The difference between social news and social bookmarking. A guide.

By on Dec 22, 2008 in Editorial |

If you’re one of those people who wonder what all those colourful little icons at the bottom of posts on blogs and news sites are for, then this blog post will hopefully be for you.

For a long time I struggled to make sense of the world of (what I vaguely termed) “social bookmarking”. There are big name sites you may have heard of, but there are even more. Although, in the view I’ve built you can seperate them into two broad sets.

I’ll start with what I call “social news”. These are sites which are best used for time relevant posts, such as posts from news sites. The sites I term as “social news” don’t tend to be so good for reference material. The strength of social news sites is to “vote up” posts, stories, etc, that are popular today or this week. They’re a constant popularity contest, and nothing stays at the top for long. As such, you don’t get anything posted that, while interesting or useful, isn’t of the moment. So to speak.

What I call “social bookmarking” sites get a much wider spectrum of sites being submitted. Rather than “voting up”, the idea of social bookmarking is for people to add whatever they find interesting.

It has been my experience that if you are looking for something specific, perhaps a tech review, the social bookmarking sites are fare more likely to find you something useful. It is unlikely that someone would go to a social news site with, say, a mobile phone review, it isn’t news, as such.

Examples of social news sites are Digg, Yahoo Buzz and Reddit. All of these sites work in the same basic way. Someone submits a site, and if other people find it interesting they vote up the story. The more votes a story has got, the more likely it is to be shown on the site’s front page.

Examples of social bookmarking sites are Stumble Upon and Delicious. Delicious is a simple concept, you submit a bookmark along with a description and “tags” (i.e. keywords). Delicious has been running for so long that there is a wealth of submitted links and searching often yields good results. Stumble Upon does the same but takes things a step further. Stumble Upon operates via a browser toolbar. On sites you visit, you can click on buttons on the toolbar to say whether you like the site or not. After Stumble Upon learn’s your preferences you can ask it to take you to recommended sites. So, not only can you search Stumble Upon, but you can let it show you things you may find interesting.

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