Shopping and social interaction come together
Combine that with something else the Internet is really good at -- bringing communities of people together to share things -- and you have Buxr.com, a Web site where people share shopping deals.
"This is the only completely community driven deal site out there," said Yan Bezugliy, who co-founded Buxr in 2007.
The latest and the most popular deals are listed atop the front page, ranging from free items such as sunglasses to $700 LCD 42-inch HDTV's sold at Best Buy.
Everything is sold at linked sites, so customers aren't buying from Buxr.
"All go to merchants, to a store. We don't sell anything," Bezugliy said.
Registered users can post deals, and those deals earn or lose points as votes are counted for the best or the worst deals.The winners earn cash. The democracy of the site, as with much of the Internet, is swift and can push a deal up or down for others to see or ignore.
Users are more likely to point out bad deals than good, although giving a deal a bad rating requires explaining why, Bezugliy said in a telephone interview.
One of his goals is to make shopping fun, which is what Bezugliy aimed for with what he calls his "little social bargain hunting experiment" of an early version of Buxr.
In fact, Bezugliy was so social on the Internet and so involved in the virtual world that he took on a business partner, Michael Glozman, after meeting him online in 2006 and without meeting him in person. Glozman, from Philadelphia, and Bezugliy, from Chicago, finally met in person this summer in Florida.
Bezugliy said his ultimate goal for Buxr is to have it be as popular and as useful as Craigslist, giving deal seekers a place to share opinions about what they shop for.
And unlike many Web sites' blogs, Buxr's actually has something to say on the topic it covers. A recent post on how monkeys were the original bargain hunters gave me some shopping insights I'll keep in mind the next time I'm shopping online.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He can be reached at www.AaronCrowe.net