February 06, 2008

RSSmeme Debuts as ReadBurner Clone

Another day, another site launching to highlight the most popular shared items in Google Reader.

With ReadBurner achieving its one-month anniversary tomorrow, the service is already spawning a number of copycats, first seeing Dennes Abing start with Shared Reader, and now, today, Benjamin Golub has debuted a new site, called RSSmeme. In both cases, the two sites saw the success that Alexander Marktl has had with ReadBurner, and hoped to capitalize on the lacking power vacuum in this space, as Google rests on its hands with Google Reader.

But while Shared Reader didn't directly admit to thievery, Benjamin doesn't hold back.

In the help page for RSSmeme, Benjamin writes, "How is this different than ReadBurner? Fundamentally it isn't.", adding, "I wrote a script that sucked all of the feeds out of ReadBurner. If you think that was wrong then I apologize, but it was ripe for the plucking."

Essentially, Benjamin says he is looking to test how good his capabilities are as a Django developer, as noted in a blog post, titled, "RSSmeme - Look out ReadBurner!". In the post, he adds "competition is good" and "eventually both of us will be better" due to having more players in the game.

RSSmeme's top story this evening shows their interface

So what does RSSmeme add to the conversation that ReadBurner does not? Not a whole lot, so far. Benjamin has added tags for stories, so you can click on the tag and see other similar stories that were shared. He also offers a search engine, where ReadBurner does not. But ReadBurner also offers the ability to add new linkblogs to the service, offers filtering for specific languages, filters for how many shares are needed for you to see a shared item, top-level statistics for each linkblog, and multiple ways to view the shared items, including full content, text-only, or even just images.

Then again, it is RSSmeme's first day. Benjamin just bought the URL www.rssmeme.com yesterday.

Should ReadBurner have a problem with Benjamin's scraping the site to create a competitor? I'd think so. But I'm sure somebody can make the case that all ReadBurner is doing is making a site based on data delivered by Google. So did ReadBurner "steal" the data from Google, who first "stole" the data from individual bloggers, making Benjamin's crime one in a long list? Not sure. I'm not arguing the legality. But it isn't all that innovative that he scraped ReadBurner's site, after Alexander Marktl had been working on the project for a month, and copied its major features. Unless Benjamin comes up with something extremely compelling soon, I don't believe you would see ReadBurner fans switch over to RSSmeme all too quickly.