What Makes a Good Social Newsie?

Filed as Features on March 28, 2007 1:10 am

It takes a certain type of personality to climb the ranks on sites such as Digg (I know, I know, they don’t have ranks anymore). Here are some traits that are common among the most active social newsies.

Sociable

You would think being social would go without saying, but there is a surprising number of people on these sites exhibiting anti-social behavior. While you’re out there social bookmarking, you’re going to encounter thousands of different people. Be prepared to be social. Approach it as a networking opportunity. Befriend people with similar voting, commenting and submitting habits. Seek to connect with them via IM or email.

Thirst for Content

You would also think being interested in the content found on social news sites would go without saying, but believe it or not, there are quite a few users who bypass the content aspect altogether, opting only to be social. While the social aspects are a key ingredient to social news, it is important to maintain a balance between being social and consuming content.

Aware

Awareness of what is happening on and off your chosen social news site at any given time is key. Try to keep up to date with what fellow users are buzzing about. This means continually checking the stories that are being promoted to the front page and attracting the most conversation. Keep an eye on your friends’ activity too.

Keep up to date with what is happening off the site too. After all, the content outside the site is often what drives it. For this, nothing beats a solid RSS reader. Lately I’ve been really appreciating the new implementation of Google Reader. But for power users who want to break big stories, you can’t beat a desktop RSS reader application. For the desktop, I recommend Omea Reader.

Serving the Community

As a member of an ever-growing community, it is in your best interest to help make it a community others will want to join. You can do this most simply by following the golden rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. Look for opportunities to help new users. If you notice a user breaking the terms of use, report them to the site’s support staff. Report any bugs you find to them as well.

Writing Ability

You don’t need to be able to write a lot, but being able to write a compelling headline and a succinct description is a highly underrated skill. As I mentioned earlier, there are plenty of people who do not read the articles, but instead focus on being social. These people often vote based solely off the title and description. This is a practice which I don’t condone whatsoever, but nonetheless it does mean that a good title and description can make the difference between a popular story and an overlooked one.

Niche Interests

Much like blogging, if you are knowledgeable in a particular topic, you can carve a niche for yourself in social news. Focusing on a specific topic allows you to keep a pulse on which stories have been submitted and which have not. This tactic, among other things, is what allows users like Roy Schestowitz to routinely submit over 1,000 articles per month to their respective social news site.

Persistence

… aka obsessive compulsive. Persistence can come naturally as the result of all of some of the above traits. If you are the type of person who has a “more-than-friends” relationship with the refresh button of their browser, then you will be right at home, constantly refreshing the front page, your submissions page, your friends’ submissions page and almost every other page.

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  1. By Tajim posted on March 28, 2007 at 1:48 am
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    A good Social Newsie will always have the problem of Information Overload , Moving through so much of sites and feeds , you gotta get that problem , that’s my own experience of being a social bookmarker.

  2. By Derek van Vliet posted on March 28, 2007 at 7:42 am
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    I totally agree, Tajim. I have found that Yahoo! Pipes can help a little with that. You can use it to filter out some of the redundancy:

    http://pipes.yahoo.com

  3. By Jim Johnson posted on March 28, 2007 at 10:40 am
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    Is there a good resource anywhere that talks about why people use social news sites like Digg? or even social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us? I use them but clearly not for the same reasons discussed here.

    Any help you can provide would be appreciated.

  4. By Derek van Vliet posted on March 28, 2007 at 2:58 pm
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    Hey Jim, here’s a column I wrote earlier this year about why people are into social news:

    http://www.blogherald.com/2007/01/16/the-irresistible-draw-of-social-news/

  5. Nomadishere : Seeker of Truth » Blog Archive » links for 2007-03-29March 29, 2007 at 5:36 pm
  6. Ghost Writer • April 2, 2007 at 7:00 pm
  7. By Anita posted on April 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm
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    Derek, great article.

    The biggest problem I see is that some social networks no longer reward those who follow this advice. Digg is particularly bad. Personally, I feel that compelling content (whether news, oddities, pictures, or video) should filter to the top. Unfortunately, with sites like Digg, the content is chosen by those who have put in their time and have become well-networked (e.g. with lots of friends), or by those who game the system.

    Sure, this has all been said before, but what I really have been peeved about lately is that Digg has taken the focus away from the social side of things. Removing the top users was the worst thing they could have done. This was how infrequent and light users realized that creating friends on Digg was a good way to get tailored content.

    Now regular users don’t use the friend feature, because they don’t understand the purpose. This leaves the most networked individuals as a relatively closed group, with little chance for normal users to gain influence.

    Lately I’ve been using StumbleUpon a lot more. I can view the most interesting articles via the Buzz section, or just browse what my friends like by clicking Stumble. If I don’t like what I get, I just adjust who I’ve befriended or the topics I’m subscribed too. Once Digg gets the capacity to handle more traffic, I’d love to see something similar for their upcoming stories.

    Enough rambling, have a great day!
    Anita :)