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Bookmark: Fan is A Tool-Using Animal

http://idlewords.com/talks/fan_is_a_tool_using_animal.htm>Fan is a Tool-Using Animal, a transcript of a talk by Maciej Cegłowski from 2013 on fans, tags, the Delicious blow-up, and how his perception of fans changed over time. Basically he created Pinboard and reached out to fans after Delicious died so that they could use the tagging system there, and then fandom did.

In 2009, when I started my own bookmarking site, called Pinboard, I really wanted to lure over fans with their amazing tag collections.

But fans are loyal people. And they were really attached to Delicious, especially to a very elaborate Firefox plugin that made life a breeze for people with thousands of tags. I didn't have much success in getting them to cross over.

Until in 2010 Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, the founders of YouTube, came along and made my career. I don't know them personally. Maybe they're lovely people in person—kind to animals, beloved by children.

But they bungled their way through acquiring Delicious so badly that the site never recovered.

Chad looked at Steve and was like:

“Bro, you want to buy Delicious?”

And Steve looked at Chad and was like:

“Bro let's totally buy it!”

And they high-fived and that was it.

A few months after the acquisition, there was a grand uncloaking of their new design, much of which involved destroying features of Delicious that fans were utterly dependent on.

The new Delicious removed the ability to see your full list of tags, which as you can imagine for someone with an intricate tagging system is the end of the world.

They got rid of tag bundles, a crucial feature for fans.

And in an inspired stroke, they took down their support forum, so no one could complain about anything on the site itself.

But the single change that killed fandom dead on Delicious was no longer being able to type "/" into the search box.

There is no God, life has no meaning, it's all over when you can't search on the slash character. And fandom started freaking out on Twitter.

Being a canny businessman, I posted a gentle reminder that there was still a bookmarking site that let you search on a slash tag.

So fandom dispatched a probe to see if I was worth further study. The emissaries talked to me a bit and explained that my site was missing some features that fans relied on.

In my foolishness I asked, "Could you make me a list of those features? I'll take a look, maybe some of it is easy to implement."

Oh yes, they could make make a list.

I had summoned a very friendly Balrog.

For three days, I watched this collaborative Google doc grow and grow before my eyes. It ended up being fifty-two pages long. I want to show you some of the highlights.

At times, there were so many people editing the document at that it tucked its tail between its legs and went into a panicked ‘read only’ mode. Even the mighty engineers at Google couldn’t cope with the sustained attention of fandom.

My favorite bit:

Here I've shown a paragraph where someone asks me if I can build a user search feature, and I reply at length about why that's not trivial. At that point someone decides that it's easier for them to just go build the feature on the spot. They set up a little app in Heroku that mapped Pinboard usernames to Delicious usernames.

In the time it took me to explain why I couldn't build the feature, someone did it for me and stuck a hyperlink into this document that is spiraling out of control.


( 2 comments — Add your .02 )
Sep. 6th, 2016 10:59 pm (UTC)
OMG I remember the Delicious debacle. I was one of the first ones who migrated over to Pinboard. <3

Hahaha! I love the 52 page google document from hell. Fandom is serious business. ;)
Sep. 7th, 2016 05:04 am (UTC)
Bwee. :)
( 2 comments — Add your .02 )

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