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For many in the tech community, Techmeme is one of the top places to turn when you want to discover the latest news. Launched in 2005, Techmeme was automated, but since 2008, it has employed human editors to curate the best tech news on the web.
The idea: human involvement is necessary to filter the wheat from the chaff. Which seems like a good idea given just how much chaff there is on the web.
But is it working for Techmeme?
Recently, former TechCrunch writer Sarah Lacy launched a new blog, PandoDaily. She raised money from a cadre of some of Silicon Valley's most influential investors, and brought with her as contributors some of her former TechCrunch colleagues, including TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington.
Lacy's goal: "to be the site-of-record for that startup root-system and everything that springs up from it, cycle-after-cycle." And not to sell her blog, unless there's a $1bn offer on the table.
One of the PandoDaily's 'features': the PandoTicker, which is nothing more than an aggregator of news from other sites, with titles, excerpts and URL slugs designed, obviously, for SEO. Good or bad? I won't judge, as these PandoTicker items may arguably be of interest to PandoDaily's readers.
But are they of interest to Techmeme's readers?
Here's what happens when aggregators aggregate aggregators:
The PandoDaily link above takes you to:
Loop de loop, anyone?
Needless to say, aggregating the PandoTicker SEO-bait, which has little more than a link to the source you could have clicked on directly through Techmeme, is completely unnecessary. When I first noticed that this was happening, I didn't think much of it. Once Techmeme's human editors noticed that they were aggregating an aggregator, they'd fix the issue. But day after day, Techmeme keeps linking to PandoDaily pages which offer no value to Techmeme's readers.
I won't speculate as to why, but given the importance, popularity and prolificacy of services that aggregate and curate content, this should serve as a good reminder to other aggregators and curators that providing a quality service depends on a lot more than being less ugly than the Drudge Report.