eBay Launches Social Networking… or at least, Neighborhoods

eBay launched Neighborhoods today, part of their big push to re-invigorate activity and excitement around the core of the auction platform.  eBay was built over people connecting about the products and categories that they collect and sell, and this effort definitely attempts to recapture more of that original community feel.

What are Neighborhoods?
Think of Neighborhoods as a gathering place for fans of a certain product, team, artist, and more. They’ve been created around popular items and searches and are designed for members with a very specific interest in mind.

For example, if you’re crazy about Audi automobiles, steer yourself over to that Neighborhood. Or maybe you love the “Slippery When Wet” album…the Bon Jovi Neighborhood could be for you. You’ll be able to find links to Neighborhoods on applicable search results pages and the Community hub, or simply search for them at http://neighborhoods.ebay.com.

Within a Neighborhood, you’ll find a discussion board dedicated to that topic where you can ask and answer questions, brag about your latest auction win, or discuss what’s new. You can upload and share photos related to that topic – and vote on which are best – or check out related listings, reviews, guides and blogs. You can even use our tools to see who else is part of that Neighborhood, or to find other Neighborhoods that might interest you.

Auctionbytes covered the launch basics on their site as well.

You can find eBay Neighborhoods here.  I joined this neighborhood dedicated to the Apple iPhone here.  Performance is incredibly slow right now, but I’m assuming they are working out the kinks there.

I caught some flack a few weeks ago for a post I wrote on Ning, where I basically argued that eBay should have acquired Ning before it received financing at a $200M+ price tag.  At the time, I compared it to eBay Groups, which was the 2004 effort by eBay to upgrade their community functionality.  Clearly, eBay Neighborhoods is a much fairer comparison.