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A Conversation with Rich Skrenta and Chris Tolles from Topix.net

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Greg Linden points to an OJR interview with Rich Skrenta and Chris Tolles from Topix.net.

Since I primarily focus on search from the searcher/user perspective let me share a few comments about Topix.net.

If you've been reading the blog for the past year, you likely already know that Topix.net is a news search and aggregation service that I use several times a day. I regularly come across material via Topix that I don't find elsewhere (Topix crawls more than 12,000 sources). In other situations, I spot useful material with Topix before I see the it elsewhere. The more than 300,000 pre-built pages (and feeds) that Topix provides (they call them channels) are also very useful for not only the hardcore newsie (me) but they're also easy for new users to take advantage of and utilize. Basically, find areas of interest (including pages/feeds for every Zip Code in the U.S. and Postal Code in Canada) and either bookmark the page or place into an RSS aggregator. The interview includes discussions about:

  • How Topix.net provides local news aggrgation for Ask.com, AOL, and others
  • How Topix improves the placement of AdSense advertising
  • Their categorizing algorithms
  • Disambiguation Between Paid and Non-Paid Material
  • Why They Made an Acquisition Deal with Three Media Companies
  • Traffic Stats

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