Delicious, the bookmarking site I have grown to love, relaunched today. I noticed it this morning when people on my Twitter feed were complaining about it and when my unofficial Delicious Android app failed to bookmark a link after several attempts, but as I was at a friend’s house and using my phone to access the Internet, exploring Delicious and its new features would have to wait until having access to a real computer.
I got home, plunked myself in front of my computer, and started exploring. Unfortunately the people on my Twitter feed who were complaining had lots of good reasons to do so. There are some good things about the new Delicious, but many of the things I loved about the site, including the little things, are now gone. They’re probably not gone for good, but they’re small enough to make me realize how much they affected my use of (the old) Delicious. Since Delicious is a site that I’ve used daily for over four years, changes to the site don’t sneak by this power user easily.
I understand Delicious is thinking of itself as back in beta, but this is not a good approach to take when a site already has a loyal userbase. A change that take away the features that drove your users to the site in the first place is a great way to drive users away. The fine AVOS folks are seeking feedback on the new site, and I’m definitely sending them some feedback (maybe even this post). There’s something to be said about preserving the best in a site you’ve come to love.
That aside, let’s take a look at the new Delicious.
The Good (or at least the interesting):
1. Stacks: Stacks are collections of links designed for sharing. You can create a stack for anything you want, from foreign language resources to cookie recipes to NaNo resources. I don’t see myself creating too many stacks, but I can see them being fun to browse.
One thing that went through my mind: If the folks behind Delicious now think people aren’t bookmarking and tagging links because it takes effort, what makes them think people will curate stacks? Doesn’t that take even more effort?
The silly part of this is the name. Why on earth are they called stacks? Wouldn’t “collections” be better? When I think stack I think of a pile of stuff or of programming. Maybe the name is a tribute to StackOverflow, but that’s stretching it.
2. Profile pictures. They definitely adds a less asocial component to the site. The problem is that my default is so cute that I don’t want to change it.
3. You can still add bookmarks, so the core of Delicious hasn’t really changed. I’ll address the specifics of this in a minute.
1. Bookmarks are called links now. Does the name bookmark really turn people off? I’m indifferent to this change as I’m going to call them bookmarks forevermore, but I’m curious.
2. Spaces no longer separate tags. Commas do. This is so Delicious can support multiword tags, and while it’s not a bad change, the comma thing is something I need to get used to.
3. The new design of the site. It’s much looser than the old Delicious, and most of it is something I can get used to. Still, it feels less mature than the old version, like someone going through their wild youth before settling down.
1. I have no idea how the tags in my sidebar are chosen, but I can tell one thing: They’re not my top n tags. They appear to be tags I’ve used recently based on a few clicks. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I much prefer a combination of the top tag system and a recent tag system so folks can get a better glimpse of what I bookmark. Another thing that is painfully missing (or at least not in an obvious place) is my overall tags page. I have over two thousand tags. A proper tags page is essential, and while tag bundles weren’t essential for me since I let my bundles die with disuse, they are essential for many people.
2. While we’re on the subject of tags, there is no sign of tags when I bookmark a page with the Delicious addon. Yes, I can add tags, but I see nothing about recommended tags out of my own tags or popular tags for a link. That feature was essential for me. I needed (and still do) to remember what tags I had already created so I could tag appropriately. There’s also no more autocomplete for tags. This is absolutely killer for me. I could keep typing and have no idea if I misspell a tag. I have to spend several more seconds a day typing in tag names. Seriously, Delicious. If nothing else, bring back these tagging features. I look at the bookmark me page many times a day, and making this page pleasant is essential to my Delicious experience, as well as the experience of many others.
3. No more bulk edit. This saved me so much work in organizing my tags.
4. If you try to change the privacy of a private bookmark, the “Save as private” checkbox isn’t checked, making you think the bookmark was temporarily public. This can cause a lot of unneeded panic. Fix this.
5. I can’t see how many total pages are in a given tag or in all my bookmarks. All I see are pages 1, 2, 3, 4, and an arrow to go to the next page. This helps me absolutely none. If I want to go to the nth page, where n is a very large number, I have a lot of hopping to do. I have to go the fourth page and the last page after the fourth page I can access, and then the last one after that.
6. Somewhat related, Delicious no longer tells you how many bookmarks are saved under a given tag, making this game much more frustrating. I know I have many more than ten bookmarks tagged “privacy”, for example, but I can’t find out how many more. I can’t even browse past my ten most recen bookmarks under a given tag. This alone makes me want to quit Delicious for another site. I don’t use Delicious just for bookmarking things. I use it to tag things I want to read or watch or do, and those lists get quite long after awhile. Every now and then I go through those lists and take a few off or take care of them so I can remove the tag. Now that task is practically impossible.
7. The redirects. All the pages saved in Delicious are wrapped in a Delicious wrapper, which redirects you to the site in question when you click. No. Just… no. I want to know exactly where I’m going before clicking. Yes, I can copy and paste the link in my browser or in an IM window, but that’s not quite the same. Dear webmasters, please don’t wrap your links around redirects.
8. In new Delicious you save the URL, then add tags and comments and mark as private. Just no. I don’t private bookmark often, but when I do, I want it to stay private. Not being able to edit the URL also means I don’t get to cut out the RSS junk that some RSS readers like to add. Being able to edit the URL is something that must come back.
The question I’m asking is… what now? I’m not a fan of Diigo, mainly because there’s not an easy keyboard shortcut to bookmark links. Yes, this is extremely important to me. The Delicious addon broke me in that way. Toolbars are terrible, and I refuse to add any. Pinboard.in isn’t free to join, but I could be convinced. Freelish.us appears to have been down for days for status.net maintenance, so I can’t judge it yet. What other options are out there for someone who maintains an 18,000-bookmark collection (and growing) and enjoys browsing the links of others? Right now it doesn’t look like Delicious is the answer. I really wish it were.