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Library Subject Guides using Diigo

   March 17th, 2011

Diigo logoFor awhile now, I've been using the library's Delicious account to create dynamic subject guides on the library's website.

However, now that Yahoo support of Delicious is uncertain*, I thought I'd create a Plan B - using a similar service, Diigo. I set up a Diigo account for the library, and tested how well their linkrolls worked, compared to what I was used to with Delicious. Below are the steps to do this, and the results.

  1. Export Delicious bookmarks
    Log into Delicious, go to Settings > Export / Backup Bookmarks
    It's good to periodically create a backup of all your data on third party servers, anyway
  2. Create a Diigo account
    Easy enough - and they are definitely catering to the Delicious defectors - I saw "how to import your Delicious bookmarks" links almost every page. They also have a Transition from Delicious to Diigo FAQ
  3. Import your bookmarks to Diigo
    Browse to the file you saved, and click Import. After doing this, you'll probably get a "processing" message, and you'll receive an email once the upload is complete and your bookmarks are ready
  4. Create a Diigo Linkroll
    Tools > More Tools... (bottom of the toolbar on the left) > Enhanced Linkrolls

    • I like to uncheck "Icon" and leave "Title" blank
    • Enter the tags you'd like to pull for this linkroll - or more than one tag, if you're using a structured vocabulary like I am. Click the "Retrieve" button to preview on the right
    • Be sure "Show Descriptions" is checked, so your Notes/annotations will be displayed
    • "Count" is how many to display. I prefer more than what they seem to allow, so later in the code I always edit this to count=100 (or more, if you need it)
    • "Style" options seem to be: Standard = no bullets, Simple = bullets, Customized lets you make some changes to colors and fonts

    Lastly, click the "Create Script" button, and you'll see the code in a little box at the bottom. Now you can simply copy/paste that code into your website where you'd like the linkroll to appear.

    By default, every linkroll has kind of an annoying (I think) RSS image at the end of the list. To get rid of this, you can include this code (thanks to Ryan):

    #diigo_linkroll img {display: none;}

Side-by-side comparison
Just for the fun of it, here's what the same "consumer health resources" linkroll looks like (with a little formatting) from both Delicious and Diigo. Below those is the linkroll code itself. Also, check out the live examples of these linkrolls embedded in the library's website:


See live example


See live example

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://del.icio.us/feeds/js/chelmsfordlibrary/consumer+health+subjectguide?title=&sort=alpha&count=100&extended"></script>
<noscript><a href="http://del.icio.us/chelmsfordlibrary/consumer+health+subjectguide">my del.icio.us</a></noscript>
<div id="diigo_linkroll" ><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.diigo.com/roll2/linkrolls?v=3&username=chelmsfordlib&count=100&style=customize&icon=false&desc=1&l_type=0&i_fam=Arial,sans-serif&i_color=000000&i_size=14&i_bold=true&i_italic=false&i_underline=false&title=&tags=subjectguide%20consumer%20health" ></script></div>

Comparison results
Personally, I like the look of the Delicious linkroll better. My problem with Diigo linkrolls is that they don't seem as flexible as Delicious - for instance, there is no sort option (alphabetical, chronological, etc). Diigo also doesn't seem to offer the failsafe <noscript> tag, for browsers that don't have javascript enabled. Plus, you can't see their CSS styles, so you can't customize as much. I don't like that I can't seem to change the size of the description text, and that it forces a blank line between the description and the title for each bookmark. Because of that, I think you can get an all-around cleaner and tighter look with Delicious.

But, that said, the Diigo linkroll isn't totally unworkable either - just less flexible for control freaks like me. Of course, there are more bookmarking alternatives too.

Oh yeah, the bookmarklet
One reason Delicious is so great for library subject guides is its bookmarklet and toolbar buttons - they let you and your coworkers bookmark websites on the fly, from any computer (where they are installed). Diigo has a toolbar and bookmarklet too - and like with Delicious, I prefer the bookmarklet. For me, this is a must for any bookmarking service.

As a result of this test, I'm not rushing to switch over to Diigo. It'll work if Delicious disappears tomorrow, but I'm still going to test out a few of the other options, to see if I can find one I like a little better. But in the meantime, I feel good that I do have a very workable Plan B in place, just in case.

Update 3/27/11:
I just noticed something interesting - and troubling - about Diigo: they apparently have a "decency" filter that will automatically mark private bookmarks with "questionable" tags - for instance, porn- and illicit substance-related tags. This is a problem for me, not least because the PDRHealth website listed above keeps getting switched to "Private," and hence doesn't display in my Diigo linkroll, because it is tagged "drugs" and "drug." Others found that breast cancer websites tagged with "breast" - and similar scenarios - also automatically get removed from linkrolls. I haven't found a list of taboo tags, so it's just trial and error at this point (my testing shows that "drugs" is okay, but "drug" is not). This is another example why filtering, both here in Diigo and porn filters for computers in general, do not and will not work.

Also, it seems Diigo takes about 5-10 minutes for changes to show up in my embedded linkrolls, which is a fairly decent response time (although I think Delicious was a little quicker, more like 0-5 minutes).


*Read about this from the point of view of a Pinboard developer (a not-free Delicious alternative) - very interesting.

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6 Responses to “Library Subject Guides using Diigo”

  1. Links of the Week, March 22nd, 2011 « A Modern Hypatia Says:

    […] receive (with answers) and links to some of their other resources. Brian also has a post showing how Delicious (whose future is still up in the air) and Diigo compare, using the same links and basic […]

  2. Sarah Says:

    I’ve been mulling over the possibilities of using delicious linkrolls for dynamic link management for a while, so thanks for making me dig into this today.

    I’m curious about *how* dynamic these are – my testing shows that when I’ve added a new link with the appropriate tag, it doesn’t show up on the page where the script is embedded right away (even after re-loading). How dynamic do you expect your linkrolls to be? Real-time?

    And of course, if Delicious goes away, I’m now armed and capable of learning Diigo!

    Thanks for such a clear post.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Sarah: When I first started using Delicious, it seemed to take about 15 minutes or so, but later on it was almost instantaneous – I add a bookmark to Delicious, refresh my library page, and that bookmark shows up in the linkroll. I haven’t checked it lately, and I’m not sure why you wouldn’t be seeing that too. This is something I haven’t checked at all with Diigo, but I will when I get a chance and post what I find.

  4. » Evaluating Diigo as a Library Subject Guide Social Media with Sumanjit Says:

    […] Diigo is a social bookmarking website similar to Delicious. I have been evaluating Diigo as a Library Subject Guide based on the Swiss Army Librarian’s blog post Library Subject Guides Using Diigo. […]

  5. moonflowerdragon Says:

    I have noticed that linkrolls created a while back with delicious are still supported, but haven’t been able to find an option at delicious to create a new one?

    Have you tried creating a new subject guide with delicious lately?

  6. Brian Herzog Says:

    @moonflowerdragon: I hadn’t actually, so I just tried to log in and create one. And you’re right, I couldn’t find the easy linkroll tool they used to offer. They do still offer feeds though, so you can use the format of:


    to pull your bookmarks based on your tags, and then use a tool like feed2js.org or Yahoo Pipes to make it embeddable.

    Not nearly as neat or convenient as the linkroll, but it works. I did ask @Delicious about this, so hopefully they’ll have an answer.

    Update: their answer is no.