Getting To Know Pinboard

I have been a Pinboard user for more than half a year now. I use it consistently to bookmark sites that I want to revisit and reference in the future. And that’s the problem. Sites add up, thick and fast. Going by the current rate, I would have more than a thousand bookmarks sitting in my account by end of the year.

This is where I begin to question myself, asking if I will ever look through the pile of sites I so conveniently archived.

We have the luxury of curating things we like, but this also come at the expense of information overload. We are exposed to broader perspective, we cast our net further to reach new territory. As I’m done reading useful, I tend to chunk them into the bin of Pinboard. It’s a everything bucket of sites, spanning different authors, interests, and materials. It’s also the first point of reference for articles I know I have came across before.

As I ponder on this, I’m reminded of the post I wrote about having a creative file. Just like a journal, the articles in Pinboard doesn’t have to be really organized. The most important thing is to capture them down. Over time, pay them a visit. Choose a random tag or two, plow through them entirely. In that instance, dots will be joined together and things become clearer. It may think some time to read through all the content, especially when your collection in the library is massive. But let me reassure this, the time and effort spent is worth it.

Everybody has their own style. Not everyone will use Pinboard the way I do. Here are three more common school of thoughts on how people go about bookmarking their sites.

  1. A collection of everything bucket. Anything that’s deem to be worthy of revisit or reference materials will be inside.
  2. Carefully curated archive of articles that are really essential. This way, it shouldn’t fill up the list like (1) does. Plus, it’s selective retention and we don’t have to go through too much redundant materials to get to what we want.
  3. Use it as a Read-Later service. Pinboard itself is a very capable replacement for Instapaper or Pocket. But I don’t exercise this option since I want to differentiate my unread articles and those that I want to keep for reference.

While I’m treating Pinboard like my everything bucket, the collection is expanding fast. There will comes a day when the information I need to locate will be harder to retrieve. This is where I think the importance of tagging intelligently is really essential as we attempt to bring order into place. Prudent and smartly placed tags will be the focal point. My system of tagging goes like this:

For a piece of writing like this review done by Shawn Blanc, I would tag it with “review”, “apps” and “writing”. So if I were to just filter by “apps”, a sizable number of apps related articles would appear. I can further filter them off by having “writing” in my search. This way, the handful of articles will be exactly what I’m doing for.

For some time in the past, it has crossed my mind to selectively bookmark what actually goes into the Pinboard account. A part of me wants it to be a curation of a small quantity of high quality material, while another part of me wants to collect more.

It’s debatable as to which way is the ideal route but as far as I’m concerned, cleaning up as I go along is what works for me. Some of the articles that are of no value will be relegated to the trash bin. It’s always good to cultivate a habit of doing house keeping to tidy up the place.

Public or Private

Before I started writing this, all the bookmarks in my account are public. I didn’t give much thought to it, I just pinboard things everywhere. Now that I’m comfortable with the service, I ponder what values it has for others if my bookmarks are public. I’m not sure if anyone would be remotely interested in the articles I have amassed. Staying true to the words of “social bookmarking for the introverts”, more than half of its users are marking bookmarks private by default.

Recently, I enabled the privacy lock setting. When this new feature was introduced, it was well received by many. While I couldn’t see a reason why this is such a welcoming change, I’m giving it a try to understand the rationale. I’m still experimenting with the features and settings, so it may not always stay this way. I’m not taking side here on whether you should have your bookmarks as public and/or private. At the end of the day just choose something you are comfortable with.


I’m still a relatively new user of Pinboard and I’m learning along the way as we speak. Recently, I came across an article on Unretrofied on his experience with Pinboard. While our style of bookmarking differs, I’m glad that I picked up a tip off his post.

I never knew highlighting within the article automatically insert those quoted words into the description field. I can see myself using it extensively to give a more comprehensive structure and meaning to the bookmarks.

I’m sure there are many more features and tricks I’ve yet to discover. I’m merely at the tip of the iceberg.