New aggregator Techmeme made headlines last month when it revealed that a human editor would help the site’s algorithm pick the best links to highlight. Today, it’s adding a powerful new source to that process: You.
Techmeme will now scour the micro-messaging service Twitter looking for tweets (Twitter messages) that start with “Tip @Techmeme” or “Tip @TechmemeFH” (Techmeme’s two Twitter accounts) and include a link to the news story you think should be a Techmeme headline. If it’s a good tip, and Techmeme adds it as a headline, the service will credit your tweet in the links area of the story (you can see it in the picture above).
While this sounds like a great idea to improve the scope of Techmeme, the obvious concern has to be about people spamming Twitter with links for Techmeme to include. But Techmeme is aware of those issues and is being clear about what will fly and what won’t. In an FAQ on the blog post written by Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera, he notes that Twitter accounts that continually spam this Techmeme feature will simply be ignored. This includes accounts set up simply for the purpose of tweeting out links for Techmeme.
But the more pressing issue for a lot of people will be the submission of one’s own links. Rivera notes that it’s okay to submit your own links occasionally if you legitimately think Techmeme has overlooked it for whatever reason, but cautions against doing it excessively. Of course, given Techmeme’s history of tech bloggers bitching about their links not being included, I would bet that “excessively” might be an understatement for the way some will use it.
I also have to wonder if this is going to turn Techmeme into a “game,” similar to how the social news voting site Digg is a game in which users jockey to get credit for submitting popular links. But again, the more people that get involved, it seems that it can only help Techmeme’s scope and potential range.
We’ve previously broken down why Techmeme is much better at finding tech news than a service like Google News
From a technical standpoint, this new feature works by scanning Twitter Search’s application programming interface (API). Rivera notes that as long as that API keeps performing well (never a given with Twitter’s past performance issues), the site will find these submitted links promptly.
For right now, it looks like the humans (Techmeme employees) will be going through these submitted links and deciding what works and what doesn’t. “The crediting is automated of course. Does the algorithm consider these tweets in ranking? A blended human/machine approach is planned, though right now it’s mostly human. Before building up the automation we need to see what kinds of patterns arise in the tip data,” Rivera tells me.
Feel free to send us tips on Twitter too: You can find me on Twitter here along with fellow VentureBeatniks Eric Eldon, Dean Takahashi, Anthony Ha, Chris Morrison, Tam Vo, Camille Ricketts, Dan Kaplan and Matt Marshall. We have a VentureBeat account (for our posts) as well.