del.icio.us, Thank You : Pinboard, Welcome

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Really, all I wanted to do yesterday morning was find a copy of the del.icio.us Chrome extension I was used to on my old machine. Paging through the Chrome extensions repository, however, all I turned up were a bunch of glorified bookmarklets. Eventually I turned up the “official” Chrome extensions Google Group. The last update for which was August 6th, 2009.

That moment is, more or less, why I’m leaving del.icio.us. The del.icio.us part of it, anyway.

My history with the del.icio.us service is long. I’ve been using the tool since 2004 or so, and in that time I put 7102 bookmarks up there. With notes and tabs included, the export came to 2.2 MB. Which doesn’t sound like much, until you consider that it’s just links. We used to test browsers, actually, by trying to load my del.icio.us bookmarks page: before they used to page things, it would crash pretty much all of them. Ah, the old days of the web.

On one occasion, at the kind invitation of its creator, Josh Schachter, I had the opportunity to visit the del.icio.us NYC HQ, prior to its acquisition by Yahoo and subsequent transition to California. Small office, small team, rag tag architecture – one box of which we helped acquire for them – and yet a product superior, I think, to what we have today.

To say that I have a personal affection for the service, then, is understating things.

But with Josh now departed, less than enthused about the direction Yahoo has pursued with del.icio.us, that attachment has waned. Like some other Yahoo properties like Flickr, the social bookmarking service has seemed to get but little attention from its Yahoo parent in recent years. Innovations have been few and far between, and where they have tried to update things – most notably with the UI – I haven’t appreciated those changes. Periodically, features like the blogging autoposting have broken, to be repaired eventually.

When I looked at that Chrome extension last updated in August, then, I had to ask myself whether I really had confidence that del.icio.us was the right tool for my needs going forward. The reluctant answer was that it was not.

Which left the obvious question: what would I replace it with, and how?

While I briefly considered more robust solutions like Evernote as well as radically simpler approaches like a dedicated Identi.ca, Posterous or Tumblr account, I’ve instead decided to proceed with Pinboard.in. Pinboard has its own views of why you might prefer Pinboard to del.icio.us, as well – interestingly – as why you might prefer del.icio.us to Pinboard.

But here’s why I switched.

  • Triangulation:
    Here’s how I’ve described this before:

    The concept is simple: a single pointer to a new technology, service or whatever – even from a trusted source – is likely to have minimal impact, particularly if it requires effort to explore. But the second notice, from a trusted party, triggers a little click of recognition, and is far more likely to register. Further mentions only escalate this, until the interest to skepticism ratio tilts in favor of a trial.

    Pinboard’s been on my radar for a while, but the more reviews I read like Nat’s, the better I felt about it as a potential replacement. Even one that I didn’t know I was looking for.

    I originally discovered del.icio.us through alpha geek triangulation, so it seems only fitting that its replacement be discovered in similar fashion.

  • Twitter:
    My linking behavior has changed significantly since the introduction of Twitter. As I’ve grown to use that service more, there is a certain class of links that I was posting to Twitter but not to del.icio.us and vice versa, meaning that there was no longer a single service that collected everything I pointed to.

    Pinboard, unlike del.icio.us, has a feature that monitors my Twitter feed and will automatically collect the links I post there. Problem solved.

  • Speed:
    Speed, remember, is a feature. One Pinboard has in spades: the UI is just fast. No other way to describe it.
  • Link by Mail:
    Speaking of Twitter, one of the use cases that’s been bothering me has been stories that I read via Twitter but on my iPhone. Invariably, someone will link to something on Twitter, which I’ll read about on my iPhone using Tweetie, and it’s long enough that I don’t want to read it on the small screen. My solution to date? Mail it to myself. Which is a poor idea, since I’m no more likely to read my own email than anyone else’s.

    Pinboard, meanwhile, provides me with a Posterous-like email address from which I can mail the story in to be automatically collected. Simple, but very nice feature.

  • Other Sources:
    If I want to bookmark or otherwise mark links via other services such as Read It Later or Google Reader, Pinboard will automatically collect those as well. It will even monitor del.icio.us in case I wanted to use them in parallel.
  • del.icio.us Import:
    Speaking of del.icio.us, one of the obstacles to leaving the service was the content I’d amassed there. But to their credit, del.icio.us allows you to bulk export your entire archive. Pinboard, meanwhile, allows you to import your entire history, so in a minute or two I was up and running on Pinboard as if I’d been using it since 2004.
  • Export:
    And speaking of export, Pinboard allows me to export everything I put it, via the same format as del.icio.us or simply RSS.

What about the downsides? Well, there are two from what I can tell.

  1. Autopost:
    Unlike del.icio.us, Pinboard does not natively support the collection and publishing of links nightly to a blog. While I’ve fallen out of this practice lately, I do still use it from time to time and some folks do appreciate them, so the lack of it is a potential issue. That said, it shouldn’t be too difficult to aggregate the links and publish them if I like, or I could move – as a lot of folks have – to a more manual, potentially higher value links post.
  2. Price:
    For some, this is undoubtedly a concern: Pinboard is not free. As its creators describe the pricing:

    Users pay a one-time signup fee that goes up by a small amount with each new signup. In return, they get a fast, spam-free service and prompt support.

    It’s about $6 at present, though I paid for the $25 service which fully archives all the pages I link to.

    I certainly respect the rights of users to advantage free services over those that are paid. For my purposes, however, I am happy to pay individual developers to help fund services that are useful to me: I offered the same to Josh when he was launching del.icio.us.

    I also find the pricing model interesting, in that it attempts to align user psychology with the costs of scaling. In the beginning, a low price acts to throttle drive by, low value users but keeps the barriers to purchase reasonable for legitimate early adopters. As the volume of users grows, however, and the costs of scaling increase, the pricing escalates both to offset the increased costs as well as keep adoption at manageable levels. It’s not clear how the model itself will scale over time, but it’s creative, and I give them credit for that.

Will I stick with Pinboard as long as I have with del.icio.us? Or will I revert to that service? Should you switch?

Who knows. Personally, I’m quite happy with Pinboard and recommend it if you’re in the market for a (new) bookmarking service. If you’re happy with del.icio.us, by all means stay.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in what I’m reading, check me out over at Pinboard. If you’d prefer to subscribe in a reader, the feed can be found here.


  1. Thanks so much for that generous review of the site.

    I wanted to point out that all credit for the pricing model should go to Joshua Schachter. He gave me the idea when I was about to launch the site, and has generally been a great sport about it.

    I have my own fond memories of the early days of delicious – I remember inheriting a precious, precious air conditioner from that New York office. And Peter’s been kind enough to work on the site with me, so I hope I can stick to the roots that made people love the site so much in those early days.

    With regard to autopost, the main obstacle there is our refusal to store outside credentials as plaintext. We would love to add the feature, provided we can post through oauth, special tokens, or any other method that doesn’t involve storing people’s outside passwords.

    Please let us know what you think once you’ve had a chance to use the site for a while.

  2. […] tecosystems » del.icio.us, Thank You : Pinboard, Welcome I have been considering the switch myself. (tags: pinboard) Posted March 5th, 2010 in del.icio.us Links by del.icio.us Linkdumper. […]

  3. I replaced delicious with Diigo. I paid for Pinboard but only used it once.

    What made me stick with Diigo is their highlighting feature. I find it simpler than editing the bookmark description to pile up interesting parts of the page.

  4. […] with most current efforts in digital publishing- they don’t learn from the web. We can bookmark a link on the web but why can’t we bookmark a digital […]

  5. […] problem with most current efforts in digital publishing- they don’t learn from the web. We can bookmark a link on the web but why can’t we bookmark a digital […]

  6. Just signed up for Pinboard today. If you’re really wanting the post-to-blog function, you can use the Postalicious plugin for WordPress and just have it suck in the Pinboard RSS feed of your choice. Works like a charm.

  7. Paying 25 $ pa just to get a backup of your own links??? are you mad?

    Delicious may not be constantly innovating, but at least you can download all your links, AND access them via API, and witht the Firefox plugin you can store them and sort them locally. What else do you want?

    1. It’s not $25 to get a backup of your bookmarks. It’s $25 to get a backup of the pages you bookmark in their entirety. It’s not a backup service, it’s an archival service. It makes it so even if the website disappears or the article is removed, you still get a copy of what you initially bookmarked. It also includes the ability to have full text based search on the pages in your archival.

  8. […] that Foursquare, Google Reader, etc. haven’t “done anything” for some term (Yahoo!’s del.icio.us is a frequent, though niche example), but people don’t really attach the scorn of “late” like they would if, for […]

  9. […] seeing Stephen move over to Pinboard a little while ago, I’ve been curious. I saw that Robert Brook was […]

  10. A new bookmarking service that is oriented to “power users” of bookmarking is Licorize, http://licorize.com . Has quite powerful tools for content curation, as discussed here: “Curation beyond social media” http://pietro.open-lab.com/2010/09/28/curation-beyond-social-media/

    Syncronizes with bookmarks and other contents taken in Twitter, Linked In, Evernote, Read It Later, RSS, DropBox. Has plugins for Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and bookmarklets for all the other browsers. And finally obviously imports from Delicious.

  11. That pricing scheme kind of p*sses me off. Just make it $5 or whatever and leave it at that. Don’t penalize people for being late to discover it. At some point, it’ll hit some price point people won’t be willing to pay and then, what, growth will be capped? I guess if that’s how you want to do it. I don’t like being gamed though. I’ll look elsewhere.

    1. It’s not penalizing users for being late. It’s rewarding users for being early. It will get to a point where further price increases will be a not make sense, at this point I can see pinboard.in falling back to a recurring yearly payment scheme, at which point both the person who paid $5 and rhe person who payed $10 have gotten a sweet deal (since early adopters will most probably not have to pay ever after the initial signup).

      If you look at it as being “gamed” there’s something very wrong with how you’re approaching this. This is a one time fee, and if they made it 5 dollars a year, you’d be saving money in the long run. In any case, the service is a lot better than del.icio.us ever was and is in my opinion very much worth it.

  12. […] del.icio.us, Thank You : Pinboard, Welcome by Stephen O’Grady […]

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