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HOWTO: Detect the Social Sites Your Visitors Use With SocialHistory.js


One of the great things about the web is the relative ease with which one can set up a new service. In social bookmarking alone with have Del.icio.us, Digg, Facebook, Fark, Mister-Wong, Newsvine, Reddit, Technorati, Slashdot, and StumbleUpon, to name a few. That’s great for competition, and that’s great for users, but it’s not so good for bloggers and content creators.

So many social bookmarking sites!

What are you to do if you want readers to promote your content? Kevin Rose, of Digg, put it succinctly: “Encourage your visitors to submit their favorite stories directly to Digg [with a Digg badge].” Not everyone uses Digg. You have to decide on which bookmarking site, if any, to dedicate your precious screen real-estate. It’s a hard choice. If you choose poorly your reader won’t vote—it’s not a single click coupled and out-of-sight means out-of-mind—and your content losses its chance to make it big. You have to choose your horse wisely.

On the other hand, if you take the bird-shot approach, it overloads your reader with branded badge after branded badge. It turns your page into the village bicycle. Not pretty.

Nobody seems to have solved the problem yet. Lifehacker, for instance, uses a single Digg badge on their long articles, but they also list a couple of the top social bookmarking sites on every post. Wired takes the total shotgun approach, and they own Reddit.

There has to be a better way.

If you could detect which social bookmarking sites your reader uses, on a per-reader basis, you could display only the badges they care about. But you can’t know that because the browser secures the user’s history, right?

Wrong.

SocialHistory.js

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