Mixx, announced new features to their service that will help them break news faster by getting big news stories promoted to the home page in a timely fashion. On the Mixx blog post about the changes, they point out that timeliness has been a problem with social news sites, themselves included - until now. To solve the problem, they have created a "Breaking News" category, which will only contain stories that only "Super Mixxers" can tag. Although this change does allow for faster story promotion for now, whether it's a good long-term solution has yet to be seen.Today, social news web site,
The Power of the Super Mixxer
The "Super Mixxer" is a new kind of user that brings an element of competition to Mixx, something that may appeal to former top diggers who felt that they had been penalized in the past for being active contributors and participants at Digg.com. At Mixx, a user can become a "Super Mixxer" by accumulating points for posting high quality submissions of a diverse nature and by leaving quality comments, too. The user must rack up these "Karma Points" in order to qualify as a "Super Mixxer."
Once having achieved Super Mixxer status, the user will then have access to special privileges like access to the "Related Items" feature, which allows Super Mixxers to link content with previously Mixxed stories, photos, or videos, as well as the ability to tag stories as "Breaking News." In addition to these privileges, as Mixx roles out more features, Super Mixxers will gain access to other tools beyond the reach of ordinary users, too.
How Breaking News Works on Mixx
In order for stories to be marked as "Breaking," at least two Super Mixxers will have to tag it accordingly. Only a limited number of stories can be in the "Breaking News" category at any one time and they can only remain there for a limited time. If a "Breaking News" story gets enough votes, it's moved over to the "Popular" category. To highlight the "Breaking News" category, selected "Breaking News" stories are featured on the right-hand side of both the "Popular" and "News" category pages. You can also subscribe to "Breaking News" on YourMixx.
Super Mixxers can compete for an award for breaking the best stories - the new "News Hound" award will be given to the Super Mixxer who submitted the story with the most votes that day. This award will be showcased with the others, like "Most Opinionated," "Thought Leader," "Most Contentious," and more over in the Mixx Lounge.
Are Super Mixxers a Good Thing?
While the awards and achievements bring back an element of fun to the social news arena, one can't help but wonder if Mixx, in its infancy (it's only 6 months old), is just repeating Digg's mistakes. Compared with Digg, the Mixx userbase is small, so awarding the Super Mixxer status makes sense for now and seems to work. But what happens when Mixx grows to Digg size? Will the Super Mixxers then begin to rule Mixx the way top diggers ruled Digg, banding together in elite groups, forcing the Digg team to change the algorithm to democratize the process?
Or perhaps Mixx doesn't want to democratize the process - by handing over control to Super Mixxers, they are essentially giving a powerful few the ability to make or break Mixx by selecting quality stories for the front page. Currently, the Super Mixxers seem like a decent bunch, thoughtfully promoting stories worthy of sharing. However, by allowing Super Mixxers to tag their own submissions as "Breaking News," it's likely that some people will be tempted to use their Super status to promote their own entries, maybe even unfairly.
To weed out the unworthy, the Mixx team is hand-picking the Super Mixxers by reviewing the comments, submissions, and participation of potential Super Mixxers before awarding them the SM badge. Again, this works for now, but will become overwhelming as the Mixx user base grows.
If allowing the most active users of the service to have the most power, then why does Mixx think this will work for them, when it didn't work for Digg? What will prevent Super Mixxers from forming voting groups or getting paid off to submit stories. Just because a user behaved for a month to achieve Super Mixxer status, doesn't mean they won't turn further down the line and begin using that power for their own purposes later on. Will Mixx then begin revoking Super Mixxer badges? That has the potential to cause just as much outrage as the algorithmic changes to Digg, if not more so, since an algorithm change is a more amorphous and vague, whereas yanking a badge away is a more obvious, direct punishment.
It seems that Mixx is hedging their bets on their ability to "choose wisely" when it comes to selecting their top Mixxers. However, since Super Mixxers don't have the ability to "bury" stories, maybe Mixx will be able to escape the backlash that comes when people feel that a select few have too much power.