New Digg Imitators Emerge

Two new online ventures, both modeled on collaborative tech news site Digg.com, launched this week. One of the sites, Dealspl.us, allows users to submit online deals on electronics, housewares, clothing, and other products, and then vote on the best values or products; the other, Sperocite.com, focuses on news stories about religion.

The new initiatives come about one month after AOL re-launched Netscape as a collaborative news site.

But, while collaborative sites are sprouting online, it remains to be seen whether they will draw much traffic. For instance, most of the stories at Sperocite, which went live last weekend, were submitted by the user "Spero News." Few have more than one vote attached to them.

Netscape.com, which drew more than 9 million visitors in the month leading up to its launch, appears to be struggling to attract loyal participants. Netscape's general manager, Jason Calacanis, recently resorted to offering to pay the top users of Digg and other collaborative news sites $1,000 a month to move to Netscape.

Media strategist Steve Rubel, a senior vice president at Edelman, proposed that new collaborative sites might not easily achieve the same degree of success as Digg--which saw traffic grow to 1.3 million unique visitors last month from 243,000 the year before, according to ComScore.

Rubel said that Digg's traction at least partially arose from its focus on a narrow vertical--technology--which had a passionate user base. In addition, he said, these types of sites need time to develop a critical mass of users, but financial backers might be impatient for the sites' traffic to rival Digg's.

Still, some industry observers agree that these say these types of sites have the potential to engage users. Online media expert John Battelle said that the ability to be part of the content selection process has attracted a group of hard-core fans. "Folks love the product--i.e., what is produced--and a subset really love being a part of making it," he said.