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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

The sweet smell of ma.gnolia

April 4, 2007

I signed up for del.icio.us in November 2004. I bookmarked a few URLs in the first few months, then didn’t use the service for over a year. I was always teetering between wanting actual browser bookmarks and wanting to have a publicly available list of bookmarks. I used del.icio.us on and off but ended up finding it very useful to share bookmarks with co-workers by creating my own tags that they could subscribe and add to, more than using the site socially beyond that. This came in very handy on several occasions and I also did quite a bit of research using tag searches.

However, I was never really able to keep a good stride with del.icio.us because beyond the way that I used it, the service never really felt very social or usable to me. I’ve heard the creator of del.icio.us say during a speech that a huge portion of del.icio.us’ bandwidth was eaten up by feed subscriptions rather than visitor traffic. Which is exactly the problem that I have with del.icio.us for my own purposes! It does everything that I want it to do, and then some, but it doesn’t feel good and I don’t want to go there.

Photo description

Me & the ma.gnolia card.

Enter ma.gnolia.com. A gorgeous, feature-rich, friendly, and social service that does everything that del.icio.us does – but it makes you feel like your driving a Porche while doing it. To top it off ma.gnolia lends itself to proper usage which I think is a huge undertaking when creating social services.

Before I go on with my showering of word sugar on ma.gnolia – let me tell you why I switched in the first place.

While in Austin, Texas for SXSW this past March – I met up with Larry Halff founder of ma.gnolia. The first time I met Larry was at a lunch about openID and he ended up treating everyone to that lunch and left before myself or anyone could thank him. Later on that night I caught up with him at one of the many after-parties and made it a point to thank him for taking care of the bill. After we got to talking about all types of subjects I began to tell him how I had never switched to ma.gnolia because I felt that del.icio.us had done everything that I wanted with my social bookmarks.

This is when it happened. This is when Larry, who could have went all marketing on me or even put up his nose at the fact that I even used del.icio.us, answered the following question: “If you only had 30-seconds to tell me about one feature of mag.nolia – what would it be?”

“Thanks. We have a feature called “thanks” that allows you to thank someone for a bookmark. It doesn’t show publicly. It doesn’t make that bookmark or that person go higher on any type of graph or scale, it is just a way to quickly say “thanks”.”

The above is me quoting Larry very loosely as he and I had already had a few drinks at this point. My response? “That’s pretty cool. Ok, when I get home I am going to switch to ma.gnolia and then write a post about my thoughts on it.”.

Now to continue with the shower of word sugar. Ma.gnolia is much nicer than any other social bookmarking site that I’ve tried. Not only aesthetically but also in its usability, its simple and social features, and also its customer service. I picked the worst day to switch to ma.gnolia too. They had just done a version upgrade of their system, and I switched directly in the middle of it. Of course there were some bugs that occurred due to me switching to a cutting-edge version of the site – but Larry and his staff squashed the bugs, responded to support questions, and even fixed some things I didn’t like very quickly.

I’ve now been using it for a few days and I’ve finally been able to hit a stride with a social bookmarking site. Ma.gnolia makes me want to add good content as well as fill in good context for each bookmark I add. I’m almost approaching it more like a blog than just a bookmarking site – since I do not bookmark things only for myself – but for the social network I’ve built on ma.gnolia.

Key features

I simply have to fill you in on what I’ve found to be some of ma.gnolia’s key features. If you are a user of ma.gnolia – and you feel I’ve missed some – please be sure to let me know in the comments.

  • The “thanks” feature is as good as I imagined when Larry first told me about it. Simple, private, perfect.
  • The fact that every bookmark has a permalink per user so that each user can add their own specific details to it is awesome. It is like social tagging .
  • Ma.gnolia also automatically creates “Short links” for each bookmark giving you an automated TinyURL type service for every bookmark you add. Genius.
  • The service also takes a screenshot of the domain the URL comes from so that at a quick glance you can see the web page that you bookmarked.

  • Although I’ve not had a chance to fully explore the groups on ma.gnolia, I can see from the way others are using them that I will also find them useful. Groups seems like a great way to hold discussions, bookmark resource material, and generally converse with those inside of the group.
  • The support and tools section gives great documentation on how you can consume data from ma.gnolia as well as giving you great ways to use the service above and beyond what is available at the site. Currently I’m using one of the bookmarklets to post to ma.gnolia.

There are many others and I could go on but suffice to say; I’m hooked. If you use ma.gnolia be sure to add me as a contact by visiting my profile or you can reach me and other great ma.gnolia users through the featured members page. I’ve also got my latest few bookmarks popping up in the sidebar on my homepage (which is extremely easy to do). If you are not a ma.gnolia user – sign up, import your bookmarks from pretty much any other service and use it for a few days. I’m sure you’ll like it as much as I do.

Thanks to Larry and his team for putting together a great service and to Alex Hillman for encouraging me to switch in the first place.

[tags]ma.gnolia, sxsw, larry halff, social, bookmarking, review[/tags]

[slug]sweet-magnolia[/slug]