For those not familiar with social news sites, the idea is that users submit links to interesting news articles (or blog posts, funny photos, videos or anything else that tickles their fancy) and then other users can vote for the stories they enjoyed reading. The most popular stories then float to the top where they are easily found by visitors to the site. This is a classic example of the Web 2.0 technique of crowd-sourcing.
The grand-daddy of all social news sites is digg. While digg has an enormous user-base at its disposal, the sheer number of American users means that there is a strong US slant to most of the stories. That is fine if you want to keep up on the latest on Obama or McCain, but it is hard to find Australian stories on digg. It was this realisation that prompted Dan Walsh, Stephen Mayne and Greg Barns to launch Kwoff. And they are not the only ones to go down this route: Bronwen Clune’s site norg also aims to harness people power for news aggregation in Australia.
I first came across Kwofff when I spotted a mysterious “K” among the sharing icons at the bottom of a news story on news.com.au. Since then, I’ve been a regular visitor to the site, submitting stories, voting and, I have to confess, doing the odd bit of promotion of Stubborn Mule pieces. Kwoff is still in its infancy, having launched just prior to the election last November, and will need to attract more users in order to reach its full potential (and to be commercially viable). Nevertheless, it is already a handy way to get a snapshot of stories of the day around Australia.