AOL has launched ‘Propeller’, a new social news site, only a few days after moving Digg-rival Netscape to a more traditional model.

The web giant is now positioning Netscape as a more ‘traditional’ news service, apparently to fit in with perceptions of its brand, while Propeller has been launched today to replace it.

At first glance, Propeller looks a lot like its predecessor and has retained the same model of paying ‘power users’ and editors to submit stories.

The site employs full time ’Propeller Anchors’ to get rid of spam and recommend articles. In addtion, part-time ‘Scouts’ are also used to add stories of interest.

Propeller also has a ‘middleman rule’, to avoid duplicates and direct users to the original source of a story.

So far, the site is nowhere near as appealing or easy to use as Digg. The navigation for all categories of stories is hidden below the fold, while the only navigation at the top of the screen directs people to the six categories chosen by the ‘Anchors’, which can be confusing.

Unlike Digg, it also takes two or three clicks to actually get to the original story, which can only be done via a link underneath the headline, rather than by clicking on the headline itself, which can be annoying.

AOL promises that it will bring greater personalisation to Propeller in the weeks to come, serving news articles to users based on their previous reading habits.

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