What Are Social Bookmarking Sites?

What Are Social Bookmarking Sites?

Social bookmarking is a way of tagging (read: bookmarking) a website or blog and “saving” it for later. Much like hitting “favorite” to mark a website on your personal computer, social bookmarking sites share this saved information with other people on the Internet. This means you can share your bookmarks and favorite places on the Internet and share them with people all over the world.

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Why Should I Join A Social Bookmarking Site?

Besides the fun of sharing your website finds with friends, you can look at the websites other people have “tagged” as well. Social bookmarking sites want you to look around at things people have tagged recently on the web, even people you don’t know, and find new cool stuff to share, make new friends, etc. You can search tags by categories, like technology or politics, or you can search using keywords and all kinds of other variables.

Because of this search function, people are now using social bookmarking as a kind of search engine — the theory is that people actively bookmarking and sharing links have created a kind of “spider web” of links on specific topics. These results can be more relevant than generic web searches.

Okay, So What Is Social News?

What Are Social Bookmarking Sites?

Social bookmarking applied to news stories is sometimes referred to as “social news” — social bookmarking services like Reddit, Digg, and others tend to focus on news items across all specturms — sports news, technology news, whatever. There’s lots of “headline tagging” and the emphasis with social news bookmarkers is the commenting and debate that these tags always lead to.

The only real difference between social news sites and other social bookmarking sites is their focus on newspaper and periodical articles and “news-centric” blog posts rather than any old website. Social news sites are big with people who like to debate, people looking for an alternative news source, and people who get belly laughs out of reading the over-the-top comments left on social news tags — guess which category I’m in.

What Can Social Bookmarking Websites Do For Me?

Imagine the perfect newspaper — headlines on your favorite topics cut together from the best news sources in the world. Imagine sharing your perfect periodical with all your friends (and plenty of similar-minded strangers as well). Social news can provide that, once you learn how to search and configure your searches for your needs. All social bookmarking works like this — letting web users zoom in on the stuff they want to see. Sometimes generic web searching is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Social bookmarking shows the detective work of other users with your interests and lets you build your links on what they’ve already gathered.

Social bookmarking web sites all show some kind of list of recently added and popular tags — this means you can stay current with the “latest news” even while zoomed in on your area of interest.

One way I use social bookmarking to find relevant sources — search for anything in a social bookmarking site and compare the popularity of the articles and websites that bounce back. The more “popular” sites are likely the most relevant — they’ve been pre approved by plenty of Internet personas before you.

Like all the big web trends of the past few years, social bookmarking started out a simple idea and blew up from there — a thing that began as a way to send your computer’s bookmarks to your friends has become something new, a “social” or “intelligent” search engine. Social bookmarking gives the whole world the ability to research and refine results instead of you relying on your own abilities on Google or Bing.

What Are the Most Popular Social Bookmarking Sites?

According to their number of inbound links (or in some cases their number of monthly visitors) these are the top ten social bookmarking sites in the world:

1. twitter.com

With 760,750,806 inbound links twitter.com is the best-known and one of the most-used social bookmarking site. Twitter.com is also considered a social networking site, and is arguably the most popular in that category as well. Something about typing in 140 characters must be very addictive — Twitter users are normally celebs or people who think they’ve got something unique to say or share. If you use Twitter, you gotta follow Roger Ebert. Man’s a maniac.

2. digg.com

With 383,598,000 inbound links (and a ton of monthly visitors), digg.com is a close second to Twitter. Digg.com allows users to “dig” or “bury” links, meaning to give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. Enough negative votes, or “burys”, can sink a story to the bottom of the news pile, while enough thumbs-up can push an otherwise overlooked newspiece on everyone’s front page. Digg.com influences much of what you read on the Internet, including your smart friend’s Facebook status updates that just seem a little too cleverly-worded to be original.

3. Yahoo! Buzz

Boasting a hefty 20,031,000 inbound links and millions of monthy users, the Yahoo! Buzz service is a strange hybrid of social networking, PR, and social bookmarking. Yahoo allows their users to post and link to their own content, adding their own voice into the social bookmarking melee. Only around a couple years, it is kind of a shock that Buzz is here. Let’s be honest, Buzz was a Digg ripoff.

4. tweetmeme.com

A whopping 18,244,542 monthly visitors hit up tweetmeme.com, the most popular “retweet” website. That’s right — this is social bookmarking based around another social bookmarking site, and it made the top five most popular social bookmarking list. This is why I hate Twitter.

5. StumbleUpon.com

They’re proud of their 234,000,000 inbound links over at StumbleUpon, and they should be. For almost a decade, StumbleUpon has been the go-to “social bookmarking site”, though they were doing bookmarking before it was called that. StumbleUpon is a great “intelligent search engine” that you can personalize to suit your needs.

Rounding out the top ten are reddit.comTechnorati, del.icio.us, kaboodle.com, and mixx.com.

Remember that social bookmarking is a mostly amateur service. There’s no editing and no real oversight going on here — this isn’t strictly journalism. Yes, social bookmarking has the potential change how we find info and news on the Internet. But there are some dangers in trusting info you find via social networking as much as you would trust edited content.

Social bookmarking sites make the distribution of knowledge and “cool stuff” easier, and for that it is a good tool for students, fans of the news, or people looking for a smarter search engine tool.

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