I have a soft spot for Netscape.com. AOL purchased the brand name back in 1999, probably trying to get a little goodwill from people like me that remember when Netscape was THE web browser. The Netscape.com portal has used a"social news" format for submitting and voting on the prominence of news stories for over a year now, but parent AOL has decided to return to having an editorial staff present the news.
The feature received tepid response when it was introduced last
summer. Over the past year, U.S. visitors to the Netscape home page
dropped by about half to 2.4 million in July, according to comScore
Media Metrix. By contrast, visitors to social-news rival Digg.com
nearly quadrupled to 4.6 million.
Netscape's social-news feature
has allowed visitors to submit links to articles they find elsewhere
and vote on the ones they like most. The items receiving the most votes
appear on the home page and in separate sections such as technology and
The feature resembles the news-recommendation system found
at Digg.com, although Netscape.com also has been displaying at the top
some items hand-picked by its staff.
Like many places that allow users to control the content, Netscape.com quickly devolved into a place where the most strident and crazy opinions held sway, driving out everybody else. Content providers are slowly waking up to the fact that an internet poll is a dangerous thing to rely on if you're trying to judge what normal people think. If you believe internet polls, Ron Paul is going to be the next President of the United States, for instance. I have my doubts. So does Netscape, it appears.