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Explosion of Blog Aggregators…How to Keep Up?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen the names of a number of aggregation sites out there. It’s a very popular space, and I have not really understood who they were or what made them tick. But my growing enjoyment of FriendFeed made me wonder about what these other sites are up to. So I put together a high level survey of several of them.

There’s a really long table below. Before that, a few notes are in order.

Selected apps: This is by no means an exhaustive list. For instance, I just got into Yokway today, but haven’t had a chance to try it out. I just came up with a list from the serendipitous finds I’ve had. I also focused on earlier stage companies – no Digg, del.icio.us or StumbleUpon.

How stuff gets in there: There are three way that blog posts and news articles are added to these aggregation sites:

  • Submit: Users add a specific web page to the site, often via a toolbar ‘add’ button.
  • RSS share: Google Reader lets you ‘share’ an item in your RSS feeds that you like, posting it to your publicly accessible ‘shared items’ page, which is tracked by an aggregation site
  • RSS feed: The aggregation site takes a feed of all posts from a blog or news site

What’s interesting: Every site has its own secret sauce for what makes it tick. I tried to find things that seemed to each site apart from others.

Experience: I rate the user experience of these sites based how much was required to use them effectively. In this earlier blog post, I describe examples of light and heavy user experiences. Generally, lighter is better, but heavy can be OK for really good, distinctive features.

The point of this chart: It’s not to praise or bury any of these apps. Just to put together a list of what’s out there. If you’re an information seeker, a writer or seeking social connections with like-minded people, then you should check out some of these sites.

After the chart, I include links to other blogs with more information, plus a few thoughts as well.

Quick thoughts in dot…dot…dot fashion:

Diigo’s people matching based on common bookmarks and tags is a really cool idea, it reminds me of Toluu‘s matching based on common blog subscriptions…LinkRiver and Reddit have a very similar philosophy, with Reddit deploying a lot more categorization than LinkRiver….ReadBurner and RSS Meme are also very similar…Shyftr may have a light experience, but I’ll admit I found the overall user experience confusing right now (they’re in beta, it will improve)…Twine’s automatically generated tags for different categories was really interesting, need to explore that more…no notes on FriendFeed, just click ‘FriendFeed’ in my tag cloud for information about it…I kind of like getting my daily Social Median emails with news updates…Blog Rize has a spare UI, but it is strangely compelling…luckily, none of my blog posts have received the ‘lame’ or ‘facts wrong’ ratings on Blog Rize…

Wrapping up, here are some blog posts to get you started on the various apps:

I may be posting about some these sites in the days to come.

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Bitchmeme Recap: What Happens on Shyftr, Stays on Shyftr

Background: Shyftr is a service that pulls the entire feed of a blog into its site, and lets users comment on the post within its site. The comments never make it back to the original blog. What happens on Shyftr, stays on Shyftr.

The spark: Louis Gray (who else?) wrote about Eric Berlin’s concern over the comments that had accrued on Shyftr, not his own site. A legitimate beef, and one that clearly generated some heat.

The bitchmeme: Some liked the idea of posts and comments being anywhere. Some didn’t. Some liked it. Some didn’t. Some…uh, well…you get the picture. I will note that Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests became the poster boy for anti-Shyftr sentiment.

The Scoble Factor: The preeminent blogger of our time, Robert Scoble, weighs in with the post, Era of blogger’s control is over. He’s gung-ho about Shyftr and all ways by which his content is distro’d. Now based on Scoble’s preferred use of social networks, this ain’t surprising. He sets up our man Tony Hung as the old-school thinker about controlling content.

Tony Hung: Comes out swinging against Shyftr. Says the aggregation of comments away from the originating blog is wrong. To make his point, Tony proceeds to single-handedly post a comment on every single blog that weighed in on the issue. Tony, that must have taken forever. Next time just put up a comment on one of those aggregator services…

The scorecard: On the question of whether Shyftr has stepped over the comment line or not…

  1. Eric Berlin = yes
  2. Louis Gray = no
  3. Robert Scoble = no
  4. Tony Hung = no
  5. Pauk Glazowski (Mashable) = no
  6. James Robertson (Smalltalk Tidbits) = no
  7. Mark Evans = no
  8. Mathew Ingram = yes
  9. Ross Dawson = yes
  10. Alexander van Elsa = no
  11. John McCrea = no
  12. Frederic (Last Podcast) = no
  13. Mia Dand = no

So that makes the vote…two + three…carry the one….

Shyftr sucks = 3

Shyftr is OK = 10

Denouement: Shyftr announces that it will no longer carry the full feed for any blog post that has conversations “outside the reader”. I think they’re saying no more full feeds? Frankly, it’s a little unclear to me what they’re saying, but I’m not active on Shyftr. Louis Gray gives his opinion on this change here. I’ll probably have to check Shyftr out in more depth sometime.

The final word: Dave Winer provides a helpful definition of “bitchmeme”:

A Bitchmeme is something that happens on weekends when new stories are in short supply so ideas that otherwise would be buried on Techmeme rise to the top. Usually they’re people complaining about something or other which is why they’re called Bitchmemes and not Happymemes or Sarcasticmemes.

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