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January 05, 2008

Why Can't Del.icio.us Show Most Popular Bookmarks by URL?

I'm something of a late or reluctant adopter of del.icio.us, the social bookmarking tool absorbed into Yahoo! at the end of 2005. While I've had an account for years, I didn't really find any use for the service, keeping my bookmarks to myself.

But now, with the ability to post items into my FriendFeed by adding a bookmark to del.icio.us, combined with the ability to track the number of times my own posts have been bookmarked, thanks to FeedBurner, I've been using the service a bit more. By adding items to del.icio.us, I'm not just saving a bookmark for me, but for all those who follow me on FriendFeed.

Also, I occasionally add some of my more popular posts to del.icio.us, not out of narcissism, but out of curiosity, to learn who else has done the same. After all, for some reason, I can't do a search by URL within del.icio.us, but can only find this data by self-bookmarking, and clicking the "saved by 1 other person" link, revealing the fan and how they tagged the item.

And this... is broken.

Del.icio.us is very much a repository based on tagging. It's easy to search the entire site for specific tags, like friendfeed, facebook, or techcrunch, but it's evasively difficult to search on a specific URL and find out the most popular posts from a specific blog or Web site.


A screen capture of some bookmarked posts from louisgray.com

When I search for the phrase "louisgray.com" in del.icio.us, I get some clues, but that's only if the person who bookmarked included the URL in the title of the bookmark itself. For example, I can see 19 saved the story 10 Suggestions to Improve Google Reader, while 12 saved Facebook Google Reader App Rebrands As Feedheads, and 16 bookmarked Internal Linking On Some Tech Blogs Is Out of Control. And five people have bookmarked louisgray.com itself. But if I referred to the posts by their headlines without louisgray.com, my search results would be useless.

I'm curious to see what Del.icio.us has planned for site improvements in 2008, as the service hasn't changed much of late. Back on September 6th, the company said:
"Fresh news from deep within Tag Mountain: we just launched an early, limited Preview of the Delicious redesign we’ve been working on for the past few months. We’ve refreshed the UI, built an entirely new (and faster) search engine, and added numerous improvements based on your feedback."

Since then, the silence has been deafening. The company's blog hasn't been updated in more than three months, and at the turn of the calendar year, one del.icio.us representative wrote in the comments, "Probably a couple months or so, give or take a few weeks…ish. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re working hard."

So... who knows. Maybe it'll be Spring. Maybe not. And it's not clear if the updated search engine will solve this issue of finding bookmarks by URL, or offering the ability to rank by most popular, most recent, or finding out which users most often like your posts. All of these would be useful tools for bloggers out there who want to see where their content fits in the social scheme of things.