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Did you hear... Truemors doesn't suck

Despite founder Guy Kawasaki's reveling in the site's bad reviews, Truemors is actually a good way to spend a few minutes each day.

When former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki launched Truemors two months ago, the site was not well-received. The quality of the user-generated content on the site was low. The U.K. tech site The Inquirer called it the "worst Web site ever discovered."

But it's been a while, and the site has improved. Although Kawasaki is using the site as an example of what can be done on the Web when your personal brand is high and Web developers are cheap -- he says, "You can do a stupid thing for $12,000. Life is good!" -- the site is actually not stupid. It's interesting, and far from the worst Web 2.0 app out there. So forget the man behind the site. Let's look at it as just another Web 2.0 start-up.

Truemors is a "rumors" site. The idea is that you submit a gossip item, and then other people mark it as interesting or not. The interesting items bubble up to the top. Users can also comment on rumors.

My Truemor. Plausible? Maybe. But fake. (I dictated this rumor into the Truemors phone service.)

There are smart elements to Truemors. First, if you've got an item, it's very easy to post it. You can submit items by Web form, e-mail, SMS, and even by voice (Spinvox does the speech-to-text). Since it's a gossip site, you can submit items anonymously.

Interesting science rumors. CNET Networks

Truemors is easy to read. There's a length limit on posts, and items are broken out by category. If you're interested in politics, food, tech, or sex, you can dive right into those and other categories. And the content is not bad. You don't get the geek overload that you do with Digg. Checking the site over the past few days, I found several interesting items, both gossip and actual news. (Unfortunately, the category pages don't yet have their own RSS feeds.)

However, for Truemors to work the way its designers intend, it has to be curated. The Truemors team removes slander, libel, pornography, abject promotional items, blatant advertising, and even boring items. The editorial touch-up on the user-generated items is what keeps the site entertaining and largely free of crap. As long as that can keep going (deputizing devoted readers is a way to do it for free) the site could stay useful.

If the site grows, it will need a more developed community. We'll need ways to follow or ignore items from certain people or groups. We'll need very active moderators, because a successful Truemors site will be overrun with items from bloggers who just prefix their blog headlines with "Did you hear..." and dump them on the site.

Meantime, I like it. It reminds me a bit of StumbleUpon, which is a very efficient way to waste time wandering the Net, except Truemors is text, which is even more efficient. In fact, Truemors reads a little like Harper's Magazine's "Findings" section, except that some of the items are fabrication. But it's still a surprisingly good way to scan for entertaining info tidbits.