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Summary:

Boxxet, one of a growing group of sites using human and/or machine input to create dynamically updated vertical portals, is officially launching this week. The company has raised about $1 million to build a library of microsites that compile resources from across the web on a […]

Boxxet, one of a growing group of sites using human and/or machine input to create dynamically updated vertical portals, is officially launching this week. The company has raised about $1 million to build a library of microsites that compile resources from across the web on a certain topic — say, the television series “The Office,” or the fringe sport ultimate fighting championship.

Year-old Boxxet is run by You Mon Tsang and Dan Gartung, who previously led business intelligence company Biz360 and early “push” information delivery company Milktruck.

Tsang said in an interview last week that Boxxets (said “box sets”) only require seeding with 2 to 4 relevant sites, and then they explore via crawling and links to build a source list on a topic. The only other human input is rating, which results in driving on-topic content higher up.

Boxxet currently has 450 topic pages, and aims to have 10,000 within the next year, said Tsang. However, the company hopes to get to that point without offering self-serve Boxxet creation, so it can maintain quality control, limit spam, and prevent duplicate sites. That seems like a bit of a silly strategy, considering the lengths some people will go to when you give them the tools to contribute online. If you’ve got such a good, heavily templated strategy for keeping sites up to date, why not let them proliferate?

As it is now, Boxxet must win a game of search engine optimization on a page-by-page basis. It faces a ton of competition, from Zimbio to Squidoo to Wikia. These companies utilize a lot more human participation, so they are both better and worse equipped to deal with spam. Tsang admits Google is already providing a large portion of Boxxet traffic, even before it is live. However, he says he hopes RSS subscriptions will keep people coming back.

Boxxet raised a Series A round of $900,000 from New York City-based Ascend Venture Group. Tsang said he pitched the company to investors as the modern version of About.com.

  1. Wasn’t this embargoed till Tuesday EST? No worries, Liz, but I wish these PR people would give a clear message when this stuff needs to be held back.

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  2. There are definitely people who want to help create Boxxets and we will let them do it. We do need to make sure we have the right tools for that to be easy and powerful (as well as spam free and useful to everyone else). We designed Boxxet to be a service for lots of folks, not just single individuals.

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  3. San Francisco based startup FanPop has been providing user generated portals (called “spots”) for over a year now. In contrast to boxxet, Fanpop’s technology is a platfrom for community creation, and does not incorporate any crawling techniques. Guy Kawasaki had a nice post about it here: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/10/realitycheckf.html

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  4. Liz –

    We just launched http://www.buzztracker.com with our new design and new back-end architecture last Friday (our initial launch was end of August…) — we’re still in Beta but getting very close to a full release soon as we release.

    We are already tracking over 1000 topics and we will soon launch “Create A Topic” to allow anyone to track their own topic — we’re crawling 90,000 content sources, the “head of the tail” in the back end to achieve our results.

    Let me know if you want to have a quick call…

    –Alan

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  5. Wow, I’m surprised by this site – there’s been such a moral dilemma facing web designers/developers considering using RSS aggregation on large site implementations where it would essentially feed the entire content for a site.. which is what boxxet is doing I suppose…

    q./

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  6. Qasim:

    I would agree about a moral dilemma for repurposing content without any added value. But, for each subject, Boxxet is looking at many different sources, and filtering and ranking based on our user input.

    In the end, each subject is an extremely strong and relevant search result set based on software algorithms and user input.

    So we use content in much the same way Google (search or news) uses content.

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  7. SEO will be very difficult for this site, without original content. To understand why, do this search on Google:

    site:www.webmasterworld.com “duplicate content penalty”

    With the current structure, Boxxet will have to find their traffic from somewhere other than organic search.

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  8. [...] From GigaOM, where I am becoming a fan of Web Worker Daily, “Boxxet Launches Automated Portals”. [...]

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  9. [...] See also posts on Boxxet from Search Engine Land and GigaOm [...]

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