Netscape goes back to the future

Netscape.com will revert to being a traditional Web portal, after 15 months as a social news site.

AOL's venerable Netscape.com site, given an extreme Web 2.0 makeover 15 months ago and transformed into a spiffy social news site, will revert to being a traditional portal again.

In an official blog posting Thursday, a Netscape official explained that feedback from Netscape.com visitors prompted AOL's decision to scrap the site's redesign.

In short, people want the site to offer a more traditional Web portal experience, with news items chosen by Netscape.com editors instead of visitors, a prominent search engine box and links to AOL and Netscape services and content channels.

At press time, Netscape.com still retained the format it moved to in June of last year to compete with the likes of Web 2.0 social news upstarts like Digg.com.

However, those interested in checking out how Netscape.com will look like soon can see its forthcoming format at an alternate address.

Proving that everything old is new again, the new format looks a lot like Netscape.com before its social news metamorphosis.

After Netscape.com adopts its new/old portal format, AOL will move the social news site to another, as of yet undetermined, Web address, according to the blog posting.

The decision is not surprising. Jason Calacanis, the blogging entrepreneur who masterminded Netscape.com's transformation into a social news site, left AOL in November, shortly after Jonathan Miller was replaced as AOL's CEO. Miller had overseen AOL's acquisition of Calacanis' Weblogs in October 2005 and become a Calacanis mentor at AOL.

Then in June of this year, AOL relaunched its AOL News site with a raft of social news capabilities, such as the ability for people to vote on, rank and share links to articles, photos and video clips, as well as comment on them, duplicating many of Netscape.com's features.

Interestingly, AOL News apparently relies on the Netscape.com social news site for its section on stories submitted by readers. It's unclear if or how the transformation of Netscape.com will affect AOL News' user-submitted stories section.

AOL didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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