I’ve known Spotback for quite awhile to be a great news aggregation service with a slight twist. It is setup so that users can rate articles, and based upon that, they will be shown news that Spotback thinks goes along well with the news that they rate as good.




Spotback has now begun the process of making their rating tool available to the rest of the web! We are lucky enough to be part of their Alpha program, and right now you can use the rating tool at the bottom of our articles as a way to let us know which articles you like the best. They look something like this:

Spotback

It is really easy to use because you use a slider to do the rating. Moving it all the way to the left will give the article a rating of 1 (bad), and moving it all the way to the right will give an article a rating of 5 (good). Once you let go of the slider it will automatically submit your vote using AJAX, so there is no need for a screen refresh to take place. Once your vote is placed, the circular object on the slider turns from grey to gold and also shows the numerical value of your rating right next to it.

You’ll also notice the “tags” button where users can submit their own tags for articles:

Spotback

Why is this useful for you? By tagging articles yourself (and also by other people tagging) Spotback is able to offer other related content from the site you’re currently visiting. I originally thought that it may be used to pull in similar articles from other sites around the web, but this is not the case. You’re able to find the highest rated articles, popular tags, and even related content by clicking the “like it? get more” link located next to the tag button:

Spotback

Website owners can also place the “like it? get more” popup in the sidebar on their page so that visitors always have quick access to the best articles as well as tags.

I have also seen some people, such as Go2Web2, get a more customized version of the widget which blends in more with the site. I’m going to look into doing this with our site as well which will definitely be cool.

One thing that I am anxious to see is some sort of profile page so that both site administrators and even visitors can see top ranked articles from the whole site. That would be extremely beneficial to website owners so that they can see what articles appeal the most to their audience. It could also be helpful for visitors because they could be allowed to search a site for text and sort the results by the most highly rated articles…therefore returning the best content (assuming all votes were legitimate).

You can sign-up to be notified when Spotback launches this tool for everyone to use, but in the meantime you should kick it around a little on our site to see how it works!