First things first, real quick like. At it’s core, del.icio.us is a place where you can store your bookmarks and get to them from anywhere you can find an internet connection. Accounts are free, get yours today.
Though there aren’t many reasons not to set up an account, the biggest reason recently went away: Yahoo! acquired del.icio.us, thereby assuring at least the medium-term longevity of the site. That said, many of the best parts of del.icio.us don’t require you to get an account. So if you doubt you’ll sign up, continue reading–there’s probably something here for you.
Habit One: Make many marks
Bookmark everything you find interesting. You can’t really overdo it, so there’s no reason not to do it. Bookmarking a lot makes it easy to find your stuff again, plus you’re adding to the network effect and helping others out. There are several bookmarklets available that make it much easier to collect stuff with del.icio.us. If you’re a Firefox user (and why wouldn’t you be?), check out the new Firefox bookmarklet that del.icio.us provides.
Habit Two: Sir Tag-A-Lot
Tag it. Tag it good. Be liberal in your use of tags, but clean it up once in a while. No need to have ‘blog’ and ‘blogs’ in there. Choose one and stick with it. The way you clean up your tags is to go to the ‘Settings’ section of your account (top right corner). You’ll see a box in the right corner of your screen with two sections: ‘settings’ and ‘experimental.’ Under the ‘settings’ section, click the ‘tags’ link. This will take you to a page where you can delete tags, or change one tag into another. So if you’ve got several dozen links tagged with ‘sleeping’ and you want them all to be ‘sleep’, this is where you can make that adjustment.
Habit Three: Use the inbox
The inbox is a mystery for many folks, but it’s a powerful tool. Your del.icio.us inbox allows you to track what’s been added to particular tags and to track what particular users have bookmarked. There are a couple of ways to begin using your inbox. You can click the ‘inbox’ link at the top of any page when you’re logged in and then click the ‘edit inbox’ link on the right side. Or you can just click the ‘settings’ link (top right corner) and then click the ‘inbox labels’ link under the ‘experimental’ section. Either way will get you to the same page where you’ll see a couple of text entry boxes. One is for adding
USERNAMES and the other is for adding tags. If you know the del.icio.us
USERNAME of someone you want to track, enter it in the ‘user’ field and hit the subscribe button. If you have a particular tag you want to keep tabs on, enter it in the ‘tag’ field and hit subscribe. Once you get the hang of this, you’ll fill up your inbox in no time. Here are a couple to get you started…for tags, try ‘productivity‘, ‘business‘ and ‘gtd‘. For users try ‘bren‘ (that’s me!) or ‘steverubel‘ (he’s prolific!)
Habit Four: Mix ‘n match
Now that you know how to use the inbox, don’t feel constrained to individual tags. Mix ‘em up. If you’re inclined to track the ‘blackberry’ tag, but you only want links that have to do with productivity and not ‘How to set up a blackberry server’, just enter the following into your inbox tag field: blackberry+productivity. That’ll show you links that have both tags. You can also discover various types of media and/or file types just by manipulating the url. For instance, if you want to find punk rock mp3 files, try http://del.icio.us/tag/system:filetype:mp3+punk. If you want to find all kinds of punk video media, try http://del.icio.us/tag/system:media:video+punk. With the ‘system:filetype:’ you can get all sorts of file types (read: file extension, like mp3, doc, pdf, etc…), not just those associated with audio and video. With the ‘system:media:’ the supported media types are ‘video’, ‘audio’, ‘document’ and ‘image’. Mess around with the urls and see what you get.
Habit Five: Stalk other users
After tracking a few things for a while, you’ll start to wonder where a particular user gets all their interesting bookmarks. Maybe they’re connected, or maybe they’re just copying someone else who is connected. Either way, you can check out other users’ inboxes by just replacing their
USERNAME in this url:
http://del.icio.us/inbox/. By exploring through a few layers of who is watching who, you’ll start to come up with your own list of people to stalk–just add them to your inbox!
Habit Six: Get it to go
Now that you’ve got a full inbox, you probably don’t want to go troll through it every day, trying to figure out what you’ve already seen. No worries, just scroll to the bottom of the inbox page and look for the orange RSS button. You can subscribe to pretty much any del.icio.us page through your feed reader. Regardless of the page, the naming of the RSS feed is pretty consistent. Here’s how it goes:
- Tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/
- Combined tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/
- Popular: http://del.icio.us/rss/popular
- Popular tags: http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/
- Users: http://del.icio.us/rss/
- Someone’s inbox: http://del.icio.us/rss/inbox/
USERNAME(hint: use YOUR inbox)
- Media: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/system:media:MTYPE+
(where MTYPE can be AUDIO, VIDEO, IMAGE and DOCUMENT (caps are not needed, just for example))
- Filetype: http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/system:filetype:FTYPE+
(where FTYPE can be any audio or video file types (mp3, mov, etc…))
Habit Seven: Move it around
No need for your bookmarks to remain trapped in del.icio.us. If you have a blog, you can export your links a number of ways. You can have a list of each day’s bookmarks auto-posted to your blog by going into the settings section and clicking on the ‘daily blog posting’ link in the experimental section. There isn’t much documentation on this, but if you’re using Typepad look here, if you’re using MovableType look here (note the Blogger instructions in the comments), and WordPress folks look here. Others should consult Google.
If all that looks too intimidating, you can output a linkroll by using this utility (this is how I populate the ‘Hot Links’ section of this site).
Another way to move it around is to use the “for” tag. This allows you to tag items for other users. To do this, just use the tag ‘for:
USERNAME‘. Anytime something is tagged this way, the user can click on the ‘for’ link at the top of the page when they’re logged in to find everything that’s been sent to them. At the bottom of the page is a private RSS feed that can be used in a feed reader.
Habit Eight: Explore more
Now that Yahoo! owns del.icio.us, we can be pretty confident that more features will be rolling down the line, not to mention a little better documentation. Be sure to check out the help section–it’s got good links to various parts of the del.icio.us system. Try digging around the ‘options’ section, which is at the bottom of your list of tags. The tag cloud is kinda cool to look at. Also, check out bundling, which allows you to group certain tags in a “bundle.” Bundles are displayed at the top of your list of tags. You can find the bundle option in settings. Finally, keep an eye on the official del.icio.us blog for more feature announcements.
Don’t neglect third party options either. This blog has a great list of tools and it’s constantly updated.
That oughta keep you busy for a few minutes…