So the news today is that Netscape is launching a "Digg killer". (Note how the entry used to be say "Digg-like site" instead of "Digg killer". Gotta love the sensational headlines!)
OK, ok, I went to www.netscape.com this morning, and I was shocked to find out that it had a Google Pagerank of 9. Wow. Who still goes to Netscape? No one I know ever thinks about Netscape. Shows you how much I know about stuff.
Tech Crunch has some interesting things to say about it, but I think it's missing a big part about it. It's not really about the features or even the number of page views that Netscape.com gets. The interesting thing about this launch is that AOL/Netscape have the opportunity to reach a completely different audience than Digg. The editorial panel (who are getting slammed by the community purists out there) can guide the stories to of more popular interest than geeky interest. And that's very important. If they can get the mainstream market to vote on stories, and build a community around that, then they have something.
Check out Digg anytime and the top stories are the same: product launches, tech company announcements, or freakish stories of the truly weird. I know it might just totally suck, but people want to see stories about Britney's raging hormones and Brangelina's baby.
Despite the popularity of Digg in certain circles, the vast majority of people have not heard of it. And with the demographic that Digg currently has, it will never have the mass appeal that will attract the non-geeks out there. That's where the "evil" editorial panel is valuable: you can guide the direction of the stories, and therefore, guide the direction of the demographic that you attract. And after you build up enough of that demographic, the editorial panel can step aside and let the community do it's magic.
You know who could do it better? I think CNN.com, actually, because they have the stories, they have the offline brand, and they also have a 9 Pagerank. And strangely, they also are owned by AOL-Time Warner. Hmmm…. Conspiracy?