trenchant.org

by adam mathes
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Quick Analysis of Skills.to

Skills.to is a new website from Joshua Schachter, creator of delicious and the godfather of tagging and folksonomies on the web, and tasty labs.

A million years ago in web terms I used to run a dating/social network/thing/web site with Ben that allowed people to tag each other called Consumating, and before that I studied folksonomies in graduate school so it’s a topic I’ve spent a bit of time on.

Here are my initial thoughts on skills.to:

The foundational assumption of the site is that tagging forms a sort of collaborative “endorsement” of people’s skills, and that this can be useful for finding people with specific skills.

Is that actually true? Will that be more or less useful than self-describing skills on LinkedIn if enough people use it? Is it as useful as specialized reputation gleaned from github or other sources? Will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Some critiques:

Professionalism and Context

Is professional networking right for Twitter? Probably for a subset, but I find that the gestalt of Twitter is more of a party than a business casual networking event. I may just be behind the times on this one, but it feels off to me.

Initial Motivation

What’s the motivating factor to tag yourself or others? With delicious, Flickr, and other services the motivation for early users is organizing their own collections. This use case (organizing your twitter contacts) seemed to be the basis behind Twitter lists, which does not seem to have been broadly used.

On Consumating, tagging was a form of flirtation and communication - the incentives were a little clearer.

The “find someone with x skills” or “be someone who has x skills to be found” use cases doesn’t seem to quite address this.

Proxy Profiles are Creepy

You don’t have to a member of skills.to to have someone tag you, you just have to be on Twitter. This is nice for adoption but these sort of “proxy profiles” that make it unclear whether someone is on the system or not seem skeezy to me. Making it very obvious when someone is or is not a member of the site could address some of this.

But if someone writes nasty things about me, do I have to join your service to remove them? Seems… ugh. In general using someone’s likeness on your site without their explicit permission doesn’t sit well with me.

Handling spam, abuse, etc. seems like it could get out of hand pretty quickly with controversial figures.

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But overall, it’s really nice to see a pioneer in folksonomies starting something like this and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

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