Alternatives to Delicious

A beautiful bookmarkLast month Yahoo announced that it would be “sunsetting” Delicious, the social bookmarking service that many ProfHacker readers use for research, teaching, and collaboration. “Sunsetting” was taken to be an industry euphemism for “killing off,” although the Delicious team announced the following day that they were “not shutting down Delicious.” Rather, Yahoo is looking for a third-party to buy Delicious, which ideally, would continue to operate without any interruption in service. The Delicious developers ended their announcement by saying “there’s no reason to panic,” which of course meant that everyone panicked.

The rush on exporting bookmarks from Delicious was nothing less than a bank run, but unlike many banks, Delicious is still standing a month later. Still, it’s conceivable that at some point in the future Delicious as we know it may change. If that happens, what alternatives to Delicious are out there? What service can replace Delicious’s drop-dead easy tagging and sharing of links? Here are a few suggestions:


Pinboard is a stripped-down version of Delicious that most Delicious users will find to be very familiar. Unlike Delicious, however, Pinboard costs money: a one-time fee pegged to the current number of Pinboard users (the fee equals the number of users multiplied by $0.001). Currently that one-time charge is $9.18, up from the $6 range when it was first leaked that Delicious was on the chopping block. It’s a simple matter to switch to Pinboard, as the service easily imports your Delicious bookmarks, tags and all.

Pinboard has several stand-out features not available in Delicious: Pinboard can automatically add URLs from your Twitter favorites, Google Reader or Instapaper accounts; Pinboard can automatically mirror your Delicious bookmarks; and premium users who pay $25/year can archive entire pages (as opposed to simply bookmarking them).


Diigo is feature-rich bookmarking and sharing site that’s been around for a while. The entry-level version of Diigo is ad-supported, while the Basic and Premium versions cost $20/year or $40/year, respectively. These paid versions offer page caching, image saving, and unlimited annotations. There’s also an Education Account, which removes the ads and raises various limits placed on the free account. An Education Account requires a special application; it took roughly 2 days for mine to be approved. With the Education Account you can set up groups for your students, making it easier to share and build group libraries.

I’ve had a free Diigo account since 2007, though I’ve rarely used it. That’s because the service has always felt bloated to me. It does social bookmarking, but also many other things (annotating web pages and sharing those notes with others, for example) that I already used other services for. I like Delicious because it does one thing, and it does it well, without distractions. Which brings me to a third possibility…


What? Delicious as an alternative to Delicious? Yes, indeed.

Delicious isn’t dead yet, so why not keep using it? If it’s already part of your work flow and you have a deep library of links and tags saved there, why not stick around a while? This is in fact what I have done. I’ve exported my existing Delicious bookmarks to Pinboard, and then set Pinboard up to mirror any new links I add to Delicious. It’s the best of both worlds: I continue to use the Delicious bookmarklets, plugins, and other hacks that are second nature to me, but everything I add is also sent to Pinboard, so I can switch in an instant.

Other Possibilities

There are countless other alternatives to Delicious, ranging from your browser’s own bookmarking tools (how novel!) to Zotero—though not all of these options focus on tagging and sharing. For a thorough list of dozens of possibilities, I recommend Alternatives to Delicious, a crowd-sourced Google Doc started by Alec Couros. Whatever you choose, keep in mind the Ma.gnolia debacle, in which a Delicious-like service went down, for good, taking all of its users’ data with it. The lesson is that no matter what bookmarking service you use, back it up. All of the major services allow you to export your data, and you should do so, frequently.

What are you doing about your Delicious bookmarks? Have you found an alternative you like? And has the scare about Delicious changed the way you keep track of important links? Let us know!

[Bookmark Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Emran Kassim / Creative Commons Licensed]

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