December 17th, 2010

del.icio.us is going away. Okay. *Why* is it going away?

Tom Boutell
Chief Software Architect
Update: apparently del.icio.us is not going away, at least not yet. Yahoo apparently feels it is probably viable for some company, somewhere (although they don't feel strongly enough to keep the team that built it). I agree that it is probably viable, and wonder why Yahoo can't be that company, as I've explored below.
Yahoo is shutting down del.icio.us. We know this already, from many sources. What we don't know is why.

Well, of course we know why. Presumably it was not profitable. You can't ask a company to run something on a charitable basis forever.

But why wasn't it profitable? Consider: it's already built out (lay off some Symfony devs if you must, we might even hire 'em). It has dedicated users building the content for you. And you can splash relevant advertising on it with ludicrous ease thanks to the self-sorting nature of the content. It's an enviable position to be in... a lot like Google's position actually.

The proper question isn't "why are Yahoo a bunch of meanies who won't run this awesome service out of the goodness of their hearts anymore." The proper question is "if Google Search is profitable, then how can del.icio.us not be?"

Perhaps the user-driven nature of del.icio.us' content makes spam an even bigger problem than it is for Google? Granted I don't work at Yahoo and don't know those numbers. But given the dedication displayed by black-hat SEOs and the Google antispam team that copes with them all day every day, I have to doubt that del.icio.us had a bigger problem there.

What do you think, O knowledgeable webizens?
Tom Boutell
Chief Software Architect

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