Yahoo aims to lasso the 'Buzz' with Digg clone

Yahoo rolled out a Digg-like extension to its Yahoo.com Web site that will identify top news and blog posts from around the Web based on user votes and search patterns.

The new Yahoo Buzz extension, which is now in beta, will generate a "BuzzScore" to rate the news stories, videos, images or blog posts on the Web. The top stories will then be considered for placement on Yahoo.com, the company said.

The beta version of Buzz includes content from almost 100 publishers. The company said it plans to eventually open the site to all interested publishers. Participating publishers are given an online "badge" that allows their readers to vote and submit stories to Buzz. Yahoo Buzz will also allow users to submit Buzz stories to social new sites like Digg, Facebook, Reddit and StumbleUpon.

Yahoo noted that it plans to release a Buzz API at some as-yet undisclosed point to allow publishers to add customized Buzz modules or shortcuts to their sites.

"With Yahoo Buzz, we are building on the recent success of the home page of Yahoo and improving consumers' favorite online starting point, by combining popular stories with the wisdom of real people to determine what is most engaging and relevant," said Tapan Bhat, vice president, Yahoo front doors and network services, in a statement.

"Consumer engagement with the Yahoo home page has increased nearly 20% year-over-year, evidence that continuing to open up and provide consumers with direct links out to third party publishers keeps people coming back to Yahoo again and again," Bhat added.

Michael Arrington, a blogger at TechCrunch, noted that publishers are likely to get excited that Yahoo will add a few stories from Buzz to its home page each day because it will likely to drive a lot of traffic to those sites.

"Of course, many publishers won't be able to handle that kind of traffic flow," Arrington added. "But Yahoo is also prepared for that. Smaller sites will only be linked on a fraction of the total home page views - in effect, Yahoo is turning down the fire hose for those that can't handle it."

Stan Schroeder, a blogger at Mashable.com, contended that Buzz is "just Yahoo catching up with the times; there's little innovation or novelty here." Buzz doesn't yet have a section listing upcoming stories to be posted, or the API to help developers create third party applications or tools to see how stories became popular, he said.

"One could argue that Yahoo Buzz aims for absolute simplicity, but I'm not buying it," Schroeder added. "Digg's interface is even cleaner and even simpler in some regards, and yet it offers a myriad of options and features, let alone dozens of third party applications."

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Heather Havenstein

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