Buzz, the social news site that Yahoo launched in beta form in February, may pose a serious threat to social news pioneer Digg.com, according to some industry observers and even Digg users.
Yahoo late Tuesday opened Buzz to all publishers. The company said that said since the beta program opened last winter with 100 users, more than 300 publishers have been added. The site already boasts 5 million users, it said.
Buzz generates a "BuzzScore" based on user votes to rate the news stories, videos, images or blog posts on the Web. The top stories are then considered for placement on Yahoo.com.
Don Reisinger, a blogger at Mashable, said that Buzz could have a major impact on Digg's traffic and on its potential acquisition value.
"Since April, Digg's [traffic] numbers have been slumping," he noted. "Granted, they're not slumping too much and the site is still performing extremely well, but it is down nonetheless. I think Digg slowly lost its appeal when it stopped becoming a tech-savvy haven and tried to expand into areas that its tech-influenced crowd didn't care about."
Reisinger went on to note that Yahoo Buzz can offer publishers "a flood of traffic" that beats even the large amount of traffic an appearance on Digg's front page can generate.
"Yahoo Buzz is taking the Digg idea, improving it by reducing the frequency of people gaming it, and launching with a focus on all topics with its own main page to back it up," he added. "How can Digg compete on any one of those levels? When Digg was firmly focused on tech and didn't try to improve algorithms to make upcoming stories last longer before they went popular, or stop certain 'influencers' from being too successful, people found some value in using the site. But now, it's nothing more than a placeholder of derivative stories and outrageous comment threads."
Jacqui Cheng, a blogger with Ars Technica, noted that like Digg, Buzz allows users to vote up stories they find interesting. However, Buzz has something Digg doesn't -- the allure of Yahoo's front page, Cheng added.
"Not just any stories will end up getting Buzzed, but when they do, they get posted to the front page of Yahoo.com," Cheng noted. "That's some pretty major exposure, and the level of traffic driven by Yahoo once something gets buzzed is exponentially higher than most other social news sites, including Digg."
Some Digg users themselves also posted positive comments regarding a story on Digg about Yahoo Buzz opening up to all publishers.
Digg user "John Darko" said he prefers Digg, but noted that "I think the potential that future submissions could appear on the front page of Yahoo.com is a valuable prospect."
Another user, "Davincih" added, "I think Yahoo's system is going to result in much better front page headlines. It's less about who you know and more about the actual content."
Other Diggers, however, weren't so sure about Buzz.
"Prefixmag" said "The possibility of getting on the home page of Yahoo is a strong selling point for Buzz. On the other hand, they're a bit late to the game to open it up to everyone. I think for certain types of news it could do well, but on topics like Tech it'll be tough."
Finally, Digg user "Vanzetti" added that "Yahoo does amazing things like delicious and flickr, but then they do other really lame things like Yahoo."
Another telling fact - the story about Yahoo Buzz on Digg only had 79 votes as of Wednesday morning.