What are social bookmarks and link aggregators?

What are social bookmarks and link aggregators?

We've all probably used bookmarks on the web, it's the most basic way to save a link. And there's a whole host of tools out there that make it easier, like Pocket (opens in a new tab), Instapaper (opens in a new tab) and Matter (opens in a new tab).

Bookmarks are great for collecting things you've read or want to read or are currently reading. And the ecosystem of apps built around this idea offer really great tools for organising those bookmarks.

Similarly, we send links all the time. Send them to friends, email them to coworkers, post in a Slack or Discord for others to enjoy. Sharing links is one of the most basic behaviours of "The Social Web" and ever since we started to utilise the internet for more than just static documents, "Share" has been a part of the lexicon.

Enter: Link Aggregators

Link aggregators are platforms that compile and organize hyperlinks to online content. They have become a significant part of the internet landscape. You may have opened this article from one!

  • Early 2000s: Emergence of Link Aggregators: Sites like Slashdot, Digg and Fark, on which members posted and commented on links to news and other pages and the community voted or commented on them.

  • Mid-2000s: Rise of Reddit and Digg: Reddit, founded in 2005, and Digg, launched in 2004, became two of the most influential link aggregators. They introduced more sophisticated systems for voting and commenting, making user engagement a crucial part of content curation.

  • Late 2000s to Early 2010s: Evolution and Competition: The landscape started to change with a new era. Digg, for example, underwent several controversial redesigns. Reddit continued to grow, becoming the more dominant platform, partly due to its community-focused approach and diverse range of user-generated subreddits.

  • Mid-2010s Onwards: Diversification and Specialisation: Newer platforms like Voat or Product Hunt emerged for more specialised niches. Both political polarisation and the need for more purpose-built sites lead to new platforms with more focused audiences.

  • 2020s plus: Live and kicking: Link aggregators are very much alive and serving their communities well. But also many people are comfortable inside Discord, Slack, WhatsApp, etc. and these environments can make it difficult to surface useful resources via search tools.

Throughout their history, the evolution of link aggregators reflects a desire for aggregating niche-specific material, essentially creating little Google search indexes specifically for one topic.

Reddit monthly active users from 2013 to 2022

Source: (opens in a new tab)

Knowledgebases and Social Bookmarks

Bookmarks folder in Chrome

While centralised social networks like Reddit are great for simple communities sharing news stories and keeping lists of relevant resources, they can often be outgrown by more specific needs of the community itself.

Quite a few exmaples of this have resulted in completely bespoke sites being built from scratch, Product Hunt (opens in a new tab) being a good example of this.

Knowledgebases have also played a big part in internet culture. "Wiki" style sites often spring up alongside fandoms and games to catalogue characters, episodes, levels, loot items, etc. and the most popular player in this space is probably Wikia, which later rebranded to Fandom (opens in a new tab).

The dated mediawiki syntax editor

Then there's these new-age personal knowledge management tools like Notion (opens in a new tab) which provide a minimal-looking but incredibly powerful set of composable tools to build quite complex notebooks, databases and even websites.

Putting it all together

Storyden (and here's the sell!) aims to combine these together into a platform that any community, no matter how big or how niche, can collect, organise and discuss resources. Whether you're mainly on Discord, Slack or WhatsApp, Storyden provides a source of truth to collect, tag and catalogue links and other content then make it all searchable for members as well as contribute to SEO!

There's also some AI sprinkled in there but that's for another post 👀