The Gather.com Issue

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Revisiting YubNub

“News 2.0″ sites are launching faster than I can keep up. Gather is the most recent.

Gather is a social news site that allows user to submit content and generate a revenue share based on activity on the site. They boast $7m in venture funding over two rounds.

So that’s the good news.

I usually don’t post about companies I don’t like unless I can be constructive. I am going to point out some weaknesses in Gather.com. These are only my opinion, but I think there are some serious flaws here.

First, the site is poorly designed, very cluttered and doesn’t clearly state what they are doing.

Second, Newsvine (early post on them), which is still in private beta, has shown the power of combining news items with user comments. It’s an obvious way to combine edge content with user interaction and prove the value of being a middleman. Gather doesn’t do this.

Third, the revenue sharing won’t work. Steve Rubel says why – the market is saturated (although unlike Steve I applaud them for at least trying to get advertisers directly and fighting Google’s ridiculously undisclosed revenue share percentage). My main issue is that I don’t think this will provide enough of an incentive to get users attention.

Fourth, Gather encourages tagging of news items and yet has a rigid directory taxonomy (meaning at the end of the day that they do not trust tags to create their directory). Bad idea. Go with the tags, drop the taxonomy and see what develops.

Bloggers are generally giving Gather a big thumbs down. Mathew Ingram does a particularly good job in talking about all the competitors. He left out the massively funded Inform.com though, another service that has struggled with product direction but that is clearly taking criticisms constructively.

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