I know some people abandoned the social bookmarking site delicious.com when it looked like it was shutting down a couple of years ago. At the time I transferred my links to Pinboard like others did, but I kept my delicious.com account. Then AVOS announced they were taking it over. Three cheers for AVOS. I did try a few other bookmarking services, but delicious.com worked for me, I liked it (I’ve been with it since 2007) and I stuck with it through the changeover. I seem to remember there were a couple of times it played up in the early days, but I don’t know any free services that haven’t played up once in a while. AVOS have built on the original service (I like what they’ve done) and one really useful addition in particular has been Stacks.
Stacks enable users to pull together links that might not be directly related but can sit together under a theme the users defines. I find stacks particularly useful for bundling links together for presentations and training sessions. I can give them a descriptive title and even more background detail in the stack description field – showing people why I created that stack… what its purpose is. Stacks also have a unique url I can point people to during the presentation/ training. You can also add an image for the stack. It may not have any specific technical function, but visuals are often a greater draw than just text alone. They also give visual clues as to what the stack is about as well.
I do use tags, but the good thing about stacks is that I can quickly add a link to them without worrying that I’m using exactly the same tag I used for a similar item. I don’t put everything I have in stacks – a lot of my links come in via packrati.us or via connections I’ve set up using ifttt.com and can just sit there with catch-all tags. eg “fromTwitter” “fromGoogleReader”. I don’t necessarily want to put them all in stacks, but I know that if I found them interesting enough to tweet or post to Facebook or Google+ or Tumblr in the first place I know I might want to find them again and having them sitting there in delicious.com means I can find them with a little bit of digging later on. However, the items I put in stacks are put there for a purpose. I mentioned the presentations and training, but I also have a few interests that I like to keep specific links bundled together for. Stacks allow me to go to those interests straight away, just by clicking on the stacks link without the need to trawl through my rambling lists of inconsistent tags. NB: As someone with a library cataloguing/classification background I should probably keep better order in my tags, but say, for example, I only very occasionally save a link for some kind of infographic, how am I supposed to remember if I used “vizualisation”, “visualisation”, “vizualisations” or “vizualisations” as the tag for that type of link before? Stacks that aren’t reliant on accurate tags make this easier.
Another great feature of stacks is that other delicious users can follow them. So, when a new link is added to a specific stack they’re informed about it. This is a great feature. You can also follow an individual user, but I would find following a stack more useful – it means I’m only going to see the links I want to see. For example, I’m interested in public libraries, therefore I might follow a stack that focuses on this subject. However, the same user who created the stack might also be interested in and have a stack about sea-food. I really wouldn’t be interested in their stack of sea-food links. It helps you focus on the things you’re interested in, rather than having to sift through things you aren’t. Even if a user doesn’t want to follow a stack, but wants to see if I’m saving links that might be of interest to them, stacks act as a bold pointer on my profile page to areas I’m interested in.
I know you can/could use tag-bundles in delicious.com – where you link your related tags together. However, this doesn’t work in the same way as stacks. This relies on the tags bringing links together, rather than being able to decide on the individual links you want to bring together. NB: I say can/could, because I’m still not entirely sure if this was something that was dropped after the takeover by AVOS, or not.
Anyway, my point to the blog post is that delicious.com have decided that even though they acknowledge that their users like the stack functionality and the developers have been impressed by how stacks have been used, they’re getting rid of them! All links in a stack will be converted so that the stack title becomes another tag associated to that link. Along with this, some of the detail (stack title and description) and functionality (no longer able to follow a stack) will be lost during and after the conversion process.
A recent blog post (20 July 2012) on their site said: “We introduced stacks last year as a visually rich way to think about your links and we’ve been blown away by the amazing content you’ve created. But given the upcoming launch of new products from Delicious’ parent company, AVOS, and our focus on simplifying the Delicious site, we realized the value of stacks is limited for our users moving forward. For this reason, we’ve decided to simplify how users organize links on Delicious by consolidating stacks into tags. Users will no longer be able to create stacks on Delicious starting in early August, 2012.”
I can probably live with some of the functionality going, but it’s frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, if stacks hadn’t been introduced I would have still been happy with delicious, but to have this useful functionality taken off me now is a bit of a downer. I really find stacks helpful for the way I work – being able to quickly and easily pull links together anywhere, providing a bit of background detail in the title and description, and allowing users to follow them.
I use very descriptive stack titles and I’m not sure having a stack title converted to a tag such as “Introduction to Web 2.0 & public libraries” or “Mobile Devices/Technology in the Physical Environment (with a specific focus on libraries)” is going to be useful to me and (1) I don’t fancy typing that tag out every time I want to link other urls to it (2) I’m not sure I can convert into a condensed useful tag for myself or others to follow.
And giving such short notice about the changes is a bit of a worry – I was planning to use stacks for a few presentations I’ve got to make in a couple of months time.
I’m also wondering if the statement above means that delicious.com will be treading on the toes of AVOS’ new product if it continued to contain the stack functionality? It’s not going to be so identical is it, that they can’t co-exist, surely? Or are the developers automatically assuming that if people like stacks they will go over to the new product? What if this is the case, but the new product doesn’t do some of the things delicious.com does? Or does it mean that they want to make delicious compatible with the new products and stacks have no place in this compatibility?
Anyway, they’re just idle thoughts.
I do hope that whatever happens with delicious I’m still able to organise my bookmarks in the way that I have recently found to be extremely useful ie via something that is similar/same as stacks. In the mean-time I’m going to back up my bookmarks and see if the stack information appears in them.