Guest post, Silicon Valley, Web/Tech, Yahoo

Once Delicious, Now Stale

[Delicious is one of the few Web 2.0 sites I've never been a heavy user of, so when I saw my Twitter friend Paisano complaining about Yahoo's handling of this much beloved property I asked him to write a post for me-- and people like me-- explaining why. As usual, I have no special insight as a part-time Yahoo employee. Hoping this will spark some debate in the comments as this is a fear all entrepreneurs face before selling!]

Deliciouslogo Yahoo's new delicious 2.0 is the best example of vaporware that exists today, not the Google phone. Ever since August 2007 we've all been teased about the fabled next release of Delicious. The comedy of errors has been well-documented on TechCrunch by Michael Arrington. Here's the exciting sneak peak of Delicious 2.0 that they gave TechCrunch in September 2007. Here's the follow-up piece on Yahoo's vaporeware A.K.A Delicious 2.0 six months later. You will sense the growing skepticism by Arrington which is shared by most of the web 2.0 community these days. Michael appears extra frustrated because like most of us he wants Delicious to succeed. As a matter of fact, he named Delicious one of the Web Apps you can't live without in 2006, but then dumped Delicious in 2007 for BlueDot (Now Faves.com) because they were surpassed when it came to features.

SharkThe thing that's so irritating about Delicious and Yahoo is their lack of innovation and total stagnation ever since Yahoo purchased Delicious in 2005. Technology years are like dog years so it's completely inexcusable for the amount of time they've squandered (Scalability issues or not!). It's unbelievable how little they've done to improve the experience or functionality of their once killer web app! Web services are like sharks, they must keep moving or else die. To make matters worse, Yahoo continues to work on and improve their Yahoo Bookmarks! Why? The universal consensus was that Yahoo would either ditch their inferior bookmarking offering or incorporate the best features into the next release of Delicious, but neither was done.

The other baffling element to this fiasco is that Yahoo was in the same exact position with another Flickr_logo acquisition of one of the best web 2.0 apps available when they bought Flickr. In that case, Yahoo didn't wet the bed. They immediately pulled the plug on their lame Yahoo Photo's service and went full-throttle with the red-hot Flickr. Why have they not done the same thing with Delicious and their Yahoo Bookmarks? Is it more difficult to manage and organize bookmarks than photographs? I highly doubt that one, folks. If anything the converse makes more sense. Well, then what has been the problem? Ultimately, who's responsible for the horrendous delays in delivering anything of significance for Delicious since 2005? Can you honestly blame the developers for this mess?  I don't think so. I think we need to focus higher up on the food chain, mostly the team leaders and the decision makers who probably couldn't even explain what a social bookmarker does. 

While Yahoo has been asleep at the wheel, countless new social bookmarking services have pulled ahead of the once king of online favorites. The best of the bunch being Magnolia and Faves. The most obvious improvement being the interface and improving the sharing capabilities. The antiquated "All or nothing" web 1.0 attitude that delicious sports has grown extremely tiresome. The new standard is the ability to share favorites with groups or individuals. Here's a cool roundup of 50 plus social bookmarking sites from Mashable. Most of these services have sprung up in Yahoo's three year coma.

Final Thoughts

Despite all of the mistakes and false release statements, many people still use delicious. Mostly, it's because we're creatures of habit and just used to the plain Jane service that is delicious. However, once people get a taste of the truly delicious treats that any of these other new social bookmarking sites are serving up they will dump stale delicious in a heartbeat. Yahoo needs to get off the pot and push Delicious 2.0 out the door before it's too late. Heck, maybe it'd be a good thing if Microsoft acquired Yahoo after all because they have no problems releasing buggy apps.

In all seriousness, I know Delicious 2.0 will be a big hit, whenever it finally sees the light of day. I just hope Yahoo and other lethargic behemoths learn a lesson from this experience and avoid repeating these types of mistakes. We live in a dynamic and ever-changing world. If you can't deliver a full-course meal then feed us some tasty morsels instead (Twhirl update hors d'oeuvres anyone?). Serving such a snack would certainly remove the sour taste in our mouths regarding Yahoo and delicious.

 

Comments

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I have a very close friend who's an engineer at Yahoo!. From what I hear their engineering & product team(s) sound really dysfunctional.

I come from a startup background and am astounded by tales of of time-sink discussions, red tape, lack of clarity & accountability.

I understand big companies are different and move slower but these stories really make me wonder how they plan on getting anything done over there.

-Arin

I disagree.

The term: If it ain't broken, don't fix it - really really fits here.

First of all, I think delicious is one the best web 2.0 sites!
Despite how it looks, it has strong feature to save, share, and search.
But above all, it's doing amazing job on UGC tagging - and because the community is sooo large, you simply find more there,
than at any other bookmarking sites.

I had the chance to try the new site. I strongly wish, they won't upload it anytime soon.
it may be more pretty, but will be hard to work with. And when we're talking about a bookmarking site, it's need to be consider as a daily work tool.
(same like wikipedia - it's old, but people used to it)

So delicious design is ugly (i didn't said that). but you know what? it works as it is - and that what's important.

The best thing for them now, is to simply take this data, and integrate it with Yahoo search results, because this is its true value.

Last word about Yahoo! I thought it staying behind for a while, but now that I see its progress with Flickr, Mybloglog and the upcoming stuff on Yahoo search, I'm applauding this company.

Thanks for the comment orli! it's definitely not a perspective you hear a lot in the valley.

Orli - I agree with you that Delicious is simple and works well for its function. I think what happens is that so many new startups are offering more and the blogger buzz has left delicious.

I've never been a real delicious user - I guess I don't save enough links to make it worth it for me.

What I see is that there are sites that have delicious-based audiences, and some that don't. For example, look at almost any Steve Rubel post and you will see lots of delicious saves. Check most Web 2.0-type blogs and you don't see as many.

What's delicious?

Have you tried Diigo yet? It's not perfect, but I love its annotation and highlight capabilities. AND, you don't have to completely abandon del.icio.us as you can bookmark to both places at once if you toggle a certain setting in Diigo.

I'm going to look at Magnolia and Faves, too, to see what they are all about.

Great points Orli!!

I don't even really use my bookmarks anymore. Because I can access them on any computer as long as they have an internet connection. Then I can log into delicious.

Yes the design sucks, so does craigslist. Again. It works because you just get the information that you want really quickly.

Therefore, I haven't seen all these mistakes/errors you are talking about. So everything seems kosher to me!!

Like Orli, I'm only vaguely interested in del.icio.us 2.0. I use del.icio.us to:

(1) Save stuff from Firefox that I go look at later.
(2) Publish stuff from my del.icio.us account to my blog, twitter, account.
(3) Check out things my friends are bookmarking.

I never go to the front page. I find del.icio.us useful because it is mostly a utility for me as opposed to a destination site. It is powerful for me because it is simple.

We'll see what 2.0 offers but I'm not waiting on pins and needles.

Delicious, Flickr, and Upcoming.org all work great with the basic features they already have, and Yahoo may have been savvy to leave well enough alone there. The real problem is that Yahoo has done nothing to integrate them into the rest of its portfolio. For instance, Yahoo Groups is *really* looking stale, yet tons of people use it every day. It would be wonderful if you could integrate Flickr photos and Upcoming events into a Yahoo group. But so far, Yahoo has done nothing in this department.

@Orli
The If it ain't broke don't fix it approach will mean extinction in the technology world.
Hey, I have no complaints about the jobs Yahoo has done with other acquisitions and even referenced the fine job they did with Flickr. My gripe is with delicious.
I don't even really care about the appearance, really. You know better than anyone that we cannot judge a service by the way it looks. So many of these startups look slick with flash but when it comes to performance and features they lay an egg. I only care about how they perform and what features/options they provide. Delicious needs to give us a little more like the ability to share with groups. Little things like that. It shouldn't take over three years to update such a great service (no longer the best). Look at magnolia and faves.

Pai

This discussion reminds me of a recent mantra I heard from Mark Adams, head of Vistoe, which has become among my favorites:
"Do less, better."

@brandonw:

that's twitter's motto! i tend to agree with dylan: just integration of existing features would be an improvement, no?

Lucy, I love Diigo. But I use it only to make great interactive presentations : http://slides.diigo.com/list/orliy1/music

My bookmrak lists there are very specific and organized, I don't want to ruin that with daily content :-)

@Dylan
Excellent point about Yahoo's inability to integrate all of these incredible services with one another in some capacity. Other group services like http://grouply.com and http://grou.ps are cutting edge while the veteran Yahoo stands pat with old school technology.

delicious is excellent service for searching information. Many times I find much more useful information searching delicious then in the traditional search engines.

It is simple, intuitive and useful. Yes, few enhancements would be really nice, as long as they keep it simple and to the point. Keeping a large audience that updates new bookmarks is a key for keeping it relevant

Nick,
Good point on the design issue. Recently I wrote a post in my blog questioning how important is design to the success of web applications and brought Craig list and delicious as examples of successful sites despite the poor design.

I like the way del.icio.us works right now, but Paisano's point was just that Yahoo hasn't DONE anything with it, despite saying they planned to do all kinds of nifty things.

SHOULD they mess with it? I dunno. Depends on if they can do something you or I as users maybe hasn't considered. But have they? No. Dodgeball, del.icio.us, Flickr (for the most part), and lots of other acquisitions are still their own isles.

I really like the idea of keeping our favorites in the cloud, not just locally. For a long time I was doing it with the Maxthon browser (which Google bought a while ago but hasn't done anything with either). It allowed you to save bookmarks online and offline and kept them in sync like plaxo does with contacts. But soon I learned it had a very low limit to the number of favotites you can keep like 600 which stinks. So I am back to using a social bookmarking service like delicious, faves or magnolia.

I consider myself a heavy del.icio.us user (>2230 bookmarks) and a big fan. I am pretty happy with it. Like Todd, I use it as a bookmarking tool and visit its front page maybe once a month.

I think that the fact that del.icio.us functionality is simple makes it easier to use. Everything else I can do with tags: shopping, manage a list of books I own or read etc.

Oh, and I do not even use "official" Firefox extension from Yahoo, but the plain old original one from del.icio.us website.

The only complain I can think of is that it seems to load slower than before. I've noticed that after Yahoo bought it, but maybe it is just a coincidence and because my bookmarks grew.

So I think it is very important that delicious stays focused on its core functionality and do not evolve in some do-it-all monster.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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