September 22, 2006|
The last year has seen the rise of social news sites that give users editorial control of the sites' homepage by voting on their favorite stories. Users submit stories which are then voted on by other users, with the most popular stories appearing most prominently on the sites. The key to this concept is users spending time reading through submissions to find the most compelling stories. The three most prominent social news sites that I know of are Digg, Reddit and Netscape.
Recently, Erin's rant about Facebook was submitted to Digg by a random Digg user. As an experiment (and in an effort to promote Erin's post), I then submitted the same story to Reddit and Netscape as well just to see what would happen.
Erin's post failed to make it to the homepage of any of the three sites. But what I found interesting was the number of people who visited our blog based on the submissions and the number of votes the story received on each site (I voted for each story myself). Below is a breakdown:
- 13 diggs
- 20 visitors
- 3 points
- 128 visitors
- 1 vote
- 1 visitor
These results surprised me. I was surprised that the Reddit submission produced more visitors than Digg even though Digg is the 800 pound guerilla in this site genre (see chart). I was surprised by the lack of visitors from the Netscape submission. Anyway, here's what I learned/think I learned:
- Reddit produces more visitors because it doesn't provide a summary of the story. When you see a story on Reddit all you are provided with is the headline. I think this leads to a higher percentage of people clicking through than on Digg and Netscape, which force users to write summaries when submitting stories.
- I think most Diggers judge stories based on the headline and the summary without clicking through to read the actual stories. I know I do on occasion. This would explain the high number of votes in comparison with people who actually read the story (13 diggs vs 20 visitors).
- Netscape users aren't actively going through the queue of new stories to discover the coolest content. It just doesn't seem like Netscape users are looking at the new content and promoting it to the homepage to the extent they are on the other site (I was the only vote).
There are a number of other questions this exercise raised for me that can't really be answered:
- How does the Reddit system of letting people vote no in addition to yes change the dynamic?
- Is Digg getting so many submissions that people don't really take the time to click through to the stories? Are Reddit submissions getting vetted more actively than Digg stories?
- Is Netscape reliance on paid navigators to help discover stories preventing people from going through the new story queue? Or is it just the newness of the concept to Netscape users (Netscape has an older audience and just recently converted to this system)?
Anyway, I find this stuff vaguely interesting, although I'd be the first to admit this is all very anecdotal. What do you think it all means?