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Why I Use Pinboard As My Reading List

Update 2021-03-04: While I no longer use Pinboard, as I documented here, I’m leaving this post here as all the points are still valid, and I’d recommend you consider if it fits your needs.

I’ve mentioned before that I use Pinboard for bookmarking webpages of interest so that I can refer to them later. I realise this might seem like an odd choice, given that there are more obvious candidates such as Pocket or Instapaper, so I’ve decided to summarise my reasoning:

  1. Pinboard just stores links, the title (if available), a description and optional tags. It doesn’t suck in and create a ‘reading’ copy of the page in question. I’ll be blunt, I’ve had mixed results in the past with how Pocket and Instapaper handle that task, so if I need to make it readable I’ll use the reader view in my browser while visiting the page.
  2. Pinboard doesn’t obscure the original URL. While I can sort of understand the appeal of being able to share a readable copy of an article, personally I find it exasperating if my only reference is to Pocket. Damn it, give me the source! If I have to retrieve it from the Internet Archive, so be it.
  3. Pinboard doesn’t try to be pretty. I’ll be the first to admit that the site’s design is not going to win any awards, but I appreciate that they’ve focused on function over eye-candy.
  4. Pinboard can be social, but it’s optional and not forced. You can see who else has linked to the same pages as you, and even subscribe to their bookmarks if you wish. Likewise, you can follow tags that interest you. However, they are not thrust in your face, instead they wait on separate pages should you wish to look at them.
  5. Pinboard doesn’t overwhelm me. This part is super important to me! There is no infinite scroll, no garish colours, just text and plain controls.
  6. Pinboard is a web app that plays well with others. Rather than force it to be both an app and a website, Pinboard opted to focus on being a website, and make it as easy as possible for develops to write apps and browser extensions to access it.

Using Pinboard to collect reading material and useful references has been a boon for me, and is worth every penny in my humble opinion.

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