On Social Bookmarking Sites

What’s your favorite social bookmarking site? Chances are, you may not have a single preferred bookmarking tool. There are dozens of choices, from dedicated social bookarking sites like del.icio.us, to social bookmarking-cum-news sites like DIGG, to yet other hybrids that try to mix social bookmarking with other functionalities such as blogging, clipping, social networking, and even RSS feed-reading.

Crowded as this set may be, there are still handfuls of social bookmarking sites coming up every now and then, with the promise of better functionality, ease-of-use and of course the coolness factor.

However, I’m not one to quickly jump from one social bookmarking bandwagon to the next. For me, social bookmarking is generally a click-and-forget thing. Ironic, isn’t it? Aren’t bookmarks are supposed to be saved so you can “remember” stuff, you say? Well, for me it can also be that you save your bookmarks so you won’t have to remember the sites yourself–at least not in the short term. And then you can refer back to them at a later time when needed.

Here’s where tagging comes important (or categorization with some sites). I have close to a thousand items in my del.icio.us account that I find the browse-by-tag and search functionalities useful. Otherwise, I’ll spend hours and hours weeding through my bookmarks for the exact site I’m looking for.

What’s so social about them?

The point behind social bookmarking is for you to be able to share your list of visited or favorite sites with the public, or with a select set of contacts. If I see something I like on your bookmarks page, then I can also add it to my own.

Somewhere along the way, though, people thought of adding features, such as voting, front-paging, clipping, and all that. One such popular feature that has been making the rounds in the mainstream news of late is the voting and front-paging process, such as with DIGG. DIGG uses the proverbial wisdom of crowds concept to determine what’s hot and important from what’s not.

However, I find the “bookmarking” aspect of DIGG lacking. And I find the frontpaging functionality silly, to tell you the truth.

DIGG: A one-way street

Dig? Dug!

On bookmarking, I don’t think DIGG makes an effective social bookmarking tool, because it’s so cumbersome to add an entry to a page you want to “bookmark.” You’re also limited by the topics and categories you can save sites under. (Until recently, DIGG only allowed tech-related content. Okay, we see a lot of weird stuff there, too.)

The process is quite asymmetrical, in my opinion. It’s more of a one-way street, where you can more easily search for stuff to bookmark than add your own items. In this regard, DIGG seem leaning more towards items/links/entries being voted on rather than being kept for one’s own reference.

As for the wisdom of the crowds concept in front-paging articles, we already learned that DIGG can be gamed. It’s not necessarily the case that the front-paging process is a truly democratic one, as firstly, DIGG still employs some editorial controls (albeit quite covertly). Moreover, there are what can be considered to be the “elite” on DIGG–those users who have cult followings, and whose items are usually the ones that get dugg up to front-page digging posses.

If you’re a nobody on DIGG, chances are you’ll never get dugg front-page, unless you’ve linked to something really, really, really cool (or you’ve got a ton of friends who are willing to digg for you).

I still use DIGG, though, to check up on the latest trends especially on the tech front. However, to be honest, sometimes I go on blindly digging articles without even clicking to read the actual site referenced. It’s digg now, read later.

del.icio.us: A simple affair

del.icio.us is still my social bookmarking tool of choice. It may be spartan and lack the snazzy features that are standard with other tools. To me it’s just that–a social bookmarking tool. It doesn’t try to be a news reader, nor does it try to be a news site. But it works for my intended purpose, which would usually click-tag-and-forget (and refer to later on).

And really, I find it quite difficult to try new social bookmarking sites, whenever something new comes up. I dislike having to save or link to stuff twice or thrice over.

As for switching over to another bookmarking tool, well migration is always difficult and time-consuming. It’s like migrating from Windows to a Mac, or having to reformat your system and start from scratch. Bookmark import features? Come on, do you really think as easy as a smooth, one-step process that the web apps claim?

So del.icio.us it still is, for me.

* Here’s a big list of known social bookmarking sites so far. Go take your pick!
** Images from www.sxc.hu

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