Yahoo! Finds Tagging Company Delicious

Yahoo has purchased much talked-about content tagging company del.icio.us for an undisclosed sum.

Because del.icio.us allows users to bookmark and save content, which they tag with keywords, many believe the company has data that can help improve search results and ad targeting. But Yahoo said it has no current plans to place ads on del.icio.us or use its data to target advertising.

“We don’t really have any monetization plans at this time,” Tim Mayer, director of product management for Yahoo Search, told ClickZ.

Mayer’s caginess about future plans reflects a concern that Yahoo not meddle too much with del.icio.us, at least initially, for fear of alienating the community that has grown up around the service.

“They have a very valuable community, and we want to really support that community to keep the experience as is, so they community keeps doing what they do best, which is finding great content on the Web and generating data associated with that content,” Mayer said.

Yahoo in recent months has placed an increasing emphasis on community features and user-generated content. This week it launched Yahoo Answers, which allows community members to ask and answer questions posed by others. The company has also added community features to Yahoo Travel and Yahoo Shopping, while continuing to build out its Yahoo 360 offering.

Del.icio.us is most similar to Yahoo’s My Web tool, which lets users save and tag content. While My Web is incorporated into Yahoo Search, the company says del.icio.us will remain a standalone property for now — partly because folding it into Yahoo might discourage community members from embracing it as widely as they have thus far.

“We want to be very careful and support the community as is,” Mayer said. “That’s worked well for us with Flickr, and we may be even more careful about the community this time.” Photo-sharing and community site Flickr, which Yahoo acquired earlier this year, is seen as akin to del.icio.us because of the tagging features they share.

Mayer said del.icio.us founder Joshua Schachter will move to California to work from Yahoo headquarters, and details were still being ironed out with regard to other del.icio.us employees. Yahoo declined to reveal how many staffers were involved, but noted it had managed to hold onto the staff of Flickr.

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