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Customers work for Netscape for free

Now Lycos wants a piece of the action

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Lycos is trialling rival Netscape's so-called Open Directory, a service where customers do all the work -- for free. The Netscape Open Directory is a new initiative that employs 9,000 volunteers to register different sites, instead of paying teams of editors to trawl around the Web. According to Netscape, the goal of the Open Directory project is to "produce the most comprehensive directory of the Web". But the project is also a tacit admission that Internet growth is outstripping any attempt to try and control it and one way round it is to employ armies of volunteers for nothing. Netscape and other proponents of the service would prefer to re-brand this as the democratisation of the Internet giving people a greater say in the running of the Net. But from where the The Register’s standing, it looks like multinational capitalist combine Netscape, soon to be part of even bigger AOL, is getting a free lunch. Following Netscape’s lead, The Register is now adopting its own "open source" policy. We will accept stories from our readers but won’t pay you a bean for all your hard work and effort. Lycos denies it is about to dump its own Internet directory and search engine, replacing it instead with an alternative from Netscape. According to a report in the The Financial Times Lycos is set to abandon its own Web searching systems replacing it with the new Netscape Open Directory service. But a spokesman for Lycos Inc denied this. "The Open Directory will augment our existing service, not replace it," he said. Lycos is trialling the service in the US, but it has no plans at the moment to include the service on its European sites. ®

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