Update: Ma.gnolia is now open to public. Enjoy!

I’ve recently got a hold of an invite to the private beta for Ma.gnolia, a new social bookmarking service to compete with other services like del.icio.us. I was expecting to see just another social bookmarking tool when taking my first look at Ma.gnolia, but I realized it is actually a whole lot more then that. For one, their slogan is, “Found is the New Search.” These are pretty strong words. It makes you think… Is social bookmarking going to be the new search? Is searching for something by tags any better then searching by keywords? Ma.gnolia seems to show that it definitely can be. Another thing that I came to realize was how well built the community is. Users interacting with each other, joining groups, making contacts, creating member profiles, etc.. It adds a bit more to the social in the term, social bookmarking. I have been testing Ma.gnolia and today I have received notification that users in the private beta are now free to write about Ma.gnolia. I have confirmed with Ma.gnolia that I can write, so lets get started. Note that I don’t want to reveal too much about the service yet because of request, which is why there aren’t any larger screenshots then the ones I am showing. But there should be enough there for you to get a main visual on the service.

The important thing about Ma.gnolia is that it is more then just another social bookmarking service. It is also a community. After registering for an account there’s a lot that you can do. You can build your profile and choose an avatar (image) for yourself for others to identify you by, find contacts and add them to your list of contacts, search for groups to join, and even a private message area to view messages like group invitations that are sent your account (although it does not appear you can compose messages yourself). And you really need to get active in the community to see the actual strength of Ma.gnolia. When I first started using Ma.gnolia, I wasn’t all that impressed because I was just doing basic bookmarking. But then I joined a group (9rules group, to be specific) and started adding bookmarks to the group and viewed what other group members were bookmarking. I also added a few friends to my contact list. I now get a stream of bookmarks from all Mag.nolia users, group members, and even my contacts – including my own bookmarks. Things got a whole lot more intresting once I started becoming an active user and it is all because of the community.

Above is a screenshot of the main page. The first thing you will notice is the great looking interface and type treatment that Ma.gnolia has. Even more, it maintains a nicely organized layout to present all the information clearly to you. Icons are also used smartly thoughout the design instead of text labels, which does seem to make using Ma.gnolia easier. Now, Ma.gnolia has a lot of features, and one feature I like is how you get an overview of pretty much everything in the community on the main page. On the left, you can see your latest bookmarks, your contacts bookmarks, and even bookmarks from groups you are in. On the right, you will see a search form, a form to add bookmarks (which is great to see on the main page), recent bookmarks, group listing of the most active groups, popular links, and lastly, popular tags. As you can probably tell, there is a lot of functionality going on here and I was impressed with how cleanly layed out everything was made.

Each bookmark created on Ma.gnolia has its own permanent page. The page shows the basic information including title, tags, description, and author. But it also has some extra functionality that isn’t in your basic social bookmarking service. First, you will see thumnails for every bookmark saved to give you a visual. You can also rate any bookmark on a scale from 1-5 (also visable outside of the detailed page) which helps when viewing bookmarks throughout Ma.gnolia becuase it gives you an idea of bookmarks quality when multiple votes have been made. The next feature I liked was a listing of other users that bookmarked the site along with their icons and the rating that they gave the bookmark. You also can see any groups that the bookmark has been added to so you can possibly find groups of interest to join. Lastly, you will see a link next to the bookmark that says, “View Saved Copy.” This is basically a snapshot of the website at the time of bookmarking the site. Ma.gnolia will save the page and allow you to view it again as an actual website at any time. As you can see, bookmarks themselves have a good amount of functionality but is also very easy to use.

When it comes to social bookmarking, you just have to have a tag cloud somewhere. Ma.gnolia did a great job of making tags easy to look for and view. All tags are split up into groups. You can see your tags only, tags from your contacts, from groups you are a member of, and also tags from everyone. This is great because you can easily find things that you are interested in and what other members are interested in. Ma.gnolia also allows you to just list tags alphabetically instead of a tag cloud formation, which is sometimes preferable.

The last feature that I want to talk about are profile pages. Each member gets their own public profile page. Just like any profile page, you can see the basic information about the member. But you also can see tags that the member has used, bookmarks that have been saved, a list of the members contacts, and also groups that the user is a member of. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed of a member to keep up on their bookmarks from a feed reader. The profile page is great because it gives you a fair amount of information about a member making it a lot easier for you to find other members like you which in turn makes Ma.gnolia a tool for social networking as well. Find a member that interests you, add them as a contact, join groups they are in, etc..

Overall, I found Ma.gnolia to be great and feel that it also has excellent potential to be something big. Honestly, at first use I was very far from impressed. But I soon realized that in order to get the most out of the service, you have to be more active with the community. It just makes it a lot more interesting and enjoyable. There are a few things still in the making and I also remember reading in the beta invite that not all features are shown in the beta, so I am excited to see what else they have got coming. But, there are a few things here and there that I feel can be improved on. Ma.gnolia provides you with a bookmarklet so you can easily bookmark a site you are viewing. This works great, but what I personally don’t like is that it automatically fills the description with what seems to be the meta description tag embedded in the site. Don’t get me wrong, I do like this, but I think it would be even better if you can select text on the site, click the bookmarklet and it uses that description instead of the meta tag description. It just makes one less step for the user to bookmark a site easily with a description. I also have another request for when it comes to bookmarking. When you are on the page to submit the bookmark, I would love to be able to submit the bookmark to a group at the same time. As of now, you have to add your bookmark, then go to it in Ma.gnolia and click on the icon to add the bookmark to a group. It would be great if I can select a group from a drop down box of some sort to easily add it to the group so there are less steps involved to do so. Otherwise, I am happy with what Ma.gnolia has to offer and feel it has great potential because of the community based features. One last thing I want to mention, you can import bookmarks from your browser and they are planning to make in import feature for other social bookmarking services, like del.icio.us or BlinkList. The FAQ section also says that they are working on an API for Ma.gnolia and are open to any suggestions you may have. Nice work to the Ma.gnolia team and best of luck.

View Ma.gnolia – Social Bookmarking to Build an Information Community.

18 Comments on “Ma.gnolia: Social Bookmarking and Community”

  1. Rachel C says:

    Thanks for this post. I was writing about social bookmarking being the future of search yesterday so your article is timely :)

  2. del.icio.us as a search engine — cre8d design blog says:

    [...] you know of any other search engines exploring this area? Update: Can’t wait to see Magnolia – “found is the new search” launch!


  3. ??????? says:

    Trackback:Ma.gnolia: Social Bookmarking and Community » Solution Watch

    ![](http://www.solutionwatch.com/images/magnolia_main.gif “”)

  4. ??????? says:

    Trackback:Ma.gnolia: Social Bookmarking and Community » Solution Watch

    ![](http://www.solutionwatch.com/images/magnolia_bookmark.gif “”)

  5. Killeroid says:

    hi Brian,I also got an invite to Ma.gnolia somewhere in the beginnig of last week and i was going to write about it today.I just wanted to know if you also expereinced problems with the bookmark importation in ma.gnolia.It takes a long time for your bookmarks to appaer and sometimes they dont even appear.I uploaded my bookmarks for del.icio.us two days ago and it hasnt appeared on my bookmarks page.Overall,it has a nice interface.I would love it if not for the bookmarks importation problems.

  6. The New Market Machines » Blog Archive » OSBB Programming Note says:

    [...] l data and including a screen shot of the post/item under discussion. Equally valuable: SolutionWatch. I’ll try to contribute more user-centric revie [...]

  7. Killeroid says:

    Soory,didnt see the part about ma.gnolia not supporting imporation of bookmarks form del.icio.us
    Not withstanding that,I also uplaoded bookamrks from firefox but they also havent appeared.

  8. Kill3r0id’s bl0g » Blog Archive » MA.GNOLIA:Social bookamrking with a twist says:

    [...] nly beta. You can sign up for an invite on its webpage. A more indepth review can be found here. Technorati Tags: ma.gnolia, social bookmarking, web 2.0, bookma [...]

  9. links for 2006-02-04 at AnushaRaji says:

    [...] ogramming windows development opensource scm cvs lazysheep) Ma.gnolia: Social Bookmarking and Community » Solutio [...]

  10. Brian Emick says:

    I really like this better than del.icio.us. The groups feature is really cool.

  11. Marshall Kirkpatrick says:

    Well I hope you can easily import and export. I wouldn’t want to use a service like that until then. Have you seen the message at del.ico.us about importing “this will be back up in a few days” or something…yah right! it’s been months. It’s really a shame too, cause all these little puppies ought to synch with del.icio.us if you ask me.

    I’d also really like to see what the tagging functionality feels like. I used to use Furl with great loyalty, in large part because of the cache thing like here. But the drop down menu for selecting tags made me want to commit random acts of violence so I jumped ship to del.icio.us I wonder what it’s like here?

  12. IT|Redux » The Quest for the Perfect Bookmarking Tool says:

    [...] Beside online calendaring, which was recently featured by Michael Arrington on Techcrunch, no other application gets more attention than social bookmarking these days. Most of us started with del.icio.us, then we played with BlinkList, Diigo, or Simpy. The last to date is ma.gnolia, for which I received a preview account today. As usual, Brian Benzinger from Solution Watch offered a great early review. Here are my own first impressions. [...]

  13. Sylvain says:

    Ma.gniola is a full and good service. Good deal to use it :)

  14. David Russell /via/ davidblog » Ma.gnolia - Best for bookmarks? says:

    [...] Solution Watch Review [...]

  15. Library clips :: ma.gnolia : social bookmarks :: April :: 2006 says:

    [...] I just checked out ma.gnolia…very impressive…Solution Watch has a great review as usual. [...]

  16. A College Student says:

    Curious why they felt the need to make “ma” a subdomain. Try telling that to your friend sitting at the computer. “Go to magnolia dot com, m-a dot nolia dot …” “what??” Perhaps magnolia.com was alreadly taken, but come’on, get a little more creative here.

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