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Introducing Ballhype

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I'm ridiculously late announcing this (and there's a good chance you've already heard the news elsewhere), but if you haven't already I strongly urge you to check out Ballhype. It's a new social media site for sports fans, which is a complicated way of saying, "it's an easy way to find good content."

Jason Gurney, who created lowpost.net and striketwo.net, and his wife Erin have developed Ballhype over the last few months, and I've had the good fortune of serving as a sounding board for them and help brainstorm ideas.

At first glance, Ballhype will probably remind you of some popular social news sites like Digg, Reddit or the new Netscape. Those sites rely on active users submitting interesting links, which are then voted on by other readers. The popular content gets pushed to the top, making it extremely easy for passive users -- the vast majority of visitors who simply stop by now and then without ever bothering to vote or sign up -- to find cool articles.

Ballhype does in fact do this, but instead of just relying on users to submit links, it also tracks over 1,600 sports blogs, automatically analyzing every post to see what topics people are talking about, and then grouping related stories together much like lowpost.net does for basketball and Techmeme does for technology news.

When some of those 1,600 blogs start linking to the same thing -- whether it's a common newspaper article, another blog post, a YouTube video, anything -- then it automatically counts that as a vote and pushes the story higher, as well. The end result is a stream of interesting articles and blog posts that is always fresh and relevant.

But wait, you ask, what if I don't care about all sports? That's fine, too, because Ballhype lets you sort all of the stories by sport, team and even by player. Or, maybe you're interested in all sports, but only Detroit teams -- it can do that, too. You can mark as many of those categories or any of the blogs that it tracks as a "favorite," which allows you to quickly drill down to only the headlines you're interested in.

There are a ton of other features that are also quite addicting, such as the ability to predict games and win points based on how many other people picked that game; adding friends (ie, Facebook and MySpace) and leaving messages on your friends' profile pages; and joining and creating groups where you can meet and talk with other fans.

If you're a blogger, you may also like checking out the blog rankings for each sport, or adding voting widgets to your site to make it easy for your readers to vote for your posts. (You'll see these soon on DBB.) But even if you're just a sports fan looking to kill those hours between 9am and lunch and 1pm and quitting time, there's a ton to explore, whether it's playing with Ballhype's own bells and whistles or using it as a launching pad to other interesting articles and blogs.

Check it out now, and if you sign up, feel free to add me as a friend.