Techmeme Opens The Kimono On How It Chooses Headlines And Sources

For many, the methodology behind how technology news aggregator Techmeme chooses sources to link to for headlines has been an enigma. But today, founder Gabe Rivera has opened the kimono a little bit on how stories are chosen to be featured on the site. So bloggers and tech journalists take note.

For background, Techmeme uses a set of algorithms as well as human editors to choose and curate stories to highlight. As Rivera writes, Techmeme’s mission is “to highlight the essential tech news and commentary of the moment on a single page. The must-reads for anyone who needs to know where the industry is going, whether they’re an investor, engineer, entrepreneur, executive, or enthusiast.” That doesn’t include biotech, cleantech or content that hardcore gamers might enjoy. Techmeme works to be comprehensive, fast, scannable, relevant, and story-rich.

Some of the sure-fire ways to get a Techmeme headline include an exclusive story with a ‘detail-rich headline. If it’s a non exclusive story, then Techmeme will highlight the story that offers the best analysis, context, summarization and headline. Being first is also a consideration, but it’s not the key differentiator. And of course, interesting stories will hit as well.

In the ‘do’s’ to getting a Techmeme headline, Rivera outlines some of the best practices to appearing on Techmeme, including breaking a major story, writing a clear headline, linking to other stories (including Techmeme), writing a killer analysis piece, or summarizing a major story that’s behind a paywall. Other helpful hints—don’t bury the lede, include images, videos, or figures, and take advantage of the slow news cycle over the weekend.

The don’ts: Omitting key details in a headline; putting stories behind paywalls, leaving out links to other sources, not updating a developing story, posting old news, and including factual errors, spelling or grammar mistakes in stories.

This is probably the most candid revelation of how Techmeme works to date. We always knew that it combined a mixture of human curation and algorithms, but it is certainly helpful to see a list of do’s and dont’s for sources. And these guidelines can surely be useful for bloggers and writers across the board, even outside of Techmeme-world.