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March 2, 2006 at 6:01 AM

Wet Paint on the virtual highway

Fergal and Jackson will make their public debut on a new social networking site launching Monday. Each will accept comments, photos, ads and mail from fans, but which one is cuter is still a toss up. Fergal and Jackson are dogs, and each has his own Web page at Wet Paint.

“Dogs” is just one of six themed sites Wet Paint will make available in the latest adaptation of the wiki phenomenon.

Others are Xbox 360, cancer, Democrats, Republicans and bird flu. Wet Paint’s creators chose topics they think will naturally stimulate a lot of conversation and interaction. They and about 300 friends and relatives supplied the initial content. In the future, any number of subjects can be created by users of the free service. The Seattle company intends to make money through Google contextual ads.

“The whole site is oriented toward bringing people together around subject areas,” said Wet Paint spokesman Jason Reindorp, who owns Fergal, a Hungarian hunting dog.

Wet Paint aims to take the wiki and social media concepts a step further by making them easier to use than Wikipedia and yet more community-oriented than MySpace.com, he said.

Wet Paint CEO Ben Elowitz, who owns the Airedale named Jackson, is also famous for co-founding Blue Nile.

The new site is designed for consumers and allows anyone to post photos, edit text, e-mail pages to friends and add links. While people can post or edit anonymously, moderators will have the ability to lock down a page if posting becomes offensive, Reindorp said.

You never know what kind of debates might rage in the category “My dog is cuter than your dog.”

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