Ideas that have been beaten to death


Recently I was browsing Product Hunt and I was aimlessly scrolling down to see if there are any interesting ideas.

I was seeing one recurring idea, popping up once in every few weeks. This is the same idea that I see popping up on HackerNews, ProductHunt, IndieHackers every single week. What is this idea? Another product to bookmark websites you visit.

This is one idea that I have seen people beaten to death and beyond. There are several such ideas that I come across every once in a while, but this is the most common one. If you look at all these products, you will see that

  • They are almost the same, one is no different from the other.
  • One does not provide any advantage over the other.
  • The only difference you will see is the UI and the workflow.

But still people continue to make them. And like most projects, most of them will go offline within the first few years.

So why people continue beat this idea to death?

  • Everyone has this itch, almost everyone who use the internet, including the creators at some point in their lives must have wanted a bookmarking application to save something they have come across the internet.
  • Bookmarking is broken in all browsers. From Chrome to FireFox no browser implements an easy to use bookmarking feature, which makes people go around looking for something which does booking marking better. Personally I feel this is the root cause for all these ideas.
  • There is no clear winner. Even though someone comes up with a bookmarking application every week, no one can tell a default bookmarking application from the back of their mind, such as Google for search or Instagram for photo sharing. There is no clear winner in bookmarking applications. So creators feel like they can create something that will dominate over everything else.
  • There is low barrier to entry. Anyone who can make a web app will be able to create a bookmarking application. Yes I have once created a Chrome extension on this idea, so that I learn how to create Chrome extensions.

The idea of bookmarking, or social bookmaking is not something new. From Delicious to StumbleUpon, to Digg to Pocket and finally a Y Combinator backed company Kippt all failed to capture the bookmarking space.

Have people who create a bookmarking application read about what happened to them? and why they didn’t work out?

So with so many big and small players trying to create something that everyone wanted at some point in their lives and still failing, means that there is something inherently wrong about this idea.

The hypothesis which I believe is the fact that, even though this is an itch people would have while browsing the internet, it’s not a big enough itch for them to use a bookmarking service or pay for such a service.

Another hypothesis would be

The market for such an app is so huge, there is no way one clear winner or one solution to fill such a big void.

Either way,

Even thinking about myself, even though I have wanted a bookmarking application, it always has been a one time thing, that comes along once in every few months and not something that I would want to use recurrently everyday.

But no matter what I’m sure people will continue to come up with a new bookmarking app once in every few weeks.

So in a summery, I feel people beat ideas to death without succeeding because.

  • They feel there is an itch in every user, but not a big enough itch to be solved by a solution
  • Low barrier to entry
  • There is a huge market for the idea, no matter how many products come up there will be enough room everyone, just because the void that has been created.
  • Finally there is no problem to be solved in the first place. And everyone is creating a solution in search of a problem.

What do you think? Write a comment below.

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11 responses to “Ideas that have been beaten to death”

  1. I agree with you, this is a dead horse. I’d also like a better bookmarking tool and have almost taken the bait here myself!

    Spell check and grammar check next time please 🙂

    • Thank you so much, I’m not a native English Speaker, so please forgive me for my grammar and spellings.
      Do people really read what they bookmark?

  2. I used to kept links in a txt file and access them at random order (here: https://misc.l3m.in/random/), and then I pushed the concept farther by creating a small (open source) Django website that suits my needs (for now). I’m gonna share this thing once it will be ready, but I think a website is a good choice for this kind of storage (links are stored on something that can be accessed by a link, eh).

    My feature list involve (obviously) links, tags, descriptions, comments, translations, “lists of links” (for making summary/lists of links from a topic), and RSS feeds. The lists of links, some stats and a bit of SEO are the last public-facing feature I need to develop, all the other things I need to develop will be only available on the admin side (better signals, moderating comments…).

    I think the point here is that I’m building something for me, rather than trying to solve the problem for everyone. If the project is interesting for other people, then they may want to test it, and I might get useful feedback.

  3. Try pinboard.in That’s the bookmarking service I use. This is one successful bookmarking “startup”

    Go through their blog to understand how this is built and managed.

    Hope this gives you some insights on how the bookmarking problem was solved in a good way. There is no right way/best way. Every user has different requirements, I suppose.

    • Thank you so much for the comment, yes I have seen Pinboard. The idea about the post was to talk about why people try beating different ideas to death, one example for that was bookmarking.

      On a side note, do people really read what they bookmark?

  4. First of all, myself I would not pay for it as long as they keep data / control over it.

    What I would do is this.
    Create plugin to integrate default behaviour of bookmarking to sync with your own list of bookmarks under your domain. How ? With browser plugin calling micropub endpoint which creates website instance of bookmark under your domain. To make sure to keep the website bookmarked, I would also make copy of the website with tool SingleFile.

    This way, you have control, you can create search and find your bookmarks. They can be public / private depending on what you want. You can categorize them, create fuzzy search on them.

    If you know about project which does this, let me know.
    Until then I will be creating my own solution to this problem. Yes, it will take time and I might not share it with world but that is one of the benefit of being a web dev.

  5. Interesting article. I’m actually developing a product (https://aquila.network) to help with bookmarking. The prime focus is given to the search feature.

    People tend to forget the connection between a website title and its content. So, it is relatively easier for them to use Google search instead.

    Aquila Network helps them to “search for what Google can’t”.

  6. that’s a good article.

    after using a Zillion bookmarking tools i think it will be fair if i name myself a savvy beta tester for bookmarking and PKM tools.

    the funny thing is that while i am reading your article i am trying a new tool glasp.co not exactly a bookmark tool but more a PKM (personal knowledge management) tool.

    https://suar.me/NQy6Z

    and you know? after years i ended up that the best bookmarking tool is my blog i use “site:” to search and every time (99% of cases) i found what i am looking for, think of my blog as marginalrevolution.com but for personal use and a bunch of like-minded people.

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