Delicious Struggles Through Relaunch Under New Ownership
Here’s the problem with buying something people love: They don’t love when you change it.
The social bookmarking service Delicious, now owned by YouTube co-founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen’s AVOS, this week relaunched with some new features — and according to its existing users, too few of the old ones. And they seem to have pretty good cause for complaint.
Though Delicious’s six years being owned by Yahoo had resulted in little change and much neglect, loyal users saw the new Delicious team’s additions of playlist-like “Stacks” as no compensation for the removal of core RSS feed, browser extensions and tagging features. They spewed their anger in comment threads (like ours), on Twitter, on Facebook, in blog posts and on Delicious.
You can fault the new Delicious team for rushing their launch and underestimating their users’ expectations, but at least they’ve spent the week responding across those mediums; they also added a new “beta status” blog and help account on Twitter. On Twitter alone, the team has sent hundreds of tweet responses to user complaints.
Asked to explain what the AVOS team was thinking, and whether they regretted the way it was done, spokesman Mike Manning replied, “We’ve been focused on making the transition from Yahoo happen as fast as possible. Because of this, we needed to reduce some functionality in the short term and introduce a basic set of new features to get the site out the door. From our standpoint, it’s a competitive market and we’re going to err on the side of speed versus perfection to hopefully build a larger, more compelling experience. We’ll always be listening to the community and will literally be updating the product on a daily basis.”
Now that the migration is complete, the new Delicious team is adding back key features and quashing bugs, Manning said. User tags have been restored, the various extensions have now been fixed, and unmigrated user data is filtering in. But there’s still plenty of stuff missing (for instance, posting links to Twitter and changing network privacy settings; see here), and many users who feel betrayed and say they’ve already switched to alternatives like Pinboard and Diigo.
I reached out to some of the users who had commented here about their dismay over the redesign, and asked whether they were satisfied with Delicious’s post-launch response. While it’s not a representative sample, those who replied said it was a matter of a certain favorite feature or two being restored, and they’re likely to continue using Delicious now that the features are coming back.
But at the same time, Delicious’s Manning said previous users are not the only ones on the company’s mind. “We chose to simplify the experience and refocus on making Delicious a mainstream destination to discover content,” he said.
“Mainstream” is obviously the key word there. Delicious had five million registered users as of 2008, when founder Joshua Schachter left Yahoo. (Schachter, by the way, is also cranky about the changes.) While the user numbers have always been relatively small, this week’s outcry makes it clear that those people got value from the service. It’s yet to be seen whether the new “stacks” would ever inspire this kind of devotion.