Mixx, a Digg-like site that ranks news stories based on reader voting, will launch a new “breaking news” feature later today that should get real news onto the home page very, very fast. More on that below.
Since launching just last September, Mixx has been on a tear to release new products. Groups came in December, followed by private mail in Februrary. Also in February they released a clustering feature that I think would fix a big problem at Digg – duplicate stories describing the same event. With the new feature, other users could add different but related stories to the main news item. This removes the need for Duelling stories and it gives the reader more content on the stuff they just clicked on.
So today they’re releasing yet another new feature. Like the others, it’s worth a little thought. The goal is to get the really hot news up to the home page very quickly and without having to go through the normal vote gathering process, which can take up to 24 hours before a story makes it to the home page. To get this special treatment, A special user, called a Super Mixxer (here’s how you become a Super Mixxer), must tag a story as Breaking. Once a story has been tagged by two Super Mixxers, the story goes to the home page under the Breaking News area. The story will continue to build up votes and move into the general Popular area of the page at that time. Others may drop off entirely.
For now only text stories can be Breaking, although they will add more story types over time.
This is different from how Digg handles things. Nothing gets special treatment until its gone through the normal voting procedure. Once it’s a top page story, though, if it continues to do well it can move over to the Top story in whatever topic is being viewed. So Mixx is getting the best news to the home page very, very quickly. Whereas Digg likes to make it tough to get on the home page at all, but then find ways for the really good stuff to stay there even longer.
I think the Mixx feature is a great way to make sure that breaking news gets to the home page extremely fast, possibly hours before it goes popular on Digg The key pressure points are whether the Super Mixxers are in fact all that Super. And if they are willing to take the time to constantly scan incoming news for relevant stuff. Another thing to think about – if this model works and traffic grows substantially at the site, look out for the guys that will want to pay the Super Mixxers to vote for their stuff.
It is just one more feature that I like and that Digg doesn’t have or show much inclination to build. At some point Mixx is going to have their very onw big audience for social voted news, second only to Digg in reach.