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Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a way for Internet users to store, classify, search and share their favorite links.

In a social bookmarking system or network, users register lists of Web resources that they find useful. These lists are accessible to the users of a network or website. Other users with similar interests can view links by topic, category, tag or even randomly. Apart from the Web favorites, you can find other specialized services on a particular subject (food and wine, books, videos, e-commerce, cartography …).


The concept of online shared bookmarks dates from April 1996 with the appearance of the site itList.com. For the next three years, the industry competed with newly-arrived companies such as Backflip, BlinkList, Clip2, Hotlinks, Quiver, and others. Lacking economically viable models, most of these social bookmarking sites have disappeared with the bursting of the Internet bubble.

In 2005 and 2006, social bookmarking sites, such as Diigo, Delicious, StumbleUpon or even Mister Wong became popular. Sites like Reddit, Digg, Newsvine and the new Netscape portal have applied the social bookmarking principle to their new services. In 2005, IBM announced its intention to enter the social software market .

How it works

In a bookmarking system, users save links to the web pages they find interesting. These link lists are then available to the public or to a particular network. Thus people with the same interests can consult them, whether by category, by name or even randomly. Some rely on a repertoire allowing a certain confidentiality.

All their resources are also categorized via the definition and then the assignment of keywords (or tags) by the users themselves. Most social bookmarking services allow users to search for bookmarks based on their association with given keywords; And then log resources according to the number of users who have them in their favorites. Many social bookmarking services have developed algorithms allowing them to weave links between keywords assigned to websites, this algorithm examines particular groups of keywords and their relationship with other keywords.

Increasing success and competition has made it possible to develop the number of services offered, not only to share bookmarks but also to classify, comment, import or export them, add notes, revise them, send by email, receive automatic notifications or subscribe, add annotations, create groups or social networks.

Automatic notification

Because the classification and scoring of resources is a constantly evolving process, many social bookmarking services allow users to subscribe to information flows for keywords or collections of keywords. Thus, subscribers are continually aware of the latest resources on a given topic as they are scored, labeled, and ranked by other users.


This system has several advantages over traditional software for locating and classifying websites, such as search engines. The entire classification of Internet resources (such as websites) based on keywords is made by human beings who “understand” the content of the site, unlike software that attempts, by means of algorithms, to determine the meaning of this resource. This provides labels that are semantically classified, which is difficult to find with current search engines.

In addition, as people add the resources they find useful, resources that are deemed most useful are added by a larger number of users. Thus, the system will be able to rate resources according to the usefulness with which they are perceived. This is undoubtedly a much more useful measurement system for users than systems rating resources based on the number of links pointing to it.


Obviously, there are also disadvantages to this system of labels: no standard group of keywords (or controlled lexicon), no standard for the structure of the labels (eg singular or plural, capital letters …) , bad labeling due to spelling mistakes, multi-way labels, confusing labels because of synonyms or antonyms, particularly subjective labeling for some users, no way to indicate hierarchical relationships between labels (eg, a site can be labeled cheese and cheddar without any indication that cheddar is an improvement or subclass of cheese).

Social bookmarking is also subject to corruption and connivance. Because of its popularity, some users are beginning to consider it as a tool to use in addition to indexing to make their website more visible. The more a web page is sent and labeled, the more likely it is to be found. Spammers refer to the same web page and/or page on their site multiple times using a large number of popular tags, thus forcing developers to constantly improve their security system to avoid abuse. It is for this reason that some social bookmarking sites have had to add captcha tests, which is problematic for people using the site for reasons other than spamming.

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