Return of the lazy sheep: auto-tagging delicious posts with greasmonkey

I use delicious to bookmark sites of interest. I also use it to send links to friends, since it makes for a much less intrusive way to send links than email. When I save a link, I want to describe it as best as possible so that I can find it again when I return. To this end, I add as many tags as I can.

One of the most powerful features of delicious is it’s ability to suggest tags for sites that other’s have already saved. By copying and pasting all these tags, I can be that much more confident of successfully retrieving the link with a search. However, this makes for a cumbersome workflow, especially when all I want to do is save a bookmark.

When I came across John Resig’s LazySheep bookmarklet, I was pumped. Alas, I was too late – the tool no longer worked due to API changes on del.icio.us. My excitement turned to disappointment. It was back to copy-paste or using ill-fitting extensions.

Enter the Auto Tag

Not to long ago, I finally got around to perusing the userscripts archive for a real solution. After all, I can’t be the only one with this workflow, right?

Sure enough – after a few clicks the AutoTag 2 userscript was installed and my hopes were confirmed. The standard bookmarklet in the browser now pre-fills the tags field, to which I can add or remove as needed.

Sheep on Safari, but no NetNewsWire

I use a few different browsers, including webkit based applications like Safari. Greasemonkey isn’t available for webkit browsers, but Greasekit is (you’ll need SIMBL).

My motivation for installing this for Safari was guided by another desire – to get the delicious button in NetNewsWire to run the AutoTag 2 userscript. I still haven’t figured out how to do this, but I have a few ideas to work around it.

For example, perhaps there is a way to add a custom Fluid app (it has userscript capability built right in) to the list of apps suggested in the preferences. An easier route might be to just replace one of those apps with a Fluid app, by renaming the Fluid app to something like, say, Pukka or Cocoalicious and dropping it into the Application folder.

Bah-Bah Bad Sheep?

It might be worth noting that his idea of “Lazy Sheep tagging” hasn’t been without it’s detractors. There has been some discussion as to the impact of this practice on the larger community, and it’s benefit for the user. Generally, the concern seems to be centered around the idea that by copying other people’s tags (being a lazy sheep) you are devaluing the data.

Part of this appears to be a reaction to how the LazySheep tool worked, in that it didn’t actually allow you to add your own tags. Instead, it automatically grabbed all the tags and saved the link without opening the delicious interface. This in itself offers an interesting look at differing approaches to the user experience – should the user even need to see the interface? What should constitute interaction?

As tempting as it is to delve into these juicy user experience questions, I think I’ll refrain from joining a 3 year old conversation for now. In the meantime, happy grazing.

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About this article

Green Galoshes is a weblog written by Justin D. Henry. This entry was published on or around November 8, 2008.

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