Unlike Digg, Fark embraces power users

Drew Curtis
Drew Curtis speaking after our exclusive interview on a panel at SXSWi

While some reports suggest Digg may be trying to reduce the influence of power users - the handful of submitters that can dictate what appears on the front page - Fark founder Drew Curtis says they're essential to Fark.

In an exclusive interview with TechRadar, Curtis says that's why his site is embracing its power users, making it easier for them to get their submissions seen.

He says that about "20 to 30 people submit about 80% of the stories" you'll see on the Fark front page.

"I have no problem with that because that means that consistently these 20 people are sending in some awesome stuff, and we've done what we can to make it easier for them to do it," Curtis explains.

"For example, currently if you submit stuff to Fark we block duplicates or we wouldn't be able to read what people are sending in, which sucks because I'm sure we're missing out on some funny taglines because of that.

"But what we did was we took our top submitters – every year I look at the top 10 – and among other things I remove the block for them, to make it easier for them to get stuff to us because their stuff is better.

"Almost all of the stuff that makes the main page is from those 20 guys – not exclusively, and it's not like we've got a quota or anything like that, but that's how it works out. Because those guys are writing it properly."

Advantages of moderation

Curtis also reckons that a moderated story system, where moderators choose what goes on the front page, has inherent benefits over the user voted systems employed by Digg and Reddit.

"One of the advantages is that you can't be taken over by well organised minorities," Curtis explains.

"Reddit got completely owned by about 200 Ron Paul supporters during the [US election] campaign, and they basically made sure that anything to do with Ron Paul made the top of Reddit. Just 200 guys – they've got a million people reading that site but 200 guys took it over."

Fark can also move stories to the front page a lot faster, adds Curtis. "I was talking to a guy from USA Today last night and one of the talks going on at the same time as mine [at SXSWi] is about breaking news in the digital age, and I said, 'here, I'll post this up for you, it takes 10 seconds'.

"That's basically it – somebody will get it out there first but the second, third, twentieth and two-hundredth guy will get it 10 seconds later. It takes a good half hour to an hour for stories to pop up to the top of the social news sites, whereas we can just go 'oh, shit, something just happened.'"

Global Editor-in-Chief

After watching War Games and Tron more times that is healthy, Paul (Twitter, Google+) took his first steps online via a BBC Micro and acoustic coupler back in 1985, and has been finding excuses to spend the day online ever since. This includes roles editing .net magazine, launching the Official Windows Magazine, and now as Global EiC of TechRadar.