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?
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?