Kwoff asks the question: can Australia sustain its own Digg-like site?

Kwoff is an Australian social voting site that asks the question: can Australia sustain its own Digg-like social voting site.

Kwoff launched this time last year, and comes with some strong local baking. Run by Sydney based Dan Walsh, the site includes on its founders list Stephen Mayne, a near luddite on Web 2.0 but the founder of Australia’s most popular subsciption email service Crikey (and yes, I pay to receive it), and former staffer turned writer Greg Barns, who more recently suggested that Facebook and other Web 2.0 services should be policed by a team of censors and all content moderated because OMG people might be defamed. OK, so maybe they aren’t the cream of the Australian Web 2.0 crop, but Mayne, who I’ve only had the pleasure of meeting once, is a smart operator who is a champion for independent media in this country, Barns well….well….lets just say he makes Andrew Keen look like a saint, and anything else I’d care to say would be the target of his censorship wand…or a pack of lawyers.

Kwoff got off to a low key start, but has slowly built a respectable audience. Alexa gives the site a ranking of 73,361, and for Australian sites 1446. It’s surprisingly popular in India and Pakistan as well. Of late, Kwoff has had a welcomed boost through inclusion of the add to Kwoff button on news.com.au properties (news.com.au being the local mega site for News Corp papers), and one Fairfax newspaper, which has helped boost awareness. As of today, we’ve added a Kwoff button here on The Inquisitr as well; although we aren’t an “Australian site” in a strict sense (and less than 10% of our traffic comes from Australia) this site is Australian owned, and I’m happy to support a local startup in this space.

I’ve met Dan Walsh a couple of times at events, and although I didn’t follow him up for this post (I’m time poor at the moment, but we might do an interview in the future), the one thing that has always struck me each time we’ve met is his passion for Kwoff, and his broader knowledge of the social voting space. As long as he ignores calls from Barns, I’m convinced that his drive, and knowledge, bides Kwoff well.

But can Kwoff succeed in a space dominated by US sites, with some such as Reddit offering Australian specific pages? It’s a hard ask, but with support from the broader Australian old and new media community, it’s looking good. Voting and submissions on the site are active, with top stories receiving 20 or more votes: not huge perhaps, but it wasn’t that long ago when stories hit the front page of Digg with 60 votes. My only real criticism of the site is one of aesthetics: it’s as ugly as sin. While content plays should always put content first, social voting sites need to offer a visually pleasing experience to compliment the participatory side.

We’ll keep an eye on Kwoff in the future, and check back in with anything new if it solves our opening question. Of course, if you’re a Kwoff user already, feel free to submit this to Kwoff or vote on this post 🙂