Yesterday XYDO, the service that curates users' Twitter and Facebook streams and adds a layer of social bookmarking a la Reddit or Digg, opened up to the public. After trying it out for a little while today, I realized that something felt wrong, and then it came to me - when I click on a title, I don't get taken to the website hosting that content, I get taken to a page within XYDO that hosts the content.
It's like XYDO has taken my friends' recommendations, let people vote on them and then, right when I go to click on it, stepped in and said "Here, take this instead." But what exactly is wrong with this?
I exasperatedly brought this up with XYDO on Twitter earlier today, asking (perhaps a bit overboard) if the app "just steals content entirely," to which they replied that they only show "what publishers make available via their RSS feeds, be that an excerpt or full text."
When I pushed a bit further, asking why XYDO doesn't take the same route as Digg, Reddit or Google Fastflip and let the user vote but then take them to the originating site - so as to give that site the traffic - they responded that XYDO is "at its foundation [...] an RSS reader, like Google Reader" and that XYDO "handles content the same as Google Reader, Flipboard, Zite, Pulse, News.me, et al..."
Is there something wrong with all of these apps, then? Certainly not, if the publisher is willingly making their content available via and RSS feed, right? As XYDO notes, it does, after all, preserve inline advertising included in the RSS feed, so the publisher gets that. The only question, then, is why? Why does XYDO look at a tweet, grab the URL and then search for the equivalent RSS feed so that it can display the full content on its site instead of sending the user to the website itself?
It just feels greedy.
Reddit or Digg or Hacker News could easily do the same thing, yet they don't and still have thriving (well, at least Reddit and Hacker News do) communities with massive user engagement. And the publishers happily indulge, because it's a symbiotic relationship.
Put simply, XYDO feels like intentional linkjacking.
Linkjacking is the act of taking a cool piece of content and hosting it on your own site in order to get the pageviews. There's no reason XYDO can't take users' Twitter and Facebook streams, put them into a cool ranking system and then help publishers by driving traffic, but instead it keeps that traffic for its own. The original link - shared on Twitter or Facebook - would have sent the user to the publisher's site, but instead XYDO steps in the stream and intercepts the user.
Take a look at our conversation and tell us what you think - is this no different from the other apps that use RSS to deliver content? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Let us know in the comments below.