Wednesday, 8 August 2007

What’s in a Dot-com name?

In the real world, the majority of companies tend to use recognisable names to describe their business (Foot Locker, Supercuts), or names derived from the company’s founders (Hasbro, Maggi).

But it seems in the online world, it’s often a case of the stranger the better. Almost everyone (even those that don’t regularly surf the net) has heard of search giant “Google”, which nows has the distinction of being a verb (as in, “I googled that information”).

The trend of weird and wacky names has gathered speed with the boom in “Web 2.0” companies, as sites look to stand out online. But just a few years ago, most marketing gurus would have frowned upon the idea of launching brands like Eurekster, Joombla, Flickr, or Revver.

And now, a recently launched personalised news website is aimed to make the phrase “You’ve been Thoofed” part of everyday conversation.

It’s anyone’s guess as to where the site’s founders came up with the unusual name. “OOF” is often used as the abbreviation for “Out of Office”… maybe Thoof stands for “The Out of Office” website (as in the one you browse when you’re taking a quick break! ;-) … Or maybe it’s simply the sound of being hit in the stomach after sitting still for too long?

I’ve been using the digg-style site quite a bit over the last few weeks, and have found it a great way of discovering interesting stories and new content (although sometimes a bad way of wasting too much time!)

One of Thoof’s best features is that it “learns” the kind of stories you’re interested in through blog-style tags, and continually updates your “infinitely scrolling” page to offer you content you’re more likely to be interested in. It also uses a “ThoofRank Badge” to help measure how popular stories are amongst readers of similar topics.

Thoof also lets users edit or “improve” articles collaboratively (in a similar way to Wikipedia), which can improve quality and minimise spam.

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