As we reported earlier today — being one of the first to predict its likeliness — the rumour that Ask and Digg are partnering together for a social news service has come true. Well, kind of. Ask launched BigNews this morning, a Google News/Techmeme/Newsvine-style news aggregating service that incorporates a Digg section showing top 5 news stories and submitted stories.
The site consists of six general interest categories, among which the homepage lays out the top 5 stories. The rank of these stories is determined by the number of “tracks” a story has. For example, when a user sees a story he is interested in, he can go ahead and “track” it in his preferred RSS reader — they support many of the main ones. Once you choose to track the story, a feed by the name of “Ask.com News Cluster” is added to your reader, and any of your subsequent tracks added to the feed.
The site also consists of an interactive videos section which displays the top videos from the likes of AP, ABC News, ESPN, WSJ, and more. A neat thing about the videos is that you can play them right then and there by hovering over the thumbnail within the homepage, without being led to the URL of the specific video. Also below are the top stories across the categories — and a bunch of useful links and references on them — and a “movers and shakers” section shown in images.
So, where does Digg come into all this? Weirdly enough, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you will see a whole section that shows the top 5 news and submitted stories on Digg. While any other involvement by Digg is unconfirmed, it’s likely the partnership exists to add value to the site and to capture the general news-oriented Digg audience in — for example — using it as an overall aggregation source and setting it as their homepage. And with the surprising usefulness of the site compared to some of the other social news attempts, I think it’s going to succeed in gaining a good core audience.