Tomorrow we will celebrate a funeral and a baptism of sorts. OK, perhaps “celebrating” a funeral is not the best choice of words, but today is Propeller‘s last day. (But “celebration” is a great word for OldDogg‘s baptism!) If you’ve been around social media for only the past couple years, you might be asking, “What is Propeller?” and “What is the big deal”.
FIRST, the funeral…
Once upon a time, Netscape – remember Netscape, the most popular Web browser in the world until Bill Gates got it in his sights? – set up a social bookmarking service to rival Digg and Reddit. It began to grow and looked like it might be a contender, until Netscape itself began to wither away.
Eventually, when there was not much left of Netscape, with its last dying breath (OK, it didn’t quite die, just sort of whimpered into limbo), Netscape sold its social bookmarking service to AOL. Yay, a big, successful company to revive the still thriving but pretty-much-orphaned site.
AOL took immediate action. It creating new branding for the site under the name of Propeller. It gave light. It gave hope. It gave a spare corner of a dusty old closet in the basement.
That was 2007, and ever since, Propeller has slowly been withering away. Just a year ago, it would still take at least 12 votes on bad day for a story to make the front page. A few months ago, we started seeing stories make the front page with a single vote. In the past couple months, it was rare for a story to need more than one or two votes to make the front page.
Propeller was dead, but still it walked on. Or crawled. And tomorrow the euthenasiaists finally do their dirty work and put the zombie out of its misery.
THEN, a baptism…
For those diehard Propeller loyalists and for others seeking a place to go, a new social bookmarking website was born – OldDogg.
The “others” I am referring to are most specifically refugees form “New Digg”. A month ago, Digg resolutely decided to ignore the lessons of Coca Cola, and launched a new version whose main intent was to pull the rug out from under the 20%-or-so of its most loyal and regular users, its very heart and soul….and give it to Big-time publishers.
Suddenly, there was a significant group of passionate social bookmarking fans in search of a place to go. Overnight – literally – Phil Mitchell in his UK home office (a 12 foot by 12 foot room with two monitors and a 3.5ghz 4gb ram computer) put up a brand new social bookmarking website called OldDogg. If that was not impressive enough, for his next act he wooed the Digg refugees over.
Let’s be clear. Old Dogg was basically a Pligg clone with some new skin. It was – and still is – no Digg. And many disgruntled Diggers are returning to Digg. But Phil laboured away, coding faster than the speed of Tiger Woods at a sorority party, and the site has really come together since those early days just a month ago.
In the first 25 days the site had clocked up over 27,000 votes and 1,500 comments.
- Diggers who are returning to Digg don’t seem to be leaving OldDogg. At least for now, they are keeping one foot on each site.
- Every day, OldDogg is getting new members from pretty much all over the place.
- Over the past week I have seen a significant Propeller diaspora showing up.
- I should note that I see a healthy dose of my Mixx friends on OldDogg, too.
Born one month ago, it’s time to hold a baptism and say that here we have both a refuge for fed up Diggers and a homeland for lost Propellerheads (sorry).
What does the future hold for OldDogg? It is hard to say. It all depends on whether Phil can make it scalable. I had given him this advice: “There are always a gazillion ways 2 improve (everything Digg used to have, I guess), but right now IMHO you need more non-power-users first.”
He seems to be doing just that, and the timing of Propeller’s funeral is a stroke of luck for OldDogg, as it has added a very active group members. But with more members comes the need for more complex coding (I can’t follow what my friends submit , as I can on Mixx and used to be able to on Propeller and Digg, for example). And Phil Mitchell will need to assemble a team that is bigger than just Phil Mitchell.
These are more than the ramblings of an uneducated observer. Unlike Phil’s instant success, I have been running Zoomit.ca totally on my spare time (exactly!), and I don’t do PHP coding (so I have to empty my pockets to make upgrades). With time and money both in short supply, I’ve been doing a slow motion version of what he has done with OldDogg (but watch in the next couple weeks for some exciting upgrades to Zoomit.ca, too!).
From what I have seen over the past month, Phil is probably up to the task. Keep your eyes on OldDogg; I predict it’s here to stay.Written by David Leonhardt
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