Social Networking Primer – Social Bookmarking

On February 4th, I commited to writing some of my experiences on Social Bookmarking.

At a lecture at the last AffiliateSummit in Las Vegas, I recall the speaker suggesting that people pick one social bookmarking site and stick to it.  I decided to survey the landscape, and do just this.

I have to admit, though, as an entire branch of social media, I am generally disappointed.

Here’s what I set out looking for:

I wanted a social bookmarking service that would not only do all the cool social aspects, but also integrate easily into my browser and become a useful tool for my own day-to-day web surfing.  This was clearly too much to ask for.

The main issue: I like folders.  I organize bookmarks into folders.  I see the value of tags, I honestly do – so give me both. Or at least give me “faux” folders (groups or lists) that I can easily access in a tree structure that’s based on tags. Isn’t this obvious?

Now some people might laugh at me and accuse me of living in 2002. That’s OK, because I think I’m with most of the rest of the world on this (at least, for now).

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Anyway, here’s the synopsis of my research:

Diigo – This is my chosen “one”. You can sort your bookmarks into “lists” – something like “faux” folders.  Unfortunately, accessing them from the “Diigo” menu in Firefox (when the plug-in is installed) still takes 6 clicks, and if you want a list with more than a screenful of options, you have to switch to the web interface, adding yet more clicks. (Regular bookmarks take 2 clicks.) It also allows private and public bookmarks. While imperfect, Diigo is easily the best of the worst in terms of usability. (Diigo took over Furl, one of the pioneers.) – He dead.

delicious – Do not install the delicious toolbar – it literally takes over FireFox! This could be a good thing if it did it well, but it does not. Furthermore, delicious can’t seem to stay logged in for me. Every time I want to delicious an article, it turns into a 13 step process and I typically abandon my efforts in frustration.

StumbleUpon – These guys have clearly taken the “social” aspect to the extreme and done a great job.  For a schmo like me who’s looking for something that’s actually useful for my day-to-day life, as well, though – they don’t do the trick.

digg – digg does the social part well, and is used by lots of people, so has some critical mass going for it. Otherwise, I’m disappointed on almost every angle. Browser integration is essentially non-existent (the toolbar is a waste of valuable screen space, in my opinion). It does not allow multi-word tags on bookmarks (at least, not obviously). Profiles are extremely limited. And support tells me my account accidentally got deleted (the good news is that support responds to e-mails). Cool logo, though (reminds me of the Doozers from Fraggle Rock).

There are others much like digg: Simpy, Faves and reddit – they do the social aggregation part well, but don’t try to be much else.

In this “social news” category, I think newsvine has an interesting platform. I might play with it a bit more when I’m bored.

Conclusion: If the best “social media” aspects were combined with some good old fashioned integration, convenience and usability, this would be my social bookmarking application of choice.  First company to do this, let me know.  In the interim, I’ll mostly be using my “Bookmarks” menu in FireFox and watching the social bookmarking world pass me by.