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One of the things I have always been interested in doing is to create my own Google News / Digg-like site along with voting buttons and commenting features. Up until now, I haven’t been able to find something that I could easily integrate into my website but last night I finally found an easy solution – [NO LONGER WORKS] Slinkset – and in less than 30 minutes, I had it up and running on my website.

Done properly, this could be something that drives a lot of traffic to your website. The Slinkset features work perfectly (they even have a setting to ban members if they are abusing your service) and with a little fiddling of your website settings, you can have the Slinkset page to automatically redirect to the website page of your choice. Move over Digg, Mark O’Neill News is here! :-)

After creating your account, you will obviously have a blank news page as there won’t be any RSS feeds added yet. We can easily fix that by going to the “Admin” area and then clicking on “Feeds”

Just add some feeds and the page will soon start to update with the latest posts. It doesn’t happen right away though so be patient.

When people start to comment and vote, it influences the position of the story. Stories voted “up” pushes their position more towards the top and stories voted “down”… Well, you can work it out.  They get pushed to the bottom and finally buried. The commenting area resembles a bit like Reddit.

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As you can see in the screenshot above, there is a “submit” button for other people to submit their articles.   If you are worried about spam, you can set the site to “private” or “editorial”.  The first one is self-explanatory – no-one gets in without an invitation and is private to everyone else.   “Editorial” is where only editors you appoint can add links.   A bit more time consuming for you and your colleagues having to do all the work yourselves but this may be a good option if your page is being overrun by spam.

Some other options are :

  • Being able to change the colours on the page or add your own custom CSS (if you have the knowledge for that).
  • As mentioned before, you can ban any member for any reason.
  • You can add categories and force submitters to choose a category.  This is probably a good option if you start to get too many links.
  • Turn the commenting system on and off.
  • Switch the thumbnails & images on and off for submissions.  I personally haven’t seen any stories with pictures yet, even though I have added big name feeds such as the BBC and CNN.  So I am not sure if this actually works or not.
  • Turn the voting feature on and off.
  • Put your own text and HTML into the sidebar and specify how big the sidebar should be.
  • Many more.

To have the page redirect to your own site, you need to alter something called the CNAME records on your website.  We briefly touched on CNAME records How to Easily Set Up Google Apps on Your Website How to Easily Set Up Google Apps on Your Website Read More in my last article about Google Apps.   Just go to the CNAME section on your website settings and add a new record.   Just tell it that the custom website URL that you make (in my case http://news.markoneill.org) is the same as your Slinkset news page.  Save it and wait for the CNAME records to update (in my case, it took 20 minutes).

Slinkset is so easy to set up and has become my new toy to customize endlessly.   If you are interested in setting up your own social news site, you can’t get any better than Slinkset.

If you have set up your own news pages, please let us know the links so we can check out your designs!   Having problems getting it set up?   If so, tell us what the problem is and let’s see if we can help you figure it out.

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