Home The Social Bookmarking Faceoff

The Social Bookmarking Faceoff

Written by Alex Iskold and edited by
Richard MacManus.

The social bookmarking market is in a steady state with two dominant players – del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. The rest of the pack, including Yahoo
MyWeb, appears to be substantially behind. Will they catch up? In this post we attempt to
answer that question.

We also take a look at how social bookmarking has evolved since del.icio.us. (even
del.icio.us itself has evolved a lot!). We compare the features and approaches of the
different companies, to see which has gained popularity and what has become the norm in
this space.

A short history of social bookmarking

The current social web era started with del.icio.us
and the advent of social bookmarking. The simple concept of a tag has turned our
interactions with the web upside down. The idea of being able to store your bookmarks
online, share them with everyone and see what others have bookmarked – triggered the
sequence of events that resulted in today’s rich and social web ecosystem.

We used the e-consultant
and go2web20 lists of social bookmarking services
to select the companies. Note that we did not include any company with an Alexa rank of
less than 100,000. We also did not profile social news sites (like digg) or social
shopping sites (like Kaboodle), as they will be profiled in separate R/WW posts.

Feature comparison

Note: Mouse over the column headings to see full text

Estimating the number of users

Companies typically do not reveal the number of users and activity, but we can do
educated estimates. In a recent post
on TechCrunch
, Michael Arrington stated that there are about 53 million posts on
del.icio.us. Based on the statistics mentioned at the time of the del.icio.us acquisition
(by Yahoo) in December 2005, and the growth since then, we estimate the current number of
people using del.icio.us at 500,000 [UPDATE since this post was first published, del.icio.us announced they have 1,000,000 users]. From this we conclude that the average user on
del.icio.us did a little over 100 posts. This is a pretty impressive number, although it
might be the case that there is a fat tail and a handful of users with a huge number of

If we use 100 posts per user as a guide then, we can do similar estimates for other
social bookmarking companies. For example, since Blogmarks has a total of 514,205 posts,
we estimate that they have roughly 5,000 users.

Here is another interesting angle… a search on Yahoo MyWeb for items tagged “food” results in
7,200 bookmarks. A similar search on BlinkList brings up 120 pages with 20 items per page
– or 2.400 bookmarks. In other words, the number of posts tagged with a particular word
or term can be used as another relative measure of the number of users.

Finally, here is another method for estimating the number of users. We took a recently
popular web2.0 list url: go2web20.net, as well as all time favorite CNN.com, and looked
at how many people have bookmarked these on various services. If we do this for a hundred
or so randomly choosen URLs, we would get more precise estimates – but this is just to
give us an approximation of the number of users. Here is a table showing our results:

NB: With MyWeb, the estimated users is 114,600. As it turns out we can’t compute
it with the same method, because information is not quite there. Instead, we
used the Tag Comparison method and compared it with BlinkList.


The social bookmarking market is dominated by del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. These
leaders split the market, as they bring orthogonal approaches to bookmarking –
del.icio.us builds a hierarchy for people to browse (it does related relationships,
etc.), while StumbleUpon is more of a random discovery system.

Meanwhile the other players in this market have a lot of ground to make up on the two
leaders, based on our analysis in this post.

Update: Added Furl – thanks to Barry Dahl for pointing it out (comment #3).

Update 20/9/06: More updates to the tables and figures above, based on comments.

Update 5/10/06: Updated del.icio.us figure in the main text.

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