The veil has been lifted. Thoof is now officially in private beta (and I got to play around with it a bit). Given that the famous (from Revver and other successful website) entrepreneur Ian Clarke is behind this effort and that Jonathan Locke is one of the architects behind the site, the foundation is solid.
Like Digg, Thoof provides a synopsis of articles on its home page â€”this includes headline, brief summary, and tags to designate topic matter. It then provides a link to the article, and sends the reader to the original source.
Thatâ€™s where the similarities with Digg end. It doesnâ€™t let otherreaders rank the articles for you. Rather, it offers articles to youbased on what knows about you, such as IP address (which providesgeographical location), the browser you use, your operating system andthe site you were on when you clicked through to Thoof â€” all of whichoffer subtle clues about you. Then, additionally, as you searcharticles, it tracks the tags of the articles you read. Finally, it maysoon begin asking you a random question from time to time, to gathermore information.
Thoof was also covered by Michael Arrington's TechCrunch and he seems sceptical, as most of the previous attempts (SearchFox, Findory and more) did not succeed or even ended up in the deadpool. Many of the comments seem to share the sentiment. However, Ian Clarke explained more of the new selection algorithm behind the site, and if it works, I predict a bright future. In the private beta run I already saw a couple of links I liked (and I hadn't even clicked!).
Now this may look to the regular reader that I'm promoting a web site because a friend is working on it, but there's more to it: it is Wicket based (which is one of the reasons Jonathan was asked to come aboard I presume). If it is a successful endeavor (and I trust Ian Clarke to be correct here), then it may become the biggest website running Wicket.
I like the unobtrusive Ajax functionality they built in: when you click the header of a story, the browser sends a notification to the server using Ajax, and then replaces the story panel with a 'this story has been read' variant). In the mean time the news article has been loaded in a new window.
If you have some Wicket experience, you can see how they construct their pages based on the markup:
Behaviors have been put to good use. I expect there will be some tweaking going on (removing superfluous span tags, or too enthousiastic use of Ajax component replacement) but on the whole it really looks great.
All in all, a very exiting time for Thoof and its creators, and I hope they succeed.