Search engine Ask.com has launched a new area of their site called Ask BigNews which combines news aggregation with elements of social news site Digg. Ask Big News describes itself as “a search and browse service that helps you find and track the most important and most talked about stories in the news.”
This is the first news aggregators to officially team up with Digg in the hopes of leading visitors to the most buzz-worthy items of the day. Elements of popular aggregators such as Technorati, Techmeme, BuzzFeed, BuzzTracker and even Google Hot Trends are apparent.
The most useful element of the site is the ability to easily track a story via one or two clicks of a button. You can choose to either track a headline in your own MyNews area of the site or by way of any number of popular feed readers. This extremely simple-to-use personalization sets BigNews apart from some of its competitors.
Each article has a button called “Big Factor” that shows you a story’s Big Factor average score on a scale of 0 to 100 (which probably not coincidentally looks like a Digg voting button). You can also see a bar graph representing the Big Factor Components. These are broken down into the following four categories:
This factor accounts for the timeliness and freshness of a story, giving more weight to breaking news.
This factor tracks a story’s impact across the Web, monitoring mentions in articles, multimedia and blogs.
This factor identifies the number of quality images and videos associated with stories, providing rich insight.
In a sense, the Web is like one big water cooler. This factor weighs the level of those discussions and which ones are making the most noise.
Digg’s main involvement in the site is apparent at the bottom of the main screen. Here you will find listed not only the “Top 5 Diggs in the News”, but also a column called “Zero Diggs” where freshly submitted content submitted to Digg is pulled in so a user can be the first to Digg it.
While showcasing some of the most dugg items of the day certainly makes sense, the usefulness of the Zero Diggs area isn’t entirely apparent. With the massive number of stories that get submitted to Digg each day, it would seem that you are more than likely to find either non Digg-worthy item in this column or worse, spam. This area might also be more beneficial to the user if you could digg a story right from the Big News site rather than being taken to Digg on click of the ‘digg it’ button.
Digg’s integration is more apparent on individual story pages (dubbed ‘BigPicture’ pages) where articles each have a Digg icon which easily allows you to submit to the site. There is also a ‘Diggs’ area to showcase stories about the topic that have already been dugg.
Silicon Alley Insider offers more insight into Ask BigNews.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.