Digg vs Slashdot - Social News War

By samooresamoore (1251644908|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

The number of social news sites has grown dramatically during the past few years - some succeed while most fail. Digg and Slashdot are two of the ones that have succeeded. Digg has the most daily unique hits by far but it is also caters to most types of news readers. Slashdot is also extremey popular as well but focuses on a much more niche market Slashdot serves ("News for Nerds"). I am going to compare to both sites in terms of the quality of articles I find, the browsing experience, and any additional features that separates one site from the other.

Digg

The first thing that jumps out out you when you go to Digg is the fact that each article has a number of "Diggs" next to the article's title. Diggs are basically votes from site readers who help the community know whether an article is of good or bad quality and contains relevant or useless informaton. The process is explained here. This process creates a real democratic/social feel to the site and is the same sense-of-impact that drives other social collaboration services/sites. The inclusion of Video and Images is also extremely interesting and helpful. I've always been frustrated that with the exception of the "Popular" videos on Youtube, there is little to no way to distinguish a good video from something that is a waste of my time.

Part of the value of going to a news site is to find out information you weren't sure you were looking for. For example, when you use a search engine, you are looking for something specific. But, when I go to a news site, I want to be told something random or interesting. Digg definitely delivers on that. I wasted 30 minutes between paragraphs reading about Six Creepy Urban Legends, 10 Foods to Boost My Immune System (and that fix my cholesterol problem), Top 10 Ways Harry Potter Should Have Died in the Deathly Hallows, 6 Best Video Game Costumes for Halloween, The Most Ridiculous Video Game Box Quotes Ever, 7 Actors and 2 Directors Who Should Retire….you get the idea. I didn't even care they had a "search box" (but apparently really am attracted to articles that are Top "X" lists). The fact that I could find things that are interesting to me and in such a quick amount of time is due to two things: Digg has a fantastic user interface that is easy to navigate and a rabid fan base that does a great job at voting on content.

The past 10 days has been mind blowing for the gaming industry (and will get more intense over the next few weeks) with the release of Fallout 3, Fable II, and Farcry 2. With Fallout 3 being released today, I did a search for digg for about Fallout 3. I didn't really like how most of the top results seemed really outdated. Only 1 result on the front page was from within a month. I understand the "Best Match First" ranking, but I think a news site should always take date into consideration. When I switched to Newest First, the results were pretty relevant (3 of the results on the front page were random); but, all but one was less than a week old. This is crazy considering Fallout 3 is one of the most anticipated game launches of this quarter - there should be at least 10-15 articles from today or yesterday about this topic. That was a little strange.

Digg is a daily visit for a lot of people I know and whenever people ask me or talk about it, I just nod my head and pretend like I actually go to the site. Yet, in just a short amount of time playing wtih the site, I can see why it is so popular. Nevertheless, it is much better for finding random entertaining/interesting articles than using it as a search tool.

Slashdot

Slashdot has been around forever it seems (even though it has not) because as a computer-maniac in high school I always was linked to articles on Slashdot. The most interesting thing about the site is that if someone didn't tell me it was a "social news" site I would never have guessed it. It has an extremely different interface than Digg (much more "newsy" and formal) and doesn't emphasize the community aspect as much. This is mainly because articles are actually posted by site staff (or so it appears) and submitted my members. Slashdot has **a lot* less content than Digg it seems so Slashdot may be better utilized in RSS form.

In terms of content, about 90% of the articles in the Developers, Games, Hardware, Mobile, and Tech sections are interesting to me so I won't go into specific articles I like/read. Although there is not a ton of new content every day, whatever is posted is generally very high-level and destined to be referenced by a plethora of bloggers and wanna-be tech news sites. Slashdot is much better than Digg as a news site, but I am really struggling to see the social elements of it.

Summary / Other Odds & Ends

There is no clear winner between Digg and Slashdot as they seem to serve two different purposes. However, Slashdot, unfortunately, is a site I can stick into an RSS feed and be told what and when to read things. Digg is more entertaining to visit and can be a vacuum for my personal time. Plus, there is one huge, huge thing that separates Digg from Slashdot: Digg has a Microsoft section!. Why does Slashdot only have an Apple section? Slashdot is missing out on articles like Windows 7 to be Released in 20 Versions (not true, but hilarious article).

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