Pinboard – A Delicious Alternative?

As I have said on this blog before, I am a big fan of Delicious.  I personally find it a much more useful way of managing my favourites than just about any other tool I have tried.  When I read an article on TechCrunch suggesting that Delicious should be ditched in favour of  a new service called Pinboard, I was intrigued to know how much better it could be.  Consequently, me being an eager beaver, I signed up as a beta tester to get a sneaky peek.  Sadly, I was not chosen as one of the 100 beta testers, but I received an invitation nonetheless.  As yet, I have not had a major play with it, but I thought I would provide a little insight into what it has to offer.

Before I go any further, however, I must point out something about Pinboard that may well put you off at the start.  At present, the people behind are charging $2.84 to sign-up for the service.  Yes, there is a one-off charge to use the service.  Not the best start admittedly. And it is made slightly worse by a posting on their blog:

The site is now open to all comers, provided they pay a small signup fee that will grow in proportion to the total number of users. My hope is that this will keep the rate of growth manageable so the site stays fast and usable for everyone.

Around about now I am expecting most people to give up reading the remainder of this post, but I shall plough on regardless for those that are still interested (I say those…..).

If you have decided that you don’t mind paying a fee for the service and sign-up anyway, you will be pleased to know that you can import your bookmarks from Delicious via a very simple procedure.  Once that simple task is completed, you are presented with your bookmarks in a somewhat minimalist fashion (certainly compared to Delicious):

Pinboard Homepage

Pinboard Homepage

As you can see, it is very much a stripped down bookmarking tool (a Delicious Unplugged if you will).  On the left-hand side of the screen you have your list of bookmarks, complete with titles, descriptions, tags and dates.  On the right-hand side you have what seems to be a complete list of all your tags (I haven’t checked fully, but I noticed some tags that I know I have only applied once¹) which, as you would expect, link directly to a list of all the items with that tag.  I have some reservations about this which I will come onto later.

In terms of the tools that Pinboard puts in your hands to bookmark items, there are basically four different javascript links you can drag to your browser toolbar:

  • The popup bookmarklet opens a little form window when you want to bookmark a page. It’s the fastest way to add a bookmark.
  • The same page bookmarklet will load the save bookmark form in the same window as the page, with no popup.  It redirects back to the page afterwards.
  • The my pinboard bookmarklet will take you to your bookmarks.
  • read later will throw a URL on your “to read” list without badgering you for tags or descriptions.

When you click on the pop-up bookmarklet tab, you are presented with the following pop-up:

Pinboard pop-up window

Pinboard pop-up window

The same-page bookmarklet is much the same only, obviously, it replaces the page you were viewing before returning after it has been bookmarked:

Pinboard - same page

Pinboard - same page

I quite like the idea of the read later bookmarklet.  Instead of having to use a tag on Delicious, you can simply click on the bookmarklet and a small window will briefly appear to indicate that it has been successfully added (although it doesn’t actually tell you this).  Any items marked in this way are stored in a separate area so they cannot get confused with your other bookmarks – a handy little feature in my opinion.

Adding tags is also nice and simple. Much like Delicious, Pinboard predicts what tags you are going to add so that you can ensure that there is consistency in your tagging (without this consistency I would question the value of anyone using a tagging tool to manage bookmarks).

There is, however, one problem that I have noticed so far (aside the cost).  Unlike Delicious you cannot drill down your bookmarks by using tag combinations (at least as far as I can tell at the moment).  Personally I think this is a major oversight (although granted it still being tested).  I find it very useful to find things on Delicious using tag combinations.  For example, it is much easier to find the appropriate item when using a combination of the tags ‘digitaldivide’ and ‘ebooks’ than to search through the individual bookmarks for either tag.  Hunting around for that article on ebooks and the digital divide would be too time consuming on Pinboard as it presently stands.  Hopefully this will be addressed (I have actually posted to their Google Group regarding this very issue – let’s see if it is addressed).  [I have since had a response, see update below.]

As it stands at the moment, I’d stick with Delicious but Pinboard is certainly worth trying out if you prefer your bookmarking to be minimalist (and if you are happy to pay a fee).  In the meantime, I will certainly try my best to keep you up-to-date with Pinboard as a service and, should I ditch Delicious in its favour, I will be sure to let you know!


Pinboard homepage
Google Group
Pinboard on Twitter
Pinboard blog (and RSS feed)

¹ Obviously I don’t have enough tags – I’ve just discovered that Pinboard only displays your top 200 tags, not all of them.


I have now had a response from Pinboard’s Google GroupIt reads:

This is not implemented yet, but it’s a feature a lot of people are asking for.    I am thinking of folding tag algebra in to search – you could have queries like “t:beans -t:rice +t:tomato” and have the search results filtered appropriately.

I’ll update the site blog as I get closer to rolling this out.

I’ll report further once this feature has been rolled out.


16 thoughts on “Pinboard – A Delicious Alternative?

  1. Interesting, but how weird! The sign up fee goes up the more people sign up? Surely it should get cheaper? That puts me off for a start. This bookmarking lark certainly seems to be becoming a rather crowded marketplace, what with Delicious, Diigo and now Pinboard. Must admit I tend to use Diigo first and foremost, but also have Delicious running in tandem with it. Maybe its a good thing we haven’t yet done any staff training on Delicious. I wonder too whether the other sites will go down the charging route.

  2. Pingback: Pinboard – A Delicious Alternative? | UK Web Designer

  3. I’m not convinced to ditch Delicious for Pinboard, even though Michael Arrington basically ordered his readers to do so. Pinboard seems to be very similar, but not yet as fully-featured. As a matter of fact, I’m relying on some features. Is it possible to group related tags into bundles, for instance? This is important to me because I keep my tags pretty tidy and organized. In his blog post Arrington states that Delicious is slow, this is not the case in my experience. I’m already using Delicious as an anti-social service, my bookmarks are always set to private and I don’t really care about other people’s collection. Apart from that, I’ve not noticed any downtime, maybe it’s just me. I’ll keep an eye on Pinboard but I don’t see any obvious reason to switch right now.

    • I still prefer Delicious at the moment and I am not entirely convinced at the moment that Pinboard is a better service. But I will see how it develops and keep an open mind. Regarding grouping related tags into bundles, this is not a feature as yet and I do not see anything in the group to indicate that this is in the pipeline. I will ask the question though.

  4. Great review, thanks Ian. I’m not sure I see the advantage of Pinboard at the moment, but it will be interesting to see how it develops. I do like the sound of the Read Later feature, but there are certainly some key features it seems to be missing. I’m also interested to know if it will bundle tags, and also if you can search within your bookmarks? I notice you found it gives your top 200 tags, is there a way to list all tags?

  5. Hi there,

    I’m really happy to see librarians discussing the service, since I would like very much to make it librarian-friendly. The site is targeted at people who need to organize and track a lot of information.

    With regard to tag bundles, this is a planned feature, but I want to make sure to have good use cases in hand before implementing it. People use them in surprising ways on delicious, and I would like to make sure to support as wide a diversity of use as possible. I encourage all your readers to post to the google group (pinboard-dev).

    Tag algebra is also coming soon, through the search interface. The main obstacle is figuring how to include the various permutations of search smoothly in the UI.

    Finally, a word about the entrance fee. I realize it is off-putting to some, but the effect it has is to free massive amounts of developer time thanks to not having to fight spam and abuse, and not needing to scale to support thousands of inactive users.

    Right now I don’t think you’d find any reason except speed or aesthetics to switch from delicious, but I think that unlike delicious, pinboard is a place where you will see rapid feature development, and where your voice will count for a lot.

    Thanks for taking the time to review the site!

    Kind regards,


    • Thanks Maciej. I don’t think I am out of turn in saying that librarians are always keen on finding out about new services that may help in our jobs. What I have seen of Pinboard so far is promising. I certainly hope it continues to develop along the same lines. One of the things about Delicious is that development seems to have been forgotten about. It will be interesting to see the way Pinboard evolves over the coming months. I will certainly keep playing with it and reporting back my findings here.

      Thanks for dropping in and explaining how some of the issues raised are being addressed. I have been really impressed with the speed in which you deal with any comments about your service.

      Thanks again.

  6. Interesting review – thanks for posting it.

    I’m not sure I would pay for any bookmarking service though, no matter how good it looked. Delicious does what I want it to do, and it does it for free, and there are so many free sites out there that I’m not sure why anyone would pay for this one.

    And I agree with the comment above – that the price should surely go down, not up, as more people join – I appreciate they don’t want over crowding to slow down the system, but seriously, there are other ways to manage sign up numbers.

    • Thanks Katherine. I think at the moment Delicious is the best option for many people, but it will be interesting to see how Pinboard develops. The price thing is a little odd, I thought I mis-read it at first and hesitated before quoting it. Maybe this policy will change in the future, who knows.

  7. A new bookmarking service that is oriented to “power users” of bookmarking is Licorize, . Has quite powerful tools for content curation, as discussed here: “Curation beyond social media”

    Syncronizes with bookmarks and other contents taken in Twitter, Linked In, Evernote, Read It Later, RSS, DropBox. Has plugins for Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and bookmarklets for all the other browsers. And finally obviously imports from Delicious

    • No, it certainly sounds like a lot of people have signed up for it recently. Be interesting to see how it grows over the coming months.

  8. Pingback: Happy Bloggy Birthday | thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian…

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