Taking a Look at Newsvine

newsvineSo Newsvine has opened its doors to the rest of the world, after being in private beta for a while.

Mike Arrington loves it, and calls it perfect. He says he likes it because it combines the best features of a number of other services, like Digg and Google News.

So let’s take a look and see what we think.

A Good Opening

But first, I have two good things to say about Newsvine. One, it is a very pretty web site. Web design is too often overlooked in the Web 2.0 space, but that’s a mistake. The colors and design create a peaceful vibe that will draw people back to the site all by themselves. Second, the developers resisted the urge to throw up a site with a neat logo and call it a public beta. The site is new (at least to those of us who weren’t beta testers), but it looks full and rich with content.

Easy Sign-Up

Signing up was easy. The confirming email arrived right away and I was up and running in no time. I got in ahead of all the other geeks named Newsome and got newsome.newsvine as my personal Newsvine page.

So What’s Next

There are several news topics you can choose from to get content. Of course I went straight to Tech. The NTP enrichment action was front and center, as expected. There were other stories about the likely cast of subtopics.

The first thing I noticed is that all of the linked stories are hosted on the Newsvine site, either in their entirely or on a jump page that leads back to the entire article.

You can write and publish posts to Newsvine directly from your personal Newsvine page, or you can “seed” an external story which will be linked from a jump page. Then others can “seed” the story if they want- sort of like Digg. News by content sure is the rage these days, but I have to tell you, that vague uncomfortable feeling I got when I looked at Digg has grown into a raging sideache where content by contest is concerned.

Again, you can “seed” external links (much like Digg), and there is a button you can add to your browser to help you do so, along with a brief description and tags. It is considered bad mojo to seed your own posts, so you have to rely on others to do that for you.

The whole content by contest thing seems really stressful to me, on both ends. Writing a story and hoping a bunch of other people who are almost certainly writing their own stories will vote you up the chain to a place of exposure seems too hard and potentially frustrating. And quite frankly, I don’t like the idea of getting news in its order of popularity.

I expect either you get what I’m saying or you don’t. But I really don’t enjoy that concept.

The other thing I wonder about is how many people want to post content at Newsvine, as opposed to on their own blogs (recall that you aren’t supposed to seed your own stuff, so the only way to get content on Newsvine without help is to write from your personal Newsvine page). The Help page says it’s OK to cross-post content at Newsvine and your blog, as long as you don’t seed your own stories.

Writing over there seems dilutive to me. Granted, there is a revenue share on ad revenue, but I’m still not sold on writing my heart out on my Newsvine page.

About that Page

My Newsvine content creation page looks pretty well designed and full featured. I decided to repost a short post I did today linking to Mark Evans, just to see how it works and in general it worked very well. There ought to be a WYSIWYG editor with an easy way to add links, but I know html, so this was not that big of an omission. It may be more of a problem for the less tech savvy.

I posted that article. And it immediately showed up on my Newsvine page. There are links on the post page for chatting (how many people could there be reading a post at the same moment, but OK), Commenting and reporting a post (presumably for bad language, etc.).

So publishing content is pretty easy and seems to work well.

Early Conclusions

I need to explore more, but so far it looks promising. I’m not sure I would post a bunch of new stories on Newsvine as opposed to my blog, but I might cross-post some stuff if I started getting any meaningful flow at Newsvine. I might also “seed” a few external stories, but the whole news by contest thing is really a buzzkill for me. I must be in the minority as far as that goes, however, since Digg and other similar sites are so hugely popular.

A good opening, with potential