« links for 2006-12-02 | Main | Needed: verbs to describe public humiliation on the internet »

What makes del.icio.us different

I've explained del.icio.us to a lot of people over the last few weeks. When I explain a new technology to a bunch of novices, that's usually when I start to understand it myself. As I was explaining what del.icio.us does, I had to think a lot about how del.icio.us works. And I had a few insights about what makes del.icio.us a different kind of online community.

  • No batch import. Sure, I can import as many bookmarks as I want. But to make them public, I have to edit each one individually. This makes it harder to spam.

    It also means that all you ever see when you look at del.icio.us are links that I have chosen to display since I created my del.icio.us account. And somehow, that makes a very large difference in the quality of the community.


  • No batch edit, except for tags. I can change my own tags, but (as I mentioned) I can't make all of my bookmarks public without visiting every one individually. And I certainly can't apply a new tag to a whole bunch of bookmarks all at once (unless they all already share a tag).

  • Because of the two restrictions noted above, there is effectively no way for me to change my user name.

  • Even though del.icio.us is a "social bookmarking" service, there is no way to directly contact another member. If I like you, I can add you to my network. But that's it; no "del.icio.us mail," or "notify me when someone in my network is online," not even the option to "invite so-and-so to join your network."

    In fact, while the word "share" occurs frequently when discussing del.icio.us, I don't think I've ever heard the word "invite." Perhaps this might imply that del.icio.us is marketed mostly to people who are interested in interacting with the other people that are already on del.icio.us. Then perhaps the people who join the community tend to be people who already know and like the existing community.