeit a newspaper that relies on other newspapers, magazines and blogs for content.
The chief executive of Mixx, Chris McGill, says his site doesn’t try to replace newspapers but acts as an additional medium for users to discuss stories.
“Mixx simply plays into a basic human desire to express yourself and be an active part of the information society,” McGill says. “I think our users enjoy the camaraderie of other Mixxers who share their interests in a manner that cannot happen via the traditional one-way journalistic experience.”
Even though these sharing services rely on others for content, they return the favour by driving large amounts of traffic back to the content provider’s site, to the point where Digg’s prowess in this area led to the creation of the term The Digg Effect (and if the website’s server can’t handle the number of visitors and collapses, users call it being Dugg to death).
It’s this enormous power to drive readers that leads publishers to put links to sharing sites underneath their online stories in the hope it will encourage people to nominate them.
Many sharing sites may look similar but what distinguishes them are the people who use them and their sources. Yahoo Buzz, for example, feels more mainstream than Mixx and Reddit, both of which often have a higher ratio of stories from blogs than Digg. Some sites such as DotNetKicks (dotnetkicks.com) target niche areas such as technology.
However, one popular site that does look considerably different is Squidoo (www.squidoo.com), which is an odd cross between a social bookmarking site, a blogging system and Wikipedia. Users create pages (called lenses) on any topic they like and add bookmarks to these pages in addition to video, text, audio and even items they are selling on eBay. In other words, if you want to recommend something or write about a topic, it’s an alternative to creating your own blog or site.
Many bookmarking and sharing services have communities where you can join groups based on specific interests, such as yoga or remote-control cars, and see the profiles (complete with photos) of its members. But one service that encroaches on Facebook territory is Stumble Upon (www.stumbleupon.com).
This has more than 7 million members and, in addition to showing recommended news stories, photos and videos, it allows you to add personal information to your profile and see a chart that shows how much you have in common with other members based on your bookmarks.
Since there’s not enough space to list all the bookmarking and sharing services available, here are our picks of what’s interesting:
Fark (www.fark.com) is a light-hearted sharing site that focuses on trivial and fun stories around the world. Their slogan is: “It’s not news, it’s Fark.”
Social Dust (www.socialdust.com) caters to news junkies who want to see, on the one page, the top stories from a range of sites from Digg and Delicious to The New York Times and CNN. You can also see what’s popular on Flickr, YouTube and Metacafe.
ThisNext (www.thisnext.com) allows users to suggest products (from clothes to furniture) to each other rather than stories.
Newsvine (www.newsvine.com) looks and feels more like a newspaper’s homepage than most sharing sites.
Propeller (www.propeller.com) is AOL’s answer to Digg and calls itself a social news portal. Users submit stories but editors oversee the copy.
MetaFilter (www.metafilter.com) has a strong community feel and charges $5 for those who want to become members – and even then you have to wait a week before you’re accepted.
Technorati (www.technorati.com) is a blog search engine but in many ways it looks like a social bookmarking site. The homepage shows the latest and most popular blog posts and members can add sites to their profile.
Fleck (www.fleck.com) is a bookmarking site that lets you share links on Twitter.
Socializer (www.ekstreme.com/socializer) isn’t a sharing site but instead allows bloggers and publishers to put a single icon under their stories which, when clicked by a reader, will submit the story to multiple bookmarking sites at once.
Diigo (www.diigo.com) allows groups of users to annotate and place notes on websites that only they can see.
OneView (www.oneview.com) was launched in 1998, making it the granddaddy of social bookmarking sites (even though it still says beta on its homepage). However, the quality of links isn’t always the best.
eSnips (www.esnips.com) is more of a file-sharing site, allowing people to upload images, music and videos for other people to see.
Kirtsy (www.kirtsy.com) is an attractive site that’s similar to Digg but also features editors’ story picks.