Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Creating the ultimate news site

Start by make Digg anonymous.

Muhammad Saleem has proposed that Reddit should be made anonymous. I will go ahead and make for all social news sites, led by Digg. They have a big problem and change is needed or else, as they say, users will soon leave the building.

In my earlier post, I have written about the madness of crowds and how we are making heavy weather out of voting, rating and how cabals are gobbling up social networking sites.

Earlier, a musician complained about big music bands crowding out smaller acts on Myspace.

Muhammad Saleem gives forth the example of the popular Japanese board, 2ch.net where all postings are done anonymously.

Anonymous voting works for regular bricks and mortar democracies. Why can’t it work in the online world? It helps independent decision making. As it is, once someone starts clapping in the cinema hall, others join in too. It is called homophilly.

Problems with the present Digg type setup:

However, homophilly can’t be a substitute for proper democratic setup.

Lots of good stories are buried in Digg. The system also does not help by making it hard for users to have a proper 300 page views per person!

No wonder, users just looks at the home page, where all the popular stories are. Or, they turn to the Cloud pages, where again, thanks to the screen resolutions and size they only notice the headlines bigger fonts.

So, it is actually a cabal which makes the initial move by voting up a story so that it becomes more prominent and rest gets drowned. When Digg was redesigned, I sent them an email regarding no. of story display per page and I still have to get an answer.

I am sure someone will start noticing these things and start a new news site with anonymous voting, with IP recognition, time delay voting, in case if someone is voting from the same machine. And of course, the site must give users the choice to browse all the stories at display more efficiently.

Rating is good but it should also be accompanied by most emailed, most read features. There must be an algorythm that analyses which articles are getting more links, like Google's Pagerank.

The idea is to mix the best of traditional jounlaism with the best of online journalism. And Digg is no journalism. Who's up for building the ultimate news site?


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