Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Not so delicious search -

One of the things that surprises me about delicious besides its poor usability and its relative frozen stage is that the search is not really satisfactory. This is surprising because, although it is acceptable or even good for a one man show to have a poor UI and virtually no search, I think that a Yahoo! company should put the standard a bit higher. I mean Yahoo! is trying to position itself as a search company right?

So, here it comes, if somebody from Yahoo! reads this, please pass this along to whoever can do something about it. Here's what I think is broken with delicious search:

Here's what I expect from a search on my and other people bookmarks:

Part One: The Basic

- There should be only one way to search - Currently on delicious if you type something on the seach box you get a set of results, but if you click on a tag you get a different set of results. The difference is that on the first search you do a plain search and on the second you search only on the tags. I think that a regular user does not care about that distinction. Tags are simply an additional layer of information and if they are not here one should still be able to retrieve pages. So please keep this distinction for the "advanced searchers" - People who only click should have only one option and it should search not only on tags.

- Fast - del.icio.us search sometimes takes up to 1mn. Del.icio.us is already a Yahoo company for a year or so and I'd expect they had time to address this already. I don't think that they lack experience of money in making services go fast. So just do it. [For those interested, I believe there is a need for serious re-engineering here because tag-search is reasonably fast, however "plain search" is painfully slow. So I suspect the plain search has been done in an inefficient way and would have to be redone completely.]

- "bug tracking" and "bugtracking" should bring the same results. The fact that delicious is forcing users to write space delimited tags in the first place forces people to do ugly things like bugtracking or bug_tracking. There are 2 ways to fix this: 1. switch to comma delimited tags and 2. do some smart processing to be able to find out that "bugtracking" and "bug_tracking" are really like "bug tracking" -

- "tracking" should also bring pages that have been tagged "bug tracking" - I mean there are so many ways to tag a page that some people might say "bugtracking" whereas others would say "bug" and then "tracking" or whatever combination. One wants them all.

- Search on notes too - Again, Notes are like tags, simply an additional layer of information added by the users. Some users like tags some other like notes. The search engine should not discriminate and it should search on notes as well as in tags.

Part II The Advanced

- Related tags: I expect here to find tags that will help me find something, thus either tags that reduce my search or tags that change my search. Instead delicious puts tags that are related somehow. For example: if I search "google" then "google" will be on the related tags. This is not helpful, what I need are either the most discriminatory tags or tags that would help me search something else ("did you mean").

- Related users: When i search on a topic, I'd like to get the "wisdom of crowd" effect and see what are the users that are knowledgeable on this topic. Delicious does not even try to do that. Simpy does that well for example.

Well I figured that when a search company acquires a small startup, one of the first thing they would do is fix the search - Apparently it has not been a priority yet, I just wish they would put more effort into this.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Twitter is cool

So here's what I think about Twitter - I think it is a great broadcasting tool !
I've seen several uses of twitter in various blogs already, but I think that what it boils down to for me is that with Twitter I am able to broadcast a short message to my "followers" -

These followers are for example all the people I work with and who need to:

  • know how to reach me
  • ask or answer questions

For example, if I am stuck with a technical question such as "How do I configure lighttpd with multiple sites?" instead of asking several of my friends separately, I can broadcast this on my twitter and whoever knows and is available this day can pick it up and answer.

The second best use of twitter is the "Message of the Day" or "Status message" that is currently available in most IM tools. I think this is a cool use but I am not sure this is sustainable until they have an automatic update from my IM. For example if I am away or in a meeting.

What I like most about Twitter: I like the gtalk integration. I don't need to go to twitter site in order to either update my message or get updates from the people I follow. Kudos to the twitter team for this feature!!

What I want from Twitter: I'd like to be able to have several groups of followers (in a way multiple accounts). I'd like to have a group of technical people following me, a family group and maybe a friends group and a co-worker group. Please do that for me and you'll be my favorite tool.

Here's my Twitter page: http://twitter.com/FrankieMbaye

Friday, March 02, 2007

The bar is too high !!

Come on Gmail guys remove the "BETA" sign from the logo. This is really making hard on other software to go out of Beta.
I mean gmail successfully serves millions of users everyday, never (that I know of) has been broken off, (almost) always on, fast, reliable. Gmail is now available to everybody, no more invitation required. Nevertheless Gmail is still in Beta. I know a lot of software who would be lucky to be as reliable as gmail in production.

So please, gmail guys, do us a favor and remove the small Beta sign near the gmail logo.