Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Resource Wednesday: Social bookmarking 101

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how Google Reader is a great way to keep on top of interesting topics.

But that raises the question: When you find interesting posts, or interesting webpages, how do you keep track of them? That's where my next topic comes in: social bookmarking sites.

What's a social bookmarking site? 
Basically, it's a site where you can save your bookmarks. Depending on the site you use, and your settings, you can set them private (only you can see them when you're logged in) or public.

Some sites have ways to make it easy to share other people's bookmarks and see what they've found useful, usually through tagging.

You can take a look at the collection I keep for professional topics at, one of the best-known social bookmarking sites. (I'll talk a little more about some of what you see in future Wednesday posts.)

When are they useful?
  • If you want to share links with other people. 
  • If you're collaborating with other people.
  • If you like sharing things you find interesting. 
  • If you use lots of different computers, and want to be able to find articles, pages, or sites you use frequently without syncing your bookmarks between different computers. \
Some people save bookmarks on their own computer and on a social bookmarking site - including me. I bookmark sites I use regularly on the computers I use them on (my work computer, my home computer) and use Delicious and other sites for more general collections of links.

So how do you keep track?
Many social bookmarking sites have a way to group links in some way. Probably the most common is by tagging, assigning a term (that you choose) to a link, so you can group them in ways that make sense to you. Many sites will suggest some tags (including those other people have chosen.) Some sites allow tags to have spaces, others don't. (I can never remember which site does which, so my tags are either one word, or have a . in the middle to join phrases - for example academic.libraries)

What to know before you start using a social bookmarking site:
Basically, be aware of the normal standard privacy issues. If your bookmarks are public, people can see them. They can see what you choose for a tag (so, if you call it really.idiotic.stuff, the person whose site you tagged with that might find out...) 

Second, it's always a good idea when using a site to have a way to get your data back out again - sites do get bought and sold or go out of business. It's good to be in the habit of saving a backup every few months (at least, more often if you absolutely must be able to find material again.)

Finally, be aware if you're behind an access-protected area. For example, if you do a search in our databases and find an article you like, you could bookmark it and access it on campus, perhaps without any problems (it depends on the database). But from off campus, you'd have to demonstrate that you should have access to the site (usually by logging in), and sometimes it's very hard to get back to the original article afterwards.


  1. Good work! I like reading this blog post. You have explained this topic quite well from its definition, uses etc. Even I have heard that social bookmarking is one of the methods used to increase web traffic.

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  2. Amazing !! I like reading of your blogs. Its quite informative. Indeed, I enjoyed this blog till the end. Thanks a ton..looking forward for more useful article from your side.

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