Making the most of Mixx social bookmarking
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 — by Wayne Smallman
Mixx is a Social Media bookmarking website that encourages people to get along, picking up the theme of web-based democracy where Digg left off, but with a feel-good spin. And no, Mixx isn’t a Digg clone…
I originally signed up with Mixx shortly after its release, but being strapped for time, as well as being engrossed in StumbleUpon, Mixx was one Social Media website too many.
However, this last couple of weeks has seen me spending some quality time on Mixx, building a modest presence for myself.
I was pleased to see some familiar faces on there, which was encouraging. That alone tells me that Mixx must have what it takes.
What is Mixx?
Found a story, a photo or a video you’d like to share with the world? Mixx handles all three with aplomb. You can even install a button in your browsers’ tool bar, making submissions even easier.
Much like the new micro-blogging platform Plurk, Mixx rewards its users with Karma points, based on their positive activities. It’s a simple social fillip, but on the whole, if people think being nice has genuine rewards, then they tend to play nice.
In addition to the Karma points, Mixx awards very active users with special “Super Mixxer” privileges, unlocking features not available to the regular crowd:
“Super Mixxers will have the option to link a piece of content with any other previously Mixxed story, photo or video with our Related Items feature. Super Mixxers also have the ability to flag content submitted by themselves and others as Breaking News.”
These are great added-value ideas, which further encourage people to play nice and helps foster a more cooperative community.
Contrast that with Digg, where some of the comments are exceptionally rude, discourteous and in some cases, deeply abusive.
Big on Digg? Expecting a front page Mixx to send oodles of traffic? Then you’re going to be disappointed. But I know of several big names from Digg that are more than happy on Mixx.
Keep in mind that Mixx is still relatively new. Given time, the front page of Mixx could start throwing traffic around. Should that ever be the case, that’s when the Social Media mavens will swoop in, for sure.
In much the same was as Digg and StumbleUpon, you submit the stories you find by adding a short description, but Mixx offers some unique features. Before we look at those, let’s first look at how Mixx compares to StumbleUpon and Digg.
Mixx stacked up against StumbleUpon, Digg
- Submitting stories is a multi-stage process (like Digg).
- Submit a story, photo or a video (like Digg, StumbleUpon).
- Earn points for submitting and commenting (there is an internal metric for both Digg and StumbleUpon, but they’re invisible).
- Comment on stories (like Digg, StumbleUpon).
- Add your own Groups (like StumbleUpon).
- Send private messages (like StumbleUpon).
- Add tags to stories (like StumbleUpon).
- Vote stories up or down (like Digg, StumbleUpon).
Features that make Mixx unique
- Associate one related story with another (subject to being a “Super Mixxer”, who has special privileges).
- Reorganize your Home page, adding and removing categories.
- You earn Karma points, as well as being awarded special “Super Mixxer” privileges.
- Submit stories, highlighting either a photo or a video within the story itself.
- Associate a story with a physical location in the world.
- Submit to more than one Category.
- Submit to multiple Groups.
Strengths of Mixx
Highlighting videos and photos is a really great way of attracting votes because they get featured on the Home and Category pages.
Because of the many different options when submitting stories, you can maximize their exposure by submitting to different Groups as well as to Categories. And if you either own or belong to a selection of Groups, you can submit your stories to those, too.
Similar to StumbleUpon, you can create your own Groups, which can be thought of as being compartmentalized areas based around a theme. When creating a Group for the first time, you get a selection of options, such as making it public, private or invite only.
But what Mixx do with their Groups is to combine them with the forum style of StumbleUpon’s groups, which can be found under the Message Board tab. So you’re getting the best of both worlds.
I’ve created a Group for Blah, which has already attracted a small crowd.
Much of the hostility we see around the social web arises from frustrated, socially-retarded individuals with towering egos who can’t get their own way. Thankfully, there looks to be a distinct lack of people like that on Mixx, which is very, very refreshing.
Weaknesses of Mixx
While I welcome the use of comma-separated Tags, if you add multiple words, they’re concatenated into one word, whichisareallystupid thing to do, for obvious reasons!
It’s a shame, because tagging is a massively important part of Social Media, with both StumbleUpon and del.icio.us turning tagging into something of a confusing mess. Want to know who’s got tagging right? Look no further than WordPress and Google Blogger.
The downside to being able to submit stories to many different Categories and Groups is that you’re effectively starting several different conversations; each submission is unique, so comments on one submission are totally separate from the others. That makes things a little difficult to keep track of.
Relatively small user base aside, the Mixx crowd tend not to comment all that often, which is a little weird for a seasoned blogger like me. I expect to see a lively selection of comments strung out below a good article submission.
The future of Mixx
Thinking about StumbleUpon and Digg, the question of where Mixx fits in springs to mind. Mixx is quite a late entrant and those people that are heavily into Social Media bookmarking are already wedded to their particular website of choice.
Mixx is in many ways similar in look & feel to Digg, as well as several other areas. It’s hard to see whether that’s a good or a bad thing. I suspect it’s a good thing in terms of making Mixx a familiar venue for seasoned Diggers, here I’m thinking of Zaibatsu, who’s a heavyweight Digg name and has a similar presence on Mixx.
However, they say similarity breeds contempt, forming a point of criticism for the more vocal bloggers like me, looking for an angle.
I happen to like Mixx, despite its minor shortcomings. And I think the clever Karma scoring is something that will appeal to those who find Digg too hostile and StumbleUpon too competitive.
Several days ago, I submitted a story about Mixx and their current user numbers by ReadWriteWeb:
“Fewer than 1 million people visited Mixx last month, less than 5% of the traffic that competitor Digg saw. Given the circumstances, Mixx’s glaring lack of success to date calls a number of things about this industry into question…”
Quite unsurprisingly, my submission generated an interesting, thoughtful discussion, a notable contribution coming from Joe Dzikiewicz, Chief Technology Officer of Mixx, regarding their choice of Ruby on Rails as the development language of choice:
“[Ruby on Rails] is a big discussion. Suffice to say, we don’t think that Twitter is a good example of the kinds of problems we have. (Twitter is more like an [Instant Messaging] scaling problem — as a veteran of the AIM group at AOL, I know just how hard it is to build really large-scale communications networks where you have to deal with a cross-linked network in real-time). A better example of [Ruby on Rails] successful scaling would be AIM Photos, which is humming along nicely at a much bigger scale than we’re currently at.”
There’s no doubt that Mixx isn’t doing as well as it should, but the recent figures demonstrate that their user numbers are up, markedly so for May, which went to just over 900k, up from just short of 380k the previous month.
While that’s just one month, the surge is pretty pronounced, which makes me think those figures might be part of a trend. We’ll know soon enough.
Personally, I’m perfectly happy with Mixx. Sure, if you’re a Social Media marketeer coming along expecting a front page listing on Mixx to drive tens of thousands of visits to your website of choice, you’re in for a disapointment. But if you’re wanting to find some great content, Mixx is as good as anywhere else.
It’s possible that Mixx could survive with a relatively small audience. After all, size isn’t everything! But I get the feeling there’s growth coming, especially after partnering with the likes of CNN. Add to that an easy-to-use, familiar user interface and Mixx has all the right ingredients for a Social Media success story…
- Mixx: One Year In, Someone’s Dropping the Ball
- What is Plurk? and Plurk takes on Twitter, Pownce
- Tags versus Labels versus Categories…
- The Social Loop — to write, share and promote
- My big social web app’ wish list!
- My 3 rules for Social Media voting