Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Notes from Del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter (incutio.com)
61 points by wbornor on Feb 22, 2007 | hide | past | favorite | 14 comments

I really liked the comment on giving some service away before account creation. In my experience, one of the largest hurdles to user adoption is getting something useful from the site. If a user is able to see the value of the service *before* putting something into it, they are more likely to understand the offering and accepting the reward for 5 minutes worth of forms. There are so many services competing for users attention and everyone of them are fighting for their niche. You have to put something on the table to gain the initial interest to keep the user on a site long enough to make it past the click of the back button. I could not agree more with this point.

This recent story relates: http://news.ycombinator.com/comments?id=824

Anyone know what he means by the "No threading etc." comment in: 'It's a tool. The community can grow elsewhere. No threading etc. "del.icio.us sux" is an awful experience I'd rather user's didn't have.'

I think he means that threaded comments encourage flamewars, since they let you respond to responses, instead of to the original article.

When reddit added comments, I think that was one of the complaints. But Digg's awful "@userX..." kludge demonstrates that people will flame no matter what, but if comments are unthreaded, they'll just flame more clumsily and less avoidably.

I've had this discussion several times with one of the early developers of del.icio.us. It is by far one of my favorite web tools, and I think one of the most useful things about it is the way that it encourages a sort of conversation between its users (ie, someone can send a bookmrak to me, which of itself, begins a sort of dialogue between us, or can write a description in the notes taht I know is intended for me). What I find disappointing sometimes is that when this happens there is no way for me respond to them directly about the link (you can send messages to another user, but then you lose a lot of the context). The most obvious answer would be to allow me to comment on other users' bookmarks or "send" them a message back about the bookmark they sent me. The explanation I keep getting when I say this is that they didn't want to distract users or muddy the purpose of the app by turning it into another blogging tool. Ultimately, I think they made the right choice not to add this feature. It keeps it clean and useful while still allowing for self expression within the core of the application. I would probably like Digg a lot more if I weren't so damned distracted by all of the threaded comments that follow each post, most of which are completely useless.

I think a community feature is valuable to many sites if it isn't a tacked-on afterthought that eventually becomes a burden for the users.

Whatever the site may offer, it's *usually* a plus for a user to be able to interact with other users. It becomes a burden when it's centered around a social community that no one seems to use. It's difficult to manage your contacts from so many of your different online identities.

Oh, and I just wanted to add: This "article" is one of the best things I've read all day. It was so helpful that I made enough mental notes while reading that I had to transfer them to paper.

"It's a tool. The community can grow elsewhere." Agree or disagree? Is creating community a concern any web startup can afford to ignore?

If it is an excellent tool by itself, then it has a much better chance of acceptance. That is, if you yourself can't stop using it regardless of who else is using it, it is a stronger product. del.icio.us is like that- I started using it because it was a nice central place to store bookmarks regardless of who else was using it. It was only later that I started noticing how many others were bookmarking and even started using it as a search engine. Flickr- same thing. Youtube & myspace- still kind of the same- say I was the first user of youtube, I may still like it so that I can put my videos in one place and shoot off an email to my buddies to go have a look. The point is the tool better be compelling without a community or you'll never be able to grow a community. Even here the content coming from one poster is compelling (enough) even before a dozen users started commenting and posting, etc. Focus on the tool. I couldn't agree more.

Without a community you either have to create a sales force in-house or use outside "hired" labor/advertising. Essentially, without community, it will be up to you as a entrepreneur to evangelize your project. Community ensures viral growth through word-of-mouth advertising and it gives value to the network directly proportional to the number of users. I personally disagree that community is not necessary. But, I don't think delicious does either. For one, delicious has benefited greatly from it's community following. Yes, it is a tool, and I do use it - under the normal circumstance - as an individual using a tool he own privately. However, community allows me utility and efficiency when I can search for quality links tagged by others, or simply click tags that make sense when I'm saving a favorite. I think you shouldn't use the word ignore here, it seems out of context. Rather, I read him to mean you should focus on building a valuable tool for users and let the community follow. He never says to stifle community growth.

Community is vastly overrated, since the easiest way to appeal to a larger group of people is to be comfortably generic. The best tools for a community because they're versatile and extensible, so the community provides value. If that isn't the case for the startup, there isn't a case for community.

It depends a lot on the site. Theres far too many sites that just add community features when its not needed. My friends are on facebook and twitter, they dont need to be anywhere else.

So judge it based on your app. Is the hassle of adding your friends to the site going to be far smaller than the benefit?

"Is the hassle of adding your friends to the site going to be far smaller than the benefit?"

Good point. If it's more useful to you to have more of your friends on the site then you will try to recruit them. But if it's still not vauable at all to them, then they will just think you are sending them junkmail. I think the most thriving online communities are the ones that grow organically. History shows us, it doesn't matter what the tool is, if people can use it to communicate with one another, they will find a way.

I think these are notes from a conference talk he gave. There are lots of others so I posted the link, see:


Great notes from a smart man. Del.icio.us has been one of my all time favorite sites because of its ease of use and simplicity.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact