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Mooching 2.0

October 10, 2006

Today, on the day when I found a site that had no less than 43 social bookmarking icon links to add articles to your service of choice — most of which I’ve never heard of before, most of which I’ll never visit — can we all please, please agree that this trend has officially jumped the shark?

42 social bookmark service icons. 42!!!

(While we’re at it, let’s kill “Email To A Friend!” too. No? It was worth a try.)

October 10, 18h

This trend jumped the shark about nine months ago, as far as I’m concerned (and yes, I have a few of them on my personal site, so I’m as guilty as the next person).

More than a few of these on a single page is really, really obnoxious, in my opinion.

Chris says:
October 10, 18h

Yeah, I have no idea what the majority of those are. You’d think if a person uses some form of social bookmarking system that they would then know how to use it.

Tuna says:
October 10, 18h

Agree - Ran into a site the other day that had well 60 plus listed in a drop down select menu. talk about overkill. Worst is trying to convince clients its not a good idea.

Does anyone use “email a friend any more”.

October 10, 18h

Let’s not be so quick to throw “Email this to a Friend” under the bus.

While it may not be popular in our community, I can almost bet you the average web surfer - most especially those reading news articles - still use that feature.

How do you think all of the inter-office email forwards get started?

October 10, 18h

“Digg plz kthx”.

Josue Salazar says:
October 10, 18h

That’s just as lame as showing the number of people subscribed to your feed.

It’s a homeless man trying to sell you a house. You’ll just laugh.

[sorry, this was meant to be part of the above comment].

October 10, 18h

I’m definitely with you on this one. Stop with the links. Then again, I add the XHTML/CSS validation links to that list as well. If I care that much that your page validates, I’ll figure out how to do so.

[Digg this comment] [Add this comment to]

October 10, 18h

Reminds me of those sites that used to have five “Best Viewed In” image buttons at the bottom of the page.

David says:
October 10, 18h

I’m not one for email a friend, but it is amazing how many people use it on non-blog sites.

The “add me everywhere” stuff is a bit much, but I think (hope?) it’ll die off before it expands more.

October 10, 19h

Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Brad Bice says:
October 10, 19h

You’re right, that is stupid.

Officially killed on my site.

October 10, 19h

Can’t we all agree to just let the user decide if, when and to what service to add things to? I mean, there are enough bookmarklets, scripts and widgets out there to do this anyway. No need to show every user every option available to them.

And Snook is right too. Validation buttons are not really necessary either. Though I should probably listen to my own advice on that one.

BillyG says:
October 10, 21h

I only see 42 (6x7) but I guess there was another somewhere else…

anyway, I have 6 or 7 of those from a WP blog that I haven’t even touched in months, so over WP and the whole blogging scene anyway, and yea, 90% of my checks show that validation button sites DON’T

fyi: I see 82 access warnings on this site, I have 63 myself as of today only because I’m adding a star-rating candy shot that isn’t quite right and I’m too sleepy to look at it anymore tonight

Peace out.

October 10, 22h

I thought about this and figured there was just no end to it. You whack on the ones you’ve heard of…but then oh no! there are more….

Surely all the services have their own methods anyway. I guess it’s just a subtle (or not) way to prompt the user to bookmark the post.

October 10, 22h

You mean you guys don’t go and spend the extra 12 minutes to click on each icon after you read the content for 30 seconds? Hmm…

Chris ZS says:
October 10, 22h

“Does anyone use ‘email a friend any more’.”

I do. I send interesting news articles to my father, and occasionally he’ll toss one my way. We’re both sort of news junkies and using some sort of web service would be overkill. Never on blogs, however.

And yes, the social bookmarking thing was annoying at anything past three icons. I use a bookmarklet and although I read Digg (minus the video, playable web games, videos, sports, entertainment, and Apple sections) I almost never submit anything.

Same thing goes for the RSS icon set. Firefox 2.0 RC2 makes them obsolete.

October 11, 00h

Mail a friend seems a bit dated. I think those familiar to the web are able to email or better yet, IM the link to somebody else. In a B2B setting this functionality still seems useful.

‘Add me too, please’ buttons on a web page seem a bit odd to me. They might be handy I suppose, however, I’ve never used them. Gotta love those firefox extensions.

Even worse is that some even add them to their RSS feeds! Talk about redundant!

October 11, 01h

> “if a person uses some form of social bookmarking system that they would then know how to use it.”

Amen. Those icons are only there in an attempt to benefit the site owner (by driving traffic), not the user.

Pete says:
October 11, 02h

I love the wikipedia disection of the phrase - jumping the shark…

‘Many have noted the shark episode [from Happy Days] as the moment when they realized the show was no longer worth watching’

October 11, 02h

‘Email a friend’ has it’s purposes: An example is when you’ve used a website to configure a product (PC, holiday, bathroom/kitchen etc.), and you want to email details to your partner to check if it’s OK. Usually/often, the URL just won’t work, so an ‘email to friend’ option gives the website the chance to store the config, produce some (brief) blurb, and send a convenient package to your friends.

Admittedly, this is a tad different from your bog-standard ‘email this URL’ functionality… but visually, it’s the same.

Mag says:
October 11, 02h

This reminds me of the old days when people used to put some animated graphics, moving objects and colored, flying items in their web pages, believing that such thing is awesome! I don’t exactly remember when that type of website owners started to realize the fact, which claims that a website is different from circus.

gerben says:
October 11, 03h

Why not use some JS browser history checking/sniffing to only show the ones the visitor uses. Don’t use this if your visitors are very privacy aware.

A sample script for checking history:

Maaike says:
October 11, 04h

That block of tiny icons in your article looks pretty beautiful, though. But I agree they need to go. On the other hand, I think Email A Friend still has its purposes.

Colly says:
October 11, 04h

“Email to friend” is an essential tool for community/voluntary sector and music sector sites - and probably countless others. Usage in these sectors is huge, as all our stats and user feedback prove. If we’re talking about useful functionality, then it is a fine example. Look how the BBC site utilizes the feature, and draws “Top 5 Emailed” stats from it.

I know what you mean, Dave. I don’t use the feature, but many, many do. Sometimes, many of us in our industry under-estimate what users actually want and/or need.

October 11, 05h

“Same thing goes for the RSS icon set. Firefox 2.0 RC2 makes them obsolete.”

I still think the RSS links will be necessary for quite some time yet. People who are stuck on IE6 don’t want to have to go into the source for the RSS feed information (most don’t knows it’s there anyway).

“If I care that much that your page validates, I’ll figure out how to do so.”

A very good point that I never even thought about. I’m guilty of thinking “it is in the default wordpress theme so it must be proper right?” Well no more, thanks Jonathan.

juan carlos says:
October 11, 05h

Before you blanket get rid of email to a friend, please do some usability research. I have worked with someone who runs a site that gets about 2 million page views per month and says that the email to a friend feature is used a LOT.

The site is not a techy site, so it depends which audience you are catering for at least.

October 11, 07h

As Jeff says, nine months ago sounds about right; I inveighed against it then.

beto says:
October 11, 08h

Who uses these? No, seriously.

Who “gets” these? No one but the chronic ubergeeks of the blogging crowd. Ask around if you don’t believe me. Which leaves us with… um, 99% of today’s web users in a clueless state about what these are?

Me, I prefer my self-made bookmarks for these tasks, thank you very much.

Jumping the shark indeed.

Adam says:
October 11, 08h

This reminds me of those award site logos that some flash designers paste all over their page - most of which I have never heard of.

October 11, 08h

I personally take the attitude that people will either bookmark the site, or they won’t. Having a link to let them bookmark it just makes it seem as if you’re trying to make them want to bookmark it more, and actually deters me from bookmarking it.

Sam says:
October 11, 08h

Not only that, but people who use the services (speaking as a and digg user), I have bookmarklets to submit links anyway and I’ve clicked one of those before I even thought about searching a page for a small icon.

Kevin says:
October 11, 08h

Web 2.0 : Myspace for geeks.

October 11, 08h

I use and I’ve never used those links ever (I have a bookmarklet). If I saw more than 5 on a blog I would not bookmark what they had to say out of principle.

Mislav says:
October 11, 09h

Kill them, please! Everyone help out by removing them from your sites at once. Then blog about it, let the virus spread.

Kill the “mail to friend” links, too. Every site should generate the same content when issued a GET request to the same URL. Also, kill those stupid JavaScript “print this article” links that just call window.print() …

Remember JavaScript “back” links that take you a step back in browsing history, just like the back button does? Well they’re gone now. I hope all these die out soon, too.

Ian Muir says:
October 11, 09h

Just wait until marketing people starting getting into this. You’ll start seeing dozens of these little icons all over everything.

Digg this banner ad!

October 11, 09h

I have had this exact conversation multiple times with a friend of mine–often pointing out the ridiculousness of some sites have more than 2 dozen tiny bookmarking icons.

Indeed, when will this madness end?? Your post has prompted me to have a mini rant of my own on the subject:

October 11, 12h

I use them, on my site and other people’s.

There will at some point be a drop in the amount of social bookmarking programs out there - and I do agree showing every single one is a bit off the wall.

For me it works because many times I don’t think about bookmarking the information until I see the link.

It also exposes people to the idea of social bookmarking, they are relatively new (even to our field) and not everyone knows about them nor has jumped on board.

While people can of course, make up their mind to use them or not it is a hint that “Hey its easy, any post you like you can click an icon and move on.”

Usage of the icon vs your firefox/ie/oprah plugin asside, I see the value in more people using social bookmarking and services like digg/newsvine. If a few icons at the bottom of a post help grow those services they don’t bother me.

October 11, 14h

So this must be “43 Things” then ;-)

Johan says:
October 11, 14h

It is a popularity contest! In all seriousness, I have seen people add it to their sites and eventually even remove it. It is ridiculous … call it the digg effect. I believe we need an intelligent bookmarking service that works like a intelligent search engine.

Tuggle says:
October 11, 15h

Despite the simplicity doctrine of web 2.0 apps, “more is better”, “more is professional”, “more is freedom” thoughts are always going to reign as a default thought pattern.

Brade says:
October 11, 21h

amen and amen. social bookmarking = why bother? I hate it when people try to create trends rather than letting them happen.

Raffaele says:
October 12, 05h

Hey, and it’s a powerfull and clear social bookmaking site with a big community on it. How can add it in to this list?

(DS: Clueless. Simply clueless. No Google juice for you.)

Mislav says:
October 12, 06h

Hey Dave, you don’t seem to have a “digg this article” icon. How are we supposed to digg this now? :)

Seamus says:
October 12, 06h

Although I agree the need for ‘email to a friend’ links seems superfluous, people do use them. Not only do they use them, but they write long and detailed messages with them. I just wish I knew the reason why.

Nev says:
October 12, 12h

I was about to write something similar to this myself, but I’ll just link here instead. When we start to need tools like Socializer ( to manage these links, you know its gone too far.

Not sure I agree about the validation links though. There’s still plenty of people that should know about validation and don’t. I added a little ‘why’ link beside mine to explain what they’re about.

October 12, 14h

All I have to say on this matter: LOL!

Nice post Dave.

Ian Lloyd says:
October 12, 14h

Holy crap! That is crazy. I was overwhelmed when I had to choose between and mag.noli.a … or however these dotty sites spell their names!

Is there a simple ‘Add this to every social bookmarking site that exists (or doesn’t yet exist yet)’? Just wait …

Tom Hughes says:
October 12, 23h

Can someone explain to me the need to put a “permalink” everywhere? In 2006 what function does a permalink serve? And admit it, next year you are going to change from Movable Type to Wordpress or from Wordpress to Expression Engine, and these “permalinks” may or may not still link anywhere.
I admit I may not fully understand as I am a dyed-in-the-wool send-to-friender.

Robin says:
October 13, 03h

Tom, with the correct rewrite rules, it shouldn’t matter which engine you use or migrate to.

I like the email-me link. It’s more prevalent then the social bookmark links I think and I was going to use it for a little tool. Instead of putting a friend’s email, I’m planning on building a little service with an email endpoint - and see what happens from there.

October 13, 09h

Couldnt agree more, Feed them to the sharks!

Kate says:
October 13, 16h

Hmm .. while 43 of them is definite overkill, I do think that they can provide a nice introduction to social bookmarking. Not everyone knows about social bookmarking yet .. this is one way to make them aware.

Dave says:
October 13, 16h

Yes, it certainly is overkill on websites these days. Not to mention, most of them are hideous!

Divya says:
October 13, 20h

Hmmm.. nice article… methinks im gonna email this to my friend :)

October 13, 20h

I really hate these superfluous icons, but they do help get your site more recommendations. 43 links would scare most people away, but when someone sees a nicely placed “Digg This” link they are more likely to do so.

I decided to keep 5 of the most popular ones on my site, but having read the comments I think I should add a “email a fried” link too :)

Roustem says:
October 13, 21h

Time for a new “Post It To All” service?

Kates says:
October 13, 22h

At least I’m honest enough to admit no one’s going to bookmark my site.

Sam Richter says:
October 14, 23h

To this, can I add that we eliminate those dumb ‘Get Firefox’ or ‘Browse Happy’ banners?

Birgit says:
October 15, 05h

I have a bookmarklet in my browser top bar saying “post this to delicious” and that’s pretty much all I ever use. I have thought about integrating some bookmarking options to my blogs but I’m happy that I didn’t. It’s just getting ridiculuous.

I do use a “get Firefox” button on a blog where I expect the majority of users not using it already, and I think that makes sense.

Montoya says:
October 15, 11h

Wow, I didn’t know it was getting that bad. These eyesores were #6 in my “Top 10 Ways to Uglify Your Blog.”

The truth is, people need to learn that the interface belongs in the browser, not the website. Providing buttons for all sorts of features, even font-resizing, stylesheet switching, etc. is only a poor subsitute for things you can do with your browser (including all the post-buttons offered by all these social bookmarking services).

Ivar says:
October 15, 19h

I saw something similar when visting some site the other day, except on this site it were links to about 19 different feed sources…

October 16, 16h

“At least I’m honest enough to admit no one’s going to bookmark my site.”

This one made me laugh. :)

October 17, 09h

How extremely refreshing to hear people finally standing up against this!

Sam Richter - I don’t think the ‘Browse Happy’ buttons should be lumped in there with the ‘Get Firefox’ ones. I know where you’re coming from and personally I use neither, but the Browse Happy site is genuinely doing good in terms of pushing web standards more to the forefront, and for IE users just getting into standards, it lays the situation out on the line beautifully.

October 17, 10h

I stick with Digg and Delicious as the two bookmarking sites that I support on my blog.

I do agree that things have gotten kinda crazy with this whole bookmarking networks business… :S

October 17, 13h

I still find that the TAF (email-a-friend) is applicable within certain markets more than others. As I’ve worked with several musicians, I’ve noted that TAF still has its place as another, convenient way people can generate buzz about an artist. It also always amazes me that certain audiences still haven’t figured out how to copy a URL from their browser, paste it into their email client, and click “send.” The TAF offers better useability for these people.

Typically, I’ve found TAF most useful if:

:: the TAF app allows users to enter multiple recipient addresses

:: the TAF link is made available within the body or a sidebar of the website

:: the TAF link is made available within targeted email messages

Kerflop says:
October 17, 15h

Amen, amen, and amen. I hated the trend at the get-go.

I still like validation links though (not buttons), I think they still help educate folks who don’t know anything about validation. Clicking the XHTML and CSS links on websites is what got me into web standards in the first place.

Johan says:
October 18, 03h

It is social bookmarking after all. Spreading the news, there are of course the most popular services of all like digg, magnolia, delicious, bloglines (forgive my spelling) and dozens of others practically unknown. We feed first the big sharks than the small fish. Any of them has the right to exist as long as someone writes a handy web app to bookmark all at once. Just add the URL and descrption, feed your username and pass, all at once. Otherwise it is a waste of time.

October 18, 22h

It’s starting to look like a spam those little social bookmarking icons. and dont kill email to friend - i use it oftenly to send it , but not to my friend, to me :)

Melgior says:
October 19, 05h

While where cleaning up, can we please get rid of “add to my yahoo” and it’s 23 colleagues? The RSS thingies are getting almost as worse as the social bookmarks one. Maybe it’s an option to include one (I repeat: o n e) rss button which only shows in older browsers without build-in rss support.

And now we’re on the subject: the ‘make this site your start-page’ really need to go. I find them on the most uninteresting sites with content I don’t even want to read once, let alone see it multiple times a day.

Jake says:
October 19, 18h

I figure that the average users of these services will have a bookmarklet for easy bookmarking anyway.

October 20, 00h

I like the bookmark icons. I think showing a few of the most popular ones is useful. I don’t always surf on my computer, which is the one with the bookmarklet for I also don’t think 40+ icons is helpful, which is why I use a drop down menu for all but the most popular.

October 26, 14h

Is it not possible to standartize the way to add bookmarks from a site? With the fast rate of new emerging social bookmarking sites it quickly becomes difficult to keep up.

If a link or microformat or something is provided, the different bookmarking services just have to provide a tool/plugin to recognize this and bookmark the page if clicked..

Or is this too much to ask for?

October 26, 21h

How embarassing!

I totally had those icons on my blog posts … have removed them with shame after reading all the comments. ;)

In my defense … I originally got the idea from Roger Johansson over at 456 Berea Street who had, as I recall, “add to delicious” and “digg this” buttons at the bottom of his posts.

Roger Johansson is so popular that it seems like he’ll get 50 responses to a post about what he ate for lunch! I, on the other hand, am lucky to get 5 responses to my posts, so I thought that whatever he does can’t be a bad idea.

The problem was that the only plugin for Wordpress that I could find that worked was the Sociable Bookmarking Plugin. But even though it says that you can choose which icons appear and which don’t in the options, for me the options page always produced an error. So, the bottom line is that I had no choice but to display all the icons (or none).

Needless to say, I went with all - and that looks like exactly what the author of the site you came across did (I recognize the order of those icons!). So, it wasn’t really something that I wanted to do … it was just the only way I found of having digg and deliscious icons show up.

Forgive me?

Joel says:
October 28, 18h

I’ve always avoided these like the plague, but I have to say this one thing …

There’s only one good reason to put a “bookmark this” link on your site (and it’s NOT to get more people to digg you, you beggars) … to promote your favorite linking site.

And as a response to what someone else said earlier, the same thing applies to those “validate” links. Go ahead, put them on your site – not because we don’t know how to validate your site if we care, but to promote the writing of code that *does* validate …

Think of it as putting bumper stickers on your car. Most of us don’t think it’s tacky to put a couple bumper stickers on your car: your favorite sports team or rock band, your Alma Mater, whatever… But you definitely look silly when you’ve got so many bumper stickers on your car that nobody can read them all while driving by …

October 31, 14h

Yeah, I toned down my sites too. The wordpress sociable plugin offers too many choices; I use two, and digg.

The reason I reduced was the site ‘looked’ ugly with that many little logos after each post. It was way too distracting and didn’t add value to the post.

Though it did take me a few months to realize it…:-(

November 04, 09h

I’m extremely tech-savvy, and I use the “email to a friend” links from time to time. Sometimes it’s just easier, sometimes I’m at somebody else’s computer and want to send the link to _myself_. Nothing wrong with them at all.

As for the social bookmarking links – I’ve never even so much as looked at those systems.

November 07, 05h

Now there’s an all-in-one it seems.


November 12, 11h

Harhar, that is great. Usability testing probably showed the respective site owner that adding more than n bookmark icons doesn’t add up to the overall confusion and rejection anymore (which already reached 100% by then).

December 09, 08h


And for those concerned about the “intro to social bookmarking,” if you want people that read your site to learn about it, blog about it.

I admit the comments in this post were a bit of an eye opener when it comes to the “email this to a friend” links. I never use them personally, but it’s interesting to see how many folks do.

January 09, 08h

As an update, Alex King created a rather cool Share This plugin for Wordpress:

It places one icon and text after each post, with a scripted dropdown to the popular sharing services when a visitor clicks on the icon. Clean and efficient.