In news that should come as a surprise to no one, troubled news aggregation site Tailrank is officially headed to the Deadpool, as its parent company looks to sell off its assets. The company behind the site has decided to cut its losses and to concentrate its efforts on Spinn3r, the platform used to power Tailrank that allows researchers and developers to tap into the service’s volumes of blog data. In the wake of Tailrank’s demise, Spinn3r is announcing a major upgrade today, which includes a new backend, architecture, and revamped user interface.
Tailrank launched in late 2005 as an automated news aggregator looking to compete with the likes of Techmeme and a handful of competitors. By mid-2007 it became clear that few people were actually using the site, after it took weeks before anyone noticed that its technology section had gone blank (which prompted us to question if the site should have been placed in the Deadpool). A product upgrade a few months later didn’t do much to help the site gain traction, and visitors to the site now see an error message.
But while the consumer facing portion of Tailrank is gone, its backend lives on. The company spun off the technology platform called Spinn3r in early 2007, allowing developers and researchers to tap into its blog indexing and ranking data. Since then it has been used by a number of major universities and startups as a way to access vast amounts of data without having to crawl the web themselves.
Today’s release of Spinn3r 3.0 introduces a new admin console, which is meant to make it easier for users to sift through Spinn3r data (the company reports that while it has previously provided a powerful API, some customers had trouble using it, which the new panel should help with). Other new features include access to comments through an API, improved tracking for new content across blogs (even those that don’t support pings), a much larger archive of past posts, and improved performance.
Spinn3r has also detailed some of the applications researchers are building on the platform, including a Swine Flu Tracker built by the University of North Texas.