I don’t know whether Yahoo’s new Buzz feature will actually get any traction, or whether it will be lost in the sea of other Yahoo stuff, or whether it will be orphaned or otherwise screwed up in some way (in the past, any of those options would be a safe bet), but at least the company seems to be trying to do something interesting, which is worth a round of applause all by itself. I think the Digg gang can probably sleep safe at night for a little while, but Yahoo could turn out to be a strong competitor (Stan Schroeder doesn’t think so).
To me, there are two interesting aspects of the service: One is that most-Buzzed-about items will feed into Yahoo’s main news page, and the second is that search results will help determine what moves up the Buzz rankings. Those are two things that Digg can’t really offer — unless it does some partnership deals with Google, of course, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It’s true that Digg recently signed a deal with the Wall Street Journal, but I don’t think that’s going to do much to affect the placement of news stories over at WSJ.com anytime soon.
There’s no question that a story on the Yahoo News page can push a gigantic amount of traffic because of Yahoo’s size. It’s still one of the top three news pages on the Web, after all. And it’s possible that having Buzz-worthy stories on there will prove to be a big boost for some blogs and other sites — although Yahoo is starting with a fairly small group of 100 sources. As with Digg, of course, there’s also the risk that Buzz could be gamed. But it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless.