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Amazon Amapedia: Hidden Potential or Dead Duck?

It’s been about 5 months since Amazon launched it’s own Wikipedia-type site, where users could tag and submit their opinions and review.

So what’s happened since the launch?

In Jan, when WebProNews announced the Amapedia launch, early feedback was along the lines of:

The site looks pretty raw currently and has little info in it – it is after all brand new.

And now nearly half a year later, I find 15 product reviews on the site, none of which are particularly inspiring. Worst still, some product discussions haven’t had an update in 55 days.

Ghost town?

For sure.

Critics will question, Is it even a worthwhile exercise for the mammoth online retailer?

Let’s look at the demand for Wikipedias, or user-contributed content sites:

wikipedia overture

So there is high demand for online information reference sites.

And the chances are, once you’ve discovered wikipedia, you’re likely to bookmark or keep it in mind, and head over there to bone up on unfamiliar topics.

I’ve gone over there a number of times in the course of my blogging and site development efforts to fact check or build up my background knowledge.

So where has the story gone wrong for poor Amapedia?

amazon amapedia

The site design certainly looks polished and is consistent with Amazon’s branding and consistent sitewide design.

I do find the user interface a little clunky though.

The Wikipedia I’m used to is fairly text-heavy and has little in the way of design gimmicks.

It’s utlitarian in the way of “enter key phrase in search box, hit enter”. I don’t use burn any neurons trying to find categories or figure out how to search for stuff in Amapedia’s case.

But I think the biggest obstacle is a lack of buzz for Amapedia’s efforts.

History has shown that websites with really horrible interfaces, and poor design can survive, provided there is something compelling.

I have been on more than a few forums and social community sites where the design and interface has been nothing short of dreadful, but I’ve stuck around because the people were interesting.

Text Link Ads not too long ago, enlisted the likes of Neil Patel and Cameron Olthuis to spice up the Link Building Blog and have generated a community of readers and buzz.

Can Amazon do the same too?

They’ve already dumped the idea of plogs (a kind of product blog) in February. So what next?

Maybe Amapedia could hire the likes of celebrity gossip maven Perez Hilton or the folks at gadget blog Gizmodo to contribute interesting content to shake things up. Give Amapedia some personality.

But I think the biggest lure Amazon could go with is with their most valuable asset: Amazon credit vouchers.

If you remember back far enough, Amazon used to give away $10 credit vouchers like water when they first launched.

It certainly worked very well and I’ve racked up a couple of thousand dollars worth of purchases from Amazon over the last couple of years.

A lot of it had to do with the initial exposure and liking for Amazon’s interface and more so their customer service (I typically received an answer within 24 hours, and sometimes as short as 6 hours).

Awarding quality Amapedia content contributors is a less expensive route than taking on hired guns for content creation. More so, incentivizing Amapedia contributors builds site stickiness and organic growth will occur.

If something is going to happen, it needs to take place soon, because the web is already evolving at a rapid place, and the marketplace is unforgiving of slow pokes.

1 comment on Amazon Amapedia: Hidden Potential or Dead Duck?

  1. Anonymous
    July 10, 2009 at 12:44 pm (4095 days ago)

    That’s 15 featured articles, not 15 total.

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