Monday, February 27, 2006

Newsvine

I have now been using Newsvine for a little while. Essentially, it is a complicated version of Digg, the Web 2.0 social bookmarking service for news. Newsvine remains in a private beta, but I do have some invites if anyone is interested. Some extracts from the company info page:

Seattle-based Newsvine, Inc. was founded in 2005 by a small team of like-minded colleagues with one purpose: to build a perfectly different, perfectly efficient way to read, write, and interact with the news.

Why shouldn't you, as a reader, be able to comment on every single article you read? After all, you may have information the original author did not have. How about chat? If 20 people are reading an article at the same time, why shouldn't they be able to discuss it amongst themselves afterwards?

Aside from being the friendliest place to read your news, Newsvine is also a great place to write. Want to write about a popular subject like the NFL, The Supreme Court, or mobile phones? Go ahead. How about a lesser known subject like your kid's little league team? Not a problem. As long as you "tag" your articles correctly, they will automatically show up in the appropriate section on Newsvine.

You don't even need to be a writer to make good use of your column on Newsvine. Perhaps you just want to point to other news around the web. Save the "Seed Newsvine" button to your browser bar and you can publish a link to any article you've just enjoyed with one click.

So why participate by writing articles or "seeding The Vine"? Other than the warm-fuzzy feeling you'll get from seeing an article you brought into Newsvine reach the top, we want to reward you for your contributions by giving you all of the earnings generated by the content you create and recommend. Thats right, Newsvine users are financially rewarded in direct proportion to the value they add to the community by way of creating and submitting articles.

As you can read, there are some crucial differences with Digg.

1. Automatic submission of stories from Associated Press, as well as user-submitted stories. I think that this is probably a strength, as it provides a constant stream of good quality articles for the users' perusal. They are subject to the usual voting system, which means that just because they are well written, they are not given unfair priority, a fact which I think is important to maintain the fairness of the user-review system.

2. Wider subject area. The vast majority of Digg stories fit somewhere on the spectrum of Tech news. Newsvine is much more diverse, covering all the topics one would expect on any news website.

3. Financial incentives for popular seeds. Interesting idea, but I'm not sure it's entirely sustainable. As more members join Newsvine and it becomes more popular, the financial rewards will either have to get much larger to cover the increased number of stories and votes, or they will become insignificant, the budget having been spread around too much.

4. Use of tags. Newsvine uses tags to categorize stories, rather than just topic areas. An interesting and useful implementation of this is if I type in, for example, newsvine.com/google, I am presented with all stories tagged 'google'. This feature works with all tags, and tags can be any word or phrase.

5. More focus on people. Although Digg has 'friends' functionality and you can see what individual users have dugg, Newsvine goes further by providing an individual column at username.newsvine.com, where the user can post their opinion on stories or completely new stories. A good idea, but as yet the comments left by a user around Newsvine are not automatically added to the column, although I am assured by Newsvine that comment history will be coming soon, presumably in the form of something fairly similar to Digg's system.

I think that list just about covers Newsvine's biggest differences from Digg. The million dollar question - will it beat Digg. The answer is somewhat uncertain. Yes, I believe it could do, for some of the reasons above and others, but only if it adds a plethora of new features, such as automatic publishing to external blogs, and cleans up its user interface, a key advantage which Digg has over it at the moment.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, I have invites and am very happy to give them out to anyone who wants them, and I really would recommend having a look at it.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

"3. Financial incentives for popular seeds. Interesting idea, but I'm not sure it's entirely sustainable. As more members join Newsvine and it becomes more popular, the financial rewards will either have to get much larger to cover the increased number of stories and votes, or they will become insignificant, the budget having been spread around too much."


The rewards come from the ads on your column, there are no ads in beta but when there are the writer will get 90% of ads and the person who recommended him or her will get 10%

Anonymous said...

Hi - Thank you for sharing your invites. Can you please add my email. I have been wanting to try this out as I am a journalism student.

Stephanie at bauhaussoftware dot com

connor said...

Hey, really enjoyed reading your post.Have you ever heard of reddit.com? It's a site that shares many of the same concepts as digg, but it has a huge variety of language options, a better voting system, and a fantastic commenting system (you can vote on comments to push trolls to the bottom).
Reddit has a very minimilist interface and they're just starting to integrate some blog/wiki capabilities. The only downside is that they haven't implemented tagging yet (although they've said that's coming soon). It's a young site, but it has a really good user base.