Social bookmarking isn’t the most sexy of topics, it is just one of those things that, for those who do it, underlies their online experience. Slowly but surely, these bookmarks become a crutch, or as I like to kid, your online brain:
- Need to find a way to measure the effectiveness of Facebook? There is a collection of bookmarks for that.
- What about the best Twitter tools. There is one for that, too!
And the list goes on…
Just last week, I would have told you that there were quite a few bookmarking tools out there, but that I would recommend Delicious. It was simple, organized and powerful – albeit a little homely. But for features and simplicity, it would have been my recommendation.
And I wasn’t alone on this, you can read just a few of the novel ways you can use Delicious in this ReadWriteWeb post. One of its most powerful features was an RSS feed by tag.
However, all of that is in question after a leaked slide from an all-hands meeting at Yahoo!, the current owner of Delicious, shows that the service is on the “Sunset” list.
And while Yahoo! hasn’t quite figured out if it will sell or give away Delicious. It is clear that they won’t support it anymore. In this excellent post by Stephen Hood, who was formerly on the Yahoo! team for Delicious, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome for the service to become open source, or even a useable platform, once the proprietary engines that underlie the service are changed. Also, Yahoo! laid off the majority of its Delicious team. So whatever Yahoo! becomes, it will become it outside of Yahoo! You can sign a petition to have Yahoo! convert the platform to open source, but read Stephen’s post to see why this will be difficult to achieve.
Alternative Bookmarking Services to Delicious
The bottom line is that for those that have a Delicious account, they need to consider transitioning to something else, or at least hedging their bets by using a service that still integrates with Delicious for the time being. To look at this question, I laid out the “must have” features for a Delicious power user.
- Portability: You need a service that allows you to import and export your bookmarks. Delicious allows you to export your bookmarks, so best case scenario is a service that easily allows this. If you are going to outsource your brain, make sure you can get it back out of a service that is being discontinued.
- Tools: It needs to be compatible with your favorite browser. Does the service have a bookmarklet for Firefox, IE, Chrome or Safari? Does it have other tools to make it easy for you to share?
- Tagging. Does it allow you to tag webpages with whatever words you want to use.
- Related (nested) Tags: Can you refine your searches with multiple tags? When you have thousands of tags this becomes essential in order to find relevant saved articles/posts/websites.
- Editing. Does it allow bulk editing of tags. This is also critical when you have lots of bookmarks and have to make changes or add new tags.
- RSS Feeds. Does it have RSS feeds by tag? You can use this feature to curate copy or selectively share info on another webpage.
- Sharable. How does the service allow you to share with others?
- Mobile. Does it have applications and mobile compatibility? So much of life and business is lived on the go.
- Integration. Is it integrated with other important services like Facebook, Twitter and more? The more it works into your daily life, the more likely you are to use it and build a rich reservoir of knowledge.
- Delicious Synch. If you have invested lots of time in Delicious, you might want to pick a service that allows you to continue to synch the new bookmarks with Delicious. Several do, including Diigo and Pinboard.in
I looked at Diigo, Pinboard.In, Evernote, and Google Bookmarks. Of these four, I think I will go with Diigo for now. It has some nice extra features and it also synchs with Delicious. Pinboard.in (paid) also synchs with Delicious and would be my second choice. But I really can’t see any improvement over Delicious unless you hit the $25/year level, where it will archive your saved pages (nice). Speaking of archiving, that is what is cool about Evernote, and also Diigo to a lesser extent. The one I hoped would work was Google Bookmarks, since I live in Google products every day, but it is seriously lacking in features and doesn’t seem to easily integrate with anything, even Google products like the Android phone.
Add Your Own Recommendations
Other services recommended to me included ShareThis, Pearltrees, X-Marks and Scuttle. I added them to the spreadsheet, but have no info on them there but they sound interesting. Beth Kanter shared this Google Doc last week that is being edited by people with a ton more recommendations. It is in a document format and talks about pros and cons.
I find the spreadsheet format helpful so I created this Delicious Replacements Spreadsheet with the evaluation categories I mentioned above. Feel free to add the ones you like and fill out the form with any missing info or change what I got wrong. But please, in true Wikipedia style, refrain from writing promotional material in the Doc.
UPDATE: A really nice summary from Shel Holtz explaining why we lose so much more than our own personal bookmarks if we lose Delicious.