The news that social bookmarking site Delicious may be shut down has caused a pretty big stir in my online circle. Many of my friends are heavy Delicious users, and have been since the site was known by its funky URL, del.icio.us. So there has been quite a bit of surprise and even sadness. Chuck Tryon wrote about the role Delicious played in research for his book. Traci Gardner pointed to her roundup of several other applications for Delicious, including some of my use in courses. (I hadn’t seen that; thanks, Traci!) Not surprisingly, talk moved pretty quickly to alternatives: other social bookmarking sites like Diigo or Reddit; comprehensive note-taking platforms like Springpad or Evernote; or even more citation-oriented software like Zotero or CiteULike.
Delicious has now announced they aren’t shutting down, but will likely be sold (in their PR-speak, “we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive“). This whole thing has been handled a little oddly by Yahoo, to say the least. This morning, the announcement from Delicious was a regular blog post, followed by comments. Now the comments are gone, and in fact the entire Delicious blog has been zorched, archives and all. (View source to see what’s commented out.) Nice corporate over-reaction, folks. It would have been far wiser to acknowledge the leak, make the correction, and keep the suggestion box open. I would gladly pay to use Delicious–like Erin and I do for Flickr–and I bet I’m not alone. You’d think Yahoo might figure that out, given that it’s the same company…
Anyway, the point both Chuck and Traci made stands: the cloud is cool, but network-based data needs to be backed up on a different site and/or off the wire. With that in mind, while the heat may be off my search for a Delicious replacement, I’m still going to invest some time in looking at alternatives, or at least convenient real-time backups. And I welcome hearing from anyone doing the same.
Jacob Davis suggested I try Pinboard, so I signed up. There is a one-time setup fee, based on number of users; when I first looked at the site, it was $7.12. When I registered, it was $7.41, and by the time my payment was processed, $8.03. Now it’s $8.43. So I’m not alone in trying it out: they’ve added 1,300 (paying) users in the past 24 hours. The site is very similar to Delicious, which isn’t surprising, since one of the designers was a Delicious co-founder. Visually, it’s bare-bones, to be sure, very reminiscent of early del.icio.us.
Right after signup, I imported my bookmarks; about two hours later, they were ready. Most of the features I’m used to with Delicious seem to be present. For example, hacking a URL can quickly display tag unions. What was http://www.delicious.com/dilger/academe+ethics becomes http://pinboard.in/u:cbdilger/t:academe/t:ethics/. I think I see two missing features: tag bundles, and autocompletion for typing tags in the “Save tag” popup. There’s a setting for enabling that last one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s been disabled because of the current high load–Pinboard’s Twitter stream mentions temporarily shutting off some services. (Update 12/17: autocomplete works now.) I don’t see any browser extensions, but that’s not a problem for me because the bookmarklet works fine.
Pinboard offers a $25/year archiving service, storing and indexing saved URLs and associated content, and marking any URLs which go offline. Sounds pretty cool. I haven’t opted for that, but I might if things go well. At the least, I think I have found a Delicious backup, since Pinboard carries the option to automatically mirror Delicious (among other sites). I’ll continue to use Pinboard, and maybe another site or two, and share what I learn.