Using Delicious to your advantage
We all know what Delicious is, right? A site that helps people keep their bookmarks online, accessible from anywhere on the web. It also allows anyone to see what the others are bookmarking, and forms trends and reports around it. Simply put, it’s a social bookmarking site.
There, I’ve tagged it.
Tags are the one key tool that Delicious uses to sort the throngs of bookmarks pouring in every minute of every hour (just check the Delicious homepage for the exact number). And everyone is allowed to tag bookmarks as they see fit. There’s no Police to issue tickets for wrongful tagging, nor are there tagging laws. Everyone can just use whatever springs to mind. Bookmarking a graphic designer’s portfolio which is a full Flash site? design, portfolio, flash, cool; move on. But is this sort of tagging really going to your advantage?
What happens when you want to look up that designer’s website months later and you start browsing thru all the ‘flash’ and ‘design’ bookmarks? Is it possible that there are so many that you’ve got to click a huge number of them to get to the one you were after?
The only way to use tags to your advantage is to get really specific with them and throw away all the unnecessary words. It’s all about figuring out which single tag you would use were you limited to just one. Something that makes good sense to you alone, without even considering what anyone else thinks. Let me demonstrate what works for me (I’ll stick to the web dev related links):
# 1: Understanding Disabilities when Designing a Website
Why bookmark it: lists all those little details that tend to be forgotten, but really add up to web accessibility
Without pausing to think, I’d tag it with: web-usability, web-design, user-experience, accessibility
Single tag that’s actually most useful: web-accessibility
#2: PeepCode screencasts
Why bookmark it: I want to learn RoR, watching videos is much easier than reading books
Without pausing to think, I’d tag it with: ruby-on-rails, screencasts, tutorials, programming
Single tag that’s actually most useful: ruby-screencasts
#3: 10 Principles of the PHP masters
Why bookmark it: contains thoughts on using built-in data filtering functions, caching and frameworks
Without pausing to think, I’d tag it with: php, programming, principles
Single tag that’s actually most useful: web-dev-principles
As you can see, I’ve conjured a few tags that help me get to my exact area of interest. It does take away the fun part of combining multiple tags, but it gets me where I want, fast. Combine that with Delicious’ feature of bundling tags together and use that description field to remark why you bookmarked the site in the first place, and you’ve got a winning combination.
Oh and by the way… My first del.icio.us entry was in November 2005, just before its’ second birthday. For the longest time I’ve been collecting bookmarks like a lazy hamster, mindlessly firing away at tags in the way that I described above. I’ve tried out a lot of browser widgets, extensions, desktop applications even — but in the end returned to it’s good old web interface, coupled with a Safari bookmarklet.
I am now in the process of re-tagging my bookmarks, removing dead and outdated links as I go along. Will not happen overnight, though.