Updated: June 11, 2017
After being neglected by its owners for more than a year, Pinboard bought Delicious and will shutter the site. On June 15, 2017, the Delicious site will change to read-only.
Delicious users won’t be able to save any new bookmarks, but will be able to export their bookmarks.
Read on for more background about my experience with Delicious in 2016, their lack of communication, and what I believe they could have done to maintain the loyalty of their users.
In early February 2016, I couldn’t log in to Delicious, the online social bookmarking site. I figured it was my Internet connection, and I would check later in the day.
I have thousands of bookmarks on Delicious, accumulated since the mid 2000’s, on web design, accessibility, user experience. All kinds of bookmarks to sites, tips, and blogs, that I use weekly. And I regularly add to the bookmarks.
So, when I checked Delicious later in the day and I still couldn’t log in, I began to get concerned.
I cleared my cache, tried a different browser, a different Internet connection, and a different computer.
No luck, the Delicious site was down.
Uh oh. Was this a repeat of what happened to the Ma.gnolia bookmarking site in 2009?
A few days later, when Delicious was back up, I sighed with relief.
But that wasn’t the end of the issues.
More Problems with Delicious
A new Delicious design was deployed in early March, but many users reported issues with the new design, frustrated at not being able to login or access their bookmarks.
In late March, I could no longer log in for a week. I reported the issue to Delicious on Twitter, and sent a message to their customer support email address.
Finally, Delicious published a post on March 28, 2016:
We are aware of the many difficulties that the site is currently experiencing, and we’re doing our best to resolve them. Thank you for your patience while we work through these problems. Please be assured that we will not quit — we will keep working hard to get the site working smoothly and well.
And that was the last anyone heard from Delicious on their blog for almost a month.
Nothing was posted on their Twitter account. No email message was sent to Delicious users, advising them on what was happening, or when the site was expected to come back online.
Where is Delicious?
Several users discovered Delicious had a Facebook Page, and started posting their frustrations on the page.
Lots of users joined in, talking about the five, ten years using Delicious. Several other users recommended moving to other online bookmarking sites.
Throughout early to late-April 2016, users posted on the Facebook Page about not being able to access Delicious, suggested a feedback community, and reported bugs.
Delicious staff responded once on April 3, 2016, and then went dark. No further responses from Delicious to any of the comments left on their Facebook Page.
On April 24, Delicious published a post about transitioning the site to a new URL, but there was no update on whether the transition was successful.
Last weekend, I logged in, saw all my saved bookmarks were accounted for, and quickly exported my Delicious bookmarks to HTML.
Lack of Communication
From the beginning of the issues in February 2016, Delicious did little to communicate with their users, longtime users who have stayed with the service, despite a number of ownership changes and lack of improvements in the past 10 years.
The Delicious Twitter account seems abandoned.
But there’s no update to indicate the transition completed successfully.
If you didn’t know Delicious had a Facebook Page, you would never know the site was back online.
What Delicious Could Have Done
Whenever a company has a new owner, customers get anxious. Will their product or service continue? What changes will happen? Should they look elsewhere?
I applaud the Delicious staff for getting the service back up and running. It’s not easy taking on a new online service, trying to understand how it works, adding improvements, only to encounter issues.
But their lack of response to users’ concerns, messages, and support requests points out a lack of community management basics: the need to be transparent, communicate clearly, often, and manage expectations.
When problems were discovered earlier this year, Delicious could have updated users to reassure them. Blog posts, email messages, tweets, and Facebook status updates could have:
- Apologized for the problems
- Managed expectations by providing weekly status updates, even to say, “We’re still working on it”
- Advised users on the best way to communicate with Delicious (Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, customer support email address)
When the transition was complete, Delicious could have sent an email message to their users, and posted a blog and Facebook update to:
- Thank users for their patience
- Explain what happened
- Explain what the transition means: change in features, change in bookmarklet, save buttons, Chrome extension, mobile app
- Tell users that the delicious.com URL no longer works (why couldn’t they set up a redirect?)
- Demonstrate what they’ve done to ensure the issues won’t happen again
- Provide details on the best way to communicate with Delicious
Instead, Delicious users were left in the dark, not knowing whether their links were intact or what they could expect. They lost trust in the company.
I can only imagine how many customers have left Delicious in search of other bookmarking services. I’ll be joining them in search of a bookmarking service that fits my requirements.
Delicious will have to work smarter to keep the trust of their remaining users.
Note: As I was finishing this post, I noticed the site is having security certificate issues, pointing to .del.icio.us but redirecting me to delicious.com. Which doesn’t exist. Sigh.
February 7, 2017 Update
Delicious is back up, for now.
I was able to log in today for the first time since spring 2016. If you’re able to log into your account, I recommend you export your bookmarks ASAP.
Unfortunately, the export function in Delicious has been disabled.
Here’s another option you can try. The Delicious Bookmark Bar Sync 1.1 Chrome extension can copy your Delicious bookmarks to the Chrome Bookmark bar.
Each tag becomes a folder, which can be overwhelming if you have hundreds of tags.
But it gives you an option to copy your Delicious bookmarks before the site goes down again.