Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General Questions

Help Questions

Privacy and Security Questions

What is GiveALink?

GiveALink is a social annotation, organization, recommendation, and navigation system for the Web. It is also a research project by the Networks and Agents Network in the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research of the Indiana University School of Informatics. The project is funded by National Science Foundation (award IIS-0811994: Social Integration of Semantic Annotation Networks for Web Applications). However any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

How is GiveALink different from Delicious?

There are several great social tagging and social bookmarking systems and Web sites that provide many useful services such as sharing, tagging, syncing, searching, and recommendation. GiveALink is not competing with these sites, on the contrary we hope to collaborate with them. GiveALink is different in that we are a non-commercial research project. As such, we make both our data and our algorithms openly available to the Web community (see questions on privacy). We also focus our efforts on the development of novel Web mining techniques and applications that are not available elsewhere. In these goals we share a lot with other tagging systems developed for research purposes, in particular that of our friends at BibSonomy.

Why share bookmarks?

We collect information about what objects (Web sites, media, etc.) people bookmark and how they annotate and organize these objects because we want to mine socio-semantic links (relationships) between them. By sharing your bookmarks (and therefore their links according to your own organization), you let GiveALink analyze your annotations along with those of many other people. We mine the resulting collection for interesting insights and build socio-semantic networks to support novel Web applications such as social search, recommendation, navigation, personalization, and visualization. We also share link data (see questions on privacy) with the Web research community, hoping to foster the development of many other interesting Web mining techniques and applications based on social annotations. All of this research is not possible unless you share your links! Finally, by sharing your links you can enjoy our services and applications.

OK, what can GiveALink do?

Some functionality is already available on the GiveALink site. It is possible to share links by importing from different sources (the browser, Delicious, more to come...). When you log in, a number of recommended sites are shown based on all the bookmarks that you and others have submitted. You can search by tags, or by URLs. Entering a tag, the system behaves a lot like a search engine, but based on user annotations instead of page content. Entering a URL, it is possible to get suggestions of similar pages, or (novel) pages that might be related in some non-obvious way.

What are you working on next?

We are developing a number of exciting new applications using the annotation data we gather from your shared links. One is a browser extension (add-on) to bookmark and tag pages, in sync with the GiveALink server (so you get your bookmarks anywhere). At the same time your annotations are shared, and you can organize your bookmarks and annotations in socio-semantic maps that visualize the relationships between tags and pages. These maps can also be used to navigate the Web socially: from any page you can pop up a map displaying its semantic context, with related tags and pages from your own annotations or from the GiveALink community. You can organize your bookmarks in these semantic maps in a way similar to the way you manage them in your browser, by dragging and dropping pages and tags (instead of folders). You can also search through your own bookmarks or those of the community, all from a browser sidebar without having to move away from your current page to the GiveALink site. Of course these applications are based on links shared via user annotations. As an incentive to collect such annotations, we are designing a tagging game. By playing this game, you can have fun tagging pages as you try to connect them via tags. You can score points and compete with other GiveALink users for the high score. Finally we are always exploring new ways to distill knowledge from the huge collection of pages making up the Web. We will try to identify trends, time sequences, and popular sites based on semantic links between pages mined from bookmarks, rather than hyperlinks from page content. We will also attempt to cluster people and websites based on their similar annotation behavior, leading to suggestions of potential friends.

Great, how can I help?

Thank you for asking! We are very happy when our users want to get more involved! First of all, please share all of your bookmarks. Let us know if there are some other applications that you would like to see here. Also, help spread the news about us --- we need critical mass! Use this email link to send a message to your friends who use bookmarks and encourage them to share. And please advertise on your blog, homepage, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social network, social site, and social media you use. You can use our sharing logo to let your friends know that you shared your links and at the same time direct them to

How do I share links?

There are lots of ways. From our Share page you can find how to upload your bookmarks exported from your browser. If you can export your bookmarks, we should be able to read them. Or you can import your bookmarks directly from Delicious (and we are working on adding more sources). There is also a link to bookmark a single page/site. By far the easiest and most fun/useful way to share is through the GiveALink browser extension, where you can use a bookmarklet: when you see a page you like, simply click on the button in your browser and the page will be bookmarked for you and shared with the community. The browser extension also has many other functionalities such as managing your links, navigating links from you and the community, and visualizing them in socio-semantic maps. You can share more annotations of sites as you find them; as you organize your bookmarks these annotations are automatically synched and shared. Finally you can share even by playing the GiveALink tagging game!

Anything with a URL --- a Web page or site, a picture, movie, song, publication, etc. --- can be an object to be shared, by being bookmarked and tagged. That creates links between you (the user), the object pointed by the URL, and the tags. We call this a triple or annotation. Every annotation also creates links between you and other people (through shared objects and resources), between this and other objects (through shared tags and people), and between your and other tags (through shared objects and users). So our socio-semantic networks grow fast with any links that you share!

Should I share my bookmarks even if they are not well organized?

Yes! Please share your bookmarks no matter how untidy or strange you may think they are! We are working on algorithms that use collaborative filtering techniques to extract relationships among objects and users even if your bookmarks are not organized into folders, or tagged. Share your bookmarks any way you use them (or don't use them). The more links we get, the better our systems will be. Please challenge our algorithms!

Why should I register?

In the past we allowed people to share their links anonymously, but now it is required that you register both for protection from spammers and to enable the new functionalities and applications of GiveALink. We will not share your email with anyone (see questions on privacy). When you register, we will save your annotations. This way we will be able to identify you anytime you update your links or bookmark new pages. We will be able to provide you with personalized recommendations on the GiveALink site. And you will be able to use the browser extension to manage, visualize, and navigate your annotations and the socio-semantic networks from other users. Finally, as a registered user you will be able to play our tagging game.

What browsers and formats are supported?

The browser extension is compatible only with the Firefox browser, at least currently. However you can share your links by exporting bookmarks from many browsers. We currently accept bookmarks from Internet Explorer (IE), Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. In the future we might extend this list. Note that in IE, bookmarks are called favorites. Please share the bookmarks from the same browser used for sharing. For example, do not use Firefox to share Safari bookmarks; we detect your browser and use this information to parse your bookmarks. We also allow our users to import their bookmarks from Delicious, and are working to enable more social bookmarking sites. All you need to do is enter your Delicious credentials (username and password --- which we will not store!), and we will do the importing. You can share multiple sets of bookmarks if you use multiple browsers or social sites for different activities, although each bookmark will be unique in your GiveALink profile.

What is the difference between the different search boxes?

The annotations we collect reveal different kinds of patterns and relationships. These measures are described here and in our technical papers. In particular our direct similarity relationship is based on Maximum Information Path, a state-of-the-art measure for social applications. Another of our similarity networks uses a novelty measure designed to detect indirect relationships that might be non-obvious and yet useful or interesting to our users. The tag search engine and the search box marked 'Find Similar Pages' sort recommendation using their direct similarity to the tags or URL you supply, while the search box marked 'Find Novel Pages' uses the novelty measure.

How can I manage my bookmarks in GiveALink?

You can manage and visualize your annotations in "Visualization", where you can see a full list of tags you used and a network-looked visualization of related tags and URLs. Please try right click on nodes in the visualization, you can easilly delete, edit or add tags/URLs in the right-click menu.

Is there an API to access GiveALink data?

Yes! We have made it possible to download our bookmark collection, as well as some output from our analysis algorithms, since the beginning of the project. Currently we are working on a new API to make it easier to interact with GiveALink from other applications (see questions on privacy).

How do you protect my privacy?

We will not disclose your email to third parties. We will not make personal information such as email addresses publicly available. Unless you elect otherwise, your shared links will remain anonymous. This means that other users may see links from your annotations, but they will not know their origin. If in the future we add new functionality to discover links between people, you will have to opt-in. We store your email and password solely for the purpose of maintaining your profile, and to send you reminders and news if you ask. We also remove links that start with file:, https:, or javascript: because they may contain sensitive, private, encrypted, or malicious information or code.

What if I have files that I do not want to share?

We cannot search your disk! We only have access to the bookmarks that you willingly share with our site. If you share bookmarks exported from your browser, we will gain access to those bookmarks. If these are public pages, we could in principle crawl them to access their content. This is done by social bookmark sites that allow full-text search; we do not currently plan to do so. If you have bookmarks that link to files residing on your computer, those files are not accessible to GiveALink nor to any other users. If you use our browser extension, then you control every individual annotation that you share.

What if I bookmark sites that use my username and password in the URL?

In rare cases, some poorly designed Web sites might include a person's username and/or password as part of a URL. This is a very dangerous practice, as anyone can see this information when you contact such a site! You should avoid using any such site for your own protection. It is impossible for us to detect such cases among shared links. So please be careful to ensure that your personal information does not appear in the bookmarks you share, as these bookmarks would be visible to other GiveALink users.