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5 Alternatives to Digg

Why some sites have peaked and others are gaining traction in the aggregation space.


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Yes, I know it's just me (and maybe a few million other people) but I don't like Digg v4, and even before it was rolled out a whole bunch of us were tired of Digg. So I've dugg around the Web and found five other sites that point me to interesting news and reading material. Some of them even have intelligent discussions, which is a nice bonus.

[login] ReddIT: When the Los Angeles Times runs a story headlined Reddit considers itself a benefactor of Digg user revolt you know Reddit is totally worth a look, even if you are the hardest core Digg fan in the world. You'll find similar stories displayed on Reddit, but the site is lots more retro than Digg v.4, to the point where you can compare its "function over form" style to Craiglist or Google while Digg v.4 is totally trendy and Web 2.x and all that (except many of us don't think it's all that). Reddit is totally worth a bookmark, and totally worth checking at least a couple of times a day during slow times at work.

StumbleUpon: Not my personal favorite, but many of my friends love it. This site gives you (or at least gives me) more random results than ReddIT or Digg. You sort of stumble around the WWW, seeing sites other StumbleUpon users have submitted, giving them thumbs up or thumbs down, and perhaps leaving some brief comments in your wake. (Comments on StumbleUpon tend to be brief.) I like StumbleUpon best for discovering random humor pages during moments of extreme boredom. I'm not saying my life is boring or anything, but... well... you know...



Delicious.com (formerly del.icio.us): The idea behind this site is that it gives you a handy online place to store your bookmarks that is way easier to organize than your Firefox bookmark files, and that at the same time you get access to a whole lot of other people's bookmark files. Even though Delicious is now owned by Yahoo!, it still feels more personal than Digg or ReddIT, and Yahoo! has kept the interface fairly simple and generally usable.

One special goodness: many sites want to add a "bar" to your browser that takes up a bunch of your screen space. Delicious has a cute but useful little "bookmarklet" that takes up no more space than any other icon in your browser's action menu. Kudos!

NewsTrust: This site is smaller, newer, and less geeky than Digg or ReddIT. Its purpose is to help you find quality news stories, and to give you a place to rate news stories and publications for other users. NewsTrust's motto is, "Your guide to good journalism." And so it is. The political slant tends to be slightly liberal, but that reflects the readership. If more conservatives join, NewsTrust is reader-driven enough that it will slant more in that direction, although hopefully it will never skew too conservative as the result of a conspiracy like the one that infested Digg not long ago.

NewsTrust users tend to be a thoughtful bunch. Comments tend to be well-informed and generally high-quality. If you take news seriously, you'll like NewsTrust.

Slashdot: Before anyone was stumbling upon sites or trusting news or digging anything, there was Slashdot, controlled by a semi-crazed group of editors who, according to company policy laid down back in 1999, were not allowed to work if they were too drunk or stoned to remember their login info. Slashdot sold out many years ago to a company once called Andover News Network that has since changed its name many times and is currently known as Geeknet. Upper management, too, has changed many times but is still as startlingly inept as ever. And Slashdot, which grew from a happy, clublike, friendly site into a megamonster of trolling and insanity, is now smaller (or, you might say, "more intimate") than it was at its peak, but still much larger than when it was CmdrTaco's college hobby.

Slashdot is the grandfather of every site listed here, including Digg -- and of Kuro5hin and many other online discussion sites. Indeed, Kuro5hin was a direct reaction to Slashdot's policy of having staff editors pick front page stories; it had readers submit stories which were then voted onto the front page by other readers. Its success as a site was limited, and it peaked after a few years, with many of its heaviest users migrating to a then-new site called Digg.

I am still an unabashed Slashdot junkie. I've checked the site daily (and often more than that) since it was a hobby site with fewer than 1000 registered users. I'm also a regular NewsTrust user because it helps me find quality news, just as it's supposed to.

But no Web site is forever, and while Slashdot has now settled down into a stable middle age, and Digg seems to be shrinking like a rose no one bothered to water, new sites are coming along that will help you select the few Web pages -- out of the millions published every day -- that are likely to interest you

Or me.

Or, in the case of social sites like Digg and Slashdot, links that are likely to interest a whole bunch of people who have similar interests to ours.

In fact, to a certain extent, doesn't Facebook now fill this role? Maybe. As an experiment, let's see what kind of comments we get (if any) when I post a link to this story on my Facebook page.


   
Robin 'Roblimo' Miller is a writer, editor, and online community builder; author of three IT-related books; and a skilled video director, editor, and producer. He's been covering technology, politics, and business since 1985 for assorted print and online publications, and was a Slashdot editor for 10 years under his "Roblimo" nom de net.
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