Mixx.com: Diary of a (pretty) early adopter

Digging the buzziest new community

You might not know it from meeting me, but I’m really cool. Or so say my dozen or so friends and followers at Mixx.com, the news/photo/video sharing Web site that some are calling the new Digg.

You might not know it from meeting me, but I’m really cool. Or so say my dozen or so friends and followers at Mixx.com, the news/photo/video sharing Web site that some are calling the new Digg.

I didn’t quite make it into the “private beta” for Mixx in September, but I did get in on the ground floor more or less by joining on Nov. 24, about six weeks after the official launch (the site’s logo still even says beta). It took me a couple of years to get clued in to Digg, so I figure I’m well ahead of the game here in the event that Mixx catches on.

Mixx.com is now riding a huge wave of buzz, getting written up in all the in-the-know places, such as TechCrunch and GigaOM.com and now, Network World.

My boss asked me if this might be a case of "One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him," to cite a Chinese proverb. Maybe, but early users are praising Mixx for its ease of use, customizability, friendliness and focus on more than just tech issues. Supporters have even created a separate site called MixxingBowl.com to discuss Mixx (A Mixx spokesman is quick to point out: “We were honestly not involved in any way.”).

And there’s plenty of anti-Digg discussion going on, too, with some disenchanted longtime Diggers trading allegiances. Though Mixx’s CEO Chris McGill -- formerly with USA Today and Yahoo! -- has taken the high road by saying he’s a fan of Digg and other social media sites. He’s just trying to offer something new with Mixx.

Here’s a recap of my first week as a Mixx user:

* Friday, Nov. 24: I first heard about Mixx over the summer when a company called Recommended Reading said it had received about $1.5 million in funding from Intersouth Partners. I socked that info into an Outlook folder on start-ups and forgot about it until I was checking back on some old e-mail over the Thanksgiving break. I found then that Mixx had started up and so I joined at about 3 p.m. At 3:58 p.m. I got a message with this subject line: “Mixx: Someone likes you over at Mixx”* As if I wasn’t already getting suspicious enough from that subject line, I then read the body of the message: “sujoy247 thinks you are a really cool person who knows your way around the web. Check out your new friend's profile:”  I naturally  tried to figure out what I’ve gotten myself into (is this one of those phony MySpace friends?) as I check out my new pal from India’s profile and see he wants me to look at a story called “5 Reasons: Why I love Mixx.”* I get over the suspicions and figure the early Mixx crew is just a bunch of people who want to share some news, stories and pictures and build up their crews of friends to help popularize stories they submit and yes, get a bit of dialog going. The sort of stuff I’m seeing on the site is all over the map. One of the first items I viewed was a picture of a, uh, shapely guy with an iGoogle tattoo on his arm. Also seen: a picture of a cat nailing a pit bull and a very cool collection of perfectly timed photos. Oh, and even some work-related stories, such as AT&T’s CEO yapping about a faster iPhone coming down the road  and a financial whiz warning about what the recession might mean to me.* Mixx is easy to use. Setting up an account took just a few minutes. I uploaded an icon (a weird picture of a local cop shooting another cop in the face with pepper spray during a training mission) and was on my way. Submitting links is simple and I like the flexible tagging system, which gives you unlimited options for specifying your content. The site uses tags liberally for helping Mixxers spot items of interest. Tags for jokes and writing caught my eye.* Another cool feature is the ability to vote for and against stories (Reddit and other news sharing sites also offer this). I haven’t worked up the gumption yet to vote one down, as you can’t do this anonymously. Commenting on stories is also a snap.* Monday, Nov. 26: I returned to work to find out I had a second job. Managing my Mixx account. It was a complete distraction. I got 10 messages from Mixx that day, mainly of the “so and so has shared a link with you…”. I also got invited to join a group called Mixxed Not Stirred, which as far as I can tell is kind of a hodgepodge of article links. I joined and that really cranked up the incoming messages.* Tuesday, Nov. 27: Mixx shares tips with users in its blog about how to manage the flood of Mixx messages.* Wednesday, Nov. 28: I'm invited to join another group, this a tech-oriented one called Techkeyla. I join. More messages.* I get a clue and set up a Mixx folder in my e-mail so I can look at my Mixx messages in a more manageable way. I receive 53 messages that Wednesday. Same number the next day.* I send e-mail to Mixx’s feedback address to see if the CEO might be up for an interview. I get a response within a few hours with his contact info and by the end of the week I’m coordinating with the CEO and his PR sidekick on a Q&A that I hope to post shortly.*Thursday, Nov. 29: I’m making a commitment to myself, and my friends and followers on Mixx, to be a good community member. It’s tempting to just pitch a bunch of the stories that I’m writing or editing at Network World, since those are the stories I’m most up on and I figure it can’t hurt to drive some additional traffic to our Web site, but I’ve started to submit stories from a variety of sources, including the New York Times and Boston Globe and a few different university news offices. That will help what Mixx calls my karma rating.* One story I did submit from our site, about MIT digitizing all its course content and making it available online, did strike a chord with at least one of my Mixx friends, an Australian who thanked me for the submission. How did I know he liked it? Got an e-mail with the subject line: “People are talking about you on Mixx”* The Mixx madness also inspired me to catch up on some of the other social media sites beyond the big ones like Slashdot. Propeller.com, which is part of the AOL network, and Sphinn.com and JPGmag.com (photo magazine/photo sharing) are among other sites generating buzz these days.* Friday, Nov. 30: Not surprisingly, Mixx is still working on a lot of things. It has a blog in which it details changes in the works. For instance, I noticed that initially you could give any story you pitched two votes off the bat. Mixx seems to have closed that loophole. Mixx has also tweaked its karma scoring system, which is based on a mysterious concoction of your activity on the site. Also saw a note on the site that there would be a bit of downtime. Keeping with the feel-good nature of the site, an image of a sleeping baby is shown when the site is napping. Meanwhile, I got 69 new Mixx messages in my inbox today.

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