News Site Introduces User Recommendation

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A news aggregation site will start letting its users influence the placement of articles by voting on items they like or dislike.

Congoo currently pulls stories from about 25,000 news sources and uses software formulas to rank the top ones in about 500 predetermined categories such as real estate and cancer.

In an announcement expected Thursday, Congoo will let users recommend stories not already on the featured list – as long as they are from one of the sources checked by Congoo. And for those already on the list, users can help bump an item higher or lower by voting on it.

“At the end of the day we do feel we have a good proprietary algorithm, but we do miss stories,” said Ash Nashed, Congoo’s founder.

Congoo’s service will differ slightly from the user-recommendation news site Digg. Even with recommendations, software formulas are expected to still play a role in Congoo’s rankings. And users for now will be limited to the items already pulled by Congoo, while Digg lets people recommend stories from anywhere on the Internet.

Congoo is one of several efforts aimed at helping people assemble news items from a variety of sources online rather than rely on a single media outlet, as was the case with the printed newspaper or a TV network’s evening news.

The free news service gets about 150,000 news articles daily, including some through partnerships with for-pay sites like The Wall Street Journal. Access to the paid content is free, though users are limited on how many they can see a month.

Congoo is also attempting to turn its site into a social-networking community of professionals by letting users create personal profiles with bios, photos and other information. Visiting a news page in a predetermined category will bring up links to profiles of like-minded users.

“We’re creating a nice network for people to promote their business ideas to those who share those interests,” Nashed said.

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