Yahoo Buzz, the Internet-meme-tracker-meets-social-news site we wrote about a few weeks back has finally gone live and is open to everyone. The service tracks popular content around the Web by mixing user searches with voting to promote stories to the front page.
As an added incentive to get on the site, Yahoo's taking a handful of the most popular stories from Buzz and putting them on the front page of Yahoo.com, a move that will send a lot of traffic to smaller sites where the content is being hosted.
While the service seems to lack some of the community hooks other social news services like Digg and Reddit offer, Buzz has an ace up its sleeve by providing related stories, which for the most part are pretty spot-on. This makes for a much more engaging content discovery experience, and something that's going to provide more clicks to stories that aren't making the front page.
What's already quite strange about the service is the lack of user involvement that's been put in by design. While on the surface it appears as a social news site, there's no commenting system or any way to share what you've voted on with others. Unlike Netscape's Propeller, which did its best to emulate Digg, Buzz can continue to operate without human intervention. Speaking of which, there's no real upcoming section per se. You can locate stories with less buzz and promote them, but a certain amount of buzz is already given to stories that have been given some search love, making users dig deeper to reach the smaller stories.
If Yahoo was looking to take a chunk out of social news space, Buzz doesn't seem to be the answer. While the site is useful, Buzz is actually competing with sites like TechMeme, NewsPond, Spotplex, and Blogrunner when it comes to tracking the newest and most popular stories. In many ways Buzz is simply a reimagined front page for Yahoo.com, something that's self-maintaining and can be edited (albeit only upwards) by the masses.