I'm really confused about their product positioning. Ning was a white-labelled social network, what good will a "simple blog" do to its users?
Similarly, Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform -- people are on it because they precisely DO NOT want a full blog. I remember Posterous founders specifically saying they don't want to be compared because Posterous is not that (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=680087), why go after these people now?
Wordpress? So far, all they've been doing are incorporating features that Wordpress already has and not really changing the experience all that much either... which then begs the question, what's the big goal and how is it different?
It seems to me that their moves align with getting on AS MANY USERS AS POSSIBLE -- and if that means attacking all peripherally similar services, then so be it. It seems that their only goal is a large exit due to a large user base, not really product vision.
I see a couple of takeaways here for fellow hackers and Posterous:
- Really think about what your product is and what your big vision is. Are you really just creating yet another Wordpress.com?
- Is it the post by email that is the uniquely awesome thing about Posterous? Someone should put together a universal "Post by Email" service and test this theory. Have it connect to Wordpress.com and Tumblr and see if people buy.
I can think of better strategies for attacking the blogging market. Instead of creating a generic blogging system that just copies Wordpress' features, create the "starter" blog for a set of verticals.
Create a 'starter' blog that has the right bells and whistles for each of these individual targets:
1. A startup looking to promote their story (have it pre-set with a "About Us" page, a sidebar section to explain their product(s) and what they do, and Twitter/Like buttons to promote the posts
2. An author looking to promote his/her (e)book. Have an "About the Author" section, have excerpts/reviews on the sidebar, and a way to profile sample chapters as blog entries along with a super easy big call to action for buying the book from amazon.
3. A small business trying to attract locals. Have a clear display on the sidebar for location, maps, hours, and phone number. Have a section showing off pictures of the business. Have custom post types for Sales, Events, and special SEO sauce optimized for the given zip code.
(you get the idea...)
With an offering like this, not only will you solve a real problem (people like these having to create and customize these sites from scratch AND having to figure out what the right things to show are -- even though its well known), you 'll be solving a problem that people are willing to pay for.
Posterous tweeted 2 days ago "Posterous launches new tools to switch from dying platforms: One new importer per day for the next 15 days". So Tumblr is a 'dying platform' after Ning huh? Which site is next? Is Wordpress another 'dying platform'? So does Posterous consider Facebook a 'dying platform' and come out an importer for Facebook?
I have a major bone to pick with your characterization of Posterous themes. I hardly think the theme community is unhappy about suddenly being able to use their themes on millions of other blogs that aren't Tumblr.
Also, the themes that we build into our service are 100% licensed via partnership with the theme designers.
Attacking the ability to use Tumblr themes in Posterous is absurd. It's like saying Google Apps isn't allowed to open Microsoft Word documents.
I wouldn't even call them "Tumblr themes." These were just blog themes, owned by a third party, who licensed them to us for use on Posterous. They just happened to be on Tumblr first, but don't have any other affiliation to that service.
Some honest feedback from a long time hacker news participant and innocent bystander...
It looks like pclark is providing feedback of some kind to a product represented by rantfoil, who is responding.
I have no opinion about the issues being discussed in this thread, in fact I'm not sure I even understand many of them. But this much I do understand...
rantfoil, you appear to be arguing in a public forum. Don't. By definition, you can't win.
You responses may be perfectly valid (who knows), but language like
I have a major bone to pick with your characterization of Posterous themes.
I hardly think the theme community is unhappy about...
make you and all that you represent appear confrontational.
It doesn't matter who wins this battle, rantfoil will lose the war if this is the public perception of the corporate face. Find a way to address this feedback that will attract innocent bystanders, not scare them away.
Agreed, I've gone from being curious and neutral/positive about posterous and how they were thinking about making money (ie: solving the "how do you get users to pay for their own content" problem), but now I'm completely turned off to the company because of the way I've seen them respond to criticism over the last week or two. Not that I'm looking for a blogging service, but I'd rather be on one that was run by adults if I was.
Eh, its cool to be passionate about your own startup - I didn't realize rantfoil was the founder. :)
As I said, I think Posterous is a cool company and they're better than this. I didn't want to ruffle anyones feathers, just state my opinion on these kinds of messages to users. He was probably right about my comments on their theme policy, he certainly knows better than I do, I tried to clarify my post a bit. We should be glad we're having a discussion about this - maybe we all learn something :)
If they wanted that they should pitch the benefits of their service (hey, you and your family members can just email in posts!) not:
> But blogging on Tumblr is sort of like being in high school. You have a lot of friends. You can navigate all the different cliques. You're comfortable. But you know deep-down that you can't be in high school forever. Eventually, you have to move on.
Posterous saying "tumblr doesn't support multiple contributors for a blog" when it does - what do you call that?
The proof will be in the numbers, but I doubt it will work with Tumblr. They're pretty spot on about Tumblr being like a collection of high-school cliques -- but what do you think happens when you take an "us vs. them" attitude against a clique? They just become defensive & tighter.
Does Posterous have a reblog, favorite, follow, follower stream features? It seems that Posterous is trying to emulate some of the marketing mojo from Apple's switch ad campaign. This aggressive switch campaign might indicate that the number of new users to the system might have plateaued. Does Posterous post the active users, monthly impressions, etc?
Oops, so sorry to Tumblr. This was a reckless comment and I'm in the wrong here. I misheard from a good friend that Tumblr does do this, he was actually referring to a number of services.
Just received an email from Tumblr explicitly saying they don't. If I could delete the comment I would (but HN doesn't allow that), but I'll let this stand as my mistake and I'll back out from the Eastside-Westside tech battle.
I belong in the group of people who have yet to be convinced of the financial stability of Tumblr, but its free hosting, great themes and ways to get exposure using the platform in combination with Fusion, Deck and other ads is very attractive; you would not risk any economical loss using Tumblr.
To be fair to Tumblr, most of the people using the service don't seem to blog with writing content with staying value in mind; you could argue that the microblogging serves as a Zeitgeist echochamber similar to what Twitter can be in some instances.
I had no idea. Still, it's great money for two designers who put up a site like that, a bit less for a company funded with millions of dollars like Tumblr. And it's non-recurring (buy it once, and that's it) money, too.
I don't think that post is going to convert anyone who didn't want to convert already. Lack of comments on tumblr is a feature*. Like, how is 'ability to moderate them' also a feature? More like a hellish burden given down by a cruel god from on high.
I have a wordpress blog that I abandoned because one post was popular and now my comments get spammed to death. I'd much rather have comments on my blog posts where they were syndicated - twitter, hacker news, reddit, etc. This keeps each set of responses within the context of the community the traffic came from as well as prevents blog-post footers turning into "first" and shouting matches.
Removing comments from blog is one mouse click away on wordpress. You can even permanently remove comments from your theme by removing just one line of code.
Edit: Self-plug My new blog http://blogriot.com/. No comments, no sidebars, no distraction. Just me and my writing. Well, not much writing just set it up few days ago. I had the domain unused for few years so I thought, what the hey! why not use it?
I moved from posterous to tumblr because the administrative control panel UI/UX was so bad. The default posterous skin is hideous. Tumblr is much easier to use and looks better out of the box. I couldn't care less about the features in the checklist.
I like the Posterous guys and have sent a number of users to their service before we (WordPress.com) had our own email feature. I hope when they launch the WordPress one it's nicer in tone. I've been very impressed that even though Tumblr is growing aggressively they've consistently taken the high road,
I love these checklist format comparisons that they do. It's an easy signal for me, “These people do not understand why one product is chosen over another.” If these are the dimensions by which you think Tumblr can be beaten, I wish you good luck but do not have high hopes for you.
It's sort of like when someone uses the word “skinning” in reference to UX. I just immediately know to disregard everything they say as a total waste of time.
I agree. I also wonder who this blog post is written to. On the surface, it seems like it's written to tumblr users, to introduce them to posterous, but I don't think they'd assume that the best way to get tumblr users to switch is to insult them. (Unlike a car owner to whom a car dealer says something like, "Tired of driving that old clunker? Need a new car?", people are not limited by their budget when choosing a free blogging tool.)
I imagine that there is a way to prevent the "post via email" hack demonstrated last week but I haven't seen an official response from Posterous (they could send me an email?) which says to me that they don't take the threat seriously.
I enjoyed having Posterous feed my entire online presence (twitter, facebook, etc.) but I turned this all off in the wake of the exploit.
I'm sure there is a way to "fix" this, but I don't have time to try and figure it out myself; so it's easier to just turn it off until Posterous has time to tell me how to do it.
Now we have this marketing campaign and a "we're the greatest" and "we can do everything" attitude; it feels very "going Facebook" to me...
They're not going to get many new blogs from this. People use Tumblr because of the community, and most users spend a lot of time reblogging content from other blogs that they like. Posterous doesn't offer that. This may be good for people actually using Tumblr as a traditional blog, but those people are in the minority.
This is actually the most relevant argument. I don't think any self respecting Tumblr user would contend that they speak in a vaccuum. The dashboard is central to the UI, and it's for this reason that they probably have yet to release a full API or even an RSS publicly.
Yeah, it's a stretch/sketchy campaign, but at least they're taking the gloves off, right? I personally am frustrated by the quirky Tumblr features (after many tries, I still don't get the formatting of reblogging) and miss plain on comments (when they don't have Disqus installed).
Will be interesting to see which of the easy-blog-tools wins out.
I don't know, personally, I'm frustrated by Posterous too.
They're adding one useless features after another, but that email posting still cannot get even such a basic thing as paragraphs right. Just piles of br's after each line. And they are converting every nonascii character to HTML escape sequences. So after each post, I have to edit unreadable crap full of HTML escapes to put there at least that paragraphs (because otherwise, with larger font sizes, there'd be line break because of whole text-field width and then, after just a word or two, because of those hard breaks in HTML).
On the benefit side, there are things like TypeKit, which seems quite useless to me, as I couldn't find any way to explicitly display only fonts that have Czech diacritics characters, which is essential to me. Facebook like buttons that I don't want… And so on. It's quite tiresome. At first, I liked Posterous because it was easy to setup and worked really well, but I'm getting quite weary of all those, seemingly unimportant, deficiencies.
I hear you on the email cleanup thing. We've put some measures in place to clean up markup, but there's much more to do here. If you have more feedback, I'd love to hear it -- my email is email@example.com
We're a work in progress like any other. But we're iterating as fast as we can.
The only advantage Posterous has is built-in comments. Yes, you can use Disqus on Tumblr, but it's a bit of hack, and Disqus has it's own issues. Regardless of your opinion about comments, it should at least be an option for a blog.
Even if hey don't convert a lot from Tumbler I'm sure as a whole all the converters will be very successful. It's a sign that they are really confident in their product now that they are aggressively push for people on other platforms to check them out. You may only get one shot at getting people to consider your product that are already on other platforms.
Go to 'Customize' for your tumblr site and click 'Services.' At the bottom is 'Automatically import my...'. Choices include Delicious, YouTube, Vimeo, etc and RSS. Support is definitely lacking though and documentation is virtually non-existant.
My main problem with Posterous imports is that they don't preserve the URLs of my previous posts. I have custom domains set up, so redirects are broken. I was hoping that with the latest Tumblr import they had fixed it, but no go.
Aggressive marketing would be a woefully insufficient characterization. As both an entrepreneur and target user, this crosses my personal moral standard. Having said that, its definitely clever and very well written! I will stick with my high school friends on Tumblr though. And so will all of the HiiDef blogs. Tumblr has always been really good to me.
I wonder what Posterous's arguments were for going for the direct attack route instead of an offer to purchase or merge?
You can get bigger quicker by purchasing competitors than by
swiping their clients I would think.
On the other hand, when they really have something meaningful to say I will have gotten long past the point where I click on posterous stories on hn. imo the interestingness quotient on posterous stories has been running pretty low off late.
This is good for the market and the internet as a whole. Competition creates better products and innovation, which means my mother will eventually get to the world of easy posting of content. End of story.