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Psst, Want to Buy a Thoof?

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Personalized social news site Thoof is on the block, we’ve learned. The Austin, Texas-based startup was one of many angling to deliver news better than Digg, but instead ended up as a lightly trafficked also-ran, confirming that in the wild world of Web 2.0, the first mover advantage can be hard to beat. Ian Clarke, the site’s CEO and one of the founders of video site Revver, declined to comment on Thoof’s situation.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Thoof Co-founder, COO and CTO Alan Ren is no longer with the company. Austin Ventures, which had put seed funding into the site, didn’t return requests for comment.

Thoof combined community features like those offered by Digg, whereby users could vote on the news they were most interested in, with wiki functionality that allowed people to edit articles. Through visits, the site’s recommendation software learned what a reader wanted, and over time strove to deliver a personalized list of news to users.

The site wasn’t bad, and the technology seemed to work, but the space is too crowded, especially if you consider how many people get their news from personalized feeds. Depending on how good the company’s recommendation technology is, a range of suitors could emerge for the company, from big media to an Internet portal.

As of this writing, the company’s web site didn’t work, but it was up on Jan. 16, so that may be a temporary problem. Or it may be a sign the company has moved from being on the block to off the web entirely.

15 Responses to “Psst, Want to Buy a Thoof?”

  1. Thoof is better than Digg, but any site relying primarily on user-generated content and ratings has to work hard to avoid becoming really narrow or overrun by spam. tiinker does personalisation without relying on social recommendation, so is immune to these problems:

  2. What I liked about Thoof is that it’s taken a bunch of simple concepts — i.e. user-generated content, wiki-like editing, and personalized recommendations — and bundled them into something simpler, unique, and cool. The service is easy to use, and as the amount of submitted content on the site increases, I can imagine it getting to the standard of something like Newsvine, which also focuses on social news. Of course, the added recommendation engine is what makes Thoof stands out from the social media crowd, and it’s exciting to see it at work.

    Parul Bindra – Web 2.0 Blog

  3. Thoof was nice when I first found it, but it quickly became full of spammers and idiot users who posted crap. Being frustrated at this, I contacted Thoof who added us as the first user-moderator on the site.

    I stuck with Thoof for a while, doing my best to get rid of the rubbish submissions, but it became too laborious to be ‘fun’… and then there were browser incompatibility issues with the submission form, and then Google Ads.

    In all honesty, I would’ve loved to see Thoof become something better than it had; it was a nice idea and was done well – they’ve just made some bad decisions to do with the site along the way.