Deja Drops News, Shifts Focus to Product Ratings

Deja News has dropped “news” from its name and overhauled its site in an ambitious attempt to convert newsgroup chatters to product reviewers — and buyers.

At the heart of the new is the Deja Ratings section, offering detailed reviews of more than 7,200 items in 400 categories, based on surveys by the site’s users. seeks to centralize — and greatly expand — the informal intelligence network in which Net surfers have traded product reviews on some 45,000 discussion forums accessed through Deja News. That, the privately held company believes, will in turn lead users to click to sites selling rated products online.

Bridging Content, Commerce Gap

“We’ve taken a significant step toward bridging the gap between content and commerce. With Deja Ratings, we can now quantify the tremendous volume of shared-knowledge so consumers can use the information to make better decisions in their everyday lives,” said Tom Phillips, CEO of privately held “The breadth and scope of Deja Ratings, in combination with contextual e-commerce links, will change the way consumers make purchasing decisions, large and small.”

Along with the name change and new ratings, this week unveiled a new site design to simplify and speed navigation and new features designed to meld discussion, ratings and e-commerce.

Deja Shopper’s “Shop New” provides a searchable guide to online retailers, while “Shop Used” searches virtual classifieds. Deja Tracker notifies users when new messages appear in discussions on subjects of interest. Deja Discussion enables site users to subscribe to mailing lists for Deja Discussions and receive new posts through e-mail.

Redesign Reflects Net Realities

New York-based, which hopes to go public this year, will receive commissions on purchases made using its links, but advertising will remain the main revenue source. The company did not provide revenue projections for the revamped site.

The re-design emphasizing e-commerce reflects the reality that even compelling content alone isn’t enough to continue to grow business. At the same time, the formal ratings system seeks to tap into Net users’ demand for fellow surfers’ candid reviews of everything from books and CDs to all types of electronic gadgets and computer paraphernalia.

Deja, founded as Deja News in 1995, comprises about 30,000 Usenet sites and 15,000 Deja member forums. Membership is free to users who register at the site.

The company claims some 4 million unique users a month who generate more than 6 million page views a day. The company has forged partnerships or strategic alliances with companies including America Online, CNet, HotBot, Infoseek, LookSmart, Microsoft, Netscape, Yahoo! and ZDNet.

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