MSN Pays Bloggers to 'Filter' the Web

Without much fanfare, MSN last week released a preview version of MSN Filter, a service based on MSN Spaces that has been described as a cross between a blog and a wiki.

"MSN Filter is a collection of community-driven blogs built on the MSN Spaces platform," lead Program Manager for MSN Spaces Mike Torres said.

To run the Filter, MSN hired paid bloggers to post on topics including lifestyle, sports, music, technology, and television. These bloggers have been tasked with scouring the Web for stories not yet in the mainstream, as well as soliciting contributions from readers.

Readers will be able to receive updates from the blogs through their desktop, e-mail, or phone through Microsoft Alerts. All the filters will also include an RSS feed to which users will be able to subscribe and add to My MSN,, or an RSS reader.

"MSN Filter is an incubation service that is intended to provide people with a category-related blogging community where they can share news, information and insights with subject matter experts and others who share their enthusiasm for a variety of topics," a Microsoft spokesperson explained to BetaNews.

"The bloggers, paid by Microsoft, may blog about or link to anything they find that is interesting, on the Web or sent in from consumers.

However, some say MSN Filter needs some fine tuning in order to make it seem genuine, and to make the service more inviting for user input.

"MSN Filter is a good first effort, but the posts read to editorially contrived. They're too smooth, too edited, too news story-like and not particularly funny," Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox wrote in Microsoft Monitor Monday. "I'm not the slightest bit shocked to see something like MSN Filter. MSN gave plenty of foreshadowing."

Wilcox pointed to MSN's sponsored spaces that popped up when the service officially launched in April. Noting that many of the links within the posts pointed to MSN-operated sites, he wondered how many of the non-Microsoft links pointed to sponsors or affiliates of MSN.

"The synergy between blogs and the links should be obvious - driving traffic, if nothing else," Wilcox said.

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