As Reddit’s Bored Users are Set Adrift, Hacker News Shuts Down Account Creation to Keep Them Away


In the world of large online communities, Reddit ranks among the largest, most active sites today. Right now, however, all of Reddit's users have been set adrift on the Internet, as Reddit is blacked out in support of the SOPA protests. Quite a few of those bored users, it seems, found their way over to Hacker News, a smaller but growing community that focuses mostly on startup and programming news. Seemingly afraid of this sudden influx of new users, Hacker News' founder Paul Graham today decided to suspend account creations for the time being.

Yeah Right…

Graham, of course, was rather political in making this announcement and argues that he doesn't want to "repay them for their impressive stand by stealing their users." Nobody on the site is really buying this argument, though. Instead, most Hacker News users assume that Graham simply turned off the ability to create new accounts to avoid an "Eternal September" effect – a term which refers to those early days of the Internet when new users (often college freshmen or new AOL users) would constantly ask the same questions on USENET and change the way many established online groups worked.

There is some irony in this, of course. Reddit, after all, greatly profited from Digg's fall in 2010. At the time, the established Reddit community was anything but happy about this influx of new users who weren't familiar with the site's rules.

12:43 pm

Digg Reminds People It’s Not Dead Yet and Still Gets 17 Million Uniques (Reddit: 28 Million)


You know things aren’t going well for a website when it has to come out and deny rumors that its traffic has fallen 50% over the last few months by sharing its actual Google Analytics numbers. It’s even worse when these numbers, while better than the rumors, are actual far lower than those of your closest competitor. That’s the state of today, a site that used to be a darling of the Web 2.0 movement in its early days, with a vibrant and active community around it, but which fell from grace when it made some misguided changes that alienated exactly those users it needed the most.

After repeated rumors that its numbers were falling dramatically, Digg had to actually post its Google Analytics numbers on its blog yesterday. These numbers show that the site still gets about 17 million unique visitors a month. While Digg has to be defensive about these numbers, though, its competitors at Reddit – which used to be much smaller before Digg’s missteps last year – now celebrate 28 million uniques in October. Digg argues that because close to 50% of its visitors come to the site directly, monitoring firms like Compete can’t accurately measure its traffic.

Digg’s Problems Go Deeper than its Traffic Numbers

Getting 17 million unique visitors is a respectable number, even though Reddit now dwarf Digg easily. The company’s problems go much deeper than just pure traffic, though. It has lost its most active users, who used to keep the site stocked with interesting stories. Earlier this year, Digg actually had to hire some editors to search the site for interesting stories and highlight them manually so they wouldn’t get lost.

Its users also aren’t as active as they used to be. Where top stories used to need close to 100 votes to even appear on the site’s front page, some stories can now get on the frontpage and move all the way down without ever reaching 100 votes. Stories with more than 1,000 votes were pretty normal on Digg just two years ago.

As a comparison: On Reddit, stories now regularly get 3,000 or more votes and hundred or even thousands of comments.

What’s most disturbing on Digg is that the community that was once so active now barely exists. Stories can move all the way down the front page with just 2 or 3 comments.

So while Digg may be posting some positive numbers today, chances are, it won’t be able to do so for a very long time anymore. It may linger around for a while, but eventually, it won’t be able to make it unless Reddit really messes up and drives its users to go to Digg again.

4:35 pm

The Daily Dot Wants to be the Internet’s Paper of Record


When it comes to tech blogs, the majority of sites today focus on products, business news and rumors. What’s missing in this mix, however, is a site that solely covers the world of online communities. The Daily Dot, which launches today, wants to change this and calls itself the “hometown newspaper of the World Wide Web.” The team behind the site, including CEO Nick White (who has an extensive background in the legacy newspaper world), founding editor Owen Thomas (best known for his work at VentureBeat and Valleywag) and twelve staff writers, aims to write about online communities like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit. The site was co-founded by White, tech entrepreneur and EarthWeb co-founder Nova Spivack and Josh Jones-Dilworth, the founder and CEO of the Austin-based PR and marketing firm that bears his name.

A Hometown Paper for the Web – Including the Funnies

As White told me during an interview last week, the team aims to be part of the communities it covers (think: Reddit-embedded reporters). In his view, news sites “haven’t gotten better in the last ten years.” The Daily Dot, of course, wants to change this, though the site it is launching with today does still look and feel like a standard Internet news site. White and Thomas told me that the team plans to add extensive personalization features to the site over time.

The site aims to bring the sensibilities of local news reporting to the web. The team currently focuses on covering some of the largest online communities (Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, Facebook etc.). White rightly notes that some of these represent user groups that are larger than most countries.

One feature that exemplifies this “hometown newspaper” sensibility the best is the Comics section. A paper without a comics section, after all, can’t really call itself a paper. The idea here, surely is to drive traffic by these easily consumed and shared comics, but it’s also nice to see that the Daily Dot isn’t just aggregating these comics from other sites but actually pays artists to draw these for them.

No WordPress to be Found Here

From a technical perspective, it is worth noting that the Daily Dot decided to bypass the regular suspects in its choice of content management systems and now uses the Armstrong CMS. Armstrong is a new publishing platform that was developed by The Bay Citizen and The Texas Tribune and financed by a grant from the prestigious Knight Foundation. The Daily Dot is the first major new publication to use this new CMS, which is written in Python and based on the Django Framework.

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4:01 am

Old Spice Man Fields Questions from the Internet: Here are His Answers


The Old Spice Man (“I’m on a horse”) is fielding questions from Internet users on Reddit today. Here are his answers.

1. Squidboots: If you were alone in the woods, and no one were around to smell you, would you smell as manly and awesome?

2. Chmown: How can I smell like fighting and space shuttles?

3. Porknog: Dear Old Spice Man, How many times should I lather, rinse, and repeat? My wife says I’m going to get a rash if I keep this up.

4. Desimusxvii: Is it true you tore the wings off Pegasus and ate them buffalo style to achieve the manliness you exhibit today?

If yes, please recount your battle with the beast. If no, please do this immediately.

5. Robotjox: If you could meet one great historical figure, then arm wrestle them while signing opera, who would it be?





1:21 pm