The popularity and growth of Digg cannot be overstated. Despite Slashdot's having nearly a decade's headstart, Kevin Rose and crew developed a simple solution that has become the engine to emulate. And while many others have written stories on the "Attack of the Digg Clones", summarizing competition from Reddit and others, I've seen a small handful of niche sites starting up that may or may not gain traction over time. They say 9 of every 10 startups fails, but on the Web, with the cost to start a new project being so low, companies or sites can float along with little traction and not feel pressured to shut down or have a liquidity event.
Here are a few Digg clones you might not know. The more "niche" they seem, the more likely they might be to find an audience uninterested in fighting for a spot among the unwashed hordes. And you probably won't be shocked that all three... are in Beta.
1. DigWin (www.digwin.com)
DigWin launched in beta more than a year ago (See: digWin.com Goes Beta: "Microsofties" Rejoice!), focusing on Microsoft technology-centric news only. Unsurprisingly, the top headlines on the site are typically focused on Microsoft as a company, the Windows operating system, or the surrounding developer community.
Unlike Digg, where it usually takes a few hundred "Diggs" to make the front page, DigWin's low traffic means only 2 or 3 "votes" are needed to be considered the "latest hot news". My first brush with this site was when a reader voted in my story on .PST imports to GMail.
2. BlogsferaNews (www.blogsferanews.com)
BlogsferaNews looks extremely new. In fact, a quick Google Search doesn't land any hits, with the exception of the site, and the owner's Technorati profile. Blogsfera, which I can only assume is Italian for "Blogosphere", also has a primary focus on technology, ranging from Video Games and Gadgets to Internet, Linux and Software.
The site is so new that only a dozen participants have submitted stories to the site, and unsurprisingly, almost 100% of those stories have successfully reached the front page.
Typical vote counts to reach the front page are between 5 and 20. So far, the only story I've ever written to hit the site has 3 votes. (It Could Be a Boring... Slow... Cold... TV Winter)
3. StartupNewz (www.startupnewz.com)
This site's name gives away its focus - Startup News. The site's authors have tried to make it a catch-all of startup news, including commentary on venture capital funding, social networking trends and global adoption of wireless. (See the StartupNewz blog)
In addition to the content submission portion of the site, which, like BlogsferaNews, takes 5-20 votes, the authors also have an extensive photo library from recent Silicon Valley events, including TechCrunch, Office 2.0 and the Churchill Club. (See StartupNewz Photos)
StartupNewz is just getting off the ground. Despite some stories having 20 votes, only 10 users have submitted stories thus far, dominated by the top two users, who have submitted 224 and 115 respectively. That could be a sign you could have an input on the community by getting in early, or that it would forever stay small.
As mentioned, all three sites are in beta. And with the simplicity of starting such sites, there's no doubt there are dozens or hundreds more out there. But as the one-time dominance of Slashdot shows, even the big guys fade sometime. And just maybe you'll be hearing a lot more about these (and others) as people get Digg fatigue and move on.