- Poking at some referrer logs the other day, I spotted the relatively new N4G.com - or new to me, at least, with N4G standing for News 4 Gamers, of course. It's another Digg-style site for games, but has a fairly pleasant interface, with various 'hotness' quotients and easy headline reading.

I was originally going to sorta just link to the site in a vaguely positive manner - and I still think it's useful. But I also wanted to point out that it further meta-s the whole news process on the Internet. Increasingly, nowadays, we're finding on Gamasutra that a blog's version of our story gets upvoted to the front page on Digg and similar sites - so Joystiq or Kotaku's or Destructoid's story that correctly links Gamasutra will get front-page Dugg. That's obviously a bit galling in terms of page views.

(Equally, we sometimes get Gamasutra stories summarizing other people's stories voted up on Digg, which I find a little embarrassing, to be honest. It's the same problem, but obviously, bigger sites like Joystiq and Kotaku will be on the traffic-receiving end of this proportionally more often.)

Well, N4G goes a bit further still, since it actually summarizes Joystiq posts (in that exact example, just cut and pasting the first couple of paragraphs) which are themselves originally sourced from another site. So it's a post about a post about a post. It _does_ link through, but it doesn't even bother rewriting the story in many cases - here's an N4G story from Gamasutra which pastes in the first 3 paragraphs - there's no real need to click through there.

Also, unlike Digg, N4G's main story link on the front page (the headline you click on) goes to an internal N4G page summarizing the story further, rather than the external site that originated the story. It's not a _massively_ big deal, and I'm not suggesting this is the end of the world as we know it, but it's just a further dilution of the concept that you can break news as an information source and expect to capture eyeballs wanting to know about that story.

Sites like Joystiq, Kotaku, and Destructoid, while I love 'em (and I know that they read here) have a lesser but still potent version of the same issue - GSW and Gamasutra just don't see that many clickthroughs from major blogs when one of our stories is reported on, unless it's something that people _have_ to click through to read in depth. Now, N4G is a bit worse than that - they're reproducing _exactly_ the chunks of news that people might want to read, thanks to 'citizen journalists' and a larger space to paste pictures and text into.

But the problem remains the same - the big sites and aggregator sites Katamari Damacy-ize up the rest of the news out there in the blogosphere, without the absolute necessity to do much original research or journalism themselves - or spend time looking at the more obscure sites and corners of the Internet. There are obviously notable exceptions in terms of original reporting (some good Kotaku reporting on eBay Wii/PS3 sales and Columbine, or Joystiq's Dennis McCauley columns), and I'm not saying that blogs don't do reportage too - believe me, I've had some fun email conversations about that!

I'm not even excluding GameSetWatch from this problem - though we try to feature links where you _need_ to click through because there's good, in-depth writing on the other end. But where are the people left to write original, correctly-sourced news and features, in a world where everyone is just talking about what everyone else wrote, and replication of information is effectively near-instantaneous? I'm not saying blogs are wrong in not doing this, but increasingly, who will?

Are we just a thousand parrots with a thousand typewriters, at this point? If so, N4G is the hyacinth macaw of the gaming blogosphere, I reckon.

[Pic via Life Meter.]