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Summary:

The relaunch of Delicious was meant to be a phoenix-like resurrection — but instead was welcomed by a chorus of complaints about missing or broken features. After two weeks of scrambling to appease angry users, the company is making some progress… but is it enough?

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When social bookmarking service Delicious relaunched late last month under its new owners, YouTube co-founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, what was intended to be a triumphant return for one of Web 2.0’s iconic services turned instead into a sprawling mess. Where the team had hoped people would warm to the site’s new, more mainstream approach to tagging the web, any excitement was drowned out by a litany of complaints from existing users.

From missing accounts to broken APIs to tagging features that had been killed in the migration, their angst erupted everywhere possible — on Twitter, Facebook and on the web. In a post shortly after the launch, I cataloged some of the issues and pointed out where, perhaps, it had gone wrong: maybe the new team misunderstood the way existing users relied on Delicious… maybe they treated the products as if it was new when it was, in fact, a relaunch.

That post itself became another beacon for complaints, with dozens of users piling in to detail their continuing frustrations. Delicious reached out to me briefly to point out that it was working on fixes, and the thread even prompted the appearance of new co-owner Steve Chen, who left a series of comments for users and asked everyone to give the team another month.

I imagine this has been an incredibly stressful time for all of them — anybody who’s ever launched a product knows how terrifying it is to go public and then receive the inevitable barrage of complaints, but nobody expects a full-scale revolt.

Still, they appear to be trying hard. The pressure is intense, not least since rival services such as Pinterest, which just raised $27 million, appear to be pushing hard into territory that AVOS obviously wants to but can’t start to reach until it’s fixed the problems.

While that self-imposed deadline is not up yet, but I thought it was still worth noting the moves that have been made in the two weeks since. So, halfway to its new target date, how is Delicious doing?


Public progress

Well, the team has clearly been coding furiously. Some features that were missing on launch have been resurrected, including tag bundles, and the broken plugins for browsers like Chrome and Firefox have been replaced.

In addition, the company has been pumping information out to try and communicate what they’re doing: writing a series of blog posts updating users on progress, introducing a new forum for users to get information, and really trying to get out the message that this is a work in progress.

The revolt seems to have quietened down somewhat, although it’s hard to tell if that’s because users are happier — or have just left. Most of the (admittedly anecdotal) evidence I’ve heard suggests the latter.

And right now at least one area of the old Delicious remains untouched, however: the site’s social features. While they were never particularly strong — something that was a real shame — one of the mainstays of the old service was the “network” page. That was where users could drop by and see the links that their friends and contacts had recently saved. For me it was Delicious. It was where all the discovery, curation and sharing took place.

Under relaunch, the network page died… and not just quietly expired but a sort of ostentatiously messed up, rub-your-nose-in-it dead: in fact, rather than the old “network” page has been replaced with the page of a user called Network… no redirects, no pointers, nothing. This means that a huge amount of links and bookmarks will be dead, and a large quantity of Googlejuice may have been squandered, as well as the disappearance of an item of high value to users.

So, as progress reports go, it’s still mixed. Two weeks in, have things improved for you?

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  1. Much happier now that the browser plug-ins are fixed. Never much of a user of the web interface but the Firefox sidebar was a key productivity tool.

  2. Mine is now fixed

    I didn’t lose my mind with the problems, just followed their lead with what to do. Those guys have a good track record, right?

    I’ve used Delicious for almost 10 years as my exclusive bookmarking service.

  3. They screwed my account while transferring from yahoo and now they don’t even care to reply to my mails. All my data collected over years is gone.

    1. Hi Ja, I’m with Delicious and wanted to let you know that there is still a way to export your old bookmarks from Yahoo!. See our blog post for the details: http://www.avos.com/how-to-get-old-bookmarks-from-yahoo/

  4. Tarique Naseem Friday, October 14, 2011

    I left on the first couple of days. Using pinboard.in now (paid), and much happier. It’s what Delicious used to be like. Not sure I’ll come back, even if they have fixed it.

    1. I too left for pinboard.in since the relaunch & am very happy with it. Definitely not going back to delicious.

  5. Courtney Engle Friday, October 14, 2011

    I’ve subscribed to an RSS feed of the popular links. Since the transition happened, I keep getting the same top 10 things each day, and they’re all old news at this point. I hope that gets fixed.

  6. I’ve definitely heard tons of complaints from other people, but the delicious transition has been completely smooth for me. I have more than 12,000 bookmarks and 3000 tags, and they all migrated just fine. I never cared about tag bundles so I didn’t miss them, and non of my tags had punctuation in them, so new rules about hyphens and slashes didn’t break mine. Instead all I got was a bigger, cleaner UI, and significantly faster operation, both of which I’d always wanted.

    1. Try to delete some bookmarks and see if they’re back after a week.
      That’s what has been happening to me since the transition.

    2. That means you never wrote multi-line descriptions for bookmarks (which were broken initially), never used ‘<' in a description, which is still broken, never tried to add one bookmark after the migration (to see that tag autocompletion was gone) etc.

  7. Yup, much better now – I migrated to Pinboard.

  8. inshallowwater Friday, October 14, 2011

    Correction: They have things called ‘tag bundles’ but they don’t actually work the way they are supposed to, so no, they haven’t actually fixed that. Additionally, they’re still making all their same rookie mistakes that they made at the ‘launch’ where nothing worked at all. They have only half the screen scrolls on the ‘manage tag bundles’ page, but the text box where you enter the tags you want in a bundle just expands instead of scrolling (or letting the whole page scroll), so when it expands past the bottom of your screen, good luck being able to click the ‘save’ button. Tab is your only hope, and if you get it wrong, you just wasted a ton of time clicking/typing tags in.

    Overall, the site is still pretty much a disaster. The ‘design’ still looks like it’s for toddlers and does the weird thing where it is both too cluttered and also has too much white space, which kind of gives me a headache. It takes me what feels like a million more clicks and tons of scrolling to do anything.

    And to top it off, they’re re-implementing all the crap Yahoo tried to implement right before they announced the sunset and then had to go back and fix when everyone threw a shitfit then. Example: When I type a tag into the popup and hit comma, it turns into a stupid object of some sort instead of staying text, so if I made a typo and hit backspace to fix it, it deletes the whole tag instead of letting me fix it. There are no words to express of frustrating this is. I got around it last time by using the Firefox plugin, but whatever they did to the site broke the plugin so that it tried to do a full sync every time I started firefox, which made firefox choke for upwards of 10 minutes. I only let it finish once and then uninstalled it with prejudice because I don’t have 10 minutes to sit around waiting for my browser to be usable every time I need to do something on the internet.

    Because I need to keep bookmarking things for work while the site is effectively down, I’ve switched to pinboard. I’ve added a ton of new links and done a bunch of editing on my tags, so the info on my delicious work account is basically completely out of date. While it doesn’t have all the features of old-delicious, it gets the job done without me wanting to stab sharp objects into my hands in frustration. Maybe I’ll try re-importing to new(ly terrible) delicious in a year or something and see if it finally works, but for me they screwed the pooch and I’m not coming back. I’m going to buy a 2nd pinboard account for my personal bookmarks.

  9. nope still crippled. Pinboard is working great though.

  10. Absolutely! I was excited to see any changes after years without at yahoo! I was a bit upset about tag bundles, and the broken extensions (network page, who cares — that’s not how I use delicious) but the team was extremely transparent and fixed issues in record time (only 2 weeks!) the teams constant communication with its users is why I not only didn’t leave, I came back!

    1. What constant communication with the users? I sent 6 detailed bug reports to their support email, and never had one reply.

      1. Avos changed their minds and opened a new delicious support forum to better communicate with users [it was dumb to encourage users to send in email trouble reports when avos has only something like a dozen employees] – I hope you can find it.

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