DZone: News Aggregator and Free Cheat Sheets for Developers

Mihaela Lica

DZone logosSometimes good sites don’t receive the buzz they deserve. Media outlets cover more of digg, reddit, delicious, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook and the like, because these are already consecrated brands, and because “everyone is there” one way or another. When the social network in case has no PR team to back it up, things are even worse.

A social network that hasn’t received enough attention in my view is DZone — the perfect hub of information for developers. I joined the network less than a week ago, because I found a “Share to DZone” button on a site and I was … just curious.

There are two aspects about DZone I would like to highlight today: the social network advantage over Digg, SU and reddit; and a more important one: DZone’s Refcardz — free cheat sheets for developers.

DZone — the Social Network that Kicks Derrières!

I’ve been testing social networks and news aggregators since forever, and for various reasons: to see what marketing benefits they might bring; to see what real SEO advantage they provide; to keep up with the latest news in some fields; to see what is hot and what not; to identify industry trends; and so on. Niche specific networks like DZone are more useful than, let’s say, digg. Of course, having a story making the front page at digg is any publisher’s dream, but I would always trade that for 100 genuinely interested readers!

On digg, users vote for the sake of voting, sometimes based on the principle “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, and not always actually understanding what they are voting for, or even caring to read the story they “digg” up.

I found that DZone is different in this regard.

DZone screenshot

DZone is truly a network of professional developers with zero tolerance for spam.

I had a Microsoft-related story from one of my sites submitted to DZone and I was sincerely surprised to see the traffic it sent, but even more surprised to see that the bounce rates for that article from this referrer were less than 50% — 49.42% bounce rate to be more exact! This is amazing compared with digg (83%), StumbleUpon (92%) and reddit (77%). For those who understand what bounce rates are this needs no other explanation, but for those who don’t know: “bounce rate represents the percentage of initial visitors to a site who “bounce” away to a different site, rather than continue on to other pages within the same site.”

Since I write for SitePoint I got to know that my readers here are a very intelligent bunch — so I am sure that you will understand immediately the value of a network like DZone; and since most of you are developers, if the social network advantage is not what you aim for, then check this out:

DZone Refcardz: Free Cheat Sheets for Developers

This is probably the most popular product from DZone, probably more popular than DZone Snippets (which offers thousands of freely shared source code examples). DZone President Rick Ross, whom I contacted to get some information about when DZone was launched and why, told me about DZone Refcardz:

We commission best-selling tech authors and top experts to create 5-6 page quick-reference guides on all the most important topics for developers and designers. They are professionally edited and designed, and subscribers can download them for free in Adobe PDF format. For just over a year we have been releasing a new one each week. With over 50 topics now available I wouldn’t be surprised if DZone Refcardz has become the world’s largest collection of professional cheat sheets. The momentum behind Refcardz is really starting to build, and we’re quickly approaching our one-millionth download. For developers who can’t afford the time or money for a whole book, DZone Refcardz are a great alternative.

DZone Refcardz screenshot

SitePoint 8th Most Popular Site at DZone

Rick Ross also told me that SitePoint is the 8th most popular site at DZone — and I have no doubts about this. SitePoint is a developer’s heaven, in most regards more than DZone; but both entities are equally important as they complete each other in so many fields. I was once told that online there are no competitors, only colleagues — and looking at both SitePoint and DZone I believe this wholeheartedly.