Epinions.com - a Void that Was Left Unfilled
One of the last great online communities
When the web was still young and the dot com bubble was amongst us, there were literally hundreds of websites that paid contributors a certain amount of money every month to come write for them. What this did for the internet is unleash a wave of brand new writers who otherwise never thought that they could write professionally and get paid for it, an ingenious concept really. Unfortunately as the time progressed these websites were heavily taken advantage of, and they died off one by one as the years went by. One such web site that stood the test of time until recently was Epinions.com, a company that was actually purchased by eBay and then eventually closed down for good.
Epinion’s was a website that paid writers a percentage for each review, and what made this company unique was that there was no set amount or characteristic that determined how much you could make each month. The company instead had “advisors” who would be responsible for each section of the website to make sure that there was quality content being produced. The advisors would also submit content to the website as well, contributing some of the most detailed and well thought out product reviews that I have read in a long time. This truly was a thriving online writing communities with a stellar reputation for providing trust worthy product reviews from real people.
What Drove the Downfall of Epinions?
I think that epinions.com failed for a number of reasons, with the main reason being a real lack of advertising. The epinions.com website relied heavily on product placement to websites like Amazon and other shopping websites, while a good idea sadly a lot of people online are just window shoppers and will not ever actually make a purchase. Thus, making the idea of affiliate marketing kind of drab in certain instances. Epinions.com also had a pretty close knit community which was good and bad, the advisors would often hand out harsh “Not Helpful” ratings to new writers who were just starting out, discouraging them from the start. If you got a “Not Helpful” or “Somewhat Helpful” rating your review would not get a piece of the revenue.
I myself got slapped with a “Somewhat Helpful” rating more than once, and fortunately I didn’t get discourages I just kept trying. I really worked hard to hone my skill, and I owe Epinions.com a lot because I really became a better writer by starting out there. There was a lot of good that came from the Epinions.com community and the pay was not half bad either, it was a shame to see this website finally fold. While a shell of the website is still active, the author portion of the website is completely gone and the product databases are at least a few years old. I think more than anything epinions.com was a casualty of neglect and poor management, and I think this website could have gone onto great things.
Epinions.com needs to make a Comeback as an App:
The market for user generated reviews is huge, because people want real results that they can trust. No one trusts advertisers anymore, and they want authentic natural content. I believe that if epinions.com were to come back as an app similar to yelp they would be hugely popular, especially with eBay backing them already. There is no reason why epinions.com should die a slow painful death of neglect any longer. The epinions.com app would be used by the masses, and there is no actually website quite like Epinions anymore which leaves a huge void in the writing community and the online shopping space as a whole.
With the amount of talented developers coming out of San Francisco where Epinions.com was based, there is no reason why an app cannot be designed quickly and marketed as a competitor to yelp and Groupon. I believe that Epinions.com because of its sheer amount of organic content has a far superior product on their hands and they just need someone to dig deep and see it. Because the industry for user generated content is so great Epinions.com could thrive for at least a few more years, if not becoming immensely popular as an app. The company never did have any type of app, which is a shame because they were in business as the smart phone craze exploded. It just appeared that eBay didn’t want to invest the money into Epinions.com and that is just a shame.
The void of been left:
There will not be a website quite as unique and vibrant as Epinions.com was for a long time. The company was one of the last true pioneers in the online publishing business, and they actually had a loyal following who contributed some of the best content to be seen online. Epinions.com will always be remembered for their stellar content, decent payouts, and an intuitive and clear layout that never really changed in about fifteen years. I just hope that eBay will see what a gem they are sitting on and decide to bring this sleeping giant back to life, because I think it will be hugely popular if marketed correctly.