Propeller, AOL’s Digg-like news site, launches version 2.0 later this morning. The site sports a new design and logo and now has a mascot – described as “part professor, part citizen journalist” (see image below).
But the biggest feature change is the removal of a pure Digg-like vote count. In its place is an algorithm based popularity ranking of 1-10, which takes into account “many more aspects of participation” when determining popularity. Voting on a story is now called the more nebulous “prop it.” The service has also cut down the number of news categories. Those remaining include Arts & Entertainment, Business & Finance, Family, Humor, News, Science & Technology, Sports and Style.
Taking a page from the Yahoo Buzz playbook, headlines from the service will also be integrated directly into AOL and AOL News.
Propeller has had a rocky history. It first launched in June 2006 under the Netscape.com domain as “a better Digg” in that paid editors chose the top stories from user-submitted and voted links. Soon the site was paying top Digg users to move to them.
Netscape traffic promptly spiked downward, but Propeller, led by general manager Tom Drapeau, filled the gap and has had steady growth since then.