Fun fact: Drew Curtis, the guy who runs linky website Fark, went to high school for one year with professional asshole (but not moron) blogger-turned-film writer Tucker Max. So Drew somehow got handed a cameo role in I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. Drew-who's big enough on the internet to not give a fuck what we or Tucker Max think-sent us a full report, saying Tucker is "out of control" but the actors are doing a good job, considering the material they're working with. And pictures! Click through now: The actors at work (Tucker character in white t-shirt):
Digg founder Kevin Rose typically cites "the need for diversity" when questioned or criticized about the promotion algorithm that controls what stories make it to Digg's front page. "One of the keys to getting a story promoted is diversity in Digging activity. When the algorithm gets the diversity it needs, it will promote a story from the Upcoming section to the home page. This way, the system knows a large variety of people will be into the story." Oh, really? A Digg submission linking to headline aggregator Fark.com received over 1,000 diggs but still hasn't been promoted to the front page. The problem? The submission is 11 days old. Why are old stories so penalized? If there is a significant surge in Diggs on a story, it should be promoted to the front page just like any other upcoming submission. So much for the vaunted "algorithm."
Facebook is great. Not only can you reconnect with old friends and make new ones but you can publicly embarrass them too! Facebook helpfully informed me that today was Fark.com founder Drew Curtis's birthday. Turning 35, he can now be elected president. Glad to know my write-in vote didn't go to waste. Reached for comment at his home in Kentucky, Curtis said, "I'm legit now. Anything I say is believable, and now when I say shit, people will nod knowingly in agreement as opposed to discounting shit because of my age."
I've always preferred editorially controlled news sources like Fark and the Drudge Report. I'm more likely to find links that I think are interesting. On "social news" sites like Digg, readers get endless Ron Paul and Apple links, as fanboys constantly vote for their preferred subjects. Occasionally though, something else makes it to the top of the social news pile.
Yesterday, Digg went down for an hour in the middle of the day. Initially we thought it was an unplanned outage, but it turns out that a number of changes were made to the algorithm that controls which stories are "promoted" to the front page. The changes have started a mini-revolt among the top submitters reminiscent of the community uprising over Digg's deletion of HD-DVD unlock codes last year. We talked to several top diggers to find out what changed, why they're upset, and we have our own theory for why the changes were made.
By "world news" I mean "the current favorite video being passed around online." And by that I don't even mean it's the most-watched video of the week, but that this video of an unapologetic Australian hipster ruffian is being passed around every pass-stuff-around site until it seems it's taken over the Internet. Below, a summary of the video and a timeline of how it spread (and of course the video itself).
Fark.com LLC, Drew Curtis' company which operates the zany headlines site, has applied for a trademark on "not safe for work" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Given how long "NSFW" has been around, we suspect it might be difficult getting the mark granted, never mind how Fark founder Drew Curtis proposes to enforce it. We suspect it might be part of a prank, but who knows? Only Drew. Maybe if we send him a beer, he'll spill the beans.
Gadget reviewer David Pogue of the New York Times has run so short of ideas that he's recycling a decade-old idea: Criticizing the absurdity of today's Web 2.0 domain names. But in rehashing what everyone else already knew, Pogue reveals just how far behind he is. "These are all actual Web sites that have hit the Web in the last year or so: Doostang. Wufoo. Bliin. Thoof. Bebo. Meebo. Meemo. Kudit. Raketu. Etelos. Iyogi. Oyogi. Qoop. Fark. Kijiji. Zixxo. Zoogmo." Fark? Last year or so? Drew Curtis's Fark.com as a collection of interesting headlines has been around since at least 1999.
Here's the thing about Drew Curtis, the hilarious, gregarious founder of Fark.com: He's supremely down to earth — but his life is out of this world. Very special correspondent Paul Boutin and I had dinner with him Tuesday night at a Peruvian restaurant. Boutin launched into one of his mile-a-minute anecdotes about something P.J. O'Rourke wrote. Curtis listened politely, then said, "Yeah, I went out for drinks with O'Rourke the other week." He actually slowed Boutin down for a second. Fark has gotten so big that Maxim now handles its ad sales. Yet Curtis still goes town to town meeting Fark fans and contributors. After dinner, I hung out at Cafe Murano with Curtis and a bunch of other Farkers, including one with the login "catbutt."
Digg? Way too geeky. Reddit? Haventheardofit. No, the first social-news site that middle America has now heard of is Fark.com. Drew Curtis's rowdy, raunchy discussion board made it onto Jeopardy. In the clip above, host Alex Trebek asks contestants for questions based on answers drawn directly from real headlines featured on Fark. Granted, these were a bit more sanitized than the typical Fark fare — but still, it's invaluable exposure for the oft-neglected site.
"I would like to deny that Fark will be sold for $750 million. I cannot confirm talks at this time. I also cannot confirm that Jason Calacanis has sex with sheep." That's what Drew Curtis, the acid-tongued, whip-smart founder of Fark, a social-news site which competes with Digg, emailed me after reading our rumor of the impending sale of his rival for $300 million. Curtis is obviously dismissive of the mooted Digg valuation. And I've heard lots of scoffing on that number — both ways. It tends to fall in an obvious pattern: East Coasters think $300 million is way too high, and West Coasters think it's way too low. Compete's Jay Meattle crunches the numbers and finds arguments for both sides.
How overrated is blog-post-ranking site Techmeme, so much in this week's news? Scoring the top slot on the site's front door is good for bragging rights if you're a tech blogger. But if you value pageviews more than props, here's the hard truth: Techmeme's prize position will only send around 1,000 direct clickthroughs to your post, according to bloggers I pinged. As for the "influencing the influencers" theory so popular with second-tier PR firms, topping Techmeme means at most 5,000 extra pageviews total from around the Web, say sources who've been there several times.