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The writing has been on the wall for delicious for years. They never made any money, never found mainstream adoption, never made use of the enormous flow of user sharing data they were getting to do anything interesting. They have been operating on a skeleton crew for years. Such a shame.

never made use of the enormous flow of user sharing data they were getting to do anything interesting.

It's a shame they didn't, because many of us users sure did/do. By virtue of its popularity and simplicity, you could know almost every page with any merit was in its system and tagged, making it easy to discover stuff you hadn't even bookmarked yet.

Example: Want a good Python tutorial about threads? http://www.delicious.com/tag/python+threads+tutorial - You can pretty much pull things out of your ass and constantly find gold on there. Yahoo has no spine.

If only Yahoo had a search engine that could have made use of this data.

Everyone loves to say "Delicious tags are great data for finding relevant information," but I'm not so sure -- at least for doing keyword queries, compared to web search engines. The right comparison is: is Delicious tagging really better than anchor text from the general Web? "Anchor text" means, the text in or near links pointing to the page. It's like an implicit noisy tagging system the Web provides (if you have a good crawl of it). It's a key component in web search. For example, if you Google for "python threads tutorial" you find nice stuff too.

I did hear a second-hand story about Yahoo web search, for what it's worth. When the Delicious acquisition happened, of course they were super excited for this very reason -- that Delicious should constitute a high-quality dataset (that Google didn't have!) Then they tried all sorts of things to incorporate it into their relevance ranking algorithm, but never could get it to work. I personally think Yahoo search had good relevance algorithm people, and therefore, if you believe this story, that Delicious data is not useful for web search relevance.

So I understand this story might be hard for others to verify. But I think it's reasonable to assume that if the data really was valuable, they would have used it for web search, and someone would have bragged about it at some point -- especially given the large amount of interest from the wider developer and computer science community about how potentially useful the Delicious dataset should be.

The search feature you note is by far my favorite part. Finding good resources on very specific topics can be really hard using google, but delicious has always been an incredibly accurate source for those.

So true. Delicious would always be my go-to place for anything I ever wanted to know about Oracle. For years I'd search delicious before even searching google or metalink. It's a shame that this is being closed.

I so agree. Delicious is one of the most interesting datasets on the internet for precisely the reason you cited: it includes nearly every web page of value that exists, all tagged and linked in endlessly rich ways. I still use Delicious nearly every day for this reason -- despite how slow it is and how badly Yahoo messed it up -- yet I've only ever scratched its surface. There's so much that could be done with it in the right hands. It pains me to think of it going away. Actually, it's tragic.

Why don't they spin it off into a startup? Just open-sourcing the code would be useless and even the data wouldn't hold its value for very long without the application and community continuing. But a startup would have a fighting chance to do something great with it.

Surely Yahoo can tap this value in their search?

Yahoo doesn't have search anymore. They subcontract to Bing.

Besides, using delicious data would be far too open to SEO abuse.

They can do what duck duck go does and alter the search results or provide extra info. I agree about the abuse, but linking it to your own delicious account or some algorithm for weighing things that is already used for webpages can surely solve that.

Has Duck Duck Go considered directly using social bookmarking sites' informations in their hodge podge of ranking information?


In a way, companies should be in it for the money. That might even have prevented this. Of course, money shouldn't be the only motivator, but in general, companies should aim to make money, very healthy.

Maybe, but I think the only thing that would have been 'prevented' is delicious existing for as long as it did. They've tried to monetize, xmarks tried to monetize, both failed.

It seems possible that maybe social online bookmarking services just aren't profitable at this point in time, and can only exist as a 'public service'.

It seems possible that maybe social online bookmarking services just aren't profitable at this point in time, and can only exist as a 'public service'.

People said that about search in the late 90s. Why Delicious didn't get into advertising is beyond me. With the way everything's tag-based, you'd have had crazy targeting.

Yes, but there's some major differences between bookmarking and searching.

The fact that the majority of users are naturally dependent on searching means there's (obviously) massive exposure to eyes and wallets, and there always has been. Whether that exposure could be turned into profits was what was questioned in the 90s.

Bookmarking is different. I'm going to offend some people here by whipping out my anecdotal evidence: I don't know _any_ non-technical (read: average) users who are interested in maintaining a bookmark library, even if the benefits were explained to them.

On the slim chance that we could somehow convince them that it was worthwhile, I still can't see most of them being interested in browsing tag clouds and bookmark trees of other users, which they would have to do in order to be exposed by this 'ultra-specific' advertising. Anything beyond using it as a regular browser bookmark menu that syncs across computers is pretty unlikely in my opinion.

Why not just check Facebook to see what people are looking at? Or, for the 'geekier' of the mainstream, just check Twitter.

xMarks, a bookmarking service with 2million+ users, in their going away blog post[1] alluded to this same barrier:

> We built it and it put it front of potential advertisers. Many were interested, but ultimately the feedback was negative: our user base was too small to be worth their time and attention.

[1] http://blog.xmarks.com/?p=1886

It needs to be combined with something else. Imagine if hn or reedit knew which pages you like because they host your bookmarks. The homepage could be completely tailored to you, and now users have a reason to visit often and there is advertiser real-estate.

And, in fact, reddit already lets you save stories, which could be expanded into a general bookmarking system.

they never really tried to monetize. they just put some ads on the search pages.

Google has their loss-leader products that exist for the benefit of the online community, but I don't think that this is (necessarily) Yahoo lacking that benevolence.

Let's face it, Google has a lot more capital to back non-profitable products. Yahoo supported Delicious for as long as they could, but ultimately it's hard to justify liabilities like expensive, non-profitable projects to your shareholders.

Google can do it because they've proven that their strategy stuffs the coffers regardless.

Especially when you look at the vast number of unprofitable products they offer. (Pipes and YQL come to mind)

Pipes is a great example, with even more of a niche audience than any of the non-profitable Google products I can think of, aside from maybe Refine.

Who's to say Pipes isn't getting the axe either?

...The slides from the Yahoo meeting that show what products they're axing?

(Yahoo is.)

>Yahoo has no spine

Yahoo has no vision, and now they are too busy chasing their own tails with respect to all the bad press they are getting surrounding their layoffs, lack of technology and utter failure in trending technology.

Technology has never been yahoo's problem, they might have more technology than facebook and twitter combined. They had morons running the company for the last 10 years like Terry Semel, Jerry Yang and now Carol Bartz.

I understand turn arounds take time but such decisions are going to lead to nowhere.

Understood, I was referring to their effectual announcement of defeat by dropping any Yahoo search technology in place of BING.

Sure, they have and had technology - yet their utter failure in vision and management has resulted in them losing an understanding / ability to use their tech.

Hmm. OK, I finally 'get' delicious, thanks to that link. That's substantially more powerful and useful than a typical search-results page from Google.

Late to the party as usual...

Edit: Wow. Someone has to take this private. This is one hell of a valuable database. Yahoo must be staffed by gorillas if they're throwing away this kind of data.

the system was actually quite a bit larger than they ever talked about. millions of users, etc.

Now that they're shutting it down, I would love to hear your thoughts as founder on why delicious didn't live up to its potential.

Delicious lived up to its founders' potential when it was acquired for millions.

that's ridiculous. potential of the company is not about who owns the stock or how much cash changed hands in the process.

having been part of one particular exit I know all too well that startup founders and ex-employees have deep emotional connection to their former company, no matter how much they got for it.

I've gotten the impression it was pretty badly mismanaged by Yahoo after acquisition. Any failure is squarely on Yahoo's shoulders AFAIK.

Andy Baio was recently on Dan Benjamin's show The Pipeline and he spoke a bit about upcoming.org's acquisition. I believe he described the support he got as underwhelming. Basically you go in, meet with a bunch of groups and then are left by yourself wondering what you're supposed to do.


Just because Yahoo's expectation$ weren't met doesn't mean delicious didn't live up to its potential. Many people got accustomed to use it as a search engine and it fulfilled its purpose quite nicely. Imagine if facebook couldn't figure out a way to make money, would it then be considered a failure even though millions of people find it useful?

> Imagine if facebook couldn't figure out a way to make money, would it then be considered a failure even though millions of people find it useful?

Depends on who you are. To the investors, that would be a failure. To the people that find it useful, it wouldn't be a failure until it disappeared or otherwise ceased to be of use.

By the time that Chris Yeh http://twitter.com/cbyeh ran Delicious into the ground (and convinced management to nuke it rather than take any blame) the site had far fewer than 1,000,000 active users. Many more had registered but far few had logged in within the past year.

If Yahoo is actually shutting it down, would you want to buy it back from them?

He wouldn't want to buy it for a price they acquired it at or more.

He can't offer them a price that is lower than that.

It wouldn't take that much more effort to build the whole thing all over again, anyway.

Yahoo is shutting it down, ergo their perceived value is significantly lower to justify that decision..

This has mentioned many times over the years, but looking at the slide, I see they were maintaining both del.icio.us and Yahoo! Bookmarks to the end.

The outcome is not entirely surprising.

My mom knows what delicious is. That's pretty mainstream in my book.

We don't know your mom, so that doesn't really contribute anything to the discussion. What's she like? What's the most mainstream web site she doesn't know about?

Fail. Kill a product which used to be best in its own niche and which provided valuable data for free... I just don't understand...

emphasis on free.

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