Monday May 21, 2007

Slynkr: Open Source System for Social News, Bookmarking, and Tagging

Slynkr Project Logo

Hello everybody out there reading blogs.sun.com. I'm doing a (free) social news and bookmarking system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like Digg and del.icio.us). It's been brewing for quite a while now, but I just recently got Sun's okay to release it as an open source project.

I hope it isn't too presumptuous of me to base that intro on another project's announcement, but I think it illustrates what Slynkr is all about: sharing and building on each others' work. When you submit something to a social news or bookmarking system, you almost always start with a URL for content which someone other than you wrote. So you build on their work by adding some kind of summary or commentary and a few keywords (tags). Then others come along and build on your work by adding their own tags and voting on whether they think the underlying item is any good. The more people contribute, the better the system becomes.

Of course, that's very similar to how open source software works. The more people contribute, the better the code becomes. That's what we're hoping to gain by making Slynkr open source. It's a usable system today (as you can see at slynkr.sunwarp.net or www.sdnshare.com), but it certainly has room for improvement. We'd love to have your help and ideas to make those improvements happen.

I certainly haven't created Slynkr by myself. Many people have chipped in with ideas and support. These people have been especially involved:

  • Lou Ordorica: original idea, look & feel, and other follow-up ideas and support
  • Jeff Shoup: co-developed the Slynkr code
  • Erik Larson: conceptual input
  • Todd Wichers: hosting support for our slynkr.sunwarp.net instance

I'd also like to thank the people behind sites like flickr, del.icio.us, and Digg. Their development and popularization of practices such as tagging and user-controlled voting were obviously major influences for us in the development of Slynkr.

Wednesday Jan 24, 2007

Antisocial URLs

Muhammad Saleem is talking about how bad URL structures can clash with social bookmarking services. Specifically, he notes that providing redundant URLs can lead to duplicate postings at sites such as Digg.

To address the situation, he advises that webmasters provide just one URL per page. That's nice in theory, but can be difficult in practice. Special needs often arise (in areas such as metrics tracking and personalization) which can best be met with varied URLs. Yes, there are a whole slew of ways to deal with such things without touching the URL. But there are also a whole slew of complicating factors (such as trying trying to monitor traffic originating outside the browser in RSS readers or emails). Sometimes one URL just isn't enough.

Fortunately, exposing multiple URLs doesn't have to mean sacrificing the idea that one of them is "primary." Just pick the primary URL and use a <link rel="bookmark" href="..." /> element to identify it (as described in the Wikipedia permalink page). Nice solution, isn't it? You get the best of both worlds--purity and pragmatism.

Unfortunately, most web sites don't include this element, and most tools don't understand it anyway. Why hasn't it gained more traction?

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woodjr

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