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Category: Digg

YouTube founders relaunch Delicious, rebuilt from the ground up

The new

Social bookmarking sites aren't as popular as they used to be, but YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are hoping to taste success with the relaunch of

The rebooted Delicious, which rolled out Tuesday, is still focused on bookmarking and sharing among  Delicious users, but the entire website has been rebuilt from scratch.

"After acquiring the service from Yahoo in April, we realized that in order to keep innovating over the long term, the eight-year-old site needed to be rebuilt from the ground up," the team behind the new Delicious said in a blog post.

"The result is a new homepage, interface and back-end architecture designed to make Delicious easier to use. We're proud of what we built, but the process has also brought the site 'back to beta' as a work in progress. Much more work will be needed to realize our vision: keeping the essence of Delicious -- the premier social bookmarking tool -- while building upon its core functionality to create a great discovery service, too."

As to whether or not Delicious, Digg or Reddit (which has benefited from its rivals' reboots with traffic boosts) is the "premier social bookmarking tool" out there -- well, that's up for debate. But what is clear is that social bookmarking sites have declined in terms of popularity as more people share links directly via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

Digg, which focuses more on social news reading than straight-up bookmarking, is trying out yet another approach with what it calls Newsrooms that bundle links around specific topics.

The new Delicious lets users curate their own list of links that it calls Stacks, which can be centered on any topic a user chooses. Links in the new Delicious are the same as bookmarks in the old version of the site, not to confuse anybody. And sorely needed features such as the ability to add a profile picture and  tag links with multiple words have been added.

Delicious described Stacks as "playlists for the Web" in a post on a blog of its parent company, AVOS.

AVOS, of course, is Hurley and Chen's San Mateo start-up that took over Delicious from Yahoo.

Users can easily create a stack by pasting in links to any topic they want at, or by way of a browser button that will add the bookmarked link to the site as well.

Users can customize their stacks by choosing not only all the links that show up, but also the title of their stack, tags to help other users find their stacks in search, and a description and comment for each link as well.

Stacks are published to the public only when a user wants them to be, so research and time can be taken to build a stack before sharing, and stacks can always be edited after going live as well.

"Our goal with stacks is to add more value to all the links being collected by the Delicious community," the team said in its post. "Each new stack presents an opportunity to introduce the rest of the world to cool Web content they haven’t seen before."

Delicious did express a bit of nervousness on Tuesday, in its blog post, using a quote from Marty McFly in "Back to the Future":

"What if they say I’m no good? What if they say, 'Get outta here, kid, you got no future?' "

"We feel a bit like Marty today as we launch the new Delicious," the post said.

And the team has good reason to feel that way. Social sharing and social networking tools are only as good the people who use them. When users go away, so does the usefulness of the service. Delicious will need to lure in new users and maybe some old users who left along the way if it's to return to the significance it once had.

What do you think of the new Delicious and social bookmarking and news reading in general? How does the new Delicious stack up to the new Digg? Does the world still need services such as these when so much is shared on Facebook, Twitter and Google+?

Sound off in the comments.


YouTube founders buy Tap11 social media analytics firm

YouTube's Chad Hurley and Steve Chen buy Delicious from Yahoo

Save our bookmarks: Yahoo's Delicious should become an aggregator

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of the new Credit: Delicious/AVOS

Digg's Newsrooms an attempt to separate good content from bad

Digg Newsrooms

Digg, the social news reading website, is going through yet another overhaul and this time is taking a new approach, which it calls Newsrooms, to enable the best content to ascend atop its pages.

"The online world is flooded with information," Digg CEO Matt Williams said in a company blog post. "The volume of news published on a daily basis has grown exponentially. Many of us visit several different sites each day to get the most relevant or entertaining information on the topics we care about. There has never been a better time to separate the news from the noise."

Digg's Newsrooms will seek to create that separation by dividing news stories into different topics, each with their own Newsroom.

"When you visit a Newsroom you'll find the best news for a given topic as measured by popular opinion and ranked by top contributors on Digg," Williams said. "Topics as broad as technology or as specific as Lady Gaga. We've built a three-step algorithm to help the most meaningful stories rise to the top -– leveraging our greatest asset, the Digg community."

Williams said the three steps are sourcing, signals and curation. From Williams' blog post:

- Sourcing: We locate great content for each topic and display in a real-time feed called "Newswire."

- Signals: Stories are ranked automatically by an algorithm that looks at recency and popularity including Likes on Facebook, Tweets and LinkedIn sharing, to name a few.

- Curation: The news is then filtered by the Diggs and Comments of passionate users who have gained reputation as top influencers in each Newsroom topic.

Although the methods of ranking news items by their popularity or by recommendations from active members on a website aren't new approaches, Digg has never before made use of signals from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact, when Digg was created, none of these three sites were as influential or popular as they are now.

"Many are measuring news coverage by how many times a story is shared by a reader with their friends and followers," Williams said. "But is the most popular story also the most meaningful? Not necessarily. Just ask music fans about Rebecca Black, or political junkies about Weinergate. Newsrooms are designed to find the most meaningful news for a given topic -- to separate valuable from popular."

So, will the approach work? That will depend on how many people use Digg as their destination to read the news of the day or hour. The last time Digg made major changes to its site, back in August 2010, a number of users headed to rival news reader Reddit.

For now, the old Digg (which acts a bit more like a personal news feed) remains live. Digg Newsrooms are invite-only but soon will be opened to the public, Williams said. The CEO called Newsrooms a "first step" at enabling Digg's users to find exactly what they want.

"Sifting out the most relevant and meaningful news each day is a hard problem to solve," Williams said. "Creating the best experience for every topic is a long road."


Reddit considers itself a benefactor of Digg user revolt

Google News badges track what you read, are sharable and social

New Digg CEO, take note: How social media companies respond to irate users

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screen shot of Digg's Newsrooms. Credit: Digg

New Digg CEO, take note: How social media companies respond to irate users

Digg-reddit-sumbleDays after launching a major revision to its social-news website, Digg has appointed Matt Williams, a former manager, as its new chief executive. And man, does he have some work ahead of him.

The overhaul of Digg, which shifts the focus from a page edited by the masses to a personalized news feed, has angered some of its most loyal users. Many Diggers have been very vocal about staging an exodus to rival news site Reddit.

Of course, these types of rumblings seem to happen just about any time a large site has its formula tinkered with.

Twitter saw backlash recently when it released a feature called Retweet. A loud group that included the service's creator, Jack Dorsey, criticized Retweet for not letting users add a short note to those messages. The small music website TheSixtyOne heard angry chants when it unleashed a simpler version of the service. And such revolts make up practically a bimonthly tradition for Facebook.

So how should social media website owners, who find the cries are loudest on their own pages, deal with the attacks? The Times talked to some of those administrators and looked to examples from the past for clues as to how Williams might want to handle the indignation he's inherited.

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Reddit considers itself a benefactor of Digg user revolt

Reddit-staffersDigg launched a new version of its social-news website last week, a long-overdue metamorphosis to hopefully compete with Facebook and Twitter. But those changes reignited an old competitor in Reddit.

For about five years, the two sites have filled a similar purpose. They both let users submit links and curate news pages.

Digg's traffic has long dwarfed Reddit's. That hasn't changed, but Reddit received a boost this week in the form of displaced Digg refugees, who say they feel dejected by drastic changes to the site's dynamics.

Traffic to Reddit on Monday was way up. That's when, as Reddit lead developer Christopher Slowe put it in an e-mail to The Times, "there was a concerted effort for boycotting Digg."

Continue reading »

Former Digg CEO asks Twitter followers to plan his newly unemployed lifestyle

Jay-adelson After a practically nonstop 20-year career working at and building  technology companies, what should Jay Adelson do with his time off?

Seriously, what should he do? He's looking for ideas.

Adelson, 39, abruptly resigned as Digg chief executive on Monday. During his five-year stint, he led the company's efforts in establishing itself as a top social news website, launching a new kind of advertising platform and acquiring WeFollow, the pet project of Kevin Rose -- Digg's founder  and his successor as CEO. Adelson is also chairman of the online video network Revision3.

Before that, he was the founder of Equinix, a public networking company that houses data centers responsible for keeping major parts of the Internet running.

Now, for the most part, he's free of day-to-day corporate responsibilities -- for now.

"Well, honestly I have plenty of projects to occupy myself with as you probably can imagine," Adelson wrote in an e-mail. "However, quite literally, I haven't been unemployed in my adult life."

In a blog post on Digg, Adelson wrote, "The entrepreneurial calling is strong, and I am ready to incubate some new business ideas over the next 12 months."

But he plans to take a much-needed break before then. Friends and family are pushing him to take a breather, he said.

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On his first morning as Digg CEO, Kevin Rose shakes things up

Digg-kevin-roseThe morning after former Digg Chief Executive Jay Adelson handed over the reins to founder Kevin Rose, the 33-year-old beer aficionado and online video personality has announced significant changes to the social news site's architecture.

For starters, the company plans to kill off the DiggBar, a toolbar that sits atop all outbound links from The framing feature was lambasted by several bloggers and search engine optimization experts after it launched a year ago.

Rose was clear about his feelings on the toolbar. "Framing content with an iFrame is bad for the Internet," Rose wrote on the company blog Tuesday.

He went on to discuss how the tool confuses Web surfers because it masks the actual URL of the page you're on. Digg extensions that are currently available for browsers such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer will replace the functionality of the DiggBar, Rose wrote, and "seriously revamped versions" (emphasis his) are in the works.

Digg is also removing restrictions on which publishers can appear on the site. Over the years, a lengthy list of Web domains have been banned from Digg's catalog.

Continue reading »

Digg overhaul expected to lessen coveted traffic spikes to publishers

DiggSay goodbye to the "Digg effect"?

Digg Chief Executive Jay Adelson announced a vastly revised version of its social news website at an event Saturday during the South by Southwest Interactive conference. Users will soon have a personalized news page based on a number of factors.

Digg's changes, which begin rolling out to a group of testers in the next few weeks, are multifaceted.

Users can customize their news page based on who they follow on the site in addition to a practically endless number of topics based on a new tagging system. What stories bubble up for a given user is also determined by what that person has voted on in the past and on what friends on Twitter and Facebook are linking to.

Digg's engine crawls the page, analyzes the content and tags a link automatically. Site users can also add their own set of tags to a link.

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Digg looking to aggregate what's hot on Twitter and Facebook

Kevin rose Digg founder Kevin Rose dropped a morsel of information about a major overhaul to the social news website that's been a long time coming (at least seven months, which is like four years in Internet time).

The 5-year-old site (that's in people years) currently aggregates a list of interesting links around the Web as voted on by its users.

But it may take aggregation one step further. Instead of limiting the pool to input from its own users, Rose indicated that Digg may also begin taking into account link-sharing data from other social networks.

"We have to take a look at all the different sources of information and kind of just act as Switzerland," Rose said in the most recent This Week in Tech podcast. "If we're seeing a trend on Twitter, we can map that to the best stories on Digg. And if there's other things happening on Facebook and other networks, we want to be able to pull all that in."

TechCrunch has been speculating about what a "real-time Digg" might look like since May. It could resemble something like Techmeme or Tweetmeme, which both ping sites or pull from RSS feed data in addition to Twitter buzz. Add Facebook to the mix, and you could have an even grander idea of what's hot at any given time on the Web.

Rose added that the renovation was being helped by Digg's acquisition of the entrepreneur's other start-up, WeFollow -- a directory of Twitter users.

"We see ourselves as like a neutral Switzerland where we'll be able to sit there and pull in all different types of data and information from all around the Web," Rose said.

Rose said the changes could start appearing within the next few months.

The site has transformed in small ways over the last year, adding things like Trends for surfacing more timely news and an ad platform that could be a crucial revenue source. But the real-time aggregator couldn't come at a better time, as ComScore reports that traffic to Digg is beginning to wane.

-- Mark Milian

Photo: Digg founder Kevin Rose. Credit: Joi via Flickr

Web ads that learn from you [Updated]

This might surprise you, but the holy grail for many online advertisers is to make an ad that people actually like. Based on the current state of the banner ad economy, that might not seem like the case.

Thanks to the simple addition of thumbs up and thumbs down buttons on many websites, advertisers are finally getting a sense of how enjoyable (or annoying) their ads are.

The Internet has long provided a measurement of how effective an ad is -- that is how many times it was clicked versus how often it was shown, a metric called click-through rate. But that's based simply on how loud and flashy a banner can be in order to attract a reader's attention.

A click doesn't necessarily convert to a purchase, or "conversion" as they call it, nor are visitors guaranteed to associate the product positively. If an ad mimics a virus alert, it might get clicked out of fear or urgency but won't elicit a pleasant reaction once users realize they were duped.

Many social networking sites, including Facebook, Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon, are beginning to shift toward a subjective ad model. Initial results from allowing users to rate ads have been mostly positive. The success may be inspiring a trend, as advertisers throughout the Web seem to be toning down on annoying ads.

One of the boldest implementations is Digg Ads, which publicly launched in August and has tested exceptionally well, according to Mike Maser, Digg's chief strategy officer.

The new sponsored posts appear in the main content space and look almost identical (save for a thin gray line and small "sponsored by" text) to user-submitted news stories. Whereas an isolated graphic ad on Digg gets about eight clicks out of every 10,000 impressions, Digg Ads are pulling click-through rates of 2% to 3%.

"The results were astounding to us," Maser said. The advertisers are "writing copy and headlines in a way that's almost as if you'd want to share it with someone."

Continue reading »

Digg brainstorming new communications tool for users

Digg meetup nyc

Photo: A bird's-eye view of the crowds at the Digg Meetup a couple of weeks ago in New York. Credit: Mark Milian

Ever since Digg removed a popular feature that lets its users communicate with one another a few weeks ago, some of the site's members have complained that the company yanked the "social" out of the social news site.

For those who are not steeped in the ins and outs of Digg culture, here's some background. The site used to have a feature called "shouts," which members could use to let their friends know about a story or item that they especially liked. Sounds harmless enough. But it turns out that some skillful Diggers used shouts to game the system and promote their pet posts, many of which landed on the homepage.

The upshot: Digg removed the feature and is now back to the drawing board to come up with another tool that's not as susceptible to spamming. That turns out to be easier said than done. Digg has to tread a delicate line between keeping its core members happy and being a website that is useful to millions of broader readers who rely on Digg to unearth interesting news stories, not just niche posts that were interesting only to a handful of power users.

"What we want is to give our users the ability to communicate," said Digg Chief Executive Jay Adelson during an interview at a Diggnation event in New York a couple of weeks ago. "What we don't want is to create a system that's easy to abuse."

Adelson admits his San Francisco company hasn't yet found a solution. But he did share with us his broader thoughts on what it would look like. First, it would be ...

Continue reading »

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