After four days of speaking with a total of 269 developers at PDC in Los Angeles about MSDN Bookmarking, I have a pretty good idea what you think of it. Nearly all of the response at the booth was very positive, with a few in-depth conversations yielding some great suggestions and insights.

A few quotes from the convention floor regarding bookmarking:

  • "I have something fun to do tonight!" OK, I think this guy needs to get out more, but I love the enthusiasm.
  • "I can see I'm going to be filling up my feed reader." This from a dev that had started the demo very skeptical of the value. He was also impressed with our search improvements.
  • Regarding the new forums: "This is the best forum software I've ever seen... I wasn't expecting to see anything like this [from MSDN]."

Other comments and suggestions:

  • Allow users to wire up their blog to their profile, and their Twitter account too.
  • What if the "all bookmarks" view put more popularity weighting on bookmarks from users whose bookmarks you'd saved in the past?
  • A user group leader is going to suggest that their user group use a tag (e.g. "SoCalUG") that would generate a feed for the user group members to share links with each other.
  • Build an IE/FF add-in for bookmarking. More than just a bookmarklet.
  • Add instant messaging capabilities whenever showing other user badges, especially in forums.
  • Do more to make content from existing communities like pinvoke.net easily accessible from MSDN.

imageOn that last note, I also heard from several people that thought what we were doing was similar to what Jeff Atwood is doing with Stack Overflow. I actually was able to pull Jeff to the booth and have a chat with him about our two applications. We agreed after discussing each other's goals that we actually have two complimentary sites.

At the moment, Stack Overflow is more similar to Digg, and MSDN Bookmarks is closer to Delicious. Stack Overflow is designed to provide quick micro-blog-like conversations around questions that can rise and fall in popularity. MSDN Bookmarks is designed to create a massive filterable database of links with associated feeds. I'll be reaching out to Jeff after putting more thought into this to see if there's synergies to be found between us.

I did talk to a few people that just weren't very interested in sharing their bookmarks, either because of privacy concerns or because they did most of their reading in an offline reader where bookmarking isn't currently available.

However, most saw that while forums provide answers when they had to put out a fire, bookmarking provides fire insurance: feeds of the latest hidden treasures on topics you care about, found by peers and experts, which help you plan against and prevent those fires from cropping up in the first place.

Bookmarking is also the simplest way to contribute to the community. "Paying it forward" is an attitude frequently seen in healthy communities, and the 5 seconds it takes to use the bookmarklet or IE8 accelerator is a fast and easy way to give back and to drive our site experience.

imageOh, one more thing: On the last day of the conference, Joey deVilla, a new evangelist from Canada came by and did an interview. I'll link to it when it's up, but here's the blog. For those of you that were there, you'll know him as the guy that plays a mean AC/DC on the accordion.

UPDATE: here’s the video of the interview with Joey.

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