The Epinions shut down by parent company eBay has begun. With almost no warning, the product review site is disabling the ability of users to submit new content. According to a report from site staff on Tuesday (Feb. 25), users will only be able to log into their accounts until March 25, 2014. Some of those users have been writing product reviews for Epinions.com for 15 years, showing how involved many freelance writers have been over the duration that the site was in existence.
Many contributors have been caught off guard by the sudden announcement from employees that have helped keep the site relevant in recent years. It has also frustrated many people, especially since the site has disabled the ability of its users to edit, delete, or remove reviews that they have put up on Epinions.com over the years. Some users have contributed thousands of product reviews and have spent quite a few hours helping consumers make informed decisions about products, services, and businesses around the world.
A statement about the Epinions shut down reads in part, "We are proud that we were able to serve as a facilitator of shared experiences and thoughtful dialogue over the past 15 years. However, several obstacles, such as declining participation, have deeply affected our business and forced us to make this difficult decision." The suggestion here is that not enough people were writing for the site any longer and that it wasn't self-sustaining any longer.
There are many questions that have not been answered yet, including whether the reviews that have been posted to this point will stay up and continue to earn money for parent company eBay. While writers have been afforded the opportunity to export copies of their works, no real information has been given about what will happen to the reviews already on the site.
An end of an era is at hand as this was one of the more prolific review sites left on the internet and one of the few that survived the dot.com bubble burst. It might now be an interesting opportunity for another review site to step in and lure quite a few talented writers over the next few weeks. It certainly looks like another company could benefit from the Epinions shut down, especially if a better business model were implemented.