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The Web is absolutely packed with content. If you started clicking around now, following blind links as they entered your field of vision, you’d never see everything the Web had to offer. According to WorldWideWebSize, there are at least 4.75 billion pages on the Web at the time of writing, and there are more being added every day.
The problem is a huge swathe of the content is crap. It’s pointless piffle that no one other than its creator cares about. Then there is the niche content, which caters to just a small selection of people. Sorting the wheat from the chaff is a monumental undertaking, which is why we have Google, Bing, and Google plus Bing.
Unfortunately, search engines only help if you know what it is you’re looking for. But what if you don’t? Social networking sites are a good source of interesting content, with friends passing on links to articles and news stories they think others will enjoy. And then there are social media sites, which are curated either by editors or a community of voters.
What follows are six interesting social media sites full of fascinating stories and intriguing articles. If you have to start your journey of link-link-link then you may as well start on one of these websites.
Digg was once the premier social media site, with a huge community voting up stories to the front page. And then along came Reddit, and Digg started its long descent into obscurity. Thankfully the property was bought up and transformed into something slightly different, with the new Digg providing a daily selection of quality content pulled from the wider Web.
You can still Digg stories you think deserve voting up the charts, but it’s a much more subtle affair than it once was. The result is a streamlined, minimalist website that presents content in an easily digestible format. Stories can also be read in full from their source, and saved or shared for future reference.
Upworthy gives its mission statement away in its name, presenting curated content its team finds worthy of upvotes. News stories are selected for their must-see quality, with a particular onus placed on pushing meaningful content of substance that will add to your life and/or knowledge base.
This puts Upworthy at odds with some of the other sites on this list, but they all deserve their place. The content on Upworthy is liberal-leaning, with the audience described as “The Daily Show generation.” Those who prefer right-leaning political commentators should perhaps steer clear.
Most of the content on Mental Floss is original rather than pulled from other sites across the Web. However, the range of content on offer is huge, with science and history butting up to popular culture. There are also endless lists, videos, and random facts spread across the homepage.
Websites cannot exist in a bubble, and Mental Floss is no exception. Add in link-roundups and links to external content spread across the various sections, and you have the perfect starting point for those eager to expand their knowledge and find interesting reading matter.
Buzzfeed won’t be a popular choice for some, as its content tends to be very light and airy. In other words you’re unlikely to learn anything you need to learn, though you’ll discover things you didn’t previously know. This is its strength though, as it offers a lighthearted alternative to the often depressing news happening in the world.
With sections ranging from politics to sport, from celebrity to fashion, there’s likely to be something for everyone on Buzzfeed. A ‘Hot On The Web‘ sidebar provides external links to other great content, making this another great site to start your adventure across the blogosphere and beyond.
Fark is a news aggregator that has been online in its current form (pretty much exactly) since 1999 when its founder decided he wanted to do something more with the domain than create yet another vanity site. The result is a Reddit-like property that presents the best content from around the Web.
Thousands of submissions are received every day, with the sizable readership hand-picking the best to place on the homepage. There’s a trend towards weird and/or funny news stories, which makes the headlines on Fark very different to those you’d find on websites covering serious news.
MetaFilter classes itself as a weblog, a word that has, in more recent years, become simply “blog.” This shows how long the site has been around, as it’s another, like Fark, that pre-dates the first dot-com bubble. Since 1999 people have been submitting interesting news stories, and they are still doing exactly that.
Short pieces are created and posted based on news stories, with links to various sources added for context. Others are invited to weigh in with their views on the subject in comment threads often lengthy and controversial in nature. MetaFilter is an interesting alternative to Reddit for those who need a break from the latter.
If you bookmark and visit these interesting social media sites every day, or add their feeds to one of these Google Reader-like RSS readers, then you should never again be short of something interesting to read online. You’ll also be the one providing the interesting content on social networking sites, proffering stories your friends can digest as they please.
What do you think of the curated Web? Is it a good idea to condense the incredible volume of content available online into a more manageable set of stories? Do you love or hate any of the social media sites mentioned in this list? Do you know of any others that deserve a mention? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.