Texas-based Pluck Corporation is to supply the community functionality for the ongoing phased redevelopment of Guardian Unlimited.
Beginning later this year, Guardian Unlimited will be using Pluck’s SiteLife Social Media Platform, a package of tools that create blogs, photo-sharing, content ratings, reader comments, profiles, social networking and forums.
Unlike several other publishers that have relaunched their sites using off-the-shelf content management system software, Guardian News & Media has opted for gradually rebuilding its website with a bespoke software, a project known internally as ‘R2″.
‘They will host the comment threads and things like that, but we’re not outsourcing any personal data, for example,’said Guardian general manager for digital Tom Turcan.
‘Obviously what the platform does is take a lot of the load off of our platform when it comes to commenting, rating and responding and managing communities more generally.”
As part of the R2 project, The Guardian will be replacing the Movable Type software that currently powers Guardian blogs including Comment is Free.
‘We’ve already got blogs and commenting and polls, but they are implemented on our legacy platform,’said Turcan.
‘Those will be transferred into the new environment and we’ll be using Pluck to enable us to do that, but we’ll also be using it to do a hell of a lot more.”
Further details of how The Guardian will be using the Pluck tools will be revealed later this year, Turcan said.
The Pluck service is already used by several other major online news sites, including The Economist and Reuters, to power user-generated content features of their sites.
WashingtonPost.com uses the service to maintain its personalised MyPost section, which allows readers to comment on stories and create groups of readers with similar interests.
One feature of the service allows news sites to link into Facebook and social networking sites that use Google’s OpenSocial interfaceI, such as Bebo and MySpace. Pluck says it currently handles more than 1 billion social media interactions each month.
Guardian Unlimited is the most-widely read UK newspaper web site, with 17.5 million unique users in November 2007, according to ABCe-audited figures.