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So long, Epinions

EpinionsEpinions members got a bit of a shock last week when logging into their accounts and learning the 15-year-old consumer reviews site is effectively shutting down as of March 25.

Epinions was a site that paid contributors to review products, based on the notion that reviews of products from unbiased consumers have value. The site started in 1999 back when everyone and their dog was trying to figure out how to make a buck or two on the Internet and actually did pay its members cash for submitting reviews.

The reasons Epinions decided to shut down its review platform and shut off members’ access to accounts is somewhat vague. In a FAQ (frequently asked questions) posted about the closure, Epinions officials said the reason for the change is that “several obstacles, such as declining site participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision.”

It’s worth mentioning that the reviews submitted by members will still be displayed at the Epinions site and will appear throughout the “eBay Commerce Network.” Auction giant eBay owns Epinions epinions_218x71and has since August 2005. Apparently, reviews from Epinions members will still be attached to various items shown on eBay as has been the practice in the past. Regardless, the aforementioned Epinions FAQ makes it clear that the authors of those reviews will not longer be compensated for their work.

Epinions officials said writers will be given the opportunity to export their reviews should they so desire.

For those keeping score at home, Epinions was acquired by Dealtime.com in 2003 and the resulting new company was Shopping.com. Ebay bought Shopping.com in August 2005 for $634 million. Epinions did outlast other sites that paid members to write that popped up around the same time — Themestream.com and BrightIdea.com, for example.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.