John Lockwood over at ParticleWave has created a nifty little Digg-like site for real estate.
Houssee.com’s mission is, “to be a promotional tool for Realtors®, mortgage brokers, and others in the real estate blogging community, while putting systems and strong moderation in place to keep out the spam.”
How the Gears Turn
Running on the Pligg platform, users can submit articles from their own (or other) sites. Users will “vote” articles onto the “Published News” page for all to see.
It’s like Digg for real estate.
Someone out there is probably saying, “Isn’t this just like RealEstateVoices.com?”
Yes and no. Have you been to RealEstateVoices lately? It’s been over-run by spam. A few die-hard real estate users seem to be battling it out with the spammers. It’s a gallant effort I’m sure, but the site appears to be hopelessly lost to the likes of those hawking wares regarding anything from French lessons to discount climbing gear to male and female “enhancement” products. And seriously, can a story submitted 662 days ago really be considered “breaking news”?
I registered and submitted a few articles to Houssee. Registering is painless and submitting articles is intuitive. Users can “vote up” articles, and add their thoughts via a comment feature. Unlike Digg, there doesn’t seem to be a way to “vote down” something — probably a good thing as it prevents the often childlike behavior that can be found on sites with “thumbs down” functionality. If you don’t like something, simply don’t vote for it.
If Houssee takes off, managing a site like this could turn into a full-time job, and John has many irons in the fire. But he’s a pretty driven guy, so I suspect that won’t be an issue.
What You Should Do
So take a look. Submit a few of your blog posts or other posts/news items you find of interest. Vote for what you like and think others may find interesting. John promises some linky goodness for top contributers to get this thing kick started, though hopefully that’s not your motivating factor for participating.
Personally, my feed reader has grown like Barry Bonds on steroids and has at times become difficult to wade through. Separating the good from the not-so-swift is tedious and I often just nuke the whole thing and start fresh — all the while wondering what gems I’ve missed out on. If folks can use this site to submit quality articles, it could become a nice one-stop shop for real estate reading — sort of like an on-going Carnival of Real Estate.
I think it should be interesting to watch. Your thoughts would be?
June 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm
Another site that is like “Digg for real estate” is https://puurple.com/. At the very least it’s worth submitting your posts to it for free links (they are clean links on both Puurple and Houssee). If either of them take off then you will also gain traffic on top of the links.
June 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm
Sounds interesting Jay…worth a look.
I never really gave Digg too much attention. I guess it was because I wasn’t sure where to post/publish articles to. Seeing as in how this one is centered on Real Estate Related topics it seems a little more fitting.
Jennifer in Louisville
June 3, 2008 at 4:36 pm
You say its similar to RealEstateVoices, and that RealEstateVoices has been over run with spam – how is HouseE going to deal with spam? Or will they get over run as well once the spammers catch on to it?
June 3, 2008 at 5:32 pm
Great question Jennifer! John is reporting that the version of Pligg he has built Houssee on has improved “spam catchers”. That should help significantly. It will also require close moderation, which John appears to be committed to doing. I can’t say for sure, but it appears the moderators of RealEstateVoices have all but abandoned their post.
Virtually any site with “user generated content” — blogs, forums, wikis, “diggy sites” etc will at some point be over run by spammers if they are just left hanging on the Internet with no human attention / intervention.
Jennifer in Louisville
June 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm
Sounds interesting, and I’ll definitely take a look at it. Yea, pretty much any site – if theres no one to check on it, will get spammified. Hopefully, John will be able to keep sufficient mods to keep an eye on the site.
Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor
June 3, 2008 at 9:00 pm
Always game for a new site that might drive business my way. Thanks for the update!
June 3, 2008 at 9:16 pm
Thanks so much for your participation and for this post. I was wondering where people were finding Houssee from, and I’m grateful for the boost.
To answer the question Jennifer posed about spam, a few thoughts. First, even in its current incarnation, I’m not sure Pligg deals with SPAM very well all by itself. It has a version of Akismet, the venerated WordPress anti-spam module, but to date there’s easy way to configure how it runs, since it just recently was integrated into the Beta. I’m sure it will improve over time. I did notice that it alerted me to one post that I’d linked to on a real estate marketing blog that was about WordPress — I guess it didn’t find enough real estate content, so it red-flagged it.
In addition to the spam tools that the Pligg developers are working on, there are some other options, at least one of which is available to RealEstateVoices — I’m not sure why they don’t do it:
1) Have an admin who cares enough to read the day’s posts and manually fight the Spam. This probably sounds a bit more onerous than it is, but I think a half hour a day should take care of it. Only users with an account can submit articles, so with a zero tolerance policy and no qualms about deleting both the spam and the spammers, it should be fairly easy, though not 100% foolproof (I’d have to get to my computer periodically, so the front page may have some lunchmeat getting through temporarily until I could come in and clean out the fridge).
2) Add code to decrease the amount of spam. This could take the form of either:
a) Making it possible for a few users to be set up as moderators, who would have spam-killer rights.
b) Limiting new users to an “invite only” mechanism, in an attempt to keep the system a little more closed.
c) Adding a captcha to the story-submission form. There’s already one on the user signup form.
Naturally I’d prefer to have the site just run itself increase my fame and wealth automatically :), but that isn’t going to happen. So my backup plan is this: if enough people in the community support and contribute to the site (I don’t mean money — I mean stories, votes, comments, and nice posts like this one, thank you, Jay), then I’ll put in the time to nuke the spam either by being a programmer (which as it happens I am), or by being a zero-tolerance-toward-spam SOB, which it turns out I also am. 🙂
Thanks again for the consideration. Come on over. Submit early — vote often!
June 3, 2008 at 9:44 pm
John, how many sites are you currently feeding via rss? Feel free to email me if you’re unclear what I am talking about.
June 3, 2008 at 10:34 pm
John no matter how hard you try there is no perfect automated way to remove spam. Spammers get more creative each day as they learn to get around filters and other stumbling blocks put up by site owners. There has to be manual intervention to 100% keep spam off the site.
June 4, 2008 at 12:06 am
@Ken — I agree. Of course the goal, I think, is to minimize the manual intervention.
@Benn, if you’re talking about Houssee consuming RSS, at present it doesn’t, though my understanding is that Pligg supports that. If you’re asking about my other sites in general, other than unauthorized splogs, so far as I know it’s just the usual suspects: MyBlogLog, Twitter, Friendfeed and the like, plus a few links on ParticleWave.com. If you mean Houssee.com’s consumers, I don’t know, but I imagine it’s quite small.
June 4, 2008 at 1:13 am
Just signed up for an account and wanted to compliment you on the ease of use in submitting articles 😀 I suppose Digg is just as easy but I got flustered every now and then not knowing which category to post in so Housee.com fits in well.
June 4, 2008 at 9:19 am
Welcome aboard. Yes, nice article on mortgage rate locks. I gave it a vote.
I appreciate the kind words, but Pligg is open source software, and except for a minor tweak or two it’s all to their credit, not mine. Well, OK, I guess I did pick out the categories, so there you go — I are genius. :).
Submit early, vote often!
Thanks for checking it out.
June 4, 2008 at 9:29 am
Just an FYI it is very hard to get anything on a real estate site to go popular on Digg. The group of users there are very anti real estate so to have a chance it needs to be something anti real estate…which really isn’t what most of us want on our blogs. I have made multiple stories go popular on Digg, but none on a real estate site.
Even these gas price cartoons and this cartoon about the subprime mortgage crisis got killed on Digg. They have generated a ton of traffic from other sources, but Digg killed them IMO purely because I posted them on a real estate site. They both got posted originally for fun, that is to pass around to friends, but then decided to see if I could get them to go viral which they did. They both did well and got votes quickly, but Digg users that are against commercial sites buried them very quickly (very common).
If you are looking for targeted traffic sites like Houssee and Puurple will have the best long term chance of sending you some if they can find a way to get consumers to the site. Another good option is Propeller as they have a real estate section and don’t seem to kill stories for no reason like Digg. Less traffic, but seems like a demographic that most real estate sites would be interested in marketing to.
June 4, 2008 at 10:59 am
John I submitted my first story too fast w/o a link how do I get rid of the one that says fourth of July Parade?
Jay thanks for bring this to our attention I look forward to posting there:)
Brad Carroll - Dakno Web Design
June 4, 2008 at 3:14 pm
I really hope this site takes off. I followed RealEstateVoices and Puurple.com but neither one have been able to get “viral marketing” on their side. I wonder how John’s marketing plan differs from the other Real Estate Social Voting sites.
Best of Luck John!
June 4, 2008 at 5:10 pm
@Chris, I went ahead and deleted your post and just reposted it. No worries at all. You might try some more posts using the email I sent you.
@Brad, thanks for the good wishes. The best thing to do if you want it to take off is to come participate, and tell your friends and readers. I’m an avid participant myself and I always try to give almost everyone a vote or two as they come in to make it worth signing up (with apologies if I missed a story or two). After that it’s pretty much up to the users to decide what stories of their own they want to publish, and which ones they enjoyed enough to vote up.
As far as marketing plans go, I do have some ideas that may help it along like a Carnival-of-Real-Estate-like traveling Houssee contest. But in the end, if it doesn’t go ballistic and all that happens is I meet twenty or thirty nice new people and we get some link love and good fellowship going that’s fine. My main plan is simply to watch the flow of submissions to ensure that we’re not getting either non-real-estate spam or internal manipulation of the results.
Then I’m going to sell it to Move.com for $30,000,000.
Just kidding! 🙂
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. You can win a genuine picture of a tee shirt:
Admittedly, we may need a classier looking award…
Brad Carroll - Dakno Web Design
June 4, 2008 at 6:32 pm
John: Sounds good. I signed up, submitted a story and told some friends to sign up.
June 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm
Just added a couple of posts – sometimes it’s tough to find new real estate articles outside of my rss feed and think this is a great idea.
June 18, 2010 at 4:28 am
Ummm. I don’t know about you guys, but when I went to houssee.com all I see are Japanese characters. Anyway, realestatevoices seem to be working fine. It’s nice to see the real estate industry embracing the web 2.0 phenomenon. Anyway, do you want to see another site that’s also a web 2.0 phenom?
It features Real Time Listing Tweets by State. If you’re interested, just click on my name 🙂
June 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm
Two years ago when this post was written, Houssee.com worked. Apparently in the intervening years, it changed.
I also wouldn’t put anything into realestatevoices.com. Given that their “breaking news” page has articles posted from 47 to 157 days ago, it looks like it’s not really a viable site either.
Goes to show how things change on the internet.
June 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm
Lol. I noticed. I think this has to do with the Digg syndrome. People who have marketing agendas are hard pressed to market on digg – for various reasons. So people who are disenfranchised tend to think that creating another site with the same functionality will work. I guess, there’s not enough real estate professionals who appreciate a digg for real estate news.