A new player is entering the online topic guide arena as Palo Alto, Calif.-based Clip2 launches its consumer-to-consumer online directory Wednesday.
The service is similar to New York-based About.com, which features guides to specific topic areas, each hosted by an expert. With Clip2, anyone with an interest in a subject can post a page with commentary and links, using tools provided by the company.
"We hope to give people the easiest way to create and find topic guides," said Anthony Lee, Clip2's vice president of marketing. The service will not screen or train its contributors. To help route visitors to the most useful guides, all contributors will be rated daily according to the amount of traffic their pages receive. Ratings will be posted on the top-level page.
The site has been up in beta since early December. It already has nearly 1,000 subject guides, contributed by people who heard about Clip2 through word of mouth.
"So far, the most popular areas are entertainment, gaming and technology," Lee said. "We've got a killer guide on Java programming resources."
Subject areas currently range from canine cancer resources to finding the best DSL carrier and--the most arcane so far--Web sites on a short-in-front, long-in-back man's haircut called "the mullet."
"These are essentially annotated links," said Lee. "Each section will include commentary about the various resources, be they newsgroups, products, other sites, graphics or whatever."
Though there are myriad other sites with user-written reviews, most--like Epinions.-com--tend to focus on product reviews. Clip2 guides will sometimes include product reviews and links to products, but will cover broader subject areas.
The service is free to individuals who wish to read or create guides. Content and commerce sites will be charged to post guides. They will also pay either a flat rate per clickthrough to their sites or a percentage of each sales transaction that results from a clickthrough. "For example, Reel.com could create a guide to movies with guys named Peter," said Lee. "Then every time someone clicked on a link to order a movie, we would get a percentage. This is a highly targeted, clickthrough-based model, very niche-oriented advertising."
To promote the site, Clip2 is using "guerrilla and viral advertising," including partnerships with community and content sites.
Clip2 has not yet committed to an advertising agency and is using a few boutique firms that Lee declined to name.