Newsvine Launches

After eight weeks of testing in private beta, Newsvine is now live to the world. It’s been an extremely productive couple of months, with countless enhancements and feature additions making their way onto the site almost every day.

The decision when to release to the world was a tough one for us. The site has come so far in its short existence, and yet, we feel we still have so far to go. Things are never finished around here, but that’s a good thing. By continuing to listen and react to the needs of the community, the Newsvine team is determined to make this site what it has always promised to be: a perfectly different, perfectly efficient way to read, write, and discuss the news.

We’d like to send out a huge thank you to all members of the alpha and the beta for taking the time to put Newsvine through its motions. When you build a large-scale news media site and an accompanying content management system from scratch, there’s simply no way to forecast what issues and circumstances will come up until a diverse group of people put it to everyday use. So for all 30,000+ people who made their way into the beta during the last several weeks, THANK YOU! A huge thanks also goes to Mike Slade, Nick Hanauer, and the rest of the crew at Second Avenue Partners who have not only provided us with the financial support to build Newsvine but also the industry expertise to help us build the best service we can possibly build.

So where are we with regards to features at launch? Let’s a quick look at the some of the features that made it in for launch, as well as the things the five of us will be working on for the next few months:

Already Live

The Fastest Wire News on the Web

Because there is no editor sitting between our newswires and the live site, news makes its way onto Newsvine faster than any site on the web. In some cases, we’ve beaten major news sites by hours on very important stories. The news mix is continuously being adjusted over here so we’re still working out some kinks, but one thing we know is we’re extremely fast.

500+ Regions Around the World

Newsvine now covers over 500 regions around the world… including Antarctica! While we’re just beginning to scratch the surface with international coverage, it’s now fully possible to submit content from all around the world and have it appear in its appropriate location. Not only that, but all news on the site is displayed in your local time zone, whether it be Pacific, Eastern, or Ulaanbaatar time. We have big plans for both expanding the breadth of our regional coverage as well as drilling down to the “micro-location” level… or neighborhoods. Stay tuned.

Easy Writing and Seeding

Over the last several weeks, we’ve added features like spellchecking, autosave, and inline previewing to our authoring tools while making them simpler at the same time. The goal at Newsvine is for people who’ve never published on the web before to easily hop right on and start writing. Additionally, we’ve made it possible for people to maintain their own columns simply by saving interesting news stories (seeding). The goal is to get people involved in any way they wish.

Newsvine Doppelganger™

The Newsvine Doppelganger™ is a handsome beast capable of determining the similarity of articles hosted anywhere in the world. For instance, if someone were to write an original Newsvine article on a particular incident in Iraq, Newsvine would instantly know if similar Associated Press stories were available anywhere on the site, or even external stories seeded from other sites like CNN or the BBC. The goal here is the automated clustered of similar information and the ability to point readers in the direction of the most lively and informative conversations.

Flexible, Usable Navigation

Searching on Newsvine is as easy as typing a term into the URL bar. “newsvine.com/sports” gives you all sports stories on the site. “strubel.newsvine.com/sports” gives you all sports stories by John Strubel. “seattle.newsvine.com” gives you all stories from the Seattle region.

Powerful moderation tools

We now have the ability to endorse and report every piece of content on the site. Whether article, seed, or comment, all users are now directly accountable for what they submit. We’re happy to say that during the private beta, system abuse was squashed quickly and, in most cases, automatically. The reputation and reporting system at Newsvine will continue to evolve every day as we react to new circumstances around the site. As in the case with any community, abuse will occur, but via a combination of automated tools and responsible community oversight, we expect these incidents to remain under control.

Things on the Radar

Depth of Content, Especially in Sports

Within a short period of time, you’ll see certain sections on the site receive their own special treatment depending on what sort of information needs to be displayed. For instance, in the sports section, we’ll have team navigation, live scoreboards, and all of the other things you’d expect to see on a sports site. In the business section, you’ll see stocks. We’ve built the system very wide, and now it’s time to go deep.

Advertising

One of the founding philosophies of Newsvine is that where users put value into the site, they should receive value in return. For this reason, we offer the most generous advertising split in the business to those who contribute in good faith. We are in the midst of settling the details of our ad agreement, from a sales and technology side, so expect ads to go live within several weeks. Until the system is ready and tested, however, the site will remain ad-free.

Newsvine Guilds

One of the most heavily requested features has been group functionality, and through a series of articles written by the prolific Mykola Bilokonsky, we have begun to address this opportunity. There is nothing to show publicly at this stage, but rest assured, guilds are high on the radar.

Chat Lobby and Enhancements

Chat itself actually works pretty well, but right now initiating chats is a bit counterintuitive. If you hop in an empty room, others will usually enter within 3 or 4 minutes, but most people don’t think to do this. For this reason, we’ll be working on a dedicated chat lobby for people to get together with as little guesswork as possible.

Better Diversification of Topics on the Front Page

As many users have noticed, the front page of Newsvine can be tech-heavy and sports-heavy at times. Expect to see a concerted effort to keep the news mix as even as possible in the future.

Writer Discovery and Cultivation

During the private beta, we’ve just let writers discover Newsvine on their own. We haven’t advertised or made any other concerted efforts to get people on board. It is our hope that once the site is available for public viewing more and more people with interesting things to say will come on board and start writing. We do, however, need to step up our efforts in helping fill niche subjects and finding the best independent voices. The best way you can help is to invite friends and help spread the word.

Feature-Rich Columns

Right now, a column is simply a list of articles you’ve written and links you’ve seeded. This is nice and simple, but users have indicated they’d like the ability to add all sorts of modules to further personalize their pages. Now, we’re not talking MySpace-style auto-play music, tiled backgrounds, anything goes, stuff… obviously… but there are a wealth of additions we plan on making which will allow users to express themselves in other, creative ways.

And off we go…

So there you have it. We’re live. It’s been a great few months so far, and we look forward to a lasting relationship with the people who really make this site work… the Newsvine community.

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55 Responses:

  1. XINERGY says:

    Well done. Congratulations on the release and best of luck to you all!

    XINERGY

  2. oliver says:

    I’ve used NewsVine for a while. Good job.

  3. Shaun Dawson says:

    Congrats………….it can only get better !

  4. Jacob says:

    Awesome, I love the service. Opening it to the public should help improve the system even more. Congratulations!

  5. Congrats to you and the whole team at NV mike, must feel great to see it live!!

  6. Awesome, sounds like you’ve got some great things coming up.

    What’s going to happen with the invites? Are they staying, or will they be disappearing soon since anybody can sign up now?

  7. Mike – I’ve enjoyed being a small part of the private beta and am excited to see how things go now that you’re finally live! Congratulations on the launch.

    Now, back to my Newsvine column…

  8. Congratulations, Mike!

    It’s been a pleasure (and an honor) to be a part of the testing process, and I plan on continuing to use the site as part of my browsing habit now that it’s live. (I’ve said it before, but Newsvine made me enjoy and actually read the news.)

    One thing I’m curious about, though, is how you intend on formally marketing Newsvine to the public. Have you done a press release? Do you plan on advertising? Grass roots?

  9. Congrats on a fantastic idea, emplemented the way it should be. You can tell it was built by a team that said, let’s do it right.

    And thanks to Paul M for discovering the “www” newsvine domain…

  10. JBagley says:

    30000+ beta users!? Woah, I never could have guessed that much!

    The possibilities are endless when you have that many beta testers. Im guessing the amount of live users will probably grow into the hundreds of thousands! Awesome.

    All the best Mike.

  11. Andrew says:

    Hats off to the NV team. Nicely done!

    (don’t forget to update your robots.txt)

  12. Mike, you rock. Beer on me dude when we meet at SXSW. To your success! :D

  13. Todd says:

    Congrats guys! Nice work!

  14. Chad Edge says:

    Mike, amazing work. I’ts been a pleasure watching – even for a short while.

    I’ll be keeping my eye sharply on Newsvine Doppelgangerâ„¢; that feature alone makes me drool (and we’ll see how my little project works similarly). That feature should get more presstime in my opinion.

    Anywho, congratulations again. A few more pages just got added to my ‘how to launch’ study guide.

  15. Mike,

    Excellent work. It was a privilege to be part of the beta. You came up with a great idea and have made some great improvements even it just the weeks of beta.

    Wow i would of also never of guessed that there were that many beta users.

    I swear some day i am going to see you on the cover of Time magazine for invention of the year or something. Keep up the good work man

  16. Gordon says:

    Lovely stuff!
    That was a really great article

  17. Thank you to Mike and the Newsvine team for creating such a fresh and creative product. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Beta, and I’m very interested to see where the site goes from here.

    The level of responsiveness and site-refinement that the Newsvine team has shown is second to none. You should all be extremely proud.

  18. Zeerus says:

    thanks for all of your hard work everyone, this is sure to be a great product. I can’t wait to get working on my own account

  19. Chris K says:

    Looking forward to working with the “real” version. Beta was a lot of fun. Now I can share Newsvinie with everyone. Great job Mike and crew.

  20. Gregg says:

    Very Sweet!
    Must share congrats as well… Love the service, as will the rest of the world.

    Cheers.

  21. DocDave says:

    Was curious to see what Newsvine was all about. Wow is all I can say! Great start, very clean, informative news site. Keep it up.

  22. Igor says:

    Why haven’t been sIFR used for smooth text?

  23. Sean says:

    Until to day I was using Newsvine to get all my news, but with the launch it is so slow its unusable. Hope you guys can rectify the situation, or that the usage slows a bit in the coming days.

  24. Cheyne says:

    Congratulations. Newsvine has been a fantastic resource for me every day for the last month or so.

  25. Paul D says:

    Having participated in the beta a little, I can say that the overall site design is terrific and easy to use.

    Newsvine’s biggest problem is still the lack of useful comment moderation and filtering. Until some kind of system that lets me see only the best comments is in place, popular articles are simply likely to degenerate into troll-fests. That being the case, Newsvine is going to remain one of those forgotten sites I visit once a month when nothing interesting is available on Slashdot or the blogs I read.

  26. Congrats, Mike (and team). It’s been an absolutle job watching the Vine go from idea to live site. It really is extremely well-done. Way to go!

  27. Julian says:

    In the whole article is not one single link to the Newsvine home page!!!

    (You’re right! Fixed. Thanks.)

  28. Spot on Mike. I hope great things come of this and that the mature crowd of Newsvine stays mature. Next up, SXSW bowling. =D

  29. Frank says:

    As Sean mentioned earlier, Newsvine is a great site but is running extremely slow today. So slow it’s becoming unusable.

    Great site guys.

  30. About time its live damn is it slow now. I like the private beta lol.

  31. Oliver Z. says:

    Congratulations! Good to see it live.

  32. Congratulations Mike!

  33. James says:

    Not sure if because it’s around lunch time, less people are surfing the web but Newsvine does not seem to be running as slow.

  34. Who-hoo! Congrats aplenty to the whole Newsvine crew. It’s a beautiful thing.

  35. kareem says:

    Congrats, guys, on the great work!

  36. Dave says:

    Hehehe Mike can’t be bothered to write two different blog entires for your own blog and newsvine’s blog? ;)
    Very glad you opened it up so don’t need to login o every other pc now :D

  37. TDavid says:

    Registered today and newsvine was moving painfully slowwwwww. I never did receive the email validation.

  38. nemo says:

    hey, congrats on the launch of the site, found it through lifehacker. I hate to be critical of your effort, but I think you’d probably prefer that as I might say things that are useful to you.

    Firstly and most strikingly the design of the site; it’s ugly. Green isn’t the right color for a news website. I understand the association with vines that you are trying to make, but that’s maybe overstating it. The symbol is enough, and it’s a great symbol. Used effectively that makes the point. Green is also simply not a color I associate with news, except for perhaps environmental subjects; More common colors would be red or blue as the right tones of those colors are more decisive and trustworthy, for want of a better word.

    Story titles. They need to be bolder, larger, and a different – brighter – color. The rollover needs to be more obvious as well.

    Only a few others things I can think of at the moment. While some people might understand the news/wire association I believe quite a lot won’t. Is there any reason it can’t just read “Top News” and “More News”.
    On a more technical note and perhaps of less importance, but have you thought of shortening the site urls. A full story url is pretty long and unnatractive, have you considered hashing the title and date to give a unique id and pointing to that, for instance:
    from :
    http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2006/03/03/117349-boat-engines-cue-dinner-for-sperm-whales
    take the date and title and any other info, so
    “20060303117349-boat-engines-cue-dinner-for-sperm-whales”
    md5 hash it:
    58753417e32cea95d8938f21ffd2ed03
    and attach it to a section. e.g.
    http://www.newsvine.com/science?=58753417e32cea95d8938f21ffd2ed03

    This is just a personal preference thing, as I find long urls ugly.

    I guess after being this critical I do need to empasize that I think the site is a really great idea, and I’m not just setting out to have a go. I’d like to see some more news aggregation sites on the web and I love the tagging system. Oh ***tag clouds*** please! and a UK/Europe news section. and cake!

    good work!

    (Editor’s Note: Funny, I disagree with just about every single word of that. If there’s one thing at all that people seem to agree about, it’s that the site is one of the nicest *looking* news sites out there. I’m not trying to toot, but that’s been the one constant: great design. You mentioned you just want another gaudy red, white, and blue USA Today style news site. Well that’s not what we’re about. Also, with regard to URLs, your hash suggestion is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Do some research on human readable urls and search engines and then come back to me. Hashed URLs are the worst thing you can do to a website. Anyway, I won’t say anymore because we’re obviously from different schools of thought on all of this. Thanks for commenting.)

  39. XINERGY says:

    I love that nemo took the time to note his observations and offer constructive criticism. I second the long URL preference, and making the fonts more suitable for readability. If you like to keep the headline fonts the same size, maybe use a font type that’s more prominent at that size (i.e. Verdana bold, or something.)

    Just my two pennies for the mornin’.

    XINERGY

  40. Congrats on the launch Mike!

  41. Frank T says:

    Just my thoughts on the design. It is very nice and clean and I have just a few tidbits of information that might make reading the content easier.

    1. Top Wire/Top Seeds/Most Active – these bulleted list of links don’t look like lists of links because they are black text without decoration. Please either make these links a different color, since I personally believe that changing the color would be easier to read than adding an underline, or if you have to – add the dotted underline that is used just so that reader realize that these are links and not body text.

    2. In the Most Active section where it says how many comments are per article at the end of the line, that information is not prominent info that is needed to be known. So change the font color of “(40 Comments)”, for example, to a lighter shade.

  42. Marla says:

    Re the suggestion of a tag cloud: if I see a tag cloud on a site, I leave and I don’t come back until I’ve had several days to calm down. Or never. So now you have both extremes of opinion on that topic!

  43. Erik says:

    The site is absolutely amazing. Congratulations on everything. Any success you guys get will be more than well-deserved.

    However, I see only one problem: the Digg-like commenting. Its been said before, but it really bugs me. When you have just a long string of comments its hard to see who’s replying to who, and there’s a lot of scrolling about.

    Slashdot’s threading system would make a lot more sense I think, and you already have the ability to rate comments. It makes it much easier to follow what people are saying.

  44. Marla says:

    All in all, beautiful and easy. I show it to all my colleagues as an example of UI done right. There’s only one (very tiny) usability tweak I would request: it wasn’t clear to me that the green box next to the logo was a search field — maybe a white box (I know, boring), and/or a “Search” button instead of “Go” button?

  45. gb says:

    Mike, this should be a huge vote of confidence on how much I’ve enjoyed NV, and perhaps a wee bit on the dangerous side for me: I used newsvine so much and so consistently since I got that golden ticket in december (i think… or was it late november?) that my boss repremanded me for “surfing the web” during work. Whoops. Now just get those ads going so I can start writing full time and not worry about other income. Okay, that might be just a bit overly eager, but still…

  46. Alun says:

    Congratulations from Down Under. Inspiring stuff and a brilliant design. Enjoying sydney.newsvine.com already. Good luck.

  47. Amazing work Mike. Congratulations, will be watching closely from Malaysia.

  48. ryu says:

    Excellent work! Mike,are you still running MT to power newsvine?

  49. Mike D. says:

    ryu: Ummm, MT to power Newsvine? Where did you get that idea? We built the CMS that powers Newsvine from scratch.

  50. Lars says:

    One of the best ideas on the net.

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  53. Newsvine is Ready

    Newsvine is “a perfectly different, perfectly efficient way to read, write, and interact with the news”. I’ve been using the Newsvine beta since about January. I make very heavy use of Newsvine all the time, although I don’t …

  54. Newsvine Opens Its Doors to the World – Great Stuff

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