Attack of the local Digg clones: MSN Reporter and Scoopit

, posted: 19-Feb-2007 13:11

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery they say, but does that mean it's a good thing? Probably not from an originality point of view, but when it comes to the Digg clones that are popping up, it seems to work. Microsoft has had its Reporter going since October last year, in European
MSN Reportercountries like Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The difference here is that Reporter comes in the language of those countries, and not American-English like Digg. For that reason many of the items ranked are ones that you wouldn't find on Digg. However, there's plenty of US and English ones as well on Reporter, and it'd be interesting to know what the proportion of those and local stories is.

Furthermore, I'd imagine MSN could use Reporter to drive traffic towards its own news sites and Live blogs, although it'd have to be done with the greatest care so as not to spoil the social network effect and end up as link-spamming that'd wreck the site. It's curious that Microsoft picked the MSN umbrella brand for Reporter, and not Live, too.

The European countries, especially the abovementioned ones, have large numbers of broadband users. This is an important consideration as it creates that critical mass effect - the Digg Effect - necessary for success. You need ratings and the ensuing hits in the thousands really.

If Reporter makes sense from a local angle, perhaps the New Zealand Scoopit does too? I'm not so sure about that. ScoopitIt's probably true that New Zealand stories simply drown on Digg and other US sites. Scoopit is in English however, and New Zealand is as we all know at the bottom of the OECD broadband stakes. Scoop is a publisher that'll run anything - as long as it's free, not defamatory/hateful, Scoop will publish it. That makes it a useful resource of material like press releases, but not the first place to look for original content (although it carries some blogs as well).

Scoopit would need one of the two Aussie giants that dominate NZ media, Fairfax or APN, to add buttons to their sites. I can't see why either would do that, as Scoop is seen as competition to some extent, and you're not going to get the Digg avalanche either. The most popular stories on Scoopit have only 3-4 ratings each.

That said, Scoopit is very easy to use, being an almost carbon-copy of Digg. We'll see how far it goes after the novelty wears off, but I think Scoop should think about a different angle for Scoopit to make it more unique and stand out.

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