As an experiment, I added a BlogRush widget to the sidebar of Workbench and several other sites this morning. BlogRush is a new JavaScript-based blog headline exchange driven by RSS. Here's how it works: Headlines that might be of interest to readers appear in a box like this one, headlines from my site appear on other member sites, and we all get an enormous boost in traffic, a slobbery cover story in Wired and obscene wealth we can lord over others. Or at least the BlogRush founders do.

BlogRush widgetBlogRush is viral -- your headlines appear more often based on how many hits, clicks and member referrals you attract. The site's just six days old, but the marketing gimmick's bringing the Orlando-based startup a ginormous amount of traffic. On Alexa, BlogRush has passed Slashdot and is threatening TechCrunch.

The BlogRush widget only displays the first 40 characters of a headline, including spaces, so a lot of the headlines it displays are cut off or misleading. Although the service suggests that you write headlines with this limit in mind, that's too much to ask. A better solution would be to create a BlogRush namespace for RSS, so publishers who wanted to write shorter headlines for the service could define them in their RSS feeds, like this:

<item>
  <title>'Kid Nation' Contestants Rip Into President Bush</title>
  <blogrush:title>'Kid Nation' Stars Rip President Bush</blogrush:title>
</item>

I've never found a widget I wanted to keep around for long, because their providers always have trouble ramping up servers fast enough to avoid slowing down the sites that belong to the networks. But some of the headlines BlogRush has found for the Drudge Retort widget have been interesting, which is either dumb luck or good context-based filtering. I'll follow up this post in a week or two with details on how much traffic BlogRush generated for my sites.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

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