An empirical examination of the sustainability of social bookmarking websites

Original Article


Given the continuous growth of social bookmarking sites, we investigated the reasons behind their sustainability as online social structures. Bookmarking sites offer users the option to post and tag web resources privately or to make them publicly available to other users of the sites. A prevalence of private tagging would threaten the sustainability of the social aspects at these sites. Using activity data from a sample of 1,000 users of Simpy, a popular social bookmarking site, we found that the majority of users contribute most of their tagged resources to the public repository, despite the option to keep them private. We also found that in social bookmarking sites there is a minority of extremely prolific contributors who are responsible for a large portion of public tagged resources. Finally, we found that new users make larger proportions of their contributions public than existing users and that there is a larger number of regular contributors to the site than irregular ones. All of these findings are consistent with the mechanisms predicted by a theoretical model of sustainable online social structures.


Social bookmarking Social exchange Web 2.0 Public repositories 



The research described in this paper was supported in part by a PSC-CUNY grant # 68634-00-37. An earlier version of this study was presented at the Social Computing Applications Session of the 6th Workshop on eBusiness (Web 2007), 9 December 2007 in Montreal, Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Statistics and Computer Information Systems, Baruch CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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