Have you ever tried to participate on one of the big social news sites and found that you just didn’t fit in? Perhaps the problem is the level of conversation. Perhaps it is the community’s main interests. Did you know there are a world of alternatives out there which cater to niche interests, each with its own unique community. Here are just a few:
Tweako just launched last week. Designed and developed by 19 year old Michael Stefanello, it’s a social news style site that focuses on technology tutorial content. Want to know how to integrate a phpbb2 forum into your blog? How about optimizing your AdSense revenue? Did you know you can back up your Gmail using Google Groups? You can find out how to do all of these things at Tweako.
This Just Brewed
Drinking and social news, together at last. If you like drinking beer, wine, coffee or tea and then talking about it with people, This Just Brewed might be your kind of site. The site is also relatively new to the social news scene, so it could use some more users. I never read a Digg comment thread without a bottle of scotch on hand, so this seems like it was made for me.
Look out, sports fans! This site is for you. Fresh out of beta just yesterday, Ballhype is a social news site focussed on sports news. It features something that I’ve wanted more of out of the bigger social news sites: local features. Localization is arguably more important for sports news than other types of news. On Ballhype this means the ability to not just filter news by sport or league, but also by city. They also feature actual games which can be commented on. Users can also pick who they think will win games and build up profile points for guessing correctly, giving the site a different kind of competitive feel.
Founder of Federated Media and web search expert John Battelle created his very own social news site centered around search-related content. His modest thinking behind setting up SearchMob is that his readers are collectively smarter than he is about what is hot in search news. Is he right? Well that’s up to you.
If you’re a raging gear-head, you may want to check out Auto Spies. Often an overlooked and under-covered topic in social news, Auto Spies offers users a place to convene and socialize around car-content. They also feature photo galleries of auto show events and a photo rating game that harnesses the hive mind to determine the hottest snapshots of cars.
If you’d rather watch your socially driven content than read it, then be sure to check out Video Sift. It’s a Digg-style site that features only embedded video content. The slick interface and categorization of videos makes it highly addictive. Be sure to check out their feature The Top 100 Web Videos of 2006.
As you can see, specialized social news sites are popping up faster than they can be written about. All of these sites took a niche topic and sprouted a social environment around it. The result is a unique community at each site. And this is truly just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more sites like these out there. And if by some chance there isn’t one that covers your desired niche topic, you can always make one yourself.
Derek van Vliet is a Toronto, Ontario native who has been programming for most of his life. In the last year he has been active in social news. He is currently a top 10-ranked user on Digg where he goes by the name BloodJunkie. He is also a professional social bookmarker (aka Navigator) on Netscape, where he goes by the name Neophile. Check his blog at http://neothoughts.com.