The new Netscape site – proof of the power of community

Netscape AOL has launched their “version” of a Digg-like site, which is still in beta. While there have been other Digg clones, this is the first from a major player in the Internet arena, and surely signals the acknowledgement of the power of community, whether a good or bad thing.

At first glance, it just appears to be a Digg-clone. But looking closer, you’ll see that the top stories must be selected by an “anchor” – a member of the staff of the site, who works either full or part time. This separates it from Digg, in which the placement of stories is purely determined by community votes or “diggs”. Anchors can also post their commentaries on the story, which gets more precendence than user comments. In this way, they hope that a mob mentality can be avoided, which is one of the unfortunate side-effects of massive online communities, and is akin to “GroupThink”.

But perhaps the most visible difference is the fact that the new Netscape site, although linking to off-site stories, still wants to keep you at their site, no doubt for ad-revenue. While wanting to make money isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be frustrating for users who click on a story, expecting to be taken to the site; currently, when one does this, it opens a new window that is still pointing to Netscape’s site, but displays the target site using frames. (Yes, the frames we all know and hate from the 1990’s.) You have to click “close this frame” to get the site alone.

Criticisms aside, the site isn’t too bad. And, it’s interesting note that significant number of major stories on the site during the launch covered the launch or its comparison to Digg. A few of them also linked to Digg! Interestingly, a top story on Digg during that day also pointed to the beta of Netscape, thus creating a (recursive?) loop of Internet links for top stories.

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