Newsvine has just released 7,000 private beta invites and are beginning to open the gates. I have been actually been testing the service for a couple of weeks now and find it absolutely great. I honestly haven’t enjoyed reading the news this much online ever. If you have missed all the buzz about Newsvine, Newsvine is a news media site that presents news, like what you would see on news sites like MSNBC or CNN, but in a much more attractive interface. Even better, Newsvine is also a community of users that can tag stories, comment on stories, chat with others, write news and add links, and a lot more. There is a lot to explain, so how about I give you a walk through Newsvine?
One of the main frustrations of reading normal news sites for me is how they all have cluttered sites with advertisements everywhere, news mixed around, and when I find a story of interest, I can’t even comment about it. Newsvine is the complete opposite and I immediately felt at home with their beautiful interface that allowed me to easily find and read what I am interested in. The design consists of a style that I feel has the unique style of its founder, Mike Davidson. The main page gives a clear overview of all the news submitted from the Associated Press and the Newsvine users, along with buttons to vote and comment on stories (more on this below).” The Wire” being news from sources like the Associated Press, ESPN, and other services. “The Vine” being user submitted content. The main page shows the featured article, top wire news, top vine news, featured writers (users of Newsvine), and then more wire and vine news split into two columns towards the bottom. At the top is the navigation, showing the top categories, and the search form, allowing you to search by tag or full article search. On the left is your accounts menu giving you quick access to write, view your history, or even view a list of saved tags and topics that you wish to keep up to date on (the Watchlist). Now, lets take a closer look at the articles themselves.
I was very impressed with how feature rich every news page is in Newsvine. Unlike normal news sites that just show an article with a few images (and advertisement), Newsvine steps it up with interaction allowing members to vote and comment on any news item. There are also two types of news items at Newsvine, but both have the same functionality. You have normal news and you have seeds. Seeds are links that users submit that will direct you to an external site. Each article has its own seperate chatroom (flash-based) that allows members to discuss the article in real-time. I was also surprised to see that some articles consist of audio that you can actually listen to using a built in flash media player. You will find at the top of every article a set of small buttons (that don’t stand out too well, in my opinion). These buttons are for (in order) chatting, voting, commenting, and lastly, reporting if an article is inappropriate. The vote button uses Ajax to easily add 1 to the articles vote count and has a nice little upward movement animation when clicking on it. Above these buttons you will see the tags. You can tag any article you read or write and add more at any time. Also remember that when you vote or comment on an article, you will be able to go back to it again by viewing your accounts history.
Every user also gets their own profile and column. The profile allows you to fill in basic information for your visitors to see and the column is actually like your own blog that you even get your own address for (you.newsvine.com). The profile is where you go to write, manage articles and comments, edit your user information, and also to view your history of article activity (what you see above). The columns that users get are really neat. Every article your write and every link that you seed can be seen through your column. It is like a blog for your Newsvine activity. Viewers can get an overview of your submitted content, view your profile, and even contact you through a contact form. They can also subscribe to your column with the provided RSS Feeds.
When submitting an article to Newsvine, you have two options. You can create a post or a seed (what you see above). Writing a post is just like you would write on a normal content management system or blog. You fill in the title and the body of the post along with option fields for tags, location, and category. You can then decide to submit the article or save it as a draft to continue working on later. One thing that I didn’t see though were instructions for formatting content because a WYSIWYG Editor is not used. I mentioned that you can also seed a link. You have two methods of doing this. You can get an address for the site you want to link and manually paste it into the “Seed a Link” section, or you can add the Newsvine bookmarklet to your favorites so you can easily seed a site that you are currently viewing. Submitted content can then be commented and voted on and if you receive enough votes, hopefully will make it to the front page or make you a featured writer of Newsvine.
You may be thinking, a large percentage of articles submitted are going to be user generated. What is in it for you? For one, getting your writing viewed by thousands, and secondly, money. Newsvine is stepping things up a bit by actually allowing their users to generate revenue by writing and submitting seeds. How is this done? Newsvine will soon have some advertisements throughout the site and will be visible on your user column (your Newsvine sub-domain) and ad earnings are based on based on traffic to your articles and seeds. So how much do you get out of it? Surprisingly 90% of the earnings! Where does the other 10% go? To the user that referred you to signup to Newsvine and if no one referred you, then the 10% will go to Newsvine to support bandwidth and site improvements. Maybe it would be a good idea to promote your columns to drive more traffic to it! During the beta, no revenue can be made by the users as ads are not active yet. It is unknown on how much one could earn from Newsvine, but either way it is definitely great to see a service paying their users for user-generated content.
As I have said, Newsvine has a large amount of functionality. One of my favorite features is the Watchlist. When viewing any tag, category, location, or member column, you will see a button at the top left that says, “Watch.” Clicking this button will add that source to the left navigation’s Watchlist giving you easy access to it at any time. What is even better about it though is that when a new item has been added to the source, you will see the amount of new articles next to the name on the watchlist, so it acts like a mini aggregator. And speaking of aggregation, Newsvine also provides RSS Feeds on what seems like every page. You can subscribe to tags, columns, and categories. You can also decide if you want the feed to include Wire and Vine articles or just one of them individually. Feeds for user columns include feeds for posts and links. Another feature worth mentioning are the user-friendly URL’s. For example, if you are interested in Google or Ajax, you can simply browse to newsvine.com/ajax and it will bring up all articles under that tag. Even permanent links to news items have clean addresses that have the date and title in them. The last feature I want to mention is the location setting. At the top right of Newsvine is a dropdown box that lets you select a region, like San Francisco. Selecting a region will then filter all news throughout Newsvine to only be related to that region. If I am interested in seeing news on Technology in the San Francisco area, I can easily do so.
Newsvine is going to change the way we read news on the web. As I said earlier, I have never enjoyed reading the news as much as I do now using Newsvine. The environment, community, and interaction makes it unlike any other news site. I have been stuck in the zone of reading about news through services like Digg, Memeorandum, and Blogs, but I never make time to read the actual news online, but not anymore. To sum it all up, Newsvine allows you to read news by sources like the Associated Press and user submitted news. You can vote, comment, tag, and even chat to interact with the news and users of Newsvine. You are also given your own news column (along with sub-domain) that you can write to and hopefully will make it as a story on the front page if enough visitors vote for it. Even more, you can also earn revenue by Newsvine advertisements placed on your column.
Just one last note that Newsvine is currently in Private Beta and invites are now available to be sent out by Newsvine users. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I am!
Excellent work to the Newsvine Team and best of luck!