The Golden Triangle of Social Search

I´ve been using Delicious as a tool for bookmarking since it was born, back in 2003, when it was a small project. Those times tagging was an emerging feature and users somehow weren´t really aware about how good would be if the www was tagged properly.
Delicious was only the beginning, more than a lab experiment, where we found deep intentions of introducing descriptions of information – in this case, when we were about to save them in our bookmark list- . Today, only 5 years later, we can see some interesting results while searching content on the web…

As we know, popular search engines use an algorithm to show users results based on their queries. These results aren´t «human oriented»: The answer we get from the system is a bunch of results based on something serveral servers evoke, showing you the results throughout a concrete interface, no matter if we´re talking about Google, Ask or Yahoo!: They all show you results from an algorithm perspective.

If I want to find out information about, let´s say, houses made of wood I can Google queries like «wood houses» getting the following SERP:

If you´re looking for specific slots of information probably you won´t know where to start (maybe you´ll click somewhere aroung Google´s Golden Triangle and depending on your expectations you´ll come back and try with another query or another search engine).

Typing the same queries in Delicious we get a different point of view, what I call the golden triangle of social search:

  • I can see the number of people who already have saved the same website, giving me a good affordance. More people with the same link saved means more interesting might be the content after the link;
  • I can also see other suggested tags users have also used to save the same webpage. If I don´t get what I expected in my first attempt I can try with the other ones to narrow my search;
  • I can even see the personal comments people wrote in their bookmarks to help them find the information when they come back to their bookmark list, giving you a deeper description of what you´re going to visit.

Summing up: Useful, human and simple, exactly the right approach we need to give to this huge growing amount of information we have flying online.

Curiously, since mid-2008 Google is trying to give Google SERP´s a more human/social approach, giving users the choice of voting and adding comments to search results. Although not everybody is happy enough with this idea, from my point of view soon or later we´ll need this kind of features to help us clicking on the right link, saving us time.

The interesting thing about Delicious is that users aren´t forced to put tags on their bookmarks, they do it because is something they get benefit from it: Having a neat and tidy bookmark list make scanning it less painful. And, extra ball, at the same time, they´re contributing to the rest of the community.

The more you use Delicious to find decent web results the more you realize you need it. Give it a try and you´ll see…

Showing 4 comments
  • alberto
    Responder

    IMHO, your analysis of delicious’ SERP reveals a couple of mistakes made in its redesign:
    1. The no. of people that saved the website way too far from the beginning of the result title, which could be called «the golden apex of the golden triangle».
    2. The same happens with tags. Why leave the best place for displaying the name of the person who saved the link?
    3. Speaking of people… there is no easy way of highlighting results from your network –there’s a chance these people have the same interests and/or taste, isn’t there?.
    4. Last but not least: if displaying the «last saved» date and the number of saves somehow means they are important, please provide an easy way of reordering the results by that criteria.

  • Responder

    […] bookmarks tagged narrow The Golden Triangle of Social Search saved by 2 others     Pgymy bookmarked on 11/18/08 | […]

  • seisdeagosto
    Responder

    I totally agree with you, Alberto. Delicious redesign haven´t helped to give a stronger approach of the social branch of the website. A pity.
    Older versión was sooo much better…

  • Agustín Jiménez
    Responder

    I completely agree with Delicious’s value as a information discovering tool. It’s been a while since I started using it to find resources, specially related with science, and there is no doubt it kicks Google’s results.
    One of the things I found most useful from Delicious’s SERP is the counter for people saving each result, which I think should be the master ordering criteria instead of date.

    By the way, check Wikia’s results page if you are interested in collaborative results for information recovering tools:

    http://tinyurl.com/6rqnw9

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