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from the L.A. Times

WeFollow: Kevin Rose's people-powered Twitter directory an instant hit

Kevin Rose
Digg and WeFollow founder Kevin Rose. Credit: ojbyrne via Flickr

Digg founder Kevin Rose launched a new website last weekend that hosts a people-powered user directory for Twitter, that other hot social network in town.

WeFollow breaks down popular Twitter users by category, as defined by the people themselves. You choose your online affiliations with three tags (say, tech, music and politics). You'll then appear on those lists, along with other like-minded Twitterers.

Twitter rolled out its own directory of sorts in January with its "suggested users" list. But the feature lacks any user contribution. It's simply a pool of top personalities, as selected by Twitter's staff.

Like the suggested users list, WeFollow prominently features those who are already quite popular. Rose says the ability to self-categorize helps you connect with peers. But he acknowledges that Twitter could render his "experiment" useless when it expands its own directory.

"I don't think the suggested users list is a bad thing. And I wasn't on there for a very long time," Rose said, although he is now. "My guess is that they're probably working on something bigger and better. But they're obviously dealing with scalability and other things."

WeFollow should be safe for a while. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said last month that an improved version of suggested users was "not super-high on the priority list."

Rose says he has a bunch of new features lined up for WeFollow, which he says has been getting an average of 800,000 page views a day. But his work on the project is a bit surprising for a couple of reasons. At a time when Twitter and his own social network, Digg, are in a battle ...

... for Web traffic, Rose has created a tool of major value to a competing website.

"Twitter is growing so fast, and they have millions of members now," Rose said. "But there's not really any way outside of their user search for people to organize themselves."

At some point in the last couple of months, traffic to Twitter surpassed Digg, according to Web analytical services. Then again, Rose has invested money in Twitter and maintains that the two are not competitors.

Sure, millions of Twitterers are using the service to trade links. A third-party website called Retweetist leverages that data to create a Twitter-powered Digg of sorts. But Rose calls Twitter "just another social graph."

He says Digg's mission is to make it easier to push your favorite Digg stories onto whatever social network you choose. The upcoming Digg Bar, a toolbar similar to StumbleUpon, will add the ability to tweet links in addition to sending to Facebook and other social networks.

Earlier this week, we profiled Leo Laporte, Rose's former TechTV cohort who is taking on Twitter by supporting an open-source alternative. So while one tech hero is throwing himself in front of the snowballing social network, another is giving it a strong push down the mountain.

-- Mark Milian

 
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