Group RSS, Friend Recommendations, and Internet Explorer Alpha

This past couple of weeks we’ve been hard at work implementing a few improvements and some major new features.

After many months of working hard (and jumping over many, many hurdles), we’ve finally got a plugin available for Internet Explorer.  It’s in Alpha stage, so it may have problems, but we’d be very grateful to have some feedback on it. You can get Zigtag for Internet Explorer Alpha here.

After receiving several requests from our users, we have also added the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed from any public or membership group.  This should enable much better collaboration between users of these groups. Unfortunately, RSS feeds on private groups are still not implemented due to RSS readers’ lack of support for authentication, but we will work on a solution for that sometime down the road.

Lastly, we’re happy to introduce a very cool new feature – friend recommendations.  Based on certain tags you’ve used, Zigtag is able to match you with other users based on interest.  Best of all, as your interests change over time, so will your friend recommendations – it’s sure to help you find and meet new people on the internet!  In the next little while, we will also be extending this to group recommendations, as well as bookmark recommendations!

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Keeping tags private or sharing them with the world

One of Zigtag’s major features is its highly tunable levels of privacy – Zigtag was designed from the ground up with privacy in mind. Privacy levels can be chosen on a tag– or page– level and are customizable for each site you visit.

Every user starts with a default privacy setting that can be chosen during sign up. There are three possible privacy settings:

  • Public
  • Anonymous
  • Private

Public means that you will be credited with the pages that you tag. Users will be able to browse and search your public bookmarks. This is the best option when you wish to share your bookmarks with others.

Anonymous means that your bookmarks are publicly viewable, but you will not be credited with tagging them. Users can browse and search anonymous bookmarks when viewing all saved pages (known as the world view), but not when viewing your profile. You may choose to allow your friends to see your anonymous bookmarks – this option is available in your account settings. We have taken great care to ensure that anonymous bookmarks cannot be traced back to you. The anonymous option is good when you would like to share a page but do not want others to know you tagged it.

Private means that your bookmarks will not be visible to anyone besides yourself. No one will ever know you tagged pages marked private.

Tag privacy vs. page privacy

Privacy can be applied to both tags and pages. Privacy applied to a page applies to that page only, while privacy applied to a tag applies to all uses of that tag.

Here’s an example of page privacy: suppose that you tag a page that you wish to keep private, such as a page on your local network. You may choose to use the word Intranet to tag it with; however, you don’t necessarily want all pages tagged Intranet to be private. In this case, you would change the page privacy to private. This means that if another user searches for the Intranet tag, this page will not be returned in the results because it is private. Other pages saved with the Intranet tag will be visible (assuming those pages are public).

As an example of tag privacy, suppose you tag a page with Competition and Social networking. You may choose to make your Competition tag private, since you do not want others to know that you consider the site competition. You do, however, want the page to be visible to others when they search for Social networking, because it’s a valuable site. In this case, you would make the Competition tag private and leave the page privacy and Social networking tag public.  Because tag privacy applies to all uses of this tag, every time you use Competition, nobody will ever be able to see anything you have tagged Competition.

We are thinking of changing tag privacy so that it applies only on that specific page.  So as in the above example, would you want your Competition tag to always be private on every page, or only on a specific page where you made it private?  Comments are welcome.

How to change privacy

You can choose a default privacy setting when you sign up for Zigtag; every new tag and bookmark that you create will get that privacy by default. But there are lots of times when you might want to change the default privacy setting, as in the examples above.

To change tag privacy, you can click on the green, yellow or red arrows at the end of tags on the sidebar – green means public, yellow means anonymous, and red means private. To change the privacy on a tag, just click on the colored arrow and it will cycle to the next privacy level.

To change page privacy, click the “Tools” menu in the sidebar (pictured left), and choose “Set page privacy.” In the lower corner of the browser, you will see a small icon that shows the current privacy of that page; the colors indicate the same level of privacy as the tag privacy option, but applies to the entire webpage: green means public, yellow means anonymous, and red means private.

Welcome to Zigtag!

Welcome to the Zigtag blog! I’ll try to post a new post every couple days, detailing new features, features we’ve had for a while, stuff that’s going on with the company, and general keep-you-up-to-date posts.

As a first post, I guess it’s good to get it out of the way – what is Zigtag?

Zigtag is a new semantic social bookmarking application (wow what a mouthful!). If you’re familiar with delicious, it’s similar to that but a whole lot more user friendly, and a lot more features, the most important part being semantic tags. Semantic tags mean that each tag has a meaning – e.g. there is only one New York City, but you can reference the idea of New York City in a lot of different ways (New York, NY, NYC, Big Apple, etc.) Similarly, if you want to tag a page about Apple, which Apple do you mean? Apple Inc, or the fruit? With Zigtag, we make it easy to handle these thorny problems.

Zigtag is also a sort of social network in that there are the standard social networking aspects to it – friends, groups, a news feed, sharing links, etc. However, unlike other tools, collaborating and organizing links become a whole lot easier if everybody is annotating their tags with ideas, instead of words. It doesn’t matter that Sally tags with NY, and Greg tags with NYC, they both mean the same New York.

We’ll follow this up with a few articles in the next few days – but for now, try it out! Sign up for our beta at http://www.zigtag.com and we’ll get you an account.