Earlier this week it was announced that Yahoo is selling social bookmarking service Delicious to the founders of YouTube and their new company called Avos. After the announcement was made, the companies told everyone who had ever had a Delicious account that they needed to log in and opt-in to having their data transferred over into the new company.

You should go do that right now, even if you’re not a big Delicious user anymore. It takes 30 seconds to do and is something good to do for yourself and for the good of the Web. If you don’t, that data will disappear. Philosophically, that’s bad because all your “data exhaust” like that is going to become an important currency of the future Web, an important asset whether it seems that way today or not. Practically, though, there are three important reasons why you should go take a moment to make sure that data is preserved.

When we heard in December that Yahoo was planning on taking Delicious out to the well behind the barn and “sunsetting” it, I got really upset and spilled almost all my secrets about how to use Delicious for data mining and competitive advantage. Now it appears Delicious will live on and I probably could have kept my mouth shut.

Nonetheless, the story remains the same. Delicious is not just valuable because it saves your bookmarks on the Web so they can be accessed anywhere. Delicious is also valuable because it represents a giant, semi-structured system of user-generated categorization of millions and millions of Web pages.

Here’s why you should check that box and opt-in to having your data transferred to the new system.

  • To preserve that which is most popular. Just this morning a co-worker asked me where I could find a list of group chat workplace collaboration technologies. Why, at http://delicious.com/popular/chat and http://delicious.com/popular/collaboration of course, I said! It felt good to be able to recommend that again. Let’s all make sure that our data gets transferred over to the new system so all those passive votes for the best online resource regarding all our tags get preserved.
  • To preserve the system of classification, the taxonomy, the tags per URL. If I say ReadWriteWeb.com, Delicious says web2.0, blog, technology, news, socialsoftware, trends and many other tags. Let’s say I want more of the same. I can visit http://www.delicious.com/tag/socialsoftware+blog, for example (that’s all URLs that have been tagged with both socialsoftware and blog), and even subscribe to the RSS feed there. That nice clean URL structure, based on user-generated categorization, is a very valuable resource. All your old bookmarks help categorize the best URLs around the web. Please don’t let them die.
  • Hopefully new things will be born. The creator of Delicious once told me he ran out of time and support before he could build http://www.delicious.com/popular/socialsoftware+blog (popular with multiple tags). There’s far, far more that can be done with semi-structured data resulting from our everyday use of the Web, including bookmarking. Check out The Locker Project, for example.

See also: Thousands of Reddit Users Donate Their Data to Science

Hopefully the new owners of Delicious will appreciate the awesome resource for the world that they’ve bought and help grow it in all the more useful ways. Please take 30 seconds to go opt-in to allowing your public data to be used as the raw material for those systems of classification.