Home Netscape Community Backlash

Netscape Community Backlash

I’ve been tracking the
release of the new Digg-style community news site Netscape.com, because there is a lot of
backlash within the Netscape community about it. A story called Netscape’s
was number 1 on Netscape.com for a while and the latest post on the
homepage is entitled
A Request by the Netscape Community to Bring Back Our Netscape.com
. There’s another
Netscape story currently on the homepage called Netscape
Reborn: Why? Why? Why?
. The backlash has presumably led to this message currently on the right of the homepage, from
the Netscape team:

“Attention Netscape users Your Netscape mail hasn’t gone anywhere, you can find it
right here! Also, My.Netscape and your Stock Quotes are still online as well.”

There appears to be a genuine feeling of betrayal by the (very large) set of users who
have had Netscape.com as their homepage for some time. Indeed I’ve been getting comments
on my own posts and
even emails from Netscape users, upset about the change to the Digg style.

All of this shows how passionate people can get about their Web homepage – and they’re
just as much a ‘community’ as the Digg.com users are. It’s just that they like the
old-school Web homepage, not the new Digg style. Also what this tells me is that while a
lot of us geeks and 2.0 types are addicted to our own technology (and our own voices, to
be honest), it’s pretty darn obvious that A LOT of people want to stick with the status
quo. Plus I’ve noticed a number of comments on the above Netscape.com stories which
equate Netscape (still!) with a browser.

I’m not sure what to think about this, because I really do think Jason Calacanis and
his team want to do well by the Netscape community – and change can be hard to take.
Even Valleywag
seems to support Calacanis! The number of Netscape users seems to be rising, but even so they’re encouraging users who like the old style to
go to MyNetscape

“For those of you who are missing the old Netscape format, have you tried My Netscape?
You can customize your page any way you see fit.”

Unfortunately there are signs that many of the existing Netscape community hate the new
Digg style passionately enough that they will jump ship to other more traditional portals like
MSN. So is this backlash a sign that Calacanis and his team have misjudged what ‘normal’
people (i.e. non-geeks) want in a homepage and they could lose their brand value with
that set of users? Or is it a necessary ‘bitter pill’ for the Netscape community to swallow – i.e. this is the New Web, get used to it?

I’m interested in these questions because obviously it can be
generalized to the broader base of web 2.0 services across the Web, which have yet to
make much impact on the mainstream.

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