I started using BlueDot at the start of the year, after a brief trial of del.icio.us, and I've never had a reason to reconsider my decision. It seems that BlueDot has been less happy with itself than I've been so they've taken a long hard look at themselves and decided to re-brand as Faves.com. They've also introduced an range of new features and interface tweaks so I'd like to spend some time considering these changes.
Firstly, lets start with the name change. For a start it's shorter and easier, but it's also a lot clearer. The idea of a dot was always a bit forced and why was the dot blue anyway. But we've been bookmarking favourites since the day we dicovered the web and how natural it is to shorten favourites to faves. So name change : tick.
The next big change I noticed was voting. Every fave now has a digg style vote box. It's not really a new feature as you always had the option of marking a link as a favourite. But presenting it this way makes it's purpose much clearer. Prior to these changes I only ever marked one link as a favourite and that was as a test. Since the change I've already cast a number of votes.
The other new feature is a Votes tab. This allows you to quickly view faves you've voted on. I'll be interested to see what happens here as my list of voted faves grows. I imagine it could very quickly become unmanageable. What would be nice is the addition of "username's Votes" to the search options at the top of the page. The other useful feature for managing votes would be the addition of the Tag filtering tools available on your Faves tab. This would also highlight patterns in what you are voting for and could lead to the discovery of new Topics (see below).
The most useful new feature for me is the addition of Topics. Topics are a re-vamped version of BlueDot's buzz with some powerful new features. New Faves for your selected Topics appear on your home page and can be ordered by popularity or chronologically. There is also an option to hide Faves you've already seen. Topic selections are managed from the Topics area. Here you can browse Topics, search for Topics, or select from Recommended Topics. This last option seems to work particularly well as it looks at your most common Tags and recommends useful Topics based on these. Once you find a relevant topic you can add it to your selected Topics (or remove if it's already selected). These topic pages can also be added to your RSS reader. Which seems a particularly useful way to stay in touch. My only concern here is that the Topics are seperated from your Faves and I'd like to see these areas integrated in some way. But that is probably a bit impractical.
With this round of changes Faves is probably the most underrated of the available social bookmarking sites. The latest round of stats suggest that this is changing but Faves figures are still well below del.icio.us. I imagine social bookmarking is a fairly conservative marketplace. You hardly want to be moving your bookmarks every other week regardless of how easy the individuals systems make it to move. Therefore growth would need to be tied to a long term plan. But these changes show that Faves definitely has the future in it's sights.