Social bookmarking sites dot the Web as storage places for favorite bookmarks, or as gathering spots to find what others are talking about. Think of social bookmark sites as self-storage locations for things you want to find later, or wish to share with friends.
There are more than a dozen well-used social bookmarking sites. Among them are Slashdot, Digg, Newsvine, Reddit, Del.icio.us, Furl.net and others.
They evolved as a way of helping people organize and search for useful sites without having to deal with the chaotic muss and fuss of general search engines. Plus, who would want to keep saving your favorites in your desktop browser? Before long that would become one massive list with no way to simplify.
People use social bookmarking while visiting other Web sites or reading blogs. More and more sites, such as those of the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, offer small icons at the bottom or alongside a story, which allow users to tag and save the story to that bookmark site.
You click on the appropriate icon and it will instantly let you post or bookmark the item (assuming you’ve created a free account at the site you’re bookmarking to).
The bookmarking lets you add tags, or keywords. That feature helps you, or anyone else using the bookmark site, find relevant links. Say you bookmark 300 different stories or Web sites at Del.icio.us. Since you added tags, whenever you need to find the five that refer to “college football,” those will be easy to find.
The bookmark sites now allow users to create filters or alerts, so that you can be contacted by e-mail, or by RSS, whenever others there bookmark content that fits your interests. So whenever anyone posts a comment on Digg about “Dennis Hession,” you can be alerted and then quickly find what that was.
A short video primer on social bookmarking is at: http://uk.youtube.com/leelefever.
Many social bookmarking services also use Web or RSS feeds. You can set up a feed by defining a set of tags or keywords. When other users of that site file items with those tags, the RSS feed will call attention to what they’re collecting.