eBay Joins the Social Networking Craze

eBay said Wednesday that it is joinging the social networking movement by launching 'Neighborhoods,' which help its users congregate around specific topics to discuss and find products on the site.

Initially some 600 groups are available, including topics such as the sci-fi hit Battlestar Galactica and R&B artist Beyonce. eBay will add additional groups based on community feedback.

The Neighborhood idea pools already-available services including the site's listings as well as its Blogs, Guides, and Reviews offerings. On top of that, it adds message boards, photo galleries, and social mapping tools to each individual group.

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"On eBay, people who are passionate about certain brands, trends, celebrities or products have been discovering and trading with one another for years," buyer experience head Jamie Iannone said in a statement. "We hope that eBay Neighborhoods makes this even easier."

Some say that the move is aimed at fixing some issues with the site's current state. After years of fast-paced growth, revenues are beginning to level off. Additionally, the site's sheer size is quickly becoming a negative trait.

With so many listings, some users are complaining the site is becoming too difficult to navigate. Neighborhoods hopes to solve some of that problem by giving shoppers a central location to find products based around a single topic, however this is only the first of the new features that the site plans to launch over the next few months.

A more streamlined checkout process is on tap, as well as features to improve the buying and selling experience aimed at keeping people on the site for longer periods of time.

TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld says that the site is still missing something -- "access to outside world."

"What would really be smart would be if eBay allowed anyone to easily take any module on a neighborhood page (the reviews, the visual product search, the discussions, or the eBay blog posts) and embed them on other Web pages like Facebook, MySpace, or their blogs," he wrote.

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