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Del.icio.us (del.icio.us)
1649 points by kome on July 29, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 506 comments

Delicious was for a time at the cultural nerve center of the web, and I think had the potential to be something like a twitter or a reddit if stewarded correctly.

I like to think there was an alternate reality where Yahoo didn't run itself into the ground, and took its properties: delicious, flickr, tumblr, its massive userbase across fantasy sports, groups, news, messenger, geocities and answers, its email service, and a better-executed alliance with Mozilla and rode them into prominence and relevance.

All the pieces were there, just the management vision appears not to have been.

Ex-yahoo here, thought I would add my 2 cents. Yahoo under Jerry and Filo (love them both, this is not personal) had a twin culture of niceness and bureaucracy which killed us. Here are an example of each:

1. Niceness - a coworker decided to just randomly not show up for work (not WFH, just disappear occasionally). I took it to management, and was told we don’t want to hurt his feelings.

2. Bureaucracy - I left yahoo to go to Facebook. At Facebook, if you needed a server, you would go to an internal tool, slide a slider and click a button. At Yahoo, you had to take a proposal to a committee led by a cofounder, and then be repeatedly shot down until you finally persevered.

I led the European billing engineering team[1] at Yahoo 2003-2005. We processed millions of dollars worth of payments for European premium services every year, so we had a very clear idea of our value to the business, and I had to deal with that exact same thing when we needed a server upgrade once in that three year period that cost a fraction of what I got approved in bonuses for my team every year.

Afterwards I tried to estimate the cost to Yahoo of the time of the dozen or so people, including one of the founders, and I don't remember my estimate, but I do remember it was many times the cost of the server.

[1] yes, Yahoo had multiple billing teams - that's a story in itself; my team existed almost entirely to protect the European businesses against the perceived inability of the US billing team to accept and respect the requirements of the European business. Of course we couldn't admit that to the US team, so my job was basically to repeatedly refuse to surrender an inch in terms of customer requirements whenever the US team tried to convince us to move something over to the US platform.


> Jerry Yang is Taiwanese...the cultural commitment to suffering is hard to explain...I can imagine he may feel like his employees should be grateful for the opportunity to exhibit their suffering.

Aaaand stuff like this is exactly why I say Asians face racism in tech and need to push back against the idea that they are "overrepresented" [1]. I really hope that if I'm in a management position, my reports don't feel like I have "cultural commitment that they should be grateful for their suffering" or some such tripe.

Oh, and never mind that apparently this is the same company that one of the parent comments is saying was "too nice" because it didn't let an employee go even after they stopped showing up. You really have to work hard to explain that one with an Asian cultural commitment to suffering, eh?

I would sincerely suggest to 'killjoywashere that they try saying out the same thing loudly about another minority (say Black people) based on some characteristic they were born with and see how it goes over. Better still, think a little bit about whether you have racist biases if this is your view on things, and maybe try to correct it.

> My usual joke with her is asking if she slept well on her bed of nails.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say your boss probably doesn't actually appreciate being asked stuff like that all the time. She likely just doesn't want to invite trouble by complaining about it.

Oh, and a cursory Wikipedia search reveals that Jerry Yang came to American when he was 10 years old, around 4th grade [2].


[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23541590

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Yang

Since you want references, is survey data acceptable?


how about forums?


News reports?


> Jerry Yang came to American when he was 10 years old, around 4th grade

So ... his parents dropped their culture at the shoreline?

You know, there really are differences between cultures. That's thing. Italians, on average, really do tend to make better marinara. Find me a black person in America who doesn't know what fatback is (delicious component of certain Southern dishes, by the way). Convince me that the average white person does know what fatback is. Convince me that the average American knows what the Euro is (A night club? A style?).

If I said "I imagine Martin Luther may have liked beer and Weisswurst" is that racist?

> one of the parent comments is saying was "too nice"

Good point, yes, that's completely in line with the "work is next to Godliness" attitude I've observed. In that social norm, being nice is essentially the same as being grateful for the opportunity to take on more work. Nice = more opportunity to work. Now, there's also a bit of "forgive but remember" that goes with that. Those who need niceness all the time, maybe you don't hang out with them as much because you can only handle being so nice, you just can't take on more niceness, you're exhausted! May this dear friend share their opportunities to be nice to them a bit more with their other friends.

My point was that “Asians face racism”, because their culture is used to casually make stereotypes like this which may not be accurate.

If your boss is from Texas and they're overworking you, is your first reaction to pull out survey data about how 50% of Texans believe in suffering as a form of atonement? Or is it just to say “What a jerk”? When people talk about Peter Thiel, how many times do they link his behaviors to elements of German culture and history?

By all means, if Jerry Yang was overworking his employees, call it out on the basis of him overworking his employees! But I don't want to be stereotyped and targeted because of something people in the place I originally came from do. It could very well be that Jerry Yang's parents came to America to escape the overworking culture, and therefore he has a keener sense of not overworking his employees than the average American has. Maybe that's why he didn't fire people that stop showing up to work! You have no way of knowing, and you're idly speculating.

Also – I am Asian, was not born in America, and know perfectly well what fatback and the Euro are. Another data point perhaps for throwing out some notions about what people may or may not know.

Ok, let's assume Jerry Yang is an amazing boss, loved by all.

The point that culture is useful in thinking through possibilities stands. Half the world's population lives in the Valeriepieris circle (1), and half of that is is water. Without saying Asian, what if I argued that population density seems to incentivize hard work, and one would tend to suspect that folks who originate from high density populations are, on average, more likely to develop a culture that rewards hard work? I could then pile on with the cultural-difference-within-a-culture that cities exhibit. Would that be acceptable?

Applying "racism" as a label to the point I was trying to make is using a label to suppress an idea (2). Can you accept that I didn't have the idea fully formed and needed to argue it out a bit to get this better idea statement worked out?



Culture does contribute to management style and you're being really weirdly politically correct in not accepting it.

It does, for sure! Culture is one of the facets that can contribute to your management style along with a ton of socioeconomic factors.

My point is that this often works negatively against Asians, especially in management in a way that it doesn't for other racial groups.

Like you're way more likely to see people being okay with casually saying “Jerry Yang is Asian, therefore he overworks his employees” than say “Marvin Ellison is Black, therefore <some other negative characteristic>” in a conversation. That comment was up for more than five hours before I said something about it.

I think this is a problem. It's nowhere on the same scale as some of the problems that other minorities face across America. But in my opinion, it's important enough to call out occasionally.

The average person doesn't know or care what culture Jerry Yang grew up in or identifies with. He could associate himself with American hip-hop culture for all we know. So assuming Jerry Yang has the same culture as someone else because they're both racially Taiwanese is incorrect and there is nothing "really weird" about pointing that out.

Being the target of racism and being over-represented are two orthogonal things. Being the target of racism has no impact on your demographics in a population.

Being the target of racism sure as hell will impact demographics when the population in a group is voluntary.

How many african-americans join the KKK?

No, the point I was making is that you can’t point to racism or a lack thereof and make any statements about representation. Both over and under-represented groups can be the targets of widespread racism.

You are correct, and I was incorrectly conflating the two in my previous comment on this subject.

Since I can't edit it, the following might explain my position better: Asians get summarily excluded from a lot of minority-focused programs in tech on the basis of being over-represented. This should stop, and Asians should be included in minority-focused programs in tech. This is because (as you said, and as shown by this comment) they can be, and often are a target of casual racism and stereotyping.

It depends on the purpose of the program. If the purpose is to recruit even more, then they shouldn’t be included because they are already over-represented. Many of the minority-focused programs are about recruitment and increasing the pipeline.

Stereotype much?

Read it again. It's not a stereotype. It's his personal observation.

It's literally “My boss has this attitude. My boss is Taiwanese. Jerry Yang is Taiwanese. Therefore, Jerry Yang has this attitude.”

It is exactly nationality-based stereotyping, based on a single example.

This type of thinking, and the inability to see it even when pointed out, is why we have BLM.

I cannot see the original comment, but reading your comment, I cannot help solving the equation and determining he works for Jerry Yang.

The original comment specified that his manager was female, otherwise this would make perfect sense :)

It's his personal observation that Jerry Yang is the same nationality as his manager, and therefore thinks the same way.

It's my observation, a hundred times a day, living among a mixture of Asian cultures and traveling to various Asian countries (can I call them Asian countries? They are in Asia, after all) for the last two years, that a lot of these folks work really hard and will not say no to more work. There are lazy people everywhere, but the ones who work will work themselves to death.

I did not say Jerry Yang thinks the same way. I said I imagine he could. It's a thought experiment. Can you imagine what kind of life it must be to think that suffering is the mark of success? Open your mind and think about that. What it must be like. How it must affect your kids. How you must have been affected as a kid. Why, what geopolitical factors created that cultural norm? Think. Think. The point of the comment was to think.

Having lived and worked for almost 20 years in different Asian countries, I would be a lot more nuanced than you are. First, I completely disagree that suffering is the mark of success...

And, I would be hard pressed to completely generalize between say China, Taiwan and Japan. While you will find a lot of overtime and overwork in those countries, the way they happen is different and the cultural/social pressure behind that are different. And having worked with Asian Americans (both ABCs and people who came a bit later), I would vehemently disagree that you can easily generalize their behavior solely based on the culture of their country of origin, especially since they have lived in the US, spent time there, gone to school there and will have changed their values and culture over time just from this.

So, I don't think that saying Jerry Yang is taiwanese therefor will overwork his employees is a useful heuristic or likely to be true...

You HN people are all the same.

(Aren’t you?)


>2. Bureaucracy - I left yahoo to go to Facebook. At Facebook, if you needed a server, you would go to an internal tool, slide a slider and click a button. At Yahoo, you had to take a proposal to a committee led by a cofounder, and then be repeatedly shot down until you finally persevered.

I personally I believe Hadoop took off at Yahoo because it was a way of getting computing resources that did not need to go through the committees. Big Data? Map Reduce? Less important than simply getting a machine to do things on even if it was just the gateway node (the game of trying gateway nodes till one wasn't at 100% cpu was always fun).

To get access to the Hadoop cluster you also needed special permissions and to go through a committee. At Facebook, access was given to all technical and non-technical (after an afternoon of training) people.

Sure but you went through the committee once and then had as much computing resources as you needed. I don't remember it being hard and my whole team got access pretty early and quickly. Compared to the five servers we had to nurse for 2 years because that's all we'd get before then.

Hard to tell without context, but that first example could easily be a positive: not only is extending grace to employees ethically a good thing to do, but it can also lead to increased productivity in the long run.

Of course, if the employee was completely MIA for an extended period of time and no effort was made to contact them, that's neither ethical nor productive.

The point of being nice it seems that people were not repremended for bad behavior. That’s not a good thing for the culture because it’s demotivating for people who do things the right way as there is very little incentive in doing so.

People in general are hugely sensitive to perceived unfairness. This is a critical thing to maintain in any organization.

For example, you can take a group of five billionaires. Give the first four a little tax break for something, which totals up to only be a million each. No big deal, right? All these people are the 1% of the 1% of the 1%, the pinnacle of wealth in the world. There's no way that little tax break would prevent the 5th billionaire from buying the private island he always wanted, or whatever.

In practice, though, that 5th billionaire will be pissed he didn't also get the tax break. He will spend a lot of time either angry at the situation, or spending that time also trying to get a tax break. Is that a good use of his time? He would be happier driving around on his 80ft yacht... if he could focus on that instead. But that's not how our brains are wired.

It's not just humans. This behavior seems to go pretty deep: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-animals-unfairly-dont.html

The cool thing is that cheat detection/unfairness detection seems to happen at the semantic level of reasoning. You can see this with kids - one example I recall is a friend's 5 year old being upset at seeing another kid with ice cream. $Parent said it was that kid's birthday (who knows), and her kid immediately got over it.

So if only billionaires were human, we could just suggest their semantic categories were wrong. <rimshot>

Maybe something about a previous life?

I'm fairly sure "it's their birthday, so they get a tax break" won't work.

Are we sure? Maybe no one has tried yet...

> He will spend a lot of time either angry at the situation, or spending that time also trying to get a tax break.

It is a good financial decision to spend up to "$1M * <odds of success>" to get that tax break, or another better one. (especially if the ~$500K spent on retainered-lawyers sets you up to pay less due to future tax hikes.) Economics gets weird when any of the numbers get really big, or really small.

I don't like this example though, as it doesn't detail why the tax break was so specific. Did 4/5 of them have no taxable income that year? Do all of these billionaires live in a despotic-shithole where the rule of law doesn't apply equally to everyone? (to be fair, most billionaires do. /s)

It's a good financial decision for a business that is supposed to maximise profit for shareholders or employees or something.

But this example is not about that. First to answer your last question, it's the despotic shithole kind. The point being, the reason is completely arbitrary.

This is about a billionaire who can already buy whatever they want, regardless of said tax break. It won't make them directly happier because it doesn't allow them to buy anything they couldn't otherwise buy.

The point of the example is that given this is the case, we still have a built in biological desire for "fairness" and if this billionaire would realise and observe this desire having no logical basis, they would not fight it. (assume fighting it is not as enjoyable to spend their limited life time as they could be doing something else with the money they already have)

In an analogous situation, five people go to a fancy restaurant and for some reason four of them get 10 plates of food, and one gets 9 plates of food. Assume the restaurant is so generous one person can't possibly eat more than 2 plates anyway.

Why is it easier to imagine simply not making a big deal out of it and enjoying your meal(s), in this situation?

(Especially considering that the meal example is 100x more unfair)

While I agree this is common human nature, 1) you seem to be speculating about billionaires without actual evidence, even anecdotal, and 2) individuals differ - some may have the maturity and perspective not to worry about it.

However, in support of your point, while Bill Gates and Warren Buffett both say billionaires and other "better off" people should pay more taxes, to my knowledge, they haven't been unilaterally sending checks to the government for the difference between current taxes and their ideal amount. They seem to believe that their private foundation can make better use of their excess money than the government can. They're willing to advocate additional taxes for groups, rather than just for themselves.

Let's replace the term "billionaires" with "rational actors" then

"emotional actors"

What kind of idiot pays more than they owe in taxes? I'm sure you don't either.

I don't know why some people seem to expect that of billionaires. It's not rational behavior for them or anyone else, so why do you think they should be behaving that way.

I've seen this more than a couple times in HN comments and it always befuddled me.

I don't think they should pay more than they owe, and I'm not sure why you interpreted it that way. (Though I have paid more than I'm required to sometimes because of the pain of dealing with records and filing. Struggle with it until it gets to an acceptable level, then just pay to be done with it).

But Gates and Buffett both say that they SHOULD be paying more in taxes - but they don't. So what they're really saying is, all those other guys (the "well off") should pay more, and then they'd pay more, too.

This supports the original poster's contention that the billionaires would seek that tax break (for "fairness") even if they didn't need it.

> So what they're really saying is, all those other guys (the "well off") should pay more, and then they'd pay more, too.

The well off don't pay much tax, and they will probably pay none at the top end (they'll donate to charity, for example, which they work at, and the charity will fly them around to their meetings, pay for accommodation, etc). Generally it's the middle class who end up paying tax until it's not worth working any harder.

Reading it again, I think I must have missed "However, in support of your point" which changes the meaning.

marginal utility is much higher for the government (and the public) than for you

I think that statement is backwards.

Are you asserting that the government (and the public) will get more utility (benefit) from the extra 1 dollar on its $2.7 billion budget (increase of .000 000 04 percent), than I would from the extra dollar in my net annual income (on the order of a thousandth of a percent)?

That's a pretty incredible contention.

On a per-dollar basis, you indeed get more marginal utility from the extra dollar than the government would.

But on a percentage basis (in a progressive taxation scheme, and especially in the higher tax brackets) the government gets more marginal utility from a 1% tax increase than you would from a 1% tax break.


In any bracket and at any percentage, the government will be adding $x to it's huge budget by taking $x from an individual or organization's much smaller budget.

(* Note that it really isn't valid to compare marginal utility between entities. It's an individual, relative measure, rather than an absolute quantity.)

The employee was taking off days without taking vacation to work on hobbies without telling HR or Management. He was just not showing up. This happened with many employees all the time.

My coworker at a Yahoo office in SF moved to Uruguay (where his wife is from) and then expected the company to fly him in for important meetings. He got away with it for a bit before HR caught wind. Even for them it was too much.

He got fired? Or moved back to SF?

Judging by the other stories I expect HR cracking down would be something “no more first class flights, only business.”

HR's issue was probably more along the lines of you're violating internal policies and probably various tax, etc. laws if you're supposedly living in one place and are actually living somewhere else--especially in a different country.

He reluctantly moved back after his boss got yelled at.

Makes me feel like a chump for not taking advantage when I worked there.

What kind of increase in productivity does just not showing up provide? People should be able to take sick days, personal days, mental health days, but disappearing should have raised concern from team members to see if that person is OK.

Management could have been aware of more personal details that coworkers should not know. I don't think it is necessarily a black mark against the company without knowing the whole story.

Management could also communicate to concerns coworkers that the absences are excused. They could also work with the employee to notify teammates in an appropriate way.

Just allowing employees to disappear with no notice or trace is an environment where I won’t want to work.

There are obviously situations where I have to not be at work suddenly (eg, medical emergency where I don’t want to share details) but I can just send a text to a boss or corworker and have them do the rest.

If HR said they didn’t want to act to not hurt feelings that seems like there was no additional info, unless they thought that was a proper way to protect medical info (it isn’t).

Sounds like a bad place to work and seems like a negative factor for companies wanting to do well or me awesome.

You can never be to certain what other people are dealing with outside of work. Sometimes, management knows things that they are not at liberty to share.

Exactly. There are a vast number of incapacitating health related reasons that could cause a person to be absent, e.g. panic attacks, stuck in a bathroom (IBS/IBD/Chron’s), migraines, depression. The type of thing that reasonably wouldn’t be broadcasted out to the entire team.

I think it’s better to just assume nothing unless you have direct knowledge that the employee is doing something blatantly unethical like working at another job (has happened before).

I’m guessing corporate or team policies about requesting time off may have been too restrictive. Depending on the team, having people take random days off on short notice might not be all that disruptive. But hopefully management enables that for everyone, rather than just forgiving it on a case by case basis.

Seems highly probable HR knew what was going on and was okay with it. Child died recently. Only one driving father to chemo appointments. Etc. not the kind of thing they would give any other employees a heads up on.

It would be very strange if they had no idea and didn’t care that an employee wasn’t showing up. That kind of culture would get swamped fast.

Yahoo was good at handling these types of things, but they were also good at keeping line management updated.

I did have someone in my team at Yahoo I had to go to HR to get approval for special considerations due to a family member with cancer, and it was approved literally in minutes.

But it's also well known that they were for a while very lax about handling unauthorised absence.

>Seems highly probable HR knew what was going on and was okay with it. Child died recently. Only one driving father to chemo appointments. Etc. not the kind of thing they would give any other employees a heads up on.

Is this based on direct knowledge or are you just listing possible examples? Because these examples are very different from what the ex-yahoo person mentioned in a follow-up comment: stuff like personal hobbies.

I am curious as to the niceness point. Are you sure he randomly decided not to show up? Perhaps he and management had a quiet agreement where when his chronic diarrhea showed up he stayed home. Work is informed but when you ask they make up some excuse, we don’t want to hurt his feelings, but really that is just the way of not telling you as his medical history is personal and not your business.

That “niceness” is a textbook example of “ruinous empathy.”


Thanks for that link!

Marissa Mayer ruined Yahoo

Yahoo's decline predates Marissa. But she certainly failed to do anything to correct its tailspin into the ground.

The company inherited a billion dollars with the Alibaba IPO around the time she became CEO, and she couldn't make it work.

... and walked out with a fortune

Are you me? I had the exact two same issues when I was at Yahoo (2005-2007) basically due to Jerry & Filo. Somehow happy to know that I wasn't the only one :)

> a coworker decided to just randomly not show up for work [... ] I took it to management

out of the context provided, this sounds likes like none of your business?

What if you need that coworker to do your job?

Then it would be a bad working environment, but for another reason. Companies should assume that anyone can be run over by a bus at any time and plan accordingly.

This doesn't seem reasonable. If you assume anyone can be run over by a bus, most ways of mitigating that risk involve some recovery time. If it takes 4 hours to recover that person's work and get up to speed, the company has planned accordingly, but it's still extremely inconvenient to lose half a day because someone didn't show up to work.

"out of the context provided"

You can at least draw a line from Delicious to Reddit.

Digg was originally modelled on the "popular" section of Delicious, an example of building a product out of a feature. Then Reddit saw a huge boost from the eventual Digg community exodus, after a time when Digg itself was the cultural nerve centre.

I was wondering if anyone was going to point this out. I can remember digg being bigger than everything besides maybe stumbleupon for a short while when it came to bookmarking sites.I never would have imagined reddit being what it is now.

I miss the days when big sites/companies would sometimes go under.


What is dead can never die.


Digg was massive right at the tail end of seeker-net. I myself watched nearly every episode of Diggnation. Great times.

Kevin Rose had some great shows all the way back to tech tv Leo Laporte days.

I wonder what happened to that guy. I would gladly trade a drunk Kevin for a Zuckerberg.

I agree. I like their pre-Digg skits "thebroken" and "hacking with Ramzi": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hNQ280Zkk4

Used to love Diggnation and Digg reel, it felt wild and uncontrolled, yet the production values were good. Really liked the hosts of Digg Reel also, Andrew Bancroft and Annie Gaus (had to look them up).

Revision3 had some other great shows also on their list. Too bad there is nothing like that anymore on the internet, at least to my knowledge.

He still does "The Random Show" with Tim Ferriss every now and then: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+random+show

as with all founders who faded out, he became a VC. True Ventures partner https://trueventures.com/team/kevin-rose/

what is (was) "seeker-net"?

Oh, easy. That was the internet when it was mostly composed of enthusiasts or people interested in discovering things. That time has gone, and the internet now is mostly a tool for normies to reproduce their "real" life on the internet. Pictures, personas, various frivolities that early users of the internet were trying to get away from.

Digg wasn't a bookmarking site at all. They put that on for a bit because Delicious had raised money.

Delicious was about 10x-15x the size of Digg.

funny thing is that I actually use Digg more now than I did before its implosion.

it's cleaner, nicer, and no comments. Refreshing.

> Delicious was for a time at the cultural nerve center of the web, and I think had the potential to be something like a twitter or a reddit if stewarded correctly.

Delicious turning into Twitter or Reddit would have been a real loss.

"But it doesn't scale!" is practically a mantra for HN, but scalability is fairly low on the list of values for me. I'd rather have interesting websites than big websites, and I'd rather see websites go bankrupt than compromise their values. The reason I care that Delicious might come back is that it was still interesting when it went down last. Digg and Slashdot still exist, but frankly I care so little that I actually had to look up that fact, and after verifying that they existed, I clicked away.

>Delicious turning into Twitter or Reddit would have been a real loss.

I don't mean to suggest it would have been similar to them culturally, or that it would have evolved into a copy of reddit or twitter. It would have still been delicious, in the sense that it would always be a booking service (as long as they never went all in with Delicious Stacks, which I think nobody remembers except me). I also don't doubt that, at some point, it probably would sell it's soul and lose whatever signature personality it had according to the main users. But it would have remained useful, grown, and been one of the main places everybody goes.

Even with the loses you identify, it was an invaluable asset that could have kept Yahoo relevant.

> Even with the loses you identify, it was an invaluable asset that could have kept Yahoo relevant.

And in this alternative future, if del.icio.us had kept its core as a social bookmark sharing service, it could even have kept the Web relevant.

Now with the idear of delicious coming back, your comment makes me consider all the good low-to-mid scale shit we've lost over time. In ~ 2008 it seems like there were just more fun/interesting sites around. Maybe I was just in an exploratory phase - late teens - and was discovering new things often. Or maybe the barrier to entry today, in terms of design/polish/product is weirdly high, and has pushed out the seeker-net in favor of normie-net.

I think the most obvious example I would add to this list you are thinking of would be livejournal. I also had a handful of SoundCloud-like medium scale music sites that I went to, like Purevolume.

I also remember this as a time when Google didn't yet have a reputation for abandoning everything they touched, so you could get inspired by, say, Google Knol or Google Wave. I had hope that Google Reader might grow into something, and the was a fraction of a second where we all wanted to believe in Google Plus.

I am still upset about Google Wave.

So ahead of its time! I have never understood why that got the axe, it took everything they where doing great at that time (chat, video, email, and the newish At the time G suite apps (called something else then) and just meshed them together in a surprisingly useful and pleasant way. Also the whiteboard features were really good particularly for it’s time.

This Mashable article does a good job explaining it in more detail[0]

I can’t believe it to this day they couldn’t figure it out. It was very ahead of its time


There are no real barriers to blogging or using an RSS reader if you want to. (RSS feeds are less ubiquitous than they used to be but they're still common.) And, of course, for saving and sharing bookmarks, it's Pinboard that's buying del.icio.us.

I never really tried out Wave but Knol suffered from the problem you'd expect if everyone gets to write their own self-promotional competing article on a topic.

>There are no real barriers to blogging or using an RSS reader if you want to. (RSS feeds are less ubiquitous than they used to be but they're still common.)

I'm perfectly aware of this and have used RSS feeds on a daily basis for more than a decade, so I'm not sure what's being suggested here.

> but Knol suffered from the problem you'd expect if everyone gets to write their own self-promotional competing article on a topic

Now we have Quora, of course.

The barrier to entry for most interesting things is <$100 and a few hours time.

The barrier to entry for making money is a different thing.

The point I made is more nuanced than that. I didn't say there is a large financial barrier to entry for the production of a modern website. The point is, Delicious, Digg, etc. would fizzle out today pretty quickly. Consumers have come to expect a certain refinement of design, usability, mobile-bullshit, etc. etc. that web companies of yore weren't exactly known for. What we're left with today is a bunch of crap that looks good but lacks novelty.

It's mostly due to this principle actually that Facebook usurped Myspace despite having far fewer features.

One exception to the rule lately is Roam Research, which looks like dog shit but is apparently popular.

I understood your point, I'm just rejecting it. If your measure of success is scaling and making massive amounts of money, then sure, all the successful website are boring. But there are plenty of interesting websites still out there. There are still PHPBB forums which "look like dog shit" but host vibrant communities. I'm not sure on what basis you would consider these communities to have "fizzled out".

I think it's clear by your response that you didn't get it.

> There are still PHPBB forums which "look like dog shit" but host vibrant communities

There are small communities that predate modern web/Facebook, which is irrelevant. There is also craigslist, and its shitty design is remarked upon constantly. It's frequented by the elderly so falls outside the scope of discussion.

You're married to the idea that design standards haven't changed, or that the web as a platform hasn't become much more sophisticated over the last ~decade.

Part of me agrees with you. Part of me thinks Yahoo largely bet on all the wrong horses.

Users mostly didn't want directories of web sites and portals (which couldn't really scale anyway), they wanted search.

Microblogging (and individual blogging sites generally) fell out of favor. I consider it a minor miracle that Blogger is still around and Google even did a minor and only somewhat regressive update recently.

Most people didn't really want "serious" photo sites like Flickr. They wanted free social sites dominated by "influencers" like Instagram. (We'll see how long Flickr holds on under a small owner like Smugmug.)

I doubt long.... i attempted to create a new account the other day. it was a failed affair.

It's too bad. I find it a handy place to keep my "good" photos in a way they can be publicly accessed. And act as a backup of last resort. But my sense from various moves/announcements they've made is that the revenue/cost may not be working out. I hope that's not the case but... The other big loss for me personally is that they're a great source of CC photographs (in addition to the Flickr Commons). But it's probably unrealistic to expect a small company that doesn't have other big sources of revenue to provide that amount of free hosting. Google should have bought Flickr way back when but... Google.

> But my sense from various moves/announcements they've made is that the revenue/cost may not be working out. I hope that's not the case but...

I'm curious what those moves/announcements are; I haven't been keeping up with Flickr, but I was actually rather happy SmugMug bought them as opposed to most other possible outcomes. SmugMug has always been a subscription-supported service with no free plans, so they were always "doomed" to be much smaller than competitors -- but they've also been around since 2002, are apparently profitable, and remain pretty laser-focused on their niche.

And Yahoo Pipes, to build your custom feed by taking multiple RSS feeds and building a graph with filters, split and merge.

At the time I thought it was superseded by Digg.com, at least in the sense of helping other people discover cool stuff. I had a few articles go viral on delicious... well viral for the time.

Digg is still around, too, but not in a recognizable form. (At least, if there's a way for mere mortals to submit links, I haven't found it.)

> I think had the potential to be something like a twitter or a reddit if stewarded correctly

Delicious was pretty much perfect as it was. Morphing into something like a Twitter or Reddit would not have been a move in a positive direction.

I don't disagree. It really was awesome. But whatever you call delicious from Yahoo aquisition onward wasa failure to steward it correctly. If all it took was not messing with it, that was a standard that was not met.

I used to think Flickr was great, until it became free, and then not free anymore, and they told me they'd delete all my pictures unless I paid.

I read that with a nostalgic tone and think, “If that happened, we’d all be up in arms about the power and corruption that Yahoo/Mozilla duopoly wielded”

So like the Western version of Tencent?

Let's not forget the exploit vector that it offered. Since they allowed you to export your bookmarks from IE/ Firefox/ Safari, lots of folks would bookmark a paywall site and append the login info (i.e. WSJ L:ABC P:123)

One difference in the fate of Yahoo vis a vis Google, is that Yahoo didn't spy on its users and exploit the knowledge gained from spying to make gazillions from advertising.

Take from that what you will. Google made money, and then Facebook learned how to make money by trumping Google - by harvesting the "digital surplus" of its users to power an advertising juggernaut.

The rise of advertising everywhere, and the loss of privacy, and the glut of trivia, hatred, and anti-science in the form of Facebook content, have resulted in a world that employs less than half the number of journalists than 20 years ago, and is governed by incompetent personalities.

The return of del.icio.us might just be one small step back in the right direction.

Yahoo spied on users the same as the rest of them, they were just incompetent and bled users for years. They were never especially well managed, but Verizon was the worst and basically took a company on the road to destruction and stomped on the accelerator.

> resulted in a world that employs less than half the number of journalists than 20 years ago

This is a direct result of the internet in general. With lower publication costs you get more publishers which means more supply of ad space which means ad spend that used to go to journalism now goes to Instagram "influencers" and lolcats. Which would be just as true without any of the tracking.

> but Verizon was the worst and basically took a company on the road to destruction and stomped on the accelerator.

Verizon was and still is very scary. Whether or not they are incompetent, companies that came from the mother bell, att, Verizon, CenturyLink, ... And all major ISPs are scary.

Verizon's supercookie thing was revealed shortly before it's acquisition of Yahoo! And Aol. If Oath/Verizon Media succeeds as a major online destination, they could have more data than Google, no? I mean it is a data hoarders dream. Own the pipe end to end?

» This is a direct result of the internet in general. With lower publication costs you get more publishers which means more supply of ad space which means ad spend that used to go to journalism now goes to Instagram "influencers" and lolcats. Which would be just as true without any of the tracking.

I read something either published by Google or about Google that basically said that publishers in average can expect to see twice the revenue with targeting than without which made me think if that's all then we should get rid of tracking and figure out how to live on half the money.


Back when it was called NYNEX it certainly was incompetent.

> I read something either published by Google or about Google that basically said that publishers in average can expect to see twice the revenue with targeting than without which made me think if that's all then we should get rid of tracking and figure out how to live on half the money.

I have an apparently minority ("conspiracy") view on telecommunication systems and security services (regardless of the country). Advertising is a convenient pretext: for both state surveillance and advertising, we need to track users, read their email, and end privacy as we know it.


“The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities.”

― Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era


In case you don't know who this person is, I suggest reviewing his career. He is, as Donald Rumsfeld would have it, a known known.

> Whether or not they are incompetent, companies that came from the mother bell, att, Verizon, CenturyLink, ... And all major ISPs are scary.

In fact, in some ways, the incompetence makes them less scary. Imagine the reach that Verizon would have with content delivery that was better than Netflix and webmail that was better than Gmail; and the resulting potential privacy concerns.

For internet, in my town, you choose between Verizon and Comcast. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

Verizon FiOS is excellent as far as connectivity, but as a corporation, they suck.

It seems to be a pattern with mega communications companies which have always tended towards natural monopolies or at least duopolies etc. Ma Bell and Western Union weren't exactly warm and cuddly. Lots of international examples too.

I don't know how Yahoo spied on their users, privacy wasn't that big a thing in the early 2000s.

But just look at the difference between the Google homepage and that of Yahoo from 1999. Google was a simple "search" box, Yahoo was cluttered with tons of stuff, including ads.

What made Google successful, besides being very effective as a search engine, is that it didn't have annoying ads, trivia and dubious content. Times have changed, but while you may want 1999 Google back, you probably don't want 1999 Yahoo back.

> privacy wasn't that big a thing in the early 2000s.

I mean, it was. But encryption was a joke (and still is, to great degree) and we all just lived with plaintext over TCP everywhere. IRC, email, web, etc. In fact, during '93-97 the thing I remember most about the internet was just how paranoid everyone really was at the time. It was still a mostly technical user base and there was this general intuition that the potential for this to all go sideways is right there. But we were all on local BBSes and local ISPs and looking at personal web pages and logging on our friend's IRC server. It was sharing bootlegs with Grateful Dead fans, with a cautious eye towards the Feds and the AT&T and IBMs of the world. After 2003 or so, this world ceased to exist. Tracking, spam, privacy invasion became normalized.

> Google was a simple "search" box, Yahoo was cluttered with tons of stuff

I remember people on Slashdot begging Google to not clutter their front page. There were a few times that I believe Google introduced new features and there was a serious backlash. I want to say Google was paying attention (Slashdot was huge at the time), but who knows.

> while you may want 1999 Google back

What strikes me nowadays is just how much Google has always sucked. I don't mean the company (they suck too). I mean PageRank. The thing we always held in unquestioned high regard. This thing we used to think is really clever turns out to just be a thing people could game to improve their visibility. Then Google realized this and now it's a tool Google uses to control the internet. I've spent a good portion of my career on this cargo cult nonsense we call "Search Engine Optimization." The rules change all the time, and only Google knows what those changes are. The biases are ever-shifting, in order to keep people on their toes and to reinforce Google's control.

But the part of PageRank that sucks is that if you do any sort of search that isn't a Wikipedia page, a Stackoverflow or Quora question, or a Pinterest image, you will quickly land into the mire of shady Russian Twitter/Instagram rehosting sites and scam pages. And this is all within the first page or at best the 2nd page of results. That is godawful results if you really stop to think about it. Google can't tell you anything that Wikipedia doesn't already know.

Agreed. I remember when someone first showed me Google's search page. It was so uncluttered it was shocking. I didn't notice anything about the quality of search results, or how they compared with Yahoo, Altavista, Lycos or the rest. Just that it was so clean and uncluttered.

Yes, Google's search page was a work of art that would make Edward Tufte proud.

What we didn't know then is that Google would achieve exponential growth to reach trillion dollar status by surreptitiously harvesting each user's search queery history, tracking their browsing histories by IP address, scanning their gmail, surveilling their movements via android, and putting it all together to achieve an advertising monopoly the likes of which Hearst, Pulitzer, Beaverbrook, Ogilvie and Murdoch could only ever dream about.

All without the cost of employing a single journalist.

"This is being conducted at a layer that is not accessible to us." -- Professor Shoshana Zubuff

Shoshana Zuboff on surveillance capitalism | VPRO Documentary https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIXhnWUmMvw

Privacy was always a thing and a concern, just not for kids jumping into the internet that don't know better, and that's still a problem today.

I should have mentioned privacy on the internet.

Privacy has always been a concern, but it used to be something more physical that involved sealed packages, curtains and cash payment. Privacy-minded people simply didn't share sensitive information on the internet, they treated everything on the internet as public.

Privacy on the internet wasn't that much of a thing not because privacy has changed, but because the internet has changed. It is now everywhere and used for things that used to be unthinkable back then: banking, official documents,... An internet connected coffee pot (not a teapot) used to be a joke, they are now in every (online!) shop.

I'm pretty sure that in 1999 Yahoo Mail had persistent XSS exploits. But then, most of the web did.

Google succeeded by making keyword-targeted advertising available to the masses, didn't even need any spying for that at first because search provides the keywords quite naturally.

Yahoo failed by trying to be Where Everyone Comes For Everything and monetize that through traditional big buck ad campaigns.

I’m guessing you never promoted ypn ads or chitika. Yahoo wanted to compete, but had poor execution. To give them credit though, there was a time when they had great tech. I remember when they shutdown yahoo pipes, at the time there wasn’t anything else like it. Yahoo mail was much bigger than gmail for a time as well.

All that talk but forgot to say what Yahoo didn't do - show you what you wanted on the first page. You can run circles around it they just weren't good enough. But sure nostalgia is great and bringing delicious back will be amazinggggg

Who shows you what you want on the first page? Facebook shows you what they want. If you don't have an ad blocker Google shows you what they are paid most to show. Amazon the same.

If you do a search from the browser search/url bar, my experience is that with Google as the default search engine, the first page will still show me what I want, on the first page, better than any past tools.

There's a ton I don't like about Google, and whether true or not it feels like they were 'better' in the past. A huge step up from the multiple AltaVista searches or the clicking around on Yahoo that I had to do pre-google.

Maybe there are better alternatives these days, but DDG still isn't fully there for most of my searches, and I use Bing for very specific types of searches that I wouldn't bring up in polite society...

My experience with DDG as default search, with clever use of the !bang syntax you actually will get what you want on the first page (and sometimes that page will be !g Google, but maybe only 10% of my searches)

What a disingenuous comment. Google gets what you want often in a box even before the search results.

Duck Duck Go

>a world that employs less than half the number of journalists than 20 years ago

This may come as a shock to some, but it's quite logical when you think about it.

With print advertising, it makes sense. You pay for the space you take up. How do you calculate that? Well, at minimum, the cost of a classified ad for similar space, plus additional fees for processing, graphics, and color.

Online, advertising pricing really doesn't make much sense. The space you have is freely available, there are no printing costs, no special processing requirements, and the readers aren't even likely to be local, unlike the limited distribution networks of most newspapers. It should come as no surprise that online advertising revenue for newspapers is nowhere near its peak of print advertising revenue [1]. Even when a newspaper stops printing and can cut out all the expenses that come with it, there simply isn't enough money to support their existing levels of operation.

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/this-is...

You left out the worst of them: Twitter.

Slot-machine of the internet. rage, outrage, xenophobia, name-calling, name-dropping, celebrity, manufactured 140 chars at a time. It's a culture killer.

Which is also the US media ...just about all for profit outlets...they are fear/ outrage inducers, stereotype/hate fuelers and sensationalized trash!

For me I avoid Twitter and ignore all news media(minus some local news).

For future reference, this is what the page says as of this HN post: http://web.archive.org/web/20200729083406/http://del.icio.us...

> July 15, 2020

> Hi, my name is Maciej Ceglowski, the latest (and hopefully last) owner of del.icio.us.

> The site will be back online soon. If you had data stored on del.icio.us after 2010, you'll be able to export it here.

> [...]

> You can reach me at maciej@ceglowski.com

I also hope the site will be back online.

Isn't this the guy that runs delicious's excellent successor Pinboard.io ?? I have been using pinboard ever since adn it's been a great service.

https://pinboard.in/ (pinboard.io is apparently someone else's and up for sale - if it's yours, nicely done;)

This is probably one of my favorite developments coming from the quarantine. Maciej Ceglowski is a keeper of the torch reminding us of what the web used to be: a weird place filled with weird people who were guided by curious intellects and a belief that the internet can and would liberate us in some strange and amazing way.

Before social media amplified celebrity worship and extreme positions, everyone's voice on the web was only given weight by the merit or personality of what was said. No matter how popular you were on the old internet your voice was never loud enough to silence another. People were mostly anonymous (in practice because governments were caught off guard) and anyone could start a quirky website that was suddenly the talk of the town.

I miss the old internet that inspired a lot of brilliant and all too idealistic people to code into the night and bring us these amazing innovations. In some ways Mark Zuckerberg was cut from the old cloth. The original Facebook was in many ways amazing, quickly evolving, and so open. Everything took a turn for the worse with advertising.

Thank you Maciej for the trip down memory lane. Some of us may cling to the past but I hope there's another version of you and the old guard of the internet waiting for us or our future generations when we are gone.

> In some ways Mark Zuckerberg was cut from the old cloth. The original Facebook was in many ways amazing, quickly evolving, and so open. Everything took a turn for the worse with advertising.

At the same time, for me, Facebook was the first example of the internet becoming more samey, centralized and where its users became more consumers of a platform instead of individual creators.

When I first got to use Facebook (after it had opened up to more than just users from particular US universities), I loved the fact that it had a cohesive look and feel. The newsfeed I was a bit less enthusiastic about, but hey it was convenient compared to visiting my friends' profile pages.

But over time I kind of started missing actively visiting the 'page' of a friend, and especially the craziness in how they were able to modify their myspace/cu2/hyves.nl/etc. pages. Sure, it was often ugly as hell, filled with emoji, psychedelic backgrounds, and autoplaying music. but it was /them/ expressing themselves.

I think a lot of what's turned out to be problematic about Facebook (and perhaps the broader internet) is that most platforms have completely locked down people's ability to express themselves to comments and a tiny little profile picture next to it.

That customizability on MySpace was a security nightmare. My wife was the head of the security team back in the day and a lot of what they did to secure the site was duct tape and baling wire. It was kind of entertaining to log onto the hacker forums and see commentary on my wife's work for the day.

I would read that memoir!

Seconded. I bet if we could get a pipe between someone using nuance dragon and an Amazon print as you go book service, we could sell a lot more of these extremely niche books / memoirs.

My business idea inspired by your comment:

1. Users of site request and upvote requests for individual memoirs, and comment with their questions and prompts, which are also upvoted. Similar to an AMA. Upvotes are purchased with preorder deposits, and if the subject accepts, the funds will be transferred from users to site. Similar to Kickstarter.

2. Subject sees that their name is high up and accepts the memoir invitation. A tool allows them to select the questions and prompts they want to use.

3. An app plays the prompts using text to speech and records the conversation with the subject, performing a live transcription.

4. The transcript is sent to an editor, who fixes any transcription mistakes and adds some organization so the book has some sense of flow. Using a transcript and audio combination editor, the interview audio is recut to match the text.

5. The edited transcript is sent through a template and sent to Amazon's publishing service. Audio goes through similar process for corresponding audio book. Preordered copies are delivered to the users that upvoted the subject. Revenue is split between site and subject. If successful, subject releases a sequel written in a more traditional way and offers it to the same users.

I'd love an option, as a backer, to get the raw interview audio. Call me a skeptic on recuts preserving nuance.

But yeah, I'd set aside a monthly budget for backing such memoirs, even if I never listen to the results, simply getting them made about subjects I find interesting feels like a worthwhile use of a few bucks.

Would it be easier nowadays with CORS and CSP ?

I imagine so!

> The newsfeed I was a bit less enthusiastic about, but hey it was convenient compared to visiting my friends' profile pages.

The newsfeed was copied/acquired from FriendFeed. Messages was Beluga. Instagram and WhatsApp got on FB bandwagon too. FB just had the cold hard cash laying there and just had to put it in front of these people. Cold hard cash and no morality when it comes to selling people personal data, but, in their defence, we put that data there in the first place, it's the fuzzy binding contract that's made when one joins Facebook—look at all these social tools for you to share and connect, for the mere price of letting us exploit you and your data and enrich us and our investors while doing that. It's a power structure, really.

> At the same time, for me, Facebook was the first example of the internet becoming more samey, centralized and where its users became more consumers of a platform instead of individual creators.

This is partly because Facebook introduced "the internet" to people who would otherwise never create anything on the web.

I agree that was what I originally disliked about Facebook. But I think a bigger problem (that definitely got worse over time) was the way everything gets swept away on FB. If you see something, it's very difficult to get back to it later. This is demoralizing for the writers too.

It depends on what you're after.

Most of the time, I'm here for the text. I really appreciate straight answers in legible fonts. They're a rarity in the age of SEO-optimised, engagement-obsessed websites.

In that sense, I'm happy with platforms that standardise the experience. It's just unfortunate when those platforms add their own layer of annoyances in the name of growth.

> At the same time, for me, Facebook was the first example of the internet becoming more samey, centralized and where its users became more consumers of a platform instead of individual creators.

> The newsfeed I was a bit less enthusiastic about, but hey it was convenient compared to visiting my friends' profile pages.

At first I liked the newsfeed but looking back I think that's the beginning of what killed Facebook for me. At one time the site was about you. When you logged in you went to your page. Now it's about other people almost exclusively.

> is that most platforms have completely locked down people's ability to express themselves to comments and a tiny little profile picture next to it.

> to comments

Hope springs eternal for the freespeecher.

Same cloth? Zukerburger was an asshole to begin with, based on the stories told so far. No he’s just behaving with impunity after selling his soul to the Drumpf.

the old-school nerds that get celebrated like this are mostly all assholes. building cool things doens't make you a nice person.

I absolutely loved this when I found it. Delicious was just such a great place to find cool, esoteric stuff.

I love any sites with lists on it made by regular people. Rateyourmusic is the same. Find a band you love, find out who else has an album on their list, get digging.

Same with Delicious. I was gutted when it shut.

> This is probably one of my favorite developments coming from the quarantine.

Maciej bought Delicious in 2017 and always planned to let people recover their bookmarks.

I ran the full site for about two years after 2017, using the code I inherited from AVOS, but a lot of people assumed the site was dead because they tried to visit delicious.com. That was never part of the sale and has been kept for some unknown purpose.

The problem was that even years after making the site read-only, I couldn't cope with the level of spam traffic directed at delicious, and had constant problems keeping it online. Rewriting that read-only version so it's not a bloated layer cake of 20 services is my attempt at bringing it back online more sustainably.

At what stage in its existence was Facebook in any way open? It was a walled garded from its inception - initially restricting access to college students only. In fact I never did and still do not consider Facebook as "the web". There is the web and then there is Facebook. The two just use similar technologies but live apart.

Have you heard the story of Cambridge analytica?

My personal projects (all too elementary to talk about at this point) are intended to be just that. Not flashy, but functional, they respect your privacy and etc. They are what they are and there's no secret or desire to dump it if it doesn't make $ billion.

I was thinking a while ago of the old "web ring" idea where likeminded sites were all listed together in a ring and you could explore them.

It would be nice if there was a "simple, privacy oriented, sustainable" web ring out there of good projects doing good things for their customers.

> I was thinking a while ago of the old "web ring" idea where likeminded sites were all listed together in a ring and you could explore them.

I think you're right. The best we have now are the "awesome-*" lists. Here is an "aggregation" of the options on offer: https://github.com/sindresorhus/awesome

> Everything took a turn for the worse with advertising.

I agree with this 100%. I'm old enough to remember when the internet worked fine without having advertising everywhere. Now we're supposed to be convinced that the whole thing would cease to exist if there weren't popover ads and auto playing videos. :/

> In some ways Mark Zuckerberg was cut from the old cloth. The original Facebook was in many ways amazing, quickly evolving, and so open.

"I" created Facebook in 1999. The commpany I worked for wanted a "networked solution for all and everyone." Not big enough market, bad timing etc. So there you have it; timing is _everything_.

> networked solution for all and everyone

To get to that point the trick was to build it as something else first, and then switch. Myspace was primarily a platform for bands, which are fun and cool, which contributed to its early success.


> Your "use case" should be, there's a 22 year old college student living in the dorms. How will this software get him laid?


And Facebook was ENTIRELY this initially.

> Maciej Ceglowski is a keeper of the torch reminding us of what the web used to be...

Down to the lack of TLS even (or maybe I should say SSL -- XD)!

Not to rain on the parade, but serious question: are bookmarks actually useful anymore?

It's funny, I'm trying to remember when I simply stopped using bookmarks. 5 years ago, maybe? 10? I'm not entirely sure. I used to have elaborate folder hierachies of bookmarks in my browser.

But at some point, I realized anytime I needed something, it was faster to just type a keyword or two in the address bar. Either it was there in my history, autosuggested, or my search engine would find it. So maybe it was when Chrome debuted the Omnibox?

I suppose it was around the same time I started primarily accessing files on my computer/drive with search (Drive, Spotlight) rather than navigating folders.

A few years later, I stopped organizing my 1000's of tracks into playlists by mood/theme, because now I can just think of a single track I'm in the mood for, and start a Spotify Radio based on that track.

In other words: I no longer extensively curate, because you just don't have to anymore, beyond a kind of bare minimum (a few project folders, a mega "favorite tracks" playlist).

So I guess I'm just curious: Delicious was wonderful when it existed. But even if it were brought back, is it a service people need anymore? Or have we moved on to a new paradigm?

someone has felt the need to ask this exact question every time delicious came up since the first time i showed it to anyone in 2003

But the popularity of Delicious then was proof that it was useful. It was a major internet destination.

Today there's no similarly popular equivalent. Sure general-purpose social URL bookmarking sites still exist but they're niche, not mainstream.

So thanks for trying to invalidate my question, but it's not that simple.

there's a huge proliferation of memory tools: notion, pinterest, and so on. so, yes, your question is bad: you're assuming what works for you is right for everybody.

You don't need to be a jerk here.

First, I said popular general-purpose URL. Notion isn't popular, pinterest isn't general-purpose, and so on.

And absolutely nowhere did I assume what is true for me is for everyone. Which I why I asked rather than assumed. And got valuable answers about other perpsectives.

So no, my question wasn't "bad". I suggest you take your judgmental attitude elsewhere. HN is not the place for it.

HN is 100% the place for this attitude.

I currently have 13,229 bookmarks in Pinboard.in. They are all cross referenced with multiple useful tags and I add maybe 3+ every day.

Google is a poor substitute because it gives me pages of results for what I need and they may or may not be any good. I may have to search again. I may have to click through 4 or five pages before i find one that's useful even though i've been to a useful one before.

Searching in my bookmarks gives me ones that are KNOWN useful, AND because of Pinboard's archival feature they are still available even after the site has disappeared.

I bookmark things _I_ find useful and things I think will be likely be useful to the people in my circles. Then when a friend says "hey is there a good tool for x?" I can say "yes, and here's a link to it" even if i don't use that tool. Or, i can link them to full pages of useful bookmarks on a topic.

So yeah, I have thousands of curated links of _useful_ things and pieces of information that are on the internet or _were_ on the internet. I use it daily. I share links with others regularly. I'm constantly thankful when i can read the content of that blog post I bookmarked that described X better than anything currently out there... but no longer exists on the internet. It's also great for research. I can make a new tag for some topic I'm gathering info on (maybe competitors for a future project) and when i am ready to start processing that info i have a whole list of easily accessible links to go through.

re "is it a service people need anymore?" Note that the reason the thing that started off this discussion exists is because enough people are paying him money to use Pinboard.in that he was able to spend unknown thousands of dollars on Delicious for the SOLE purpose of shuttering it and putting it in read-only mode. He probably got some users who transferred their accounts to Pinboard.in out of the deal, but that wasn't his primary goal by all accounts.

Yeah, active Pinboard user as well, coming from del.icio.us a number of years ago. Have 35,549 bookmarks in Pinboard as of right now, will almost certainly be a bit higher by the end of the day. Definitely a personal knowledge repository. I can't tell you how many times I'll be talking to someone and say, "You know, I read an article about that a few months back... let me send you the link" - really useful. I also like when I save a really good link and see that others have linked it too, and then I can explore what else those folks have bookmarked with that same tag; it's a great way to find other high-quality pages. Kind of "social bookmarking" :)

I think you're right. However, personally, I can - 95% of the time - remember a few words from the page that allows me to search it on Google. 95% is conservative figure. I honestly don't remember the last time I couldn't find something. Might have been a year ago. Furthermore, it's usually much more accurate to simply search your own browse history. Granted, one might need to delete the history or that can get large, but I usually only need to search for something within a year of the last retrieval.

One thing I've learned from running a bookmarking site is that people have vastly different experiences and practices with re-finding stuff online, which sometimes makes it hard not to talk past one another. It turns out the way we remember, find, and re-find stuff is very idiosyncratic, and the success of it depends a lot on the subject domain.

I tried pinboard archival account but decided to request refund because it uses iframe, which prevent my annotating tool to work (Memex 2), also prevents full text search for Medium posts. Other aspect that I consider is the lack of nice iOS app.

Now I use Raindrop.io, and eventhough the iOS app is not that great, but it allow full text search for Medium account.

My question is, can you check Pinboard's archival account feature on whether it still use iframe, and whether you can do full text search on Medium posts? Thank you!

Thanks for sharing. Random thoughts/questions: How do you compare this with using Google Chrome's ecosystem with bookmarks? Or any other browser with bookmarks stored in the cloud? Is there any plugin that can allow search results in a browser's address bar to show the bookmarks from pinboard.in?

chrome's bookmarks aren't available to me across browsers, and I can't use tags to search them. They don't load any faster than Pinboard's either (which is kinda mind-boggling).

not having them across browsers makes them a non-starter (ditto for Firefox plugins)

Not having them across accounts makes them a non-starter (work account vs personal account).

Not being able to tag them and thus find the thing that i remember the associated categories / taxonomy of but not the specific name of is a non starter. With tags i can say "it was a thing that ... was in ...Go, and ... did something with the cli and...." and have a list of viable things. Doing that with just google is searching for a needle in a haystack. In those case I'm searching for a needle in a handful of hay, on a nice clean desk.

Nice. Makes sense! Thank you!

Try to search for anything more than a couple of years old on Google and you will have a very difficult time.

That said, the "just search for it" paradigm is the correct way to think about bookmarking, as Joshua Schachter taught me. Bookmarking sites just take care of the haystack for you so the various needles you want to find later don't disappear.

I can see it being helpful for random domains one might forget. For large websites, like reddit, searching within that site is usually pretty accurate (for me).

A common problem is when you half-remember something on reddit. You can either then search within your own bookmarked reddit links, or try to dig through their entire site.

I agree. for a long time the difficulty has not been in finding stuff on the internet, but rather finding said stuff again later

I've been finding lately that as overall web usability declines, ive been relying on bookmarks more. For example, at work I can never navigate jira correctly to the page I want, so I have a bookmark. Twitter shows tweets out of order and from random people I don't follow, so I have a bookmark to the search page with a query to have people I follow sorted by date. I too haven't used bookmarks for years until recently discovering that it's the easiest way to "hack" a bad service.

I tend to view Pinboard principally as a way to search more effectively. It's especially valuable because a lot of the things I find on the internet and want to be able to refer to later are PDFs of scans of old documents, and other kinds of things that don't really index well for searching. Basically by putting it into Pinboard and adding some metadata manually (like a correct title and description) I'm preserving my ability to easily find it via search later.

It's also been a valuable way to work with resources that I found years ago and then forgot about. Since I tag things by subject area sometimes just going through a subject tag I see some random person's personal website with extensive notes on the history of something... I found it several years ago and probably wouldn't have remembered it without having it saved.

> Not to rain on the parade, but serious question: are bookmarks actually useful anymore?

I would go one step further and say that the problem isn't losing URLs but losing content.

I have most of my bookmarks from delicious exported and saved locally now, but most of the links from the 2005-2010 era are now broken and even with something like Pocket or archive.org, it's impossible to find those old blog posts and articles anywhere. These days, I just print things to PDF and save them rather than risking articles get lost over time.

Pinboard.in offers a pro account that will archive pages when you bookmark them. Won't help for the old lost stuff but will help for everything else going forwards. Also, it's a lot easier than manually exporting everything as pdf.

That is amazing, thanks for the tip. Just signed up.

I think we have shifted to a new paradigm. People are now less likely to host their own sites and own their content. Facebook especially has made walled gardens of user generated content that cannot be discovered outside of Facebook. And now even Google is taking their path by scraping content and displaying that and ads for most of the search page. Then even content that is displayed as a result it is going through Google hosted services to "speed it up"

Delicious was around as user curated sites and forums started to wane. So it did provide discovery for them. It was like even older days at the dawn of the web when one went to Yahoo to find the best site on working out in a human curated directory rather than horrible keyword searches. We do need that still especially now that Google has pivoted to being "doing evil" and is doing things that are against their open web practices of the past. So now even with a great search engine, discovering curated content is less and less possible as they are scraping it and burying it.

But as much as I'd like to see that I fear it isn't going to happen. People are less likely to create things out of these silos like social media platforms because they aren't going to be discovered. So then there's less discoverable great independent content, and then less of a case for bookmarking...

I am working on something similar. Bookmarks are still usable because Google is pretty bad for some obscure queries and they work as a reminder more for me.

Search engines require active discovery. You can find most of the links posted here on HN. Why have HN?

It's curated, have social elements and passive. You just sit back and click rather than coming up with something interesting to search for.

I am still surprised google hasn't come up with a passive consumption of their search engine. It seems like something they can do. Google feed doesn't have social elements to it so I wouldn't count it in. Google Plus was a failure.

Google is also useless for overly common queries.

I've been doing a lot of cooking. Trying to find anything you've found searching for recipes is just wading through a swamp of blogs, spam, and impractical nonsense. If you find anything you want to try, you'll never find it again.

On the other hand, if I tag all the stuff I might consider in pinboard with my own descriptions, I'm starting with a subset that's just the 4-5 pages I was looking at before.

>> are bookmarks actually useful anymore?

Well Pocket can be handy. Gave yourself a 5 minute break at work and find a few interesting articles that threaten to suck you in? Save them to Pocket and read them at home.

I bookmark pages in Chrome because they show up higher than non-bookmarked pages in auto suggestions. I sometimes search within my bookmarks, but never organize/browse them the way I did 20 years ago.

I use a bookmark service near daily. It's valuable when you have multiple machines and you prefer not to give Google all your bookmarks to sync through their servers.

I never used delicious, but bookmarks as a general concept - keeping a URL stored somewhere for later use - I can't live without.

I use chrome for day-to-day bookmarks and some google sheets for other bookmarks.

Whether a dedicated bookmark site is useful, I don't find it useful, but some might. Especially if they don't use the same computer all the time like I do.

Like others here, I have 10,000+ bookmarks on pinboard and add several daily. I can be on any number of computers, iPad, phone at any given time so an online, centralized database of sites, personally tagged, is extremely useful.

Absolutely yes. These days if I see an interesting content on my phone, I share to Google Keep. Periodically I look in keep and take another pass at what I saved.

If you find yourself binging it more than once a week, bookmark it? Crtl-B brings up Firefox's bookmark sidebar and you can just search it there as immediately.

i use pinboard as a replacement for bookmarks because I am on multiple devices and because of the tagging. I use it with keywords to save links to projects I"m working on or even want to read later. I also use the address bar's history for things too but those are things I go to on a daily basis. pinboard is for things I will get to in a day or a week.

I agree, for any hierarchical needs, I just put them on my private git in the form of markdown folders.

I use Pinboard a lot, all the time.

Ask HN: Why did delicious.com fail? (2017) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15493212

After some digging, the above thread seemed like the most informative one as to what happened to Delicious (with a top comment from joshu, no less).

good thread. i like the guy explaining to me that i am wrong about what happened.

Hey Joshua! Many years ago I saw you give a presentation about del.icio.us at a web conference in London (forgot the name, organized by a guy called Ryan?)

I'd just started learning web development and going through a career change in to that world. In your presentation you came across laid back and totally unpretentious, explaining how you dropped a corporate career to focus on the site, of which I was a user at the time and loved.

You explained how you dealt with the tagging of content, that was one of the subtleties you had to figure out. And I remember you mentioning nagios. The way you explained it all made it seem pretty straightforward and fun (at the time, hope I'm not getting this wrong).

For a long time that talk, your project (and a few others) were very inspirational to me, to see how one guy could build something so awesome and be pretty successful. Stories like yours gave me a lot of drive when I was still a total noob.

Fifteen years later I'm up to my neck in code, just as driven as then and still chasing that dream. That's it, just wanted to say thanks!


i still have nagios nightmares.

When I'm armpits deep in prometheus these days I occasionally pine for nagios.

Only ocassionally.

Yes, I noticed that, as well :)

So what do you think, does del.ico.us can have a second run under Pinboard creator?

I think that the size and activity of it made for the vibrancy however that size also is antagonistic to his goals, which is to charge for it.

I had to laugh about the guy in charge of development and rewriting it as a SPA:

> we concluded that it would be quicker to re-write the app as opposed to dissecting the exiting application codebase. This is the primary reason why stacks were canned, regardless of what others might have said. Many times rewrites require reducing features in order to build a new foundation. This is sometimes a good thing, and sometimes not.

And then the pinpoard guy just summarizes the frustration of countless users:

> But the biggest mistake was when AVOS turned off some features beloved by a core Delicious constituency, fanfic authors. In particular, they made it impossible to search on the "/" character in tags, which instantly rendered a lot of the elaborate fanfic tagging and classification scheme useless. In my mind, that's when Delicious hit the point of no return.

This made me nostalgic for RSS. Is anyone reviving that in a nice way?

It never went away. If you want experience similar to Google Reader - there are several clients (but better ones require paid subscription). RSS feeds are still there.

RSS feeds are still there

And so heavily truncated, spoiling the point in many (but not all) cases of having an RSS feed entirely.

It's frustrating, but not new; there were sites doing this back when Google Reader was big. I don't know if it's more prevalent.

Some RSS reader applications can fetch/view the page each RSS entry points to if the actual entries don't have the right information.

Certainly true enough! I'm just saddened, I suppose-that such a feature needs to exist in the first place.

Well, it's up to the feed author what they want to include, and that's fine. To me, the point isn't "show all published content" in the feed, it's to notify me that new content is available. I don't mind clicking through if the content is worthwhile (which it is, because why else am I subscribed?).

> And so heavily truncated, spoiling the point in many (but not all) cases of having an RSS feed entirely.

I'm of two minds about this. On one hand, as a reader it's convenient to have the full text and images of the articles/posts so that I can look at them all in one place without much effort.

On the other hand, as a webmaster, I might have months or years worth of content on my site that I want visitors to look at, and if they never visit my site again after finding and subscribing to the RSS feed, odds are that they'll never see any of it. So truncating the entries is a good way to nudge readers into visiting my site if there's something that looks interesting rather than downloading full text and images for a bunch of articles that they might not even read, which would be a waste of bandwidth.

ActivityStreams is essentially a revival of RSS. It is the foundation of stuff like ActivityPub, the Fediverse, and the upcoming Social Linked Data (SoLiD) effort led by the W3C. So I'd say that there's plenty of reviving going on.

Check out NetNewsWire which is a free (and open source) RSS reader for Mac and iOS, under active development:


NNW is fast and simple. Using it, I've come to feel that RSS doesn't need to be updated -- it just needs modernised tooling and a frictionless UX. Now I have a good reader, I spend as much time reading feeds as I do on social media. And I feel good about spending time reading and skimming, knowing that there isn't an engagement algorithm which is trying to steer me towards extreme responses.

It's still there, but support isn't great - a lot of sites don't have a feed, or it's waaaay outdated.

A lot of sites that do have a feed don’t make it easily discoverable. You can play around with three URL path, or you can use a browser extension to find it. If it’s a Substack site, the feed URL probably exists and is probably just /feed/, at least on the sites I’ve tried.

There's browser plugins that fix the feed discovery issue. For example:

Firefox - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-CA/firefox/addon/awesome-rss/

Chrome - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rss-finder/ijdgeed...

To tack on to this, NetNewsWire on Mac OS X also provides a Safari extension.

Why does it need revival? I've been using feedly for like a decade now with no issues.

Newsletters are the new RSS. Different protocol, but simpler for non-technical users and a viable business model. Some recent apps (Stoop and HEY) make the reading experience more like traditional RSS readers too.

adding rss feeds to (say) google reader doesn't require technical expertise. email newsletters require your email address, which is obviously prone to abuse and spam. newsletters aren't the new rss, but rather an arguably inferior replacement.

"x is the new y" indeed means it's not the same thing, but a replacement (inferior or otherwise).

The fact someone took the time to understand why they should care about Google Reader, set it up, and regularly used it does require some technical interest/ability. That's why most internet users didn't know what RSS was even at the peak of the blogging and RSS revolution circa 2005, whereas today (or even back then), everyone intuitively understands newsletters.

I'm not saying they're better for everyone, frankly they are far worse for regular readers in my view, but they're the clearest successor.

ah, but newsletters allow you to serve adverts, which is really why RSS "died".

And charging a recurring fee is also viable now in the age of patronage. It's more standard than charging for a premium RSS feed and easy for publishers on various systems to set up.

Nothing stops you from putting ads in RSS.

I personally think RSS was killed when social networks shifted to social media...

RSS is still great to get the news and blogs, I use https://theoldreader.com/

Most recent blog post, 18 months ago. Most recent tweet, 13 months ago. I wouldn't rely on that service as a daily tool.

It's a feature-complete paid service which has been 100% bug-free in the seven years I've been using it, yes, daily.

It is possible for software to be finished and only require minimal maintenance.

No news is good news, unless you're talking about an RSS reader.

Wanna know how I landed on this post?


What I can't figure out is why there's a persistent myth that RSS has somehow vanished from the internet...

Everyone removed the orange "XML" and blue "RSS" images from their sites and people assume RSS was removed as well. The link tags to the feeds still exist so feed readers and browsers can still easily find them.

Seriously, why does this question keep coming up? What am I missing?

Because it was convenient and powerful. Ever since Google Reader shut down I lost track of technology news. Yes, I can read the same sites/blogs I read before one by one, or subscribe to their newsletter, or follow them on Twitter... but it's not the same. And the tools that were available to replace Reader were always short in some aspect. Google Reader was killed in favor of Google+ (which failed horribly). After that RSS went downhill.

RSS readers were useful because you had all the news/posts in one place (instead of many browser tabs/newsletters/social accounts). You read, curated and shared from the same place, and you were able to easily choose what categories you wanted to read and when.

How did RSS go downhill?

Other commenters in here have mentioned their readers of choice; I can add mine: NewsBlur.

Turns out RSS is still in pretty common use, as far as I can tell, unless you can point to a handful of sites that aren't using either RSS or Atom.

Invariably, when the topic of RSS comes up, someone laments its "passing", which leads me to ask (again): where is this impression coming from? Is it the mere absence of Google Reader?

Is there a social aspect I never knew about?

I see you mentioned other tools being lacking, but I know NewsBlur, at least, provides all those capabilities. (Not sure about "curating", though; maybe you could define that a bit more? There is the "blurblog", which has its very own RSS feed, which lets you surface articles you like, and there's the "save" function.)

It was awesome having google.com/ig as a homepage. There hasn't been anything to replace it that I know of.

I still subscribe to feeds in a different tool but it's not the same.

Where did /ig take you?

Also, "not the same"... can you be more specific? (And which tool?)

It was a page you could fill with "widgets", basically RSS feeds that made up a dashboard where you could see the headlines of whatever websites you liked to frequent. You could drag & drop the widgets around to arrange the page like you wanted and then expand each title to see the short text of each article.

Inoreader is the only RSS reader I'm comfortable with, Thunderbird's also ok. They aren't "widget" pages though.

Would RSS be in a better place now if Google Reader had never existed?

Interesting to think that an attack vector against an open standard is creating the objectively best implementation and then shutting down after killing competition and consolidation.

That's a great question! I think over time RSS would have ended up where it is anyway because of what it is, you're very intentionally opting out of spending time on site to consume the content elsewhere which for the web of today is exactly what they want to avoid.

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