On Thursday, AOL’s Netscape property will no longer be just another portal – it’s being converted into a Digg-killer. I was briefed on the new site by Jason Calacanis last week. As of tonight, he owns the Netscape property at AOL. The new site will run at beta.netscape.com for now, converting over to the main Netscape.com property soon.
It’s not exactly a Digg clone (home page screenshot here). Submitted stories are voted on in much the same way, and the more votes a story gets the higher it appears in a category home page or on Netscape.com itself. However, the top few spots in each category and on the home page are determined by an “anchor” – essentially an editor choosing from stories moving up the ranks.
There are 30 topical channels, from “Art & Design” to “Women”. Eight full time and eleven part time editors will manage the site, determining both the top stories as well as staffing a 24×7 chat room where users can discuss stories in real time.
The fact that AOL is launching the new service under the Netscape brand instead of building out a new property says how serious they are about the space. According to statistics provided by AOL, Netscape serves a whopping 811 million monthly page views – far more than Digg today.
Putting this kind of audience in front of a Digg like service could spell trouble for many sites that ultimately make it to the top of the site. A Digg or Slashdot story can send tens of thousands of visitors to a site in a matter of minutes or hours. With Netscape, this effect could be many times larger – possibly resulting in outages at sites headlining the new service.
There are a number of other notable features of the new Netscape. Story submissions can be tagged by the submitter along for easier search in the future. Every category, user and group of friends has their own RSS feed. Also, category anchors will follow up on many stories and post their own editorial content on those stories (see screenshot here).