Amazon Launches Amapedia

    January 26, 2007

Integrating user-generated submissions with existing content is one of the hottest new trends these days, mostly thanks to the success of Wikipedia. Now Amazon is jumping on the bandwagon with its launch of Amapedia; a wiki intended to serve as a companion to its extensive product catalog.

The sheer volume of Amazon’s inventory can be a bit overwhelming, to say the least. Historically, the online shopping site hasn’t been one of those places that one could effectively window-shop for nothing in particular. No, most Amazon shoppers arrive with a clear perspective on exactly what they’re looking to buy.

Why is it difficult to simply browse Amazon? The biggest drawback stems from the fact that many products either lack user reviews entirely, or are accompanied by fluffy descriptions that lend little credibility or detail as to the quality of the product.

If an Amazon user wants information on a particular item, he or she is usually better served to conduct his or her own separate research, coming back to Amazon simply to complete the purchase.

Amazon is looking to change all that with Amapedia.

The wiki-based site, currently in beta, looks to engage the user community in a broader discussion concerning products that can be found in Amazon’s massive catalog.

Richard MacManus has more on Amapedia:

The site looks pretty raw currently and has little info in it – it is after all brand new. But a wikipedia for products makes perfect sense for Amazon. Who better to spotlight products and gather product information from the community, than Amazon? Another way to look at this: Amapedia could become the next generation of user reviews.

A commenter on this Techdirt thread sheds some more light into the current user review process on Amazon, and why Amapedia may be the cure to this particular ill:

User reviews on websites today are relatively rigid and old fashioned, so Amazon may be thinking that Amapedia will be a new platform for user reviews – it may help remove redundancy in reviews, while offering more completeness.

As to Amapedia, it might address a problem I’ve been seeing with Amazon’s reader reviews. When you see a gushing write up on a text, then see that the reviewer has done the same for all that author’s books (with, perhaps, a couple other authors from the same publisher tossed in), the credibility off all those stars takes a real hit. If Amapedia provides an opportunity to call reviewers on shilling for their buddies, I’m all for it.

Most products are still ripe for the picking on Amapedia, as the site has very few completed articles so far. Perhaps I will write up a review for the World of Warcraft trading card game, which I am totally digging right now.

I’ll be very interested to see the direction Amapedia takes, and what kind of long-term impact it could have on Amazon’s sales.

Add to | Digg | Reddit | Furl

Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.