Link sharing services

Sharing links is one of the core things that makes up the ‘social internet’. So it makes sense that there are tons and tons of services out there focused on link sharing, and the conversations around those shares.

Each one tries to come at the situation with their own unique angle, and some have much larger audiences than others (for one reason or another that isn’t always entirely clear).

Personally I pay at least a little attention to the following ones:

Hacker News - The link sharing service from Y Combinator. The community around this was initially built up around the people who have passed through the Y Combinator program (generally early 20-something males who can code – which is why the system can also often feel a bit like a fraternity house around 5pm on a Friday night). The ranking system is heavily based on recency and votes.

Reddit - Possibly the most popular of the pure link sharing services out there (and a former Y combinator alum itself). It hit mainstream awhile back and remains completely out of control since. The ranking system is based mostly on votes, recency, and comment activity…and because it’s mainstream and completely open, it’s often a race to the bottom in terms of quality and conversation (you’ve got to work a bit harder to find the real quality nuggets here).

Twitter - Twitter actually has a number of use cases, but since the early days, one of it’s biggest, and probably my favorite, was link sharing. It’s the single best service for discovering high-quality links related to your specific interests (so long as you find the right people to follow). The ranking system is entirely based on recency…the quality and volume are entirely based on how good of a job you do in picking who and how many to follow (still the biggest hurdle for Twitter to gaining even more traction).

Facebook - Facebook is another one that really has a number of use cases, but one of the major ones is still link sharing. The downside is that this network is almost entirely built around your social/personal network, and so the links being shared throughout it are often irrelevant or at best, highly-viral based 'fluff’ things (more akin to what you’ll find flooding reddit). The ranking system is mostly based on your history of 'likes’ along with recency and your history of clicks/views within the network.

Digg - Digg was one of the early leaders in link sharing, and they gave rise to the voting concept you find throughout almost all the other link sharing services now. Due to some management decisions and product changes over the years they fell out of the mainstream’s eye…but, now under the wing of BetaWorks, have started to make a bit of a comeback. The ranking system is based on a combination of human editorial, votes (diggs), and recency.

Delicious - One of the original mainstream link sharing services. It’s mostly fallen out of grace these days, but many of us 'old school’ people still pine over the potential mainstream link tagging had ( bit.ly has tried a few 'modern’ versions of this concept, but I don’t think they’ve found real traction with any of them yet ). The ranking was based on a combination of recency and tagging.

…there are a few others that I know about and feel compelled to mention, but don’t really use much myself:

Share This - I’ve never used this one myself, but the statistics that they’ve shared in the past say that lots of other people do. I don’t know enough about what it offers or how it works to really comment on how it’s ranking or system works.

Stumble Upon - A 'random’ button for the web. It seems like a lot of people use this service, because you can buy A LOT of traffic from it, but at best it’s a 'random’ feature on something like Reddit (but with even less community and conversation). The traffic is cheap because it’s very low quality.

Potluck - A fairly recent addition to the game, it’s positioned to be a 'modern take’ on link sharing with your friends. It’s another service I haven’t used or dug into enough myself to really know how or what makes them different or relevant in the space…but it’s got backing from players like BetaWorks and Obvious, so it hits my radar as something that should have some potential…

USV.com - The newest player in this space that I know about. From what I can tell the idea is a take on the hacker news model (this time for USV portfolio and community members)…it’s too early to tell how it will do, but in theory it should foster a community around startup funding, startup formation, business models, and marketing (less programmers and more biz dev than hacker news).

…and because I wouldn’t feel complete without mentioning my own entry into this general category…

Knowabout.it - An aggregation and monitoring service that sits on top of these link sharing services (because I don’t actually have time to manually keep tabs on all these services and actually catch the 'important to me’ things). Though it’s a public service, I think I’m probably the only real user. The ranking is based on recency and volume of conversation.

…and a few other 'aggregators’ that are much more popular:

Prismatic, Pulse, Paper.li, and just because I don’t want to list only the ones that start with P… RebelMouse (yes there are a ton of 'players’ in this space as well)

So anyway that’s my quick rundown of the general space…

What services do you use? Which (important) ones did I leave out? What ones should I be paying more or less attention to?

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

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