Way back in December rumours were flying about the social bookmarking site Delicious. Various reports had it that owner Yahoo! would be closing it down. Slaw's own Steve Matthews even put together the post R.I.P. Delicious tracing its pending demise. Many people looked for an alternative and exported their bookmarks to other sites in anticipation of it being closed. Some of those alternative services welcomed the new members with open arms, even creating tools for transferring the bookmarks over.
Fast forward: an announcement came out in May 2011 announcing the sale of Delicious to AVOS, owned by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, in July. Following the sale, a notice went out over the summer asking members to give Yahoo! permission to transfer their bookmarks to the new owners. And then this week the "new" Delicious was launched.
The new Delicious was not launched without some pain, however. In the notice asking for permission to transfer the bookmarks there was not, unfortunately, any indication that the service would actually be changing. The new owners launched the new site without advance notice. Members (myself included) were shocked to find bookmarks and tags (personal categories) suddenly missing. As well, much of the functionality was gone. And the interface had changed. Some–those who had not seen the notice to give permission to Yahoo! for the transfer of bookmarks–discovered their accounts gone altogether.
A little shell-shocked, those of us who had loyally stuck by Delicious watched the site to see any signs of improvement. There seemed to be no forum in which to share concerns other than general sites such as Twitter. ReadWriteWeb reported that the new site was a big disappointment. Finally, at the end of the day AVOS put out a blog post on their own site explaining what had happened. A few things were at play:
- they had pulled the Delicious site into what they consider beta test, starting with a basic site and adding features back in
- they had transferred only the most recent bookmarks and some tags from Yahoo! with the intention of loading them all back in gradually
- anyone who had missed the notice asking to give permission to Yahoo! to transfer the bookmarks and did not provide permission were not included in the transfer to the new site.
AVOS subsequently created the delicious beta status blog to track improvements being made and complaints as they were being addressed. Still, some messaging is coming out from the AVOS blog. Gradually we are seeing functionality return.
The problems have distracted most of us from the new changes that have been made:
- the front of the Delicious site has been reworked to be more accessible, with more visual content
- the idea of "stacks" have been introduced: links grouped and shared by members (which also populate the front page).
Time will tell if the service gets back to where we had it, and if the new features were worth the switch. It seems to me the lack of communication initially around this project is a good example of what not to do with change management: not keeping extremely loyal users in the loop with regard to changes. It will be interesting to see if they have learned any lessons along the way.