Newsvine: First Day Traffic, Reviews, and More

Friday was Newsvine’s first full day in widespread private use, and I’m happy to say that we hit 104,655 page views right off the bat. I don’t ever remember making any predictions about what traffic would be like, but I certainly didn’t expect six digits on day one… especially considering you need an invite, a login, and a password to get in.

Newsvine was also the #2 search term on Technorati all day yesterday, ahead of subjects like Ariel Sharon and Apple. C’mon people! It’s just a news site! Ariel Sharon’s stroke is a world event and Apple is about to release a music player that will keep you alive forever and get rid of your wrinkles! Anyway, we thank everyone for the interest.

It’s still way too early to gauge the success of this community, but so far so good. We’ve managed to create enthusiasm, interest, and a platform for participation with an extremely low cost footprint. No launch parties, no advertising, no PR, no Aeron chairs, and no frivolous spending. Well, that’s not true actually. We did spend about $50 per person on a parasailing field trip a few months ago.

Here are a few great in-depth reviews to read (complete with screenshots), if you’re so inclined:

Many other reviews abound, but the aforementioned three contain a good amount of screenshots and depth, so start there.

So, onto the next subject: Newsvine vs. Digg. Also known as Newsvine vs. Slashdot. Also known as Newsvine vs. Reddit. Also known as Newsvine vs. Any-Tech-Site-That-Allows-User-Participation.

I want to make clear that we don’t consider sites like Digg our competition. We love Digg. They get my vote for 2005 Site Of The Year, in fact. Actually, Mail Order Chickens might be my true #1, but Digg is at least #2.

But the fact of the matter is that getting 200,000 early adopter tech-saavy, tag-saavy people using the site on a daily basis is not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is improving the overall news-consuming and news-producing experience for your mom, your dad, and the hundreds of millions of people in the world who think sites like are the best they can hope for. When you spent a lot of time on blogs, in your RSS reader, or on popular tech sites like Slashdot, you forget how large of a percentage of the world is not half as tech saavy as you.

It seems like everyone is hip to RSS these days, right? No way. Not even close. You and your friends are hip to RSS, but none of your parents are. I don’t have any stats on this, but I also imagine that males who use RSS outnumber females by huge margins.

A large mission of Newsvine is to make terms like “RSS” and “OPML” disappear while allowing their benefits to to remain. By “disappear”, I don’t mean “go away”. We have plenty of feeds on the Vine. What I mean is, you should be able to get the functionality of RSS without necessarily being exposed to it. Here’s an example:

Ever try to explain to a newbie how to subscribe to a feed? It goes something like this:

  1. Visit <this page> full of newsreaders and download one of them. They are all different, but each has its own benefits. Some are free and some cost money.
  2. Double-click the newsreader to install it.

    (Believe it or not… the process stops in its tracks right here sometimes).

  3. Now, whenever you are on a page on the web, try and find a little orange button that says “XML” or “RSS”.
  4. Click the right mouse button (PC) or control-click (Mac) on the little button and choose “Copy This Link”.
  5. Now, launch your Newsreader (it may be in your Start menu or on your desktop) and find the “Add Feed” menu item or something similar.
  6. Paste the URL you just copied into the text field and your feed is now added!
  7. Always make sure to keep your newsreader open so you can get updates.
  8. When you see a new item come in, click it and it will open your browser and take you to the associated web page.

Obviously, RSS saavy people have no problems following directions like these, but do you know how many people don’t even know what a web browser is? I’m serious. To a lot of people, getting on the internet is not a question of “launching your web browser”. It’s a question of “Clicking the blue E that says ‘The Internet'”.

So here’s what that same set of instructions would look like on Newsvine:

  1. Whenever you’d like to keep track of a certain author or topic you happen to be reading on Newsvine, click the big green “WATCH” button in the upper left corner of the screen. Every time a new article comes in from that author or topic, it will appear in “Your Watchlist” on the left side of the screen.

Bam. Done.

Yes I know we’re not talking apples to apples here, but you get the point. Give normal people an easy way to get more out of the news, and they will take you up on it.

We’ve specifically designed Newsvine so that you can point and click your way through the news without using a single advanced feature if you don’t want to. The idea is to ease into the site at your own pace. Start by reading the news. Then maybe start filling up your Watchlist. Then a few weeks later, leave a comment or two. Then maybe chat. Then have a look at your column and start seeding articles. Then figure out tags. Then write a full-fledged article. It can all be done at your own pace and that’s the appeal of it.

There’s a whole universe of people out there who want more from their news but don’t know how to get it. Our goal is to ease people away from the one-way model they are used to and into the two-way model that blog-saavy people have been hip to from the start.

Thanks again for everyone’s interest in Newsvine, and you can look forward to many more feature additions soon!

42 comments on “Newsvine: First Day Traffic, Reviews, and More”. Leave your own?
  1. kareem says:

    Great job, guys. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site fills out now that there are more users using it!


  2. Greg says:

    I really like that RSS-Part. Will try right now ;)

  3. Miko says:

    Congrats, looks great.

  4. Jakob Heuser says:

    Mike, it’s been amazing just how many people I’ve found go right for the live chat first. They read news and go “wow, there’s people talking about it?” and want to see what’s being said. It’s almost a lightweight form of discourse without the permanence of comments and/or home-brewed articles.

    I appreciate the “watch” list letting you watch anything. People, tags, sections, anything on the site can effectively be “watched”.

  5. Jeff Wheeler says:

    My mom is RSS savvy ;)

  6. Newsvine is looking great. Good job Mike!

    Oh, I also posted a little review on my site, though it is not nearly as in depth as the ones listed above.

  7. Calichef says:

    Heheheh. I’m RSS savy and my 20 year old son ISN’T!!! :-D So there! Love Newsvine, BTW. Thanks Mike!

  8. Chad Edge says:

    Mike, once I find breathing room I’m going to move this comment into an editorial on newsvine: With all the comparison, may I include my own? Newsvine v. Google News.

    The reason for this comparison: Recently, my girlfriend and I found ourselves labeled as living in caves. Specifically, we found that 12 of 13 miners had passed away in a collapsed mine (days after the story broke). We quickly jumped to Newsvine as our first source of news and found bits and pieces, but no way of understanding the hype around the most recent story (people were quite upset at the news – of course I would be too if 12 people had died and I knew them – but why were people so pissed?). Not finding any good organization [a way to track backwards in time of the news], I switched to Google News while Justine switched to CNN. Google news gave me quite a bit of information, however difficult it was to also organize. CNN on the other hand included all stories in chronological order, with references and even video.

    So, back to my comparison: Is Newsvine less of a place to FIND news as it is a place to CONTRIBUTE to news? If so, have you added a new task (visit to the daily list of URLS and habits that an Internet user practices? With Google News, I may not be able to contribute to the news engine itself, or add my own contributions (perhaps that means Newsvine isn’t for me?), but I can get the news – quickly – that I’m looking for from a vast source list.

    Like I said, I hope to turn this into a full editorial, but time has been short – so short I’ve stopped writing two or three times to jump on other jobs just while posting this message.

    Good luck with Newsvine – I can certainly see it’s value. For my own sake, I’m still trying to come to terms with how it will fit my daily routine. Daily routine has become a mantra for my project and I’ve found it to be a very valuable measure.

  9. Yannick says:

    Awesome job so far by you and the other members of the Newsvine team Mike. Keep up the good work. God’s blessings on you guys. May he grant you continued success.

  10. I’ve become a Newsvine addict over the past month – which is probably not a good thing for my productivity, but a great testament to the site. And now it’s going to get even worse, as more people = more news to read! But seriously, spot on job with this whole project.

    I’ve also been pretty damn impressed with the speed which you guys make changes, fix bugs, and answer support questions. And its very refreshing to see a CEO that gets his hands dirty with coding / designing / debugging. I know of many CEOs of EVEN SMALLER companies that ONLY deal with business-related concerns such as meetings, etc.

    All across the board I’ve been wowed by Newsvine. I expect to see the site explode over the next few months, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have witnessed the genesis of this thing.

  11. Don says:

    100,000 in a day … wow … I am looking forward to learning more about the business model

  12. Greg says:

    You’re absolutely right about RSS and Tags, a vast, vast majority of people don’t know and likely don’t care. I hope you’re keeping track of users and their usage of the watchlist feature vs. RSS, as it would make for an interesting follow up to this post.

    Oh yeah and uh, nice work! Brilliant! Looks great! Wow that not my dad’s news source! w00t!

  13. CarLBanks says:

    I use RSS using Bloglines and I am glad I can finally get my news from a good source. The one problem I have with the Newsvines RSS is it’s TOO MUCH to read too fast!

    Well, good job with Newsvines!

  14. Jackie says:

    Does anyone here understand the business model for Newsvine? Will revenue be generated solely by the one top banner located on the main page?

    If so, assuming $0.01 per view with 1 million main page hits per day would generate about $3.6 million in revenue per year.

    But a more realistic traffic report about be 500,000 main page view per day bring down yearly revenue to ~$1.6 million. That doesn’t seem to be a lot of money when you have a staff of approx. 10 people and haven’t considered cost of hardware etc.

  15. Mike D. says:

    Jackie: Whoa, where’s the staff of ten? Right now, Newsvine is five people. :)

    Also, the cost of hardware is extremely low. The only two components that turned out to be pretty expensive were the SQL Server license and the load balancer.

    I would also be extremely disappointed if we were only averaging a million page views a day after several months.

    Additionally, let me just say that although this sounds non-capitalist, the aim of Newsvine isn’t to make a ton of money right now. It’s to get to break-even or a small profit and keep growing the user base. By keeping overhead as low as possible, we hope to achieve this in fairly short order.

  16. Tom says:

    Jackie has a good point, especially since any ad revenue generated by bloggers will be paid to that author. So essentially only frontpage advertisements on newsvine will be revenue for the company.

    Now I’m curious, does anyone understand Newsvine business model and how they plan to become profittable?

  17. Mike D. says:

    I’m sorry, has no one noticed the thousands of pages of wire content, section index pages, and tag pages? The front page is only one page on the site. And the big ad on top is just one ad. There’s a ton of inventory around the site that isn’t the domain of individual authors.

  18. Jon says:

    Mike, it would an interesting read if you wrote an article describing the process you took to startup your business. Describing what it takes to become incorporated, financing, etc. You could even write about it using your newsvine blog.

    Also, I’m concerned to read that you are not looking to make a profit. Just my own thoughts here, if the owner of the company I worked for ever said those words, even if the company was a not-for-profit, I would quit immediately. If a company’s management doesn’t have the mind set of being profitable, how would I have confidence that they will be able to pay me my monthly check. Again, just my own thoughts.

    (Editor’s Note: Yep. I’d like to write it all up. Regarding profitability, however, I didn’t say we weren’t looking to make a profit. I said the goal right now is not the immediate maximizing of profits. It’s the growing of community and emergence of financial self-sustainability. People who try to maximize profits before clearly establishing their service or product are jumping the gun, in my opinion.)

    (Editor’s Note #2: Wait, I just re-read your comment. Even if you were working for a *non-profit* and your boss said the goal wasn’t to maximize profits, you’d quit? I’m not sure I understand this. Please clarify. Thanks.)

  19. Greg says:

    The FAQ says:

    Once advertising goes live, you will collect 90% of the ad earnings from your own domain […] The other 10% will go to whoever referred you to Newsvine. If no one referred you to Newsvine, the other 10% will be used to offset the cost of bandwidth, upkeep, and improvements to the site.

    I also like the the idea of not trying to maximize the profit, before you even have a real community etc. Doesn’t sound like a stupid try to make money ;)

  20. ak says:

    I am really really impressed: I and friends I turned on to the site all feel that this is an example of what most newspapers will look like online in 2-5 years.

    Very very nice work in such a short ramp-up time. I can’t wait for version 1.0

  21. Curtis says:

    I can’t speak for Jon but what I assume he is referring to with regards to not-for-profits is that all businesses by the very nature of economics to stay in business need profits to be made … even not-for-profit. “Breaking-even” cuts it too close. A business can make profits and turn that money back over to its customers at a later point.

    A business can only last so-long losing money before it goes bust.

  22. Doug says:

    It appears Newsvine is powered by PHP.

    Evidence found on newsvines web site itself –>

    Note, the session string is a PHP easter egg.

  23. Doug says:

    It appear the comment body cut off the url, that url is again:

    Newsvine Using PHP

  24. Mike D. says:

    Thanks Doug. I could have told you that. :)

    We’re also using SQL Server, Java, Flash, and pretty-close-to-valid XHTML as well… in case anyone’s interested.

  25. Su says:

    “Pretty close” is not good enough!
    (You and I haven’t had too much contact, but I think you know where I really stand on the matter.)

    Yay on the launch, though. I had a fun hour or so in chat with Jakob Heuser trying to break stuff and figure out what it was all built with.

  26. DW says:

    It all sounds really interesting, but how do i get an invite?

  27. Greg says:

    DW, you could ask here an give us you Emailadress. Users can invite “friends”. Same thing as with Gmail, Orkut, and sites like that :)

  28. Guido says:

    If the SQLserver had a high cost, what made you choose that over MySql ?

    Why are the users here focusing on how much money Mike et all will make? The #1 way to generate money on the Internet in 2006 is traffic. Get the traffic, get that traffic involved in your site, make that traffic come back – often.. then the money will comes. Whether it’s word revenue, whether it’s ad placement or whether it’s by being acquired — if the site is good, the money will come.

    I’m actually excited by your comments Mike where you talk about the other 95%. The first thought I had with the comments on storys was, “boy would it be great if the author of this story (say an ABC story), was involved in the commenting of this story.

    Right now the internet is about 1% of the same people commenting/blogging on the same sites. A goal — a lofty one at that – would be to get “normal” users commenting on these stories.

    Now if this is the case, that’s an interesting design challenge — how to handle 100+ comments on a story effectively.

    Enough blabber from me .. I love the site so far.

  29. Dave says:

    Great job guys!

  30. Tommy says:

    I think you’ve really hit a homerun here Mike. I’m still getting a feel for the site, the fucntionality, and options, but I plan to be pretty darn active. Many of your concepts here are extremely interesting. I assume people smarter then I will analyze it 24/7 as the community grows over time.

    I would like to ask one favor. If possible, meaning it won’t hurt your business model, I’d love to have some more insight into the product development, how you planned, et al.

    Good luck!

  31. fraffra says:

    About Rss users: a study from Yahoo! and Ipsos collected data: only 12% of internet users are aware of Rss and only 4% uses it. There are more interesting data, for example about rss users profile, and about “unaware rss users”.
    I’m very very curious to see Newsvine. Anyone want to invite me?? I can write about it in Italy! ;-))

  32. DW says:

    Ok, so could anyone invite me please? :-)
    My email address is d.dewilde [AT]

  33. Marcel says:

    Woooh, after reading all your comments it’s got me curious too!
    Is there somebody who could invite me? mail @

    Tanks!! :)

  34. Christine says:

    The site, according to the reviews and screenshots anyway, looks awesome.

    Any possibilities of an invite from someone? christine(at)

  35. Christine says:

    Thanks for the invite. The site is awesome! I’m so impressed. Very few of the concepts behind the site are new, but the combination of ideas is wonderful and the execution of said ideas is far superior to many of the other sites out there.

  36. Ben says:

    This site looks amazing! Any change I can get an invite?


  37. Jamie says:

    Looking for an invite also…

    jstarkel (at)

  38. Tim G says:

    Looks like a fascinating concept, Mike. I would love an invite.

    tim @ timgallant . org


  39. brian white says:

    Loved the review of the site. I tried to sign up without an invite, which I guess won’t work. Please send an invite to Looking forward to it.


  40. John Sweeney says:

    I’ve commented on news now to a small circle of techies & writers
    in New York’s Hudson Valley for about 5 years, but we’re feeling crowded out by scams, spam, and commercials.

    Invite me, and I promise to add insight, spark, and seriousness
    where needed, and keep it all short.

    John Sweeney
    Buchanan New York

  41. Bill Shein says:

    Hi Mike et al,

    I’d love an invite to try out Newsvine. As a writer/journalist, I’m particularly interested in the “citizen journalist” angle.

    Many thanks and best of luck,

    Bill Shein
    bill [*at*] the domain listed directly below.

  42. Builder says:

    It looks like alot of us here would appreciate an invite, please supply some link or instructions.

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