If you’re like most people, you come across a lot of documents in your life. Many go into the trash — and deservedly so — but many just can’t seem to find a home. You want to keep them for reference or for sharing but you don’t know where to put them.
Enter docstoc.com. Aptly labeled beta, docstoc is touted as a “community of users sharing their professional documents.” docstoc allows users to upload their documents for anyone to share and is free for both those uploading and those downloading. Apparently, they make it up on volume. One downside is that you have to register to be able to upload or download.
The site is quite diverse in topics and in document types. Currently, it supports .doc, .pdf, .xls, .ppt, .ppt, and .txt file types. More amazingly, users can upload an unlimited amount of documents. I’m not sure how long free, unlimited storage can last.
I had a chance to speak with the CEO, Jason Nazar, about docstoc.com to get a better understanding of the site. Here are some of the highlights about docstoc:
- 55,000+ free legal forms, business documents, excel templates, free real estate forms, sample business plans.
- Backed by the co-founders/investors of MySpace, Baidu, Mp3.com, and Lowermybills.com.
- Launched about three months ago and has 30,000+ registered members.
I had some difficulty navigating the site but that is mainly because it’s a little different from traditional sites with lists of links. The docstoc site allows you to view entire documents through a viewer window, you don’t have to open any applications.
My biggest problem with docstoc is its very scope. Since the site is populated by user-uploaded materials without any selection or moderation process, the range of materials is all over the map. This makes it difficult to find the documents you need.
When I did a quick search, I came up with a list of documents that had an LLC agreement next to a university press release next to a PowerPoint about nanotechnology next to a calendar of women in bathing suits next to a university biology exam study questions list. All using a narrow search query. Using a more generic search term gets you someone’s resume next to a reference manual for a wireless server next to document labeled “Why I Got Fired” next to a set of blonde jokes. You get the idea.
You can drill down through menus at the top to get from all documents to legal to contracts but the effect is still the same. It is one big collection of documents of whatever anyone wants to upload.
Even though I liked the idea of having access to a large portfolio of documents, I couldn’t shake a nagging uncomfortable feeling about downloading documents that were mostly uploaded by someone named Anonymous.
Note: docstoc does include a fake public service video: “Don’t Steal Documents.”
The site has some unique features to make things easier such as the ability to mouse over a link and get a preview window with the whole document. To help wade through documents, each document has listings showing the number of views and downloads and users can rate the documents to alert you to the usefulness. Users can also form groups, such as “LA Investor Group“, so that like-minded users can collaborate.
Jason explained that users can gain lots of exposure by uploading quality documents that potential contacts may want so there is an incentive to upload only worthy materials. One nice feature for bloggers is an embed feature – you can embed documents into your blog after uploading them to docstoc. Another feature allows users to make a request for a document to see if another user has it and would upload it onto the site.
I think docstoc may still be a little too beta on the Web 2.0 curve but it has a lot of potential for users to share documents, spread the word about their talents or services and to gain feedback. In addition, users can store their documents in their own personal online folders for anytime, anywhere access.
Decide for yourself at docstoc.com.
When you’re done uploading, check out Relatip™, billed as the first and only online social community tailored exclusively to the unique requirements of intellectual property (IP) attorneys.