coRank, the social bookmarking site that launched a little while ago has now launched a new Pligg-like service that allows you to make your very own socially driven service and even let’s you skin it to look exactly like Digg.
There are a couple of differences to note though. First of all, coRank has streamlined the entire process so there is no installation necessary, and secondly, you don’t need to host your site, coRank gives you a sub-domain when you make a new site.
The process is largely simple and intuitive once you figure out where you have to click to actually begin the process. Once you sign-up and confirm your email address, you are taken to your profile page where you can fill in all the information about yourself but also have the option of skipping all the details and going right to your ‘front page’, i.e. your control panel.
What you will notice on the page above (either that or I’m blind) is that there is no prominently displayed link that takes you to the site creation page. In fact, I had a friend send me the direct link to the page because I got frustrated with the site, only to later discover that you have to click the coRank link at the top-left of the page and then click the site creation link from there to start the process. With that out of the way, the rest of the process was very simple.
Just select a title for your site, a sub-domain, site description, and choose a language. coRank is currently localized for both English and Spanish.
Here you can decide who has access to the site, who can register on the site, who can submit content to the site, and select a template for the site. What was most interesting to me was the various pre-made templates the site let’s you use. You can make your site look like Google, regular Digg, black Digg, Flickr, Meneame, or just use the coRank standard template.
The last step in the procedure is to select categories to which content can be submitted. You can choose up to 24 and have to select at least one to begin with. Once you’ve done this, you’re all set.
I chose the Digg theme for my site and was completely blown away by how identical the end result was. The untrained eye would probably not even notice the differences (apart from the obvious lack of content of course).
For comparison purposes, I made a Technology subdomain on coRank. Have a look at the submission process:
Step 1 of 2
Step 2 of 2
While you can see from the images above that I only have one category in my version, it is readily apparent that with 5 minutes of effort (I spent about 2 minutes on mine) you can replicate Digg from start to finish. Of course what we see here are two things:
1. Imitation is the best form of flattery and this isn’t the first time someone has cloned Digg, nor will it be the last.
2. Another company has failed to realize that imitation is not the path to success. The word you’re looking for is innovation.
But there is another side to the service too. What coRank is banking on is self-selection. Self-selection essentially indicates a situation where individuals select themselves into groups of like-minded. I wrote about this phenomenon in social bookmarking about 7 months ago and came to the following conclusion:
Applying the same principle to social bookmarking, we see that we have a core community that, in the case of Digg, is focused on science and technology. Every newcomer to the site realizes this fact, and understands that in order to appeal to the core users, one must submit very specific kinds of articles (think Apple, Firefox, Nintendo, and not Microsoft, Sony). Hence, we get more and more users submitting content focused on science and technology (in the hopes of appealing to the core users and consequently getting to the front-page), and less and less contributions being made to the other channels.
In effect, the majority of users of Digg self-select themselves into certain categories on the site thereby making them more popular. At the same time, this phenomenon makes room for sites that are built on similar principles but different topics of interest. Popular examples of these are Netscape where the users tend to focus more on politics, and Ballhype which is entirely dedicated to sports. It appears that coRank believes that it can be the platform for such niche sites for the future.