Ma.gnolia Roots is Super Cool

Disclosure: I’m friends with some of the folks involved with Ma.gnolia.

That said, I’d think this was a pretty cool widget, whoever it came from.

A few weeks ago I wrote about an idea I had for the Spectrometre, an website widget/extension that would give you some interesting metadata about the sites you’re visiting. Ma.gnolia Roots is actually in a similar vein:

We have something to share with you today that we’re really excited about. It’s called Ma.gnolia Roots, and we think it can add some spice to your day-to-day web browsing and to your blogs and other websites.

How it works is really pretty simple, which is part of the appeal: when you visit a web page, click the Roots bookmarklet to see if the page is in Ma.gnolia. If it is, Roots will show you how many people have bookmarked it, the average rating, top tags, and all the descriptions people gave the bookmark. And it’s all wrapped up in a snappy presentation that we think will make you smile.

The idea is good, but the implementation is dead sexy. I really dig the little pop-up fading effect. They’ve also got these little badges you can use to show how many people have bookmarked your site in Ma.gnolia.

Yeehaw, I’m internet famous.


  1. It misreports the amount of times this post has been marked. (“Mark” is not a bad verb for the action of adding a link to Ma.gnolia. Has little to do with the brand, but that’s fine, “marked in Ma.gnolia” is still a lot better than “I Ma.gnolia’d it” or “I delicious’d it” in conversation.) Actually, that’s not right: on your front page, it correctly shows how many times the front page has been marked (13 at this writing), and on the individual post page, it corrrectly shows how many times the article has been marked (2 at this writing). There’s still the perception, when visiting your HTML page, that the *post* has been marked 13 times. That’s an easy problem to fix, technically speaking, though.

    Also, the number of times someone’s bookmarked your post doesn’t show up in your RSS feed. That’s a slightly harder problem to solve.

    The feature is more flash than substance–not that flash is a bad thing, per se. I’m all for flash, and it’s definitely prettier than the way visualizes who bookmarked something. This won’t get me to switch from, at least not yet. What *could very well* get me to switch is either removing the tags from their full RSS feeds or, in their “Lite” feeds, adding category elements for each tag. Again, an easy problem to solve.

    What Ma.gnolia does right, and it’s possible they totally nailed it, are the URLs: each URL for a user is in the format, so ma.gnolia can add new features with a corresponding URL.

    (Oh, and each individual bookmark has a unique URL. That rocks, because that means I can link directly to someone’s comment if it needs (dis)agreement or just pointing out.)

    An example as to how got it wrong: I use the ‘via’ tag in, to show from which user (and even ma.gnolia user, if their username is the same) I got a link from, e.g. via:vasta. can’t add a feature without removing the ‘via’ user’s account (which exists, btw). I’d love to see who else is getting links from the user ‘vasta’, or at least who says they are.

  2. Thanks for the comments Richard! We were perplexed by the part about mis-counting until we realized that the badge is counting the number of bookmarks for the homepage vs. the specific post page. The badges are highly relative in that respect and it’s something we never really thought of.

    You have a lot in here, and we agree that ‘mark’ is our verb of choice. I’m wondering about the rational for wanting tags out of the Lite feed? It’s an interesting request, one we’ve not heard before.

    Thanks again for the feedback. We’re genuinely flattered by the good stuff you’re seeing in Ma.gnolia, and like hearing the criticisms as well.

  3. Not out of the Lite feeds, but out of the description of the Full feeds. I argue that tags (categories) are metadata, which belong in metadata fields like the category element. Actually, since removing something usually gets more complaints than adding something, you don’t actually have to remove them from the description of the Full feed: you could just put the tags each in their own category elements for the Lite feeds. gets this wrong too, btw: they have all the tags separated by spaces in one category element. Scratch that, dc:subject. Isn’t this fun?

  4. Richard, you’re spot on about putting better metadata in feeds. So much so, that we just added the category attribute for tags to both our Atom and RSS feeds. Thanks for the nudge!

  5. I’ve seen the little flower -er, Magnolia- thingy display three different numbers in about a minute:
    14, 12, 4, then back to 14.
    What’s going on?

  6. The number reflects the number of members who’ve bookmarked the page you’re looking at, Lisa, so as that number changes the number on the badge will also change. It can go up or down, as it’s refreshed each time the page loads. Also, it applies strictly to the page you’re looking at.

    In Darren’s case, the badge appeared on his homepage as a new blog post, and on this specific post’s permanent page, and those two pages have been bookmarked different numbers of times. It’s not an effect that we really anticipated, but it’s interesting to see how it plays out.

    Richard, thanks for the extra comments. As you can see from Larry’s comment, we’re in agreement and I second the thanks for reminding us.

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