New Netscape is Better

Posted on July 17, 2006

The New York Times has an article that spotlights a tiny group of Netscape users unhappy with the recent Digg-like redesign.

But instead of embracing the new format, some of the site's longtime fans used those interactive features to vehemently protest the change. One dismayed user posted an item titled "Netscape's blunder!!!" on a few hours after the redesigned site was online. It elicited more than 300 comments, including pleas to "please bring the old back."

A petition soon followed. On July 1, Bert Lao, a U.C.L.A. graduate student who said he began visiting the portal site years ago as a teenager, posted an item on the new Web site about his petition requesting that the company "bring back our" Mr. Lao, who used the Internet alias Ernie Jenkins, said the petition received more than 1,000 electronic signatures before Netscape removed his entry from the "top stories" page and closed all comments.

"That signified to me that Netscape had no interest in hearing the opinions of those who wanted the old back," he said. The petition now has more than 1,300 signatures.

Jason Calacanis says Netscape never tried to silence anyone.
There is one piece of misinformation in the story: that we tried to silence the folks doing the petition by not letting them vote up negative Netscape stories on the new Netscape--that's simply not true. We've had a dozen negative stories about Netscape on the home page--just like DIGG has--and we understand that part of running a social news site is that your user base will use the site itself to talk to you. In fact, any negative story on AOL, Netscape, or myself immediatly goes to the number one position.
Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm points out a rising Hitwise graph that shows the Netscape site is getting a traffic boost.
Hitwise says the Netscape site has seen a 17% increase from the week ending June 24 to the week ending July 15th. Given, that might largely come from the site's recent media attention, but, hey, at least they're getting attention, which is more than the Netscape brand had before.
We think the new Netscape is better. The idea of combining editors (Netscape Anchors) with user-suggested articles and stories works very well. They have also left room to add more channels as the site gets more popular and Netscape users become more familiar with the site.

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