Although we had some advance warning that this might be happening — courtesy of a post from Mike Arrington at TechCrunch that was denied by Netscape at the time — it’s still kind of sad that AOL is pulling the plug on its social-news experiment at Netscape.com.
The note at the Netscape site says that the Digg-style interface is merely moving to another location (Mike said he heard reports that it would be wow.com, another AOL-owned site). But it seems obvious that interest in the idea is waning, and the focus has shifted back to making Netscape into the news portal it used to be, primarily for the ad dollars. According to the site:
â€œWe received some feedback that people really do associate the Netscape brand with providing mainstream news that is editorially controlled. In fact, we specifically heard that our users do have a desire for a social news experience, but simply didnâ€™t expect to find it on Netscape.com.â€
I know there will be a lot of gloating over this move — particularly from those who don’t like Jason Calacanis — but I think it’s unfortunate. Even if it was in essence a “Digg-clone,” I still think (as I have said from the beginning) that Netscape introduced some useful features to the social media model, including the use of editors to promote and add to stories, and the somewhat controversial decision to pay top submitters.
For whatever reason, Netscape just never seemed to be able to get much traction, so we will never know if any of those features makes sense for a social news site — and that’s a shame.
Muhammad Saleem, a Netscape “scout,” says in his post on the announcement that he’s shocked at how some blogs have mis-reported the news as the closure of Netscape — and he has a point. But I think even if the site remains at a different location, it seems obvious that its star has dimmed somewhat in the AOL universe, as HMTKSteve notes in his comment at Muhammad’s blog.