Blog Post

R.I.P. del.icio.us

In case you haven't heard, Yahoo has decided to shut down the popular bookmarking service delicious. This news has hit me harder than almost any other shutdown notification has - I've used it multiple times a day for almost 7 years and have something like 5,000 bookmarks saved. That sounds outrageous, but I use it for recipes, dissertation links, classroom exercises, journal articles, diy tutorials, language lessons, sewing patterns, useful pages for traveling including strange attractions and hotel recommendations, a larger version of my Instapaper archive, and who knows what else.

Its capacity for tags absolutely revolutionized my organization. Being able to assign multiple categories, including "to read" or being able to send tags to friends, totally changed my ability to store and, this is crucial, to LATER FIND AGAIN the things I needed and wanted. Even if delicious wasn't the origin of tagging, it was a catalyst to understanding that static and linear structures for organizing wouldn't work with fuzzy content, nor does it work for real people. Tagging meant that I could work backwards from a thought: so if I had some lentils and tomatoes, I could enter those ingredients and find my excellent Thai soup recipe, a French salad recipe or the base of a Moroccan stew. I didn't have to remember to look for "Thai soup recipe" which is critical when you're starving and faced with imagining dinner. The same goes for image repositories for my dissertation, historical records or particular articles: you didn't have to remember the name of the thing to be able to find it again. This seems so obvious now, but after moving from a linear hierarchy of links stored on my laptop, it was pretty revolutionary not to have things stored in multiple folders. Being able to cluster tags also made trends in my own research became apparent, and I learned about new trends and services by looking at the tags that others had used to store the same URL. 

That brings me to the best part about delicious for me - the social aspect. The 'network' feature was a critical component and lead me to some extremely awesome, excellent, newsworthy or useful links. Tags gave me search terms, which gave me new ways of understanding and learning. 

This Lifehacker post talks about some alternatives for migrating your delicious bookmarks. One alternative that keeps popping up is Pinboard, which relies on a similar model of tagging, but has two aspects which are quite strange: (1) it proudly proclaims itself as the "antisocial bookmarking" service (and their recent Twitter update, which is kind of hilarious when you think about it), which completely negates one of the main benefits of delicious, and (2) it relies on a pricing structure that increases the user sign-up fee by $0.001 with each new user. So last week the price was something like $5-6. Right now it's over $8. I imagine that as the delicious news is actually announced, it'll skyrocket even further. As a friend on Facebook said on my RIP post there, it doesn't make that much sense to have a pricing structure that increases the more customers you have. It seems like it'll throttle the number of users, which might be OK from a "server needs" point of view, but totally misses the point of user aggregation. Here is a useful outline on the differences between Pinboard and delicious.

There's also a recent AskMe post on delicious bookmarking alternatives, and a long thread of folks on Metafilter discussing the service shutdown. There are a few helpful links in that thread, including a reminder that deadlicious will comb through your links to remove dead links, and give you the option to delete or fix them.

So: any advice on what to do with my bookmarks? I know many of you solely use Evernote or Zotero, or both. I use Zotero for dissertation and writing, but don't see it replacing my oodles of other random links -- am I wrong? Evernote never stuck with me, but I'd give it another chance. Any diigo users here?

Is there a great -- user-friendly, social and fast open-source alternative? Who knows, perhaps the plea to make delicious open-source will be heard? Do you use Givealink, a project out of Indiana University and (partially?) funded by the NSF?

RIP del.icio.us. You are my brain in the cloud. And Yahoo, <stern look> don't get any ideas about shutting down Flickr.

Late addition: Yahoo/Delicious give an update: "We're actively thinking about the future of Delicious and we believe there is a home outside the company that would make more sense for the service and our users. We're in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now. And we'll share our plans with you as soon as we can."

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6 comments

Someone emailed to say that unalog is open-source. Haven't looked at it yet, but there's one option.

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Great post, Fiona! Peronally I'm less worried about what I'll do with my own archive of 3,081 bookmarks in Delicious and more concerned about the loss a of a massive, public, collective knowledgebase. I often go to Delicious to find the most popular websites for certain purposes like http://www.delicious.com/popular/groupware, for example.

I think it's weird that all of this uproar is resulting from a rumor, albeit one that Yahoo has neither confirmed or denied. I'm especially mad at the fact that they bought this nice little lightweight software, didn't do anything with it, and now may just can it. Why not sell it to one of the many companies that understands the value of sharing knowledge? It would have been even better if they had left Delicious alone in the first place.

Another interesting issue is where users are migrating. My partner moved his bookmarks to Pinboard, but I don't really understand their model. As you said, they call it "anti-social bookmarking" and yet they charge more for each subsequent user. Isn't the value to them increasing with the increase in social critical mass? And you'd also think their cost per customer would be going down as they scale up. But anyway, I'm checking out Diigo.com for my own bookmarks and probably for HASTAC as well. I like that it has a free option as well as paid premiums, and it also as a special upgrade just for educators. 

See you there? http://www.diigo.com/user/rubyji

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The latest news from Yahoo is that they're not killing Delicious, just moving it somewhere else. Sounds like they're trying to sell it after the heard the uproar:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/now_yahoo_says_delicious_will_live_onsomewhere_els.php

I hope it stays alive. I have several automated processes that either add to Delicious or draw from it.

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As I said above, I thought it was foolish not to sell Delicious, but way to devalue the property before putting it on the market! They'll probably lose a huge portion of their most-connected andmost-influential users by the end of this month. That's not the way for a social service to succeed.

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This announcement seems more like, "d'oh, people will pay??!! People love us?! We want summa that." than an actually thought out plan. 

Either way it feels like the end of an era. Delicious is pretty much the only app/software/service that I still use from eons ago. And Flickr, from 2004 or early 2005. Maybe the uproar will remind them of the value and reinvest in it, or sell it to someone who will improve it even more? A girl can dream...

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From Mark Sample on Twitter:

Regardless of whether Delicious is dead or not, @audreywatters explains why you shouldn't use Diigo http://dlvr.it/BcBrp

Basically it doesn't support SSL for its website or API, leaving your username/password in cleartext. Audrey's post also talks about splitting the bookmarking functionality of Delicious from its social aspects, and that Twitter is replacing the social aspect of delicious. That might be true in a different (and incredibly useful/valuable) aspect of sociability, but it isn't searchable or compoundable in quite the same way.

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