Document sharing site DocStoc opened to the public today after months of a high-profile private beta. Similar to the already launched and funded Scribd, DocStoc aims to provide a place for you to post and discover professional documents on a wide variety of topics. Think sample contracts, sample press releases, proposals, etc. If DocStoc can keep itself from being overrun by crap, as has happened to Scribd, that itself would be a major accomplishment. Like Scribd, this L.A. based company has its own roster of high profile investors.
These sorts of sites face serious challenges, though. At public launch DocStoc has more than 12,000 documents already uploaded during the private beta. Most of those documents appear relatively well labeled and of high quality. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe this trend will continue.
Despite the valiant intentions of the site, there are almost zero comments or ratings on any of the documents. The company says it hopes that the precedent set by high quality docs at launch will facilitate community policing against low quality docs and spam. I question that; it might work, but the effort required to provide feedback on search results and document quality may be too high.
The fact that the company is giving away an iPod touch to the people who upload the greatest quantity of documents each week doesn't bode well for the quality of search results on the site. The words "Free iPod!" shouldn't appear on a reputable company's website, in my opinion.
I want DocStoc to work, and when looking for sample documents in the future I will give it several tries. Results so far are acceptable. I'm not so sure that I wouldn't be better off paying for a human-selected "best of" list, though.