Social shopping site CrowdStorm has launched a beta trial for their new site revision. It’s been seven months in the making. CrowdStorm always had a social bent, with users supplying the listings and reviews for products listed on the site. However, the new version is a significant upgrade that incorporates content pulled from around the web with relevant reviews intelligently selected from other users. You can sign up for the trial here.
Before, the site was entirely dependent on user submitted products and written reviews. The new site adds a host of other review sources, such as expert reviews (Cnet, TrustedReview, Stuff …), buyer guides, video links, and q&a sessions. Users can bookmark their own relevant product review content on the site. It also brings in new price search engines such as Amazon, eBay, and Shopping.com.
CrowdStorm hopes not only pull content from the web, but also let you take your content with you. You can take your reviews and post them to other blogs, review sites, or online stores. The hope is that CrowdStorm will function as a hub for review content instead of a walled garden.
The more significant change is how it takes advantage of user generated content. CrowdStorm has a new algorithm that ranks user reviews in aggregate and for each user based on the quality of reviews, the similarity between users, and social network relationships. The idea being that similar users closely linked to you have more relevant and trustworthy reviews. The algorithm can also generate a relevant crowd of experts you can ask questions.
It’s very similar to what VibeAgent is doing with their travel review system. Analyzing the social network graph has become a sensible way to deal with the potential spammyness of user generated sites and I expect to see it incorporated into even more products.