Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: The Skinny on Social Bookmarking Sites

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Skinny on Social Bookmarking Sites


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Let me start this post with a disclaimer!

I am a frequent user of social bookmarking, site sharing and news aggregation sites. I do not consider myself an expert. The intent of this blog post is to share basic, useful information. If you have a favorite that I have not mentioned, I encourage you to comment. If you would like to correct me, I beg of you to do so! I too would like to learn more about how to better utilize these sites and gain a greater understanding of their nuances.

You may wonder why you need a social bookmarking site? Like others, I bookmark my pages on my computer, however, if your computer has ever crashed, you know that you can lose those bookmarks quite easily. It is also helpful to have all your bookmarks in one place so you may access them when you're away from your own computer. Finally, you may want to use a bookmarking site in order to share your links and view the links of others that you may not have found otherwise.

Reddit
Reddit launched in 2005, is a news aggregation website owned by Conde´ Naste. It is a source where users can post links to content on the Internet. The links can vary from blog entries, photos, videos, news articles, websites, etc. Other users may then vote the posted links up or down, causing them to become more or less prominent on the Reddit home page.

History
Founded by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005, both were 22-year-old graduates of the University of Virginia. Reddit received initial funding from Y Combinator. The team expanded to include Christopher Slowe and Aaron Swartz. Aaron Swartz joined in late January 2006 as part of the company's merger with Swartz's Infogami. The combined company was then known as "not a bug." Condé Nast Publications, owner of Wired, acquired "not a bug" on October 31, 2006.

What exactly is Reddit?
The site has a discussion area where registered users can submit and discuss links. They can vote against each others' comments – voting them up or knocking them down. When your submitted link is "liked" or voted up, the person who submitted the article receives "Karma" points as a reward. When you log onto the site, there is a list of links that are displayed by popularity. There are various categories that one can select from: What's Hot, Controversial (my personal favorite), New, Top. Within those categories, there are also topics that one can select from: Pics, Politics, Worldnews, WTF, Funny, Technology, Atheism, Science, Ask Reddit, Gaming, Comics, Entertainment, Business and Videos.

How is it different?
First off, that adorable little Reddit logo changes for holidays, sometimes for no reason, it may change to pay homage to Star Wars or take forms in other ways only to be understood by "geek culture." You may visit his adventures at http://www.redditalien.com/

The other thing I noticed is that the topics are a little more casual OR a little less business focused. When I am bookmarking on other sites, if I am submitting something LIFESTYLE oriented, I have trouble finding a topic to which my submitted link relates.

How do you get your post noticed?
Write a compelling title to your post. Submit posts that others would actually like to read. And finally, in the words of the Reddit folks themselves:"Feel free to post links to your own content (within reason). If that's all you ever post, and it always seems to get voted down instantly, take a good hard look in the mirror -- you just might be a spammer."


Digg Digg my article
Digg is a social news website where people can discover and share content. Users submit content and the Digg community votes on whether or not they "Digg" the story or if they prefer to "Bury" it. Users collectively determine what is interesting and/or useful. News, Videos and Images can be submitted. Once a submission becomes popular, it jumps to the homepage – where it becomes even more popular.

History
Digg was launched in 2004 by Kevin Rose, Owen Byrne, Ron Gorodetzky, and Jay Adelson as an experiment that grew into something much larger. A second version of the Digg site, loaded with more tools for users, launched in 2005 and it included an option for users to add "friends".

What exactly is Digg?
As a user, you assist in the democratic process of determining which articles, videos and photos are worthy enough to potentially reach the home page of the site. The more "Diggs" a submitted link receives, the higher the ranking of the link. Digg also allows users to "friend" one another, the more active you are, the more friends you have on the site, the more potential Diggs you may receive.

How is it different?
Digg has grown so significantly that some submissions that are "Dugg" can create sudden traffic to a site. According to Compete.com, Digg attracted 238 Million users in 2008.

Digg varies from other sites in that it now allows a Facebook Connect option. This allows Facebook users to connect to Digg without registering and it also allows them to share their articles on both platforms. In my opinion, this will also help Digg with greater user-ship as many Facebook users are quite mainstream in terms of the web and do not have any understanding of social news websites.

Digg has many tools available to registered users. Once a link is submitted, if it is clicked, the article, or submission, opens in a new window with a dedicated Digg URL. This is helpful for re-posting. If you post the assigned Digg URL link elsewhere, other Digg users can click on the Digg URL of your link and directly Digg it from new, framed web page that opens in their browser. It potentially increases your chances of your link getting "Dugg".

How do you get your post noticed?
Make friends. Digg other submissions. Leave comments on submissions. This will help you build a history and make you more noticeable to the Digg community.

StumbleUpon
This is my favorite bookmarking site, the platform I use the most and the platform that has driven the most traffic to my particular links. I have the StumbleUpon toolbar installed on my computer which makes it very easy for me to "Stumble" a link. With the toolbar on my desktop, if I come across an article, picture, video or site that I like and want to share, I click on the THUMBS UP or "Like It" button on my toolbar and the page is saved for me instantly on my SU homepage.

History
StumbleUpon was founded in December 2001 by Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance, and Eric Boyd during Garrett's time in post-graduate school in Calgary, Canada. The idea of creating a company was established before the content: of the five or six ideas for products, StumbleUpon was chosen. StumbleUpon was purchased by eBay in 2007, when it was acquired for $75,000,000. In April 2009, two of the founders, backed by investors, bought it back.

What exactly is StumbleUpon?
StumbleUpon is a community of users, a personalized recommendation engine. Users can also "stumble" or find new articles by clicking the "stumble" button and automatically be redirected to a page submitted by a different user in the community. The recommended page is selected by StumbleUpon by its ranking and by the personal topics chosen by the user when registering. StumbleUpon can easily resemble "Channel Surfing", each time you click the button a new site is recommended.

How is it different?
I have found that StumbleUpon is the easiest tool to find sites for the topics I am subscribed to. Users have the option to select from 500 topic choices. StumbleUpon differs because they are considered an alternative to search in many ways. They filter through the information available on the web and deliver high quality websites that are relevant to the particular user (most of the time, I've had some stupid sites recommended to me too). They also differ because they allow registered users to create a customizable home page which can include detailed information about the user that is visible to others. One thing I really like about my StumbleUpon tool bar is that I can immediately "send" a link to all my SU friends by hitting one button on the tool bar - super convenient. Another unique thing about StumbleUpon is that they have an Adult filter where you can submit and allow to view adult content.

How do you get your post noticed?
Making like-minded friends on StumbleUpon will help you get your posts noticed. Create a customized home page and include as much relevant information as possible. If you plan to use StumbleUpon to share your posts, you may NOT want to allow Adult content. I believe if you DO allow adult content you are excluded from sending to others who do not wish to view adult content. Just double check this one, since I cannot be 100% sure and their FAQs were down when I tried to check.

delicious
Delicious (formerly del.icio.us, pronounced "delicious”) is a social bookmarking service that allows users to tag, save, manage and share web pages from a centralized source. With emphasis on the power of the community, Delicious has the ability to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet.

History
The site was founded by Joshua Schachter in 2003 and acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. Delicious has more than five million users and 150 million bookmarked URLs. The precursor to Delicious was Muxway, a link blog that had grown out of a text file that Schachter maintained to keep track of links related to Memepoo. In September 2003, Schachter released the first version of Delicious. In March 2005, he left his day job to work on Delicious full-time, and in April 2005 it received approximately $2 million in funding from investors including Union Square Ventures and Amazon.com. Yahoo! acquired Delicious on December 9, 2005. It is speculated that it was sold for somewhere between $15 million and $30 million.

What exactly is delicious?
(I mean besides pizza) Basically, it is a bookmarking site where you can share your bookmarks and in return check out other bookmarks. As you explore the site and find interesting users, you can use our Subscriptions and Network features to keep track of the Delicious tags and users you find most interesting.

Popular tags will indicate what is “hot” with Delicious users. Browse bookmarks on just about anything from the best programming tips to the most popular travel sites, all in a fairly easy to read format.

How is it different?
Delicious uses a non-hierarchical classification system in which users can tag each of their bookmarks with freely chosen index terms. When a URL is submitted, the registered user must submit TAGS that are descriptive of the article or post. Users then search tags and find links to the items that match their chosen tags. I personally think it is the easiest format to sift through. Very clear and easy to utilize without a lot of useless graphics or advertisements to clutter the page.

How do you get your post noticed?
Tag your posts correctly and appropriately. If you choose popular tags that have nothing to do with your post, your posts will likely be seen as a waste of time and not progress to the Popular Links page. Making friends on Delicious will help too, click the icon and be my friend. And, like all of the mentioned sites, spending time on the site and becoming an interactive contributor.


Closing Arguments
My rule of thumb when it comes to Social Media, the web, Web 2.0 (whatever you want to call it) is find one or two platforms that you like, you enjoy spending time on, and spend some time there. Although I do have subscriptions to all of these sites, my bookmarking time is spent as follows: 75% of my time with StumbleUpon, 10% with Digg, 10% with Delicious and 5% with Reddit. As I mention above, Digg has the greatest number of users, however, if you are seeing from your analytics that you are showing greater progress, more hits, with Delicious, by all means spend more time with that site. Do what is right for you and your sites.

Per the request of the commenter below, here are my usernames and/or handles:
http://www.reddit.com/user/leyarsan
http://digg.com/users/leyarsan
http://leyarsan.stumbleupon.com
http://delicious.com/luluinatutu

Sources
Wikipedia
Reddit
Digg
Stumble Upon
Delicious
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