In the world of social media, there are really only two names that stand out. Digg, the leader in the business for over two years now, and Reddit, the simple alternative to Digg, have been 1 and 2 for a while and show no signs of relinquishing that position.
StumbleUpon is arguably in the mix, but it is not a true social media site. Delicious and Slashdot have their own claims, but again, they don’t fall into the same realm of true socially driven media sites.
Which brings us to the topic of this story. There is Propeller, formerly Netscape, the once proud pioneer in the web browser world that transformed itself into the ultimate Digg-killer and fell short. In the other corner is Mixx, the spunky startup that grew as the Digg alternative with innovative features and speedy adjustments to its identity. As of today, they are neck and neck on Alexa.
Propeller has been plagued by poor decisions of late. Their much-anticipated redesign was a failure in the eyes of many users and observers. The site interface is farther now from traditional social media than ever before with an inability to “bury” or “vote down” stories and in a virtual world where simpler is normally deemed the best way to go, they covered the top portion of the site visible above the fold with a cartoon character wearing a funny hat.
Mixx has had its share of drawbacks lately as well. In July, there was descension growing in amongst Mixxers over spamming, blind voting, and other issues that prompted a forum thread spamming over 750 replies. To its credit, Mixx responded quickly by removing the ability to vote directly from a user’s friends’ submissions page.
Despite these drawbacks, Mixx and Propeller seem to be heading in opposite directions. Propeller is losing users left and right (with many heading over to Mixx) while Mixx seems to be addressing its issues quickly. Both sites still lack the powerful burst of traffic that a front page story on Digg or Reddit enjoys, but the traffic levels seem to be improving as measures are being put into place on both fronts to improve these numbers.
Regardless of the reasons, social media is at a crossroads with the long-time #3 giving way to the up and comer at #4. With a redesign rumored in the future for Mixx and an ever-evolving interface that seems to morph as quickly as a blog, they may be setting their sites beyond #3. Who knows? In a year or less, we may be seeing a story like this about Reddit and Mixx fighting it out for #2.
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