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Posterous takes on Tumblr (blog.posterous.com)
92 points by radicaldreamer 2257 days ago | hide | past | web | 92 comments | favorite

This is a really low blow. This is what companies do when they are clutching at straws - they spread misinformation.


* Most tumblr themes have Disqus integration, and the "tumblr way" to comment is via reblog.

* Multiple people can contribute to Tumblr blogs, I can also submit posts even if I'm not a user, and ask the authors questions (formspring style)

* I can also password protect my Tumblr.

They also missed the giant Tumblr plus - the community.

Also, given that Posterous bootstrapped their themes from the Tumblr theme community stabbing Tumblr in the back is hardly cool. To clarify, I mean this: http://www.nbrightside.com/blog/2009/09/18/posterous-leverag...

For a company as cool as Posterous I have no idea why they're resorting to such shammy PR.

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.

this might imply their original concept of blogging via email had too small a market, and they needed to expand to be more general purpose?

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.

Incorporating additional data sets like Rotten Tomatoes for movie reviews, etc. would be great for vertical focused systems.

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?

Maybe they should implement an 'import posterous to posterous' tool if they continue this way.

To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion. :)

Note how the three features that Tumblr doesn't have use vague terms like "real", "works for anyone" and "practical and flexible". Reads like fluff to me.

Agreed - low blow.

Tumblr is actually kicking Posterous' ass in term of UI and ease of use I think. I definitely prefer Tumblr after trying both for a few weeks. This post isn't helping.


Their growth curves show a different story also (I take compete graphs with a grain of salt, but at these traffic volumes it's probably safe to say the overall trend is correct).

Tumblr is definitely a more popular service.


Kudos to you for keeping it civil; I personally have a lot of things to call the people, none of which are as restrained as your comment.

Posterous is already inferior to Tumblr technically, aesthetically and in many other regards, and now they can add morally to the laundry list.

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.

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...

Attacking...is absurd...

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 :)

I'm a hacker, just like all of you. It's hard for me to avoid having an emotional response over something I've poured my soul into.

Mea culpa. Edw, you're right. Pclark, thanks for the feedback.

I didn't attack the feature, I said they bootstrapped their theme launch with the tumblr themes. That isn't attacking.

I simply meant they lent on the pre existing tumblr community to boost their own offerings - which was genius.

I do think to do that, and for Tumblr to nod or whatever, and then to do this, seems, IMHO a mis-step.

Actually on day one every single theme that we launched, I designed.

We gradually added the best themes that we liked the most, some of them were Tumblr themes, and others were created by Posterous users, e.g. http://corywatilo.com

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.

> * I can also password protect my Tumblr.



Your opinions about comments aren't informed if you think people moderate them only out of fear of feedback. That we're having this discussion here proves that issue doesn't matter.

It's not misinformation, but it is marketing/PR (and I bet it's working).

Competing is not a low blow and it's not stabbing anyone in the back. They aren't saying "Tumblr SUCKS", they are saying "We're different, here's how, come give us a shot".

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.

Maybe they should add "Adds hidden affiliate codes to your links. Posterous: YES. Tumblr: NO." (http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/30/posterous-starts-automatica...)

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?

Did Posterous stop inserting affiliate links? And if not, did they end up officially informing their users?

This program was cancelled some time ago.

Do you KNOW that Tumblr doesn't do this? Dig a little and I think you'll be surprised how many other services (including Tumblr) do this too...

Tumblr absolutely does not do this.

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.

Free service number 1 with no business model in sight wages war against free service number 2 with equally no business model in sight. "web2.0" is the new "New Economy".

Spot on.

I can't recommend people post their longer form content and media on platforms that have an opaque path to generating revenue.

I do recommend that they have someone create a self-hosted open source platform for sharing their content online.

The custom post types that have finally arrived in WordPress 3.0 allow people to create their own mini-Tumblrs on their self-hosted website.

I feel that if someone works hard enough to create their own content then they should give some serious thought to their publishing platform too.

You could be cute and say that Marco has seen the writing on the wall with his Mac-only backup client (http://www.marco.org/277762675). :)

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.

Tumblr does have a business model, or at least the start of one: http://www.tumblr.com/themes/premium

Looks more like a prayer to me...

prayer? woothemes makes over 2mil on wp themes alone. and I almost haven't heard of them till the news about the cash.

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.

Oh god, feature-checklist-itis.

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 don't think this is the right focus for posterous. I really like their approach to blogging, but bad-mouthing other services can backfire in the long run.

Yes, I rather dislike the tone of their post. If anything, these sorts of childish insults makes me want to avoid using Posterous.

I think it's doing a fairly good job of hurting them in the shorter span of time, too.

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.

Missing entry on the feature checklist: "World's tiniest fonts by default".

Do the Posterous guys work in 800x600 or something?

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,

Nice move. But the community and dashboard are what make tumblr good. I use both actively.

They should make it easy to import my entire dashboard. They could also turn the Posterous dashboard into an rss reader. That would be incredibly useful.

Reblooging is better than comment moderation administrivia.

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.)

The timing of this is unfortunate.

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...

I think it's time to go find "the next".

Here's the official response: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1443143

The exploit only involved a limited set of users and was fixed within hours of discovery.

I guess that's kind of my point, I mean, shouldn't this information been posted somewhere more obvious (the official posterous blog perhaps?) or even better, as an email to registered users?

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.

Right now, my bet would be on Tumblr.

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 garry@posterous.com

We're a work in progress like any other. But we're iterating as fast as we can.

Posts like this remind me to give thanks that I'm technically proficient enough not to have to depend on third party services for a communications platform.

I have no posterous neither Tumblr account, but only because of that post, I'll give a try to tumblr.

All you need is a URL and an email address? So, I can automatically import any tumblr blog, even if I don't own it? That's a bit scary.

That is actually how the Tumblr API works. You don't even need the email address.

Interesting. Throw /api/read at the end of a tumblr blog and you're set. Interesting approach, I guess.

You must be terrified by copy/paste.

I think this is quite a bit different than copy/paste, but appreciate the humor in your comment.

But, what's http://marco.org going to say when there are 20 clones of his blog all being indexed by google? It's sort of a kick in the teeth I'd say.

EDIT: I didn't realize tumblr made it so friggin easy to copy an entire blog. My bad.

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.

But here is where Tumblr wins, you can't include any JavaScript in your Posterous theme (http://posterous.com/theming/porting). So if they don't support a feature you want (like comments or TypeKit), you can't add it on your own like you can with Tumblr.

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.

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.

no import from picasa, google reader, last.fm, rss means no tumblr/posterous for me :F

I find soup.io just the perfect tool for me, btw ;)

Tumblr can import all these things, any RSS feed you throw at it.

Is there some overview somewhere what automatic imports tumblr supports? Didn't find it on the page.

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.

I see, thanks. It's a shame that they don't advertise those features better. It's a major point why i use soup.io.

Definitely. I even emailed support about it and the response was 'This is not supported' -- like they had never heard of it. Go figure.

thumbs up for http://soup.io

Boiling tumblr to a set of bullet points /entirely/ misses the point.

Good for them for encouraging the competition to step up. I'm not a user of either service, but heating up the game is good for everyone in the end.

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.

I'm a happy Tumblr user. What does Posterous offer that Tumbler doesn't?

Well, dickishness, apparently.

One reason this won't work: Tumblr users don't read the Posterous blog ... Perhaps they can set up a tumblr account and promote it there? That would be true guerilla style.

I absolutely LOVE this whole campaign (one service a day with auto-switching imports). It's good, creative PR and will probably get them as many new users as it converts from other services.

[edit: one service a day, not week]

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.

It's one per day, btw.

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.

Too bad the import from tumblr feature doesn't work...

Feature wars are so trite.

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