Fav.or.it Finally Opens Beta To Take RSS And Commenting Mainstream

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Feeds and commenting aggregator fav.or.it has finally come out of the door into public beta, reports TechCrunch UK. It has a large number of new features aimed at simplifying interaction with news sites and blogs. Founder Nick Halstead has now focused on the core goal of making feed reading and commenting as mass market friendly as humanly possible. Despite praise from the likes of Robert Scoble, the site was early on misinterpreted as a traditional feed-reader, notably by Silicon Valley blogger Louis Gray . So RSS reader aficionados will be disappointed by Fav.or.it. There are 2,000 feeds inside Fav.or.it, with 3,000 more to come, but Fav.or.it will add the feeds, not you (at least for now). If content is marked as non-commercial Fav.or.it only shows excerpts Update[Update: If the feed owner has specified that the feed may not be used for commercial use then Fav.or.it only shows excerpts]. Feed owners can embed advertising into their feeds and Fav.or.it will display these without any alteration.

The original idea, of Fav.or.it – the ability to comment on stories and have the comment appear both on the site and the originating blog – remains, thus making commenting pretty simple. This will step up to the plate against other commenting systems like CoComment, SezWho, Tangler, Disqus (which now makes use of Fav.or.it’s full API for commenting) and Intense Debate. And an Adobe Air app, which will notify you when you have comments to go read, is in the works. Fav.or.it has also made it possible to aggregate your IDs from a large range of services. You can add your IDs from Twitter, FriendFeed, or OpenID, amongst others (below).

(Halstead explains more in a video I shot last week, below, apologies for the quality)

http://blip.tv/scripts/flash/showplayer.swf?enablejs=true&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Ftechcrunchuk%2Eblip%2Etv%2Frss&file=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Frss%2Fflash%2F1007424%3Freferrer%3Dblip%2Etv%26source%3D1&showplayerpath=http%3A%2F%2Fblip%2Etv%2Fscripts%2Fflash%2Fshowplayer%2Eswf

As promised when I first wrote about Fav.or.it in October last year (some months before the launch of the private beta) the site uses Javascript to gauge how long you read a post, which is very useful data. It will even stop the timer when it thinks you have walked away from the screen, if, say the post is only 100 words long and you’ve sat on it for 2 minutes (see right). Fav.or.it uses this data to start suggesting items it thinks you’ll like. Fav.or.it was developed using the Zend Framework on PHP with just three developers, rather more than most competitors.

Ultimately the question is, will a mainstream audience actually want this kind of site? I think the commenting functions on Fav.or.it are very powerful. But now it’s fully open, it remains to be seen if that is enough to power its growth.

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