I’ve been running a news service for a number of years, so have been keeping an eye on the explosion of Digg clone sites out there. Seems like a few more pop up every week. So I decided to do a bit of research to figure out which of them have been successful.
Most popular community powered news sites:
The rest all pretty much seem to have missed the boat.
I base my analysis on the average number of votes stories have on the front page, along with the number of votes for the most popular stories for the past month. Digg is the clear leader, with Reddit showing some impressive numbers as well. The one that will probably surprise a lot of people is Care2. They launched their version of Digg for progressive news back in January.
Time to market seems to be one of the keys to success here – particularly for Digg and Reddit. Care2 wasn’t the third to launch (maybe the fourth?), but they had the advantage of being an existing community of six million activists. They also have a clear niche (progressive news) which Shoutwire lacks.
I’m sure Netscape will do well given their existing traffic, but so far they seem to be running a distant fourth in the race. I suspect there will be a few other successful niche news sites that will make it, but the general take away seems to be that the game is over – you either need to be one of the first to market and/or have a lot of traffic to make it sustainable.
There’s been a lot of talk that it only takes a relatively small number of super users to get one of these sites going, but clearly that’s not enough to be wildly successful.
Here’s some data to back up my analysis:
Average number of homepage votes for top 20 stories of the day, Sat Aug 19
Median number of homepage votes:
Note that I didn’t rely on Alexa because of the webmaster bias (which would penalize a non-techie site like Care2) and for certain sites it’s hard to determine where the traffic is actually going (such as Netscape and Care2). Of course, the velocity of stories hitting the front page matters too, but based on my observations there doesn’t appear to be a huge difference between the various sites (though stories appear to stay on Shoutwire the longest).
The other compounding challenge in analyzing the numbers is that it’s possible to down-vote on Reddit, but it’s highly unlikely that would push it past Digg for the top slot.
I didn’t include other models in this analysis, such as newsvine or machine-powered-aggregators given the obvious differences in approach and the higher costs of entry versus a fully community powered model. I also didn’t include the grand-daddy of them all, Slashdot – a great site for nerds – because moderators select the stories, not members. Although members can’t vote, they can comment and I suspect it is very close to Digg in popularity, if not ahead.