Violet Blue is right and Marshall Kirkpatrick is wrong.

Delicious could be one of the most important taxonomies on the Internet. Despite people like me using Delicious in entirely self-serving ways to increase backlinks to my own writing, the cataloging of links available in Delicious is a great way to filter valuable information. Fortunately the majority of link organization on Delicious draws interesting relationships between the information that’s linked. There’s great value in the way data is cataloged on Delicious and it would be a tragedy to lose that organization. On that Marshall and I agree.

Wholesale transferring your links from the Delicious that Yahoo! owned to the Delicious now owned by AVOS is an incredibly irresponsible act, if you value the data organized within the tagging hierarchy of Delicious. Chad Hurley and Steven Chen may have done a great service to curators of the Web by keeping Delicious alive, but they also changed the rules along the way. In the past, Delicious allowed users to link to information and provided a warning to future visitors that the stuff on the other end might be offensive. Apparently YouTube’s founders are hoping for a kinder gentler Delicious.

As Violet Blue points out, the new terms of service you are forced to agree to in moving your content to the AVOS version of Delicious require you to put your entire contribution to the taxonomy at risk. The AVOS terms of service very clearly state:

You agree not to do any of the following: post, upload, publish, submit or transmit any Content that: (…) violates, or encourages any conduct that would violate, any applicable law or regulation or would give rise to civil liability; (iii) is fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive; (iv) is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive (…)

I’m a researcher of technology. I also have a fair amount of interest in researching personal health related topics as well. I often seek multiple points of view in order to paint a clearer picture of the topic I’m researching. My personal solution for storing these links is Evernote, which is encrypted and private, but Delicious would work better for many of the ways I filter information and I often use it as a data mining source. Sometimes the point of view I’m looking for is the one that breaks the rules. Sometimes I want to find the ways people use a technology illegally. Not because I want to commit illegal acts, but because I want to more fully understand the potential.

For a more common illustration, assume I wanted to learn about a new gun. The gun is intended for hunting, which is perfectly legal with the proper license. The same gun could be used to kill another human being. Does that mean linking to information about the gun from a Delicious account implies linking to information that could be a violation of the law? What if the guy who is the single most qualified organizer of information on guns gets his account deleted by the AVOS Delicious because his links could result in someone acting illegally?

Sorry Marshall, but HOPE, your third reason to opt-in to the new Delicious, isn’t enough for me to trust the new keepers of the most important taxonomy on the Internet. I hope the Seattle Mariners will make it to the World Series before I die. I can’t rely on hope to carry information organization into the future. I can’t hope that AVOS won’t censor the Delicious taxonomy.

Because I value the data that makes up Delicious, I encourage every Delicious account holder, along with everyone who values the organization of information, to send a quick email to AVOS and tell them to resume the existing language of the terms of service for the Yahoo! version of Delicious, which read:

The linked websites’ content, business practices and privacy policies are not under the control of Delicious, and Delicious is not responsible for the content of any linked website or any link contained in a linked website. (…) In accessing Delicious or following links to third-party websites you may be exposed to content that you consider offensive or inappropriate. You agree that your only recourse is to stop using Delicious.

If you want to transfer your link taxonomy to the AVOS Delicious after you send that email, that’s your choice. Instead, you may want to consider an account with Pinboard, which was created by the Delicious founders and keeps out most of the self-promotional riffraff by charing a very nominal fee. You can import your Delicious bookmarks, contribute to another valuable community of information curation, and avoid supporting censorship in the process.