Overview: Much like digg and reddit, Propeller is a social news portal, where users can vote up the most interesting news stories to the front page and interact with other users on the site. While Propeller is extremely easy to navigate, it lags behind the popularity of its competitors and offers little in the way of unique features.

Defined: Formerly Netscape, Propeller recently revamped the entire design of their website in late 2007, an overhaul that has still not been embraced by their users. The basic functionality of the site is to allow users to submit and vote up the most quality news stories to the front page, where a short summary and a link to the original story will appear as follows:

Users can submit stories into different categories or groups and interact with other users by leaving comments or sending direct messages like most any social media platform. A real distinction between Propeller and its competitors like Mixx, digg, and reddit is that submitted content can only be voted or ‘propped’ up, there is no burying of stories if you don’t like what you see. Besides this distinction, Propeller doesn’t have any unique features that differentiate it from the rest of the pack.

Business Applications: Like any other social news portal, landing a story on the front page of Propeller can knock your servers offline with high traffic volumes. The trick is beating out the hundreds of thousands of other stories submitted to the site that all share the same intention, by no means an easy task. However, if you’re news story doesn’t make it to the front page you can still receive a good deal of referral traffic should your submission be ‘propped’ up by other users. A key to getting your story in front of people on Propeller is to use the right tags to identify what your story is about, often times the more general the better. Another good idea is to submit your story to a relevant group, i.e. if your submitting a blog post about your recent travels in Samoa then it might do you good to submit that story inside a group about travel.

Recommendation: Propeller needs some serious ‘propping’ of its own in order to keep up with vastly superior Mixx, reddit, and digg. Once a near competitor for 3rd place in the social news portal pecking order along with Mixx, Propeller has failed to differentiate itself with unique and effective features. Not only has the new design of the site caused a great deal of hemmoraging among the Propeller faithful, but taking away the right of users to bury content has damaged the credibility of the site’s content rating system. Long story short, I find Propeller to be inferior to its competitors in every respect.