Filtering through the noise to find news on discovery sites can be daunting. Social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit have been doing very well, and memetrackers, like Techmeme, are also growing in popularity. The newest trend in discovery tools, it seems, is semantic search engines, like Powerset (recently bought by Microsoft) and Hakia.
LOUD3R offers a network of 30 topic-specific semantic search engines. Some of the topics include venture capital (FOUND3R), fashion (GLITT3R), internet business and technology (BUZZ3R), men’s fashion (DAPP3R), politics (VOT3R), and many more. The network has received 200,000 uniques since their launch last month.
For each site, LOUD3R gathers and publishes content (including photos and videos) from blogs, news, and editorial sites. Each site has a source list and a semantic glossary of terms that teach the engine how to identify the best content. The content is ranked with a point system, pushing the highest ranked to the top. The engine also learns from user behavior, community feedback and human editors.
On the front page of each site, is the highest-ranked content for the site’s central topic. Users can search the content and topic-specific results will be presented. The results are listed with tags and related stories. Users are given the option to comment, share, or flag the results. Users can also narrow down the results by news, photos, and videos on the top of the page, or decide to show the highest ranked, the most popular, or the newest entries.
There is also a topics page, where popular topics are listed by category. For example, on FOUND3R, the venture capital website, the topics page is populated with topics under categories Venture Capitalists, Publication/Blog, Venture Capital Firms, Financial Groups, Finance, and Business Terms.
The sites are very easy to use, and are feature-rich, but there are some drawbacks. There is little to no crossover between the sites, so you may be missing out on some key content. For example, if a user was browsing investments on FOUND3R, the latest news about those recently-funded companies might not be there, because they would be on BUZZ3R, the tech news site. It’s also a tad annoying to have to sign up on each site, so a network-wide login would do wonders.
LOUD3R claims to own 500 domains with the 3R ending, so it’s safe to say that eventually there will be a site for just about everything. They are rolling out six new sites soon: PREGG3R (pregnancy), TODDL3R (parenting), AMPLIFI3R (guitar), SPINNAK3R (sailing), ROOST3R (motocross), SHUTT3R (photography), and SUMM3R (a Bejing Summer Olympics site).