Thoughts on linkblogs, bookmarks, reads, likes, favorites, follows, and related links

Within the social media space there’s a huge number of services that provide a variety of what I would call bookmark-type functionality of one sort or another. They go under a variety of monikers including bookmarks, likes, favorites, stars, reads, follows, claps, and surely many quirky others. Each platform has created its own semantics which don’t always overlap with the others.

Because I’m attempting to own all of my own data, I’ve roughly mapped many of these intents into my own website. But because I have the ultimate control over them, I get to form my own personal definitions. I also have a lot more control over them in addition to adding other metadata to each for better after-the-fact search and use within my personal online commonplace book. As such, I thought it might be useful to lay out some definitions (both for myself and others) for how I view these on my website.

At the basest level, I look at most of these interactions simply as URL permalinks to interesting content and their aggregation as a “linkblog”, or a feed of interesting links I’ve come across. The specific names given to them imply a level of specificity about what I think exactly makes them interesting.

In addition to a bookmark specific feed, which by itself could be considered a “traditional” linkblog, my site also has separate aggregated feeds for things I’ve liked, read, followed, and favorited. It’s the semantic reasons for saving or featuring these pieces of content which ultimately determine which names they ultimately have. (For those interested in subscribing to one or or more, or all of these, one can add /feed/ to the ends of the specific types’ URLs, which I’ve linked,  for an RSS feed. Thus, for example, will give you the RSS feed for the “Master” linkblog that includes all the bookmarks, likes, reads, follows, and favorites.)

On my site, I try to provide a title for the content and some type of synopsis of what the content is about. These help to provide some context to others seeing them as well as a small reminder to me of what they were about. When appropriate/feasible, I’ll try to include an image for similar reasons. I’ll also often add a line of text or two as a commentary or supplement to my thoughts on the piece. Finally, I add an icon to help to quickly visually indicate which of the types of posts each is, so they can be more readily distinguished when seen in aggregate.

In relative order of decreasing importance or value to me I would put them in roughly the following order of importance (with their attached meanings as I view them on my site):

  1. Favorite – This is often something which might easily have had designations of bookmark, like, and/or read, or even multiple of them at the same time. In any case they’re often things which I personally find important or valuable in the long term. There are far less of these than any of the other types of linkblog-like posts.
  2. Follow – Indicating that I’m now following a person, organization, or source of future content which I deem to have enough regular constant value to my life that I want to be able to see what that source is putting out on a regular basis. Most often these sources have RSS feeds which I consume in a feed reader, but frequently they’ll appear on other social silos which I will have ported into a feed reader as well. Of late I try to be much more selective in what I’m following and why. I also categorize sources based on topics of value to me. Follows often include sources which I have either previously often liked or bookmarked or suspect I would like or bookmark frequently in the future. For more details see: A Following Page (aka some significant updates to my Blogroll) and the actual Following page.
  3. Read – These are linkblog-like posts which I found interesting enough for one reason or another to have actually spent the time to read in their entirety. For things I wish to highlight or found most interesting, I’ll often add additional thought or commentary in conjunction with the post.
  4. Like – Depending on the content, these posts may not always have been read in their entirety, but I found them more interesting than the majority of content which I’ve come across. Most often these posts serve to show my appreciation for the original source of the related post as a means of saying “congratulations”, “kudos”, “good job”, or in cases of more personal level content “I appreciate this”, “you’re awesome”, or simply as the tag says “I liked this.”
  5. Bookmark – Content which I find interesting, but might not necessarily have the time to deal with at present. Often I’ll wish to circle back to the content at some future point and engage with at a deeper level. Bookmarking it prevents me from losing track of it altogether. I may optionally add a note about how the content came to my attention to be able to better remember it at a future time. While there are often things here which others might have “liked” or “favorited” on other social silos, on my site these things have been found interesting enough to have been bookmarked, but I haven’t personally read into them enough yet to form any specific opinion about them beyond their general interest to me or potentially followers interested in various category tags I use. I feel like this is the lowest level of interaction, and one in which I see others often like, favorite, or even repost on other social networks without having actually read anything other than the headline, if they’ve even bothered to do that. In my case, however, I more often than not actually come back to the content while others on social media rarely, if ever, do.

While occasionally some individual specimens of each might “outrank” others in the category above this is roughly the order of how I perceive them. Within this hierarchy, I do have some reservations about including the “follow” category, which in some sense I feel stands apart from the continuum represented by the others. Still it fits into the broader category of a thing with a URL, title, and high interest to me. Perhaps the difference is that it represents a store of future potentially useful information that hasn’t been created or consumed yet? An unseen anti-library of people instead of books in some sense of the word.

I might also include the Reply post type toward the top of the list, but for some time I’ve been categorizing these as “statuses” or “note-like” content rather than as “links”. These obviously have a high priority if lumped in as I’ve not only read and appreciated the underlying content, but I’ve spent the time and thought to provide a reasoned reply, particularly in cases where the reply has taken some time to compose. I suppose I might more likely include these as linkblog content if I didn’t prefer readers to value them more highly than if they showed up in those feeds. In some sense, I value the replies closer on par to my longer articles for the value of not only my response, but for that of the original posts themselves.

In general, if I take the time to add additional commentary, notes, highlights, or other marginalia, then the content obviously resonated with me much more than those which stand as simple links with titles and descriptions.

Perhaps in the near future, I’ll write about how I view these types on individual social media platforms. Often I don’t post likes/favorites from social platforms to my site as they often have less meaning to me directly and likely even less meaning to my audiences here. I suppose I could aggregate them here on my site privately, but I have many similar questions and issues that Peter Molnar brings up in his article Content, Bloat, privacy, arichives.

I’m curious to hear how others apply meaning to their linkblog type content especially since there’s such a broad range of meaning from so many social sites. Is there a better way to do it all? Is it subtly different on sites which don’t consider themselves (or act as) commonplace books?

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👓 Content, bloat, privacy, archives | Peter Molnar

Content, bloat, privacy, archives by Peter MolnarPeter Molnar (
I spent a lot of time trying centralising my online activities, including adding bookmarks and imports from social networks. Lately my site looked bloated and unmaintainable. I started questioning what data is my data, what data should or could I own - it was time to rethink some ideas.

Peter has some solid thoughts here on some subtle uses of things including likes, favorites, and bookmarks. I particularly like the way he separates out and describes the “vote” intent of likes on various platforms.

Somewhat like him, I’m bookmarking things I’d like to read privately on the back end of my site, and then only selectively posting them as read posts when I’ve done that. Archiving them to the Internet Archive has been useful for cutting down on the data I’m keeping, but saving them does allow me to browse through my commonplace book frequently when I need to find something and couldn’t find it otherwise.

Some of this reminds me of the way I use the “star” functionality on Twitter (I still think of it as a star and not a heart). I don’t typically use it to mean anything in particular on Twitter itself. Instead I’m using that functionality in conjunction with an IFTTT recipe to bookmark things I’d like to read later. So in a larger sense, I’m using Twitter as a headline feed reader and marking all the things I’d like to come back and read at a later time.

Once in a blue moon, during a chat with others on Twitter, I may use the heart as an indicator to the other party that I’ve seen/read their post, particularly when I don’t intend to reply to the last in a chain of conversation. This type of ephemera or digital exhaust generally isn’t something I find useful for keeping in the long term, so like Peter I typically don’t keep/archive them on my site.

For those who haven’t read them yet, Sebastiaan Andewe has a recent article covering similar ground: Thinking about bookmarks and likes on the IndieWeb.

I find these discussions useful for thinking through what I’m doing on my own site and refining how I use it as well.​​​​

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Chris Aldrich is reading “Maybe the Internet Isn’t a Fantastic Tool for Democracy After All”

Maybe the Internet Isn’t a Fantastic Tool for Democracy After All by Max Read (Select All)
Fake news is the easiest of the problems to fix.

…a new set of ways to report and share news could arise: a social network where the sources of articles were highlighted rather than the users sharing them. A platform that makes it easier to read a full story than to share one unread. A news feed that provides alternative sources and analysis beneath every shared article.

This sounds like the kind of platforms I’d like to have. Reminiscent of some of the discussion at the beginning of This Week in Google: episode 379 Ixnay on the Eet-tway.

I suspect that some of the recent coverage of “fake news” and how it’s being shared on social media has prompted me to begin using, a bookmarking-esqe service that commands that users to:

Share what you’re reading. Not what you like. Not what you find interesting. Just what you’re reading.

Naturally, in IndieWeb fashion, I’m also posting these read articles to my site. While bookmarks are things that I would implicitly like to read in the near future (rather than “Christmas ornaments” I want to impress people with on my “social media Christmas tree”), there’s a big difference between them and things that I’ve actually read through and thought about.

I always feel like many of my family, friends, and the general public click “like” or “share” on articles in social media without actually having read them from top to bottom. Research would generally suggest that I’m not wrong. [1] [2] Some argue that the research needs to be more subtle too. [3] I generally refuse to participate in this type of behavior if I can avoid it.

Some portion of what I physically read isn’t shared, but at least those things marked as “read” here on my site are things that I’ve actually gone through the trouble to read from start to finish. When I can, I try to post a few highlights I found interesting along with any notes/marginalia (lately I’m loving the service for doing this) on the piece to give some indication of its interest. I’ll also often try to post some of my thoughts on it, as I’m doing here.

Gauging Intent of Social Signals

I feel compelled to mention here that on some platforms like Twitter, that I don’t generally use the “like” functionality there to indicate that I’ve actually liked a tweet itself or any content that’s linked to in it. In fact, I’ve often not read anything related to the tweet but the simple headline presented in the tweet itself.

The majority of the time I’m liking/favoriting something on Twitter, it’s because I’m using an applet which takes the tweets I “like” and saves them to my Pocket account where I come back to them later to read. It’s not the case that I actually read everything in my pocket queue, but those that I do read will generally appear on my site.

There are however, some extreme cases in which pieces of content are a bit beyond the pale for indicating a like on, and in those cases I won’t do so, but will manually add them to my reading queue. For some this may create some grey area about my intent when viewing things like my Twitter likes. Generally I’d recommend people view that feed as a generic linkblog of sorts. On Twitter, I far more preferred the nebulous star indicator over the current heart for indicating how I used and continue to use that bit of functionality.

I’ll also mention that I sometimes use the like/favorite functionality on some platforms to indicate to respondents that I’ve seen their post/reply. This type of usage could also be viewed as a digital “Thank You”, “hello”, or even “read receipt” of sorts since I know that the “like” intent is pushed into their notifications feed. I suspect that most recipients receive these intents as I intend them though the Twitter platform isn’t designed for this specifically.

I wish that there was a better way for platforms and their readers to better know exactly what the intent of the users’ was rather than trying to intuit them. It would be great if Twitter had the ability to allow users multiple options under each tweet to better indicate whether their intent was to bookmark, like, or favorite it, or to indicate that they actually read/watched the content on the other end of the link in the tweet.

In true IndieWeb fashion, because I can put these posts on my own site, I can directly control not only what I post, but I can be far more clear about why I’m posting it and give a better idea about what it means to me. I can also provide footnotes to allow readers to better see my underlying sources and judge for themselves their authenticity and actual gravitas. As a result, hopefully you’ll find no fake news here.

Of course some of the ensuing question is: “How does one scale this type of behaviour up?”


M. Gabielkov, A. Ramachandran, A. Chaintreau, and A. Legout, “Social Clicks: What and Who Gets Read on Twitter?,” SIGMETRICS Perform. Eval. Rev., vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 179–192, Jun. 2016 [Online]. Available:
C. Dewey, “6 in 10 of you will share this link without reading it, a new, depressing study says,” Washington Post, 16-Jun-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06-Dec-2016]
T. Cigelske  , “Why It’s OK to Share This Story Without Reading It ,” MediaShift, 24-Jun-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 06-Dec-2016]
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