And in this Corner, Tailrank

trgrab-717847I talk about Memeorandum all the time, and it’s no secret that I love it. I’ve talked about Chuquet and Megite a few times, including about the Newsome.Org personalized version of Megite.

But tonight it’s time to talk about Tailrank, the other major player in the meme tracker game. I’ve had good things to say about Tailrank before, here and here.

It’s a daily read for me, so let’s take a closer look.

Earlier this week I talked to Tailrank founder Kevin Burton about the site and his upcoming plans for it.

The first thing that jumps out at me about Tailrank, and something that differentiates it from other meme trackers, are the screen grabs. I like the little screengrabs beside the lead articles. It gives me a sense of the place where the article comes from and on occasion it leads me back to that site to check out the design and/or see what else the writer has to say.

Kevin told me that the plan is for Tailrank to display a screengrab for most if not all the blogs that get listed. Earlier this week some screengrabs weren’t showing up, but tonight most of the blogs on the front page have a screengrab. Kevin and I didn’t talk about this, but some of the old media sites may not permit screengrabs, so that may be why some sites don’t have them.

I think the screengrabs are a nice touch.

The other thing that jumps out at me is that Tailrank is more broadly focused than some of the other meme trackers and does not have categories- yet.

Kevin tells me that some sort of category feature is coming, and pretty soon.

On the one hand, I like the “everything in one place” aspect of Tailrank because I see things I wouldn’t otherwise see, like this story about Greenland’s melting glaciers. On the other hand, except for when Cheney whacks somebody like he did this week, I am completely uninterested in politics. So I am in favor of some sort of category option.

I would love to see multiple options: all categories, one category or choose your categories. That would be tres cool (I would pick tech, music and whatever else grabs me; I would not pick politics, at least not until Cheney shoots somebody else).

I also asked Kevin if Tailrank had any plans to do any sort of personalization filtering, like Megite is experimenting with now. Kevin told me that when Tailrank launched it had some personalization features- I didn’t know that. No specific details yet about what’s forthcoming in this regard, but I believe Tailrank will come out with something new and innovative in this regard. As Kevin said, “stay tuned.”

The trick as others have pointed out is how to allow personalization without overburdening your servers. People feel differently about the value of and need for meme tracker personalization, but I think it’s a neat, though not mandatory, feature. Particularly if you are trying to build a mindshare. Stated another way, I don’t think Memeorandum needs it, but I think some sort of personalization is a worthwhile feature for those who want to close the gap between themselves and Memeorandum.

The other thing I have wondered about is how Tailrank picks the lead story and the order of the “inbound” stories, particularly on the link pages. Kevin tells me they are reworking the way links are displayed. Expect the links to have more of a threaded look in the future.

I’m glad to hear that, because the one thing I would change about Tailrank (other than getting Newsome.Org posts up there more) is the way the various links are displayed. It seems to me that there could be more information on the link pages. While I like the screengrabs, many of the posts on the link pages don’t have them and that wastes a lot of screen space. Even though I like the screengrabs on the link pages, I would gladly have them appear smaller or perhaps even disappear altogether in exchange for clustered links and more information that would make it easier to jump back and forth from the various linking blogs.

Members who sign in at Tailrank can submit, summarize and tag new stories, to see if they get legs (via tags from other users). If something gets tagged a lot, it moves up to the front page, sort of like Digg. I’m going to tag this story when I get done and see if I get more traction that I did with my Digg experiment (only 2 diggs, including mine). Members can also tag currently listed stories and edit summaries for existing stories (though it’s not clear to me exactly how the summary edit works). I admit that I haven’t really explored this feature much before tonight. I tagged the glacier story with “waterworld,” but I’m not sure why.

While I like the meme tracking functions of Tailrank, I’m not sure I know enough about the tagging and summary editing functions to fully understand how they can help me or other readers. Perhaps a tutorial would help. But these are features the other meme trackers don’t have, so it’s hard to criticize Tailrank for not fully describing them.

All in all, Tailrank is a cool and useful service that’s getting better all the time. It is one of the best places on the web to find interesting content and new blogs to read.