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eBay-owned website rating service StumbleUpon has announced the launch of a new feature that will display users' opinions of a website or web page.

The new "SearchReviews" service will be available to StumbleUpon users who have downloaded and installed the company's toolbar. Once this is installed, users will start seeing tiny coloured icons alongside links other "Stumblers" have rated, indicating whether people recommend or dislike the site.

The ratings links are set to begin running on nine of the web's most popular sites on Tuesday, including the search sites from Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, or Ask. They will also appear on Google and Yahoo!'s news sites, the Flickr photo-sharing community, the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia, and the YouTube streaming video site.

"Now you can have a lot of people who have said, 'this is a good page', as opposed to just ranking the most popular pages," StumbleUpon's co-founder and chief architect Garrett Camp said in a statement. "You can save a lot of time finding interesting things lower down a page."

Observers believe that StumbleUpon, which is pretty much a recommendation system that uses peer and social networking principles, will now have an advantage over other "social search engines" like ChaCha, Eurekester and Wink, as users can continue using the powerful and comprehensive Yahoo! or Google searches and don't have to switch to another site.

Since its foundation by Canadian computer science graduate students six years ago, StumbleUpon has attracted 3.7 million users who between them have rated some 13 million sites. The company was bought by online auction giant eBay in May of this year for $75m.

© 2007 ENN

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