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Why Tumblr Sucks (zachinglis.com)
121 points by PStamatiou on Sept 8, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments



Just last week I couldn't login - I would get a "You don't have permissions to access this page" error. I e-mailed support and a few days later they responded saying the my account had "corrupted" and that they deleted it, and that I would be able to make a new account with the same name. Awesome service. Definitely going with Posterous.


I would love to add that to my blog post if you have a screenshot?


Sent to the email posted on your site! And I should add now that I've looked back at the email that they did respond within 24hrs, but the response was as I described.


Love tumblr, love the community, love the design, but god it feels like it's tied together with string.

About two years ago I made the simple request of allowing me to not auto tweet content when posted with bookmarklet (it. would. just. be. a. checkbox.) but it never happened, i think they replied and said they didn't plan it.

there's no importer for wordpress or any other content.

the way you repost stuff is atrocious. i love the concept, but it has no concept of who originally posted it when you quote something, leading to the worlds most horrendous spaghetti of html for you to deal with (eg: http://grab.by/6iqJ)

Tumblr has got all the hard stuff right, and is seemingly failing at the easy technical stuff :(


This is the part of the last 5% of polish that can be so important to intermediate super users, because they need everything to be in order before they settle and keep using the platform.

When you reach a point when you don't feel that they are perfecting the problem - and have the passion - and just tweaking the back-end, you start to lose hope and consider the alternatives. It doesn't feel like someone who still want to fix a problem and create something that they themselves would love.

This applies to many of my experiences, some of which were Disqus and Forrst.


The whole reposting while keeping attribution has been tidied up a lot this week: http://staff.tumblr.com/post/1059624418/content-attribution


I agree that this is good news.


Sounds a lot like Etsy. It takes them years to implement simple feature requests (which are repeated by thousands of customers). Then, when they do, if ever, the implementation and design are botched.


check efreeme.com. I'll fix it up as requested. :)


I seem to be able to toggle on and off the twitter settings. I use markdown mode, and when I reblog something, I just delete all the copy in the text area, an attribute line is still given to the original source. Or I can par it down and quote one of the other rebloggers, but usually feel it is best to site the source, which happens automatically.


The no. 1 reason tumbler sucks: 1 original content site for every 1000 reposting shitheaps.

Also, people using it for posting info that would be much better presented in some other way. I'm looking at you safariextensions.tumblr.com, your site is pretty much worthless thanks to the decision to use tumblr.


That's a community problem; if you subscribe to a Tumblr blog (tumblelog, microblog, etc.) like you would with any other blog, this wouldn't be a problem.

It's a Tumblr problem for Tumblr users.

Many people - not necessarily you - tend to forget that Tumblr is (also) a blogging platform when used outside of the - atrocious - Dashboard.

You wouldn't say the same about Blogger or Wordpress, for instance; at least it doesn't look like crap in Tumblr.

Tumblr has definitely created a trend and affected the blogscape with its laudable ease with which you can publish content online, and it certainly has its pros and cons. Most of the cons only exist if you focus on them.


This feels contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. Not that there aren't good points here, but it just seems like somebody had to knock them down a peg.

And you know, for all of the weaknesses with code pointed out in this post, the reason that the site has taken off is really its design and functionality. Fact of matter, no other hosted blogging platform offers its mix of simplicity, customizability (you can do a CRAPLOAD of stuff with this platform that you can't do with the free version of Wordpress.com, including ads) and user interaction.

My guess: They'll solve the downtime issues. They'll solve the more technical issues. They'll even solve the customer service problems. The design backbone of the product is why. Twitter had the right design mentality and that's why the technical problems have slowly gone away. Weaknesses in design are harder to solve than technical problems. Unless you're Digg. Then you're screwed.


A culture of bad service and not paying attention to code details will be corrected later? My gut tells me that just isn't going to happen. Twitter had issues but I never got the feeling they weren't trying or listening.


You got my point exactly! :)


I really hope so.


> 70% uptime.

I really hate to be "that" dude, but... [CITATION NEEDED]


Let me fix that for you:

[1]: http://zachinglis.com/2010/why-tumblr-sucks/ "What feels like 70% uptime"


If you are down all day every Monday, that's still 85% uptime. Hyperbole is awesome!


No actual numbers but it's been up and down quite often. What's more important is that the users FEEL the downtime is annoying.


When isn't downtime annoying? I'll manage and live a happy life as soon as they replace the weird 404.

I wouldn't be surprised that the general uptime isn't great, but it's not that often that Tumblr is available an entire day.


"Is unavailable an entire day."*

The irony isn't lost on me.


When you can still live with it enough not to point it out. But the point has been brought.


A little off topic, but was anyone else bothered by the fact that his picture is overlapping the navigation buttons on Ubuntu Firefox so that I can't click 'Home', 'TL;DR', or 'Archives'? This plus the fact that I'm looking at a web developer's website made me think twice about what he had to say without even having read it.

Edit: having read this, the guy sounds like a hack. While I don't use Tumblr myself, the author makes a lot of baseless assumptions about Tumblr's systems as if they were fact. For all he (or we) know, there might be good technical reasons why things aren't aligned with his own blogging nirvana.

Having been on the author's side of the table (the customer who is also a developer) along with Tumblr's side (the big company with a probably complex back-end), I want to say that when the author makes totally unverified assumptions about how a site's SELECT queries work, pulls percentages out of thin air, and smacks the table and shouting "BUT THIS FEATURE SHOULD BE SO EASY TO IMPLEMENT, ARG, LOOK HOW THEY 'HACKED' IT TOGETHER," it just highlight the author's ignorance.

Edit 2: Wow, bashing them for having their picture taken with a celebrity you don't like? Saying they're a bad service and calling them slackers because they don't have a revenue model yet? Really?! How did this even get on HN?


If you think less of me because my website has only been out for 3 days and has issues, then you are being hypocritical.

I know what I am talking about too. I have worked on small sites upto ones with hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. I realise they have scaling issues but let's be fair: Twitter had less of a problem.

So you are saying it's well put together? I have made plenty of examples on how it fails and on its serious lack of stability. I have heard many a person say they has issues.

If they had behaved with grace at all throughout my dealings with them, maybe I would be more sympathetic. Remember, politeness is free and there is no scalability issues with that one.

Its not about which celebrity, it's about there're being serious cries from me and many other tumblrs about the issues and all they do is roll out new features and faff about.

As much as you want to call me a hack you have to admit one of the worst things to do to a codebase that has issues is add yet more features before you stabalize what you have.


1. You should look up the definition of hypocritical. 2. I have never used the service and I have said so. That doesn't mean your many of your arguments still aren't based on foundationless assumption and ad-hominem internet rage. If you're going to call a service out on back-end specifics and hard numbers, you'd better be prepared to cite those, or get called out on it yourself.

If there's anything I've learned in a career of cleaning up other people's apparent development messes, it's that making assumptions about a codebase without having seen it is one of the big mistakes a developer can make. You (nor I, nor anyone but the owners) have no idea what sort of problems their codebase is designed to surmount, what kind of hardware they have to make do with, or the codebase's evolutionary history, or really anything about their back-end. Making those kinds of assumptions shows a sort of narrow "I know what I'm talking about enough to assume" mindset that makes me, a person unfamiliar with Tumblr, wary of the article as a whole.


You're hypocritical with your anti-flaming flaming.

Oh, I agree to an extent. But I have never seen any website have so many troubles. If I coded a website as half working as that (and here people will mention that my 3 day old website had an issue of an overlapping div) I would be ashamed of myself. Yet they are egotistical and rude, as I have shown. They have no lack of resources (10 million in funding) and a ton of staff.

The community as a whole is quite unhappy. Yet they focus their time on getting famous people joining rather than trying to satisfy the people who stay.

I would call myself a Power User. I have used it more than your average user and so I do experience a great volume. But tell me this; how has Twitter never been as bad, when it has served so many more requests.


> But tell me this; how has Twitter never been as bad, when it has served so many more requests.

Twitter has been that bad. Probably worse, in 2008 and parts of last year. Even 2010 has seen its fair share of fail whales.


My experience with Twitter in 2008 was a blessing compared to what I have dealt with using Tumblr.


Zach, do you have 2 ids? zachinglis and zach-inglis?

because if not, someone's trying to masquerade as you ..

if you do, please stick to using 1 id vs. using a throw away account just to comment.


I had issues with my login when my laptop overheated and I was trying to use my iPad. I'll not log into the other one though :)


fair enough .. i thought it was a spammer or someone rooting for tumblr :D


Some info in an interview about the design decision to use php and some mention of the tools they use http://www.marco.org/1081635130


> having read this, the guy sounds like a hack

If you do a little Googling you'll quickly find out that Zach is quite the accomplished developer.

http://workingwithrails.com/person/7805-zach-inglis

"Ranking: #46 out of 17943 people"


A bit over the top.

Looking from Tumblr's perspective, yes over 4 years any company is bound to make technical mistakes. Should you sum them up in a blog post and say they suck? Probably not.

I am sure the documented mistakes over the years have been resolved and fixed. It's understandable that this person is frustrated--Tumblr probably should do a better job serving it's power users who remain loyal and helped create the community it has.


Not to mention that the dashboard takes literally minutes to load (though it only seems to affect some users, including). They have never fixed it after multiple people have reported this.


That's actually the only thing that bothers me about tumblr, but not enough to switch


I use blogger because I'm a bit of a google fanboy. It is a bit old fashioned but solid as a rock. Simple to add in whatever I want via html/java gadget.

Still though I was thinking of moving my blog (http://www.rakkhis.com) to Tumblr or Posterous.

Has anyone done this? How hard is it? I have moved my comments to Disqus to make this process easier. Now just my articles... Still this post makes me think maybe Tumblr is not the way to go?


I moved from Blogger to Posterous some time back. The migration is pretty simple but there was one problem: my private/unpublished posts from Blogger became private in Posterous. I had to go through and manually set them back to private.

This was before Posterous started aggressively pushing for moves from other platforms to themselves though, so that issue may have been fixed.


I have been experiencing horrible API downtime’s for the past 3 days. When a developer is working with a brittle API that can be up one minute, and down for hours it becomes extremely frustrating.

So yesterday I had to ask myself a few questions: 1) Do I still like tumblr? 2) Are they worth it?

The answers for me were Yes, and Yes…

So I created a page/service to make tracking down the uptime/downtime issues a bit easier, if you’re interested in my API then hit me up @icodeforlove

Here is the page: http://tumblruptime.icodeforlove.com/


Having created a tumblr account for a mini blog of quotes from our office (http://hodgeoffice.tumblr.com) it frustrates me that I have to change the URL to tumblr.com to post anything on it, theres no dashboard button on the subdomain even when Tumblr knows I'm logged in... unless I'm missing something


It's in the top right corner: http://cl.ly/2Ivj


I'm an idiot, thanks :)


It seems like the article is mostly bashing Tumblr as a professional blogging platform, which I agree it's not. Tumblr is supposed to be a micro-blogging platform for networking and sharing small bits of posts, photos, music, videos, etc...

Either way haters gonna hate


I did not start out hating it. The community has been an integral part of my life the last few years, such as meeting my best friend I now live with.


I'm still using it http://compilers.tumblr.com/ because it has the best bookmarklet i have used so far. I even use the bookmarklet to enter free text posts without a link to the current page.


Have you tried the Posterous bookmarklet? I think it's way better and super easy to use.

I had a couple issues with Tumblr bookmarklet, like not opening at all (even crashing my Chrome tab) or not formatting properly my post.


Just tried it. I like it that the tumblr bookmarklet opens in its own window. However, Posterous improves by finding an abstract automatically.



On another note, the Terry Richardson accusations hardly seem to have been proven nor resulted in any prosecution that I know of.

Bashing Tumblr for what they've obviously done is O.K., but TR shouldn't be slandered on account of dubious claims.


That's absurd. The OP claims that TR was accused of coercing models into sleeping with him. TR was without question accused... the accusations are published everywhere.

As for the merit of the accusations... There is a litany of models who say that they felt coerced by him. If they felt coerced, then they were coerced. End of story. Maybe you feel they shouldn't have let themselves be coerced, but that doesn't change the fact that they were.


Also, it is irrelevant.


I've had almost no problems


I've used Tumblr for 3 years, mostly during my funemployment year. Content on Tumblr at the time were just pulled from Ffffound, YayHooray, Flickr, Vimeo, 4chan, 4chan-lite (Reddit). Then you have the unique content from the small group of also funemployed or under-employed mid-20s writers, artists, and filmmakers.

That creative group made Tumblr a really fun place. Then Tumblr got big and went mainstream and went on the growth pattern curve of big internet message boards. Uh oh, eternal September.

Many have grown up and grown out of Tumblr, others are working full time again so the content shift is beginning. Once clean 400px wide multimedia page layouts are peppered with glittery trinkets, customer mouse pointers, and encumbering music players. Tweens have settled in with duckfaces and shameless personal drama. The Corporations have also stepped in, trying to slick up their wardrobe, wanting to blend in with the cool crowd.

It's not a complete wasteland but Tumblr has traded wrestling one monster for another. Though still an enviable position, who doesn't want to be the guy trying to come up with strategies of how to deal with a billion pageviews? Then again, who does? But running the business like the adults its original and most passionate users have become would be a start.


4chan-lite == reddit??


isn't it just some kind of black hat spam site that's written by Markov chains?


Wow .....


If you post from a Windows PC, your data is trapped until they deign to create an export app (WTF!) to pull out the data. Ridiculous! I can pull my stuff out of WordPress by doing Export XML. That they require an app is just plain screwy.


Your data is hardly trapped.

You can export any or all of your posts as xml using the Tumblr api (http://tumblr.com/api) and your browser. eg http://we-heart-sci-fi.tumblr.com/api/read

There are any number of scripts/gists/pasties around the web that will give a simple script to download your posts.


>>>There are any number of scripts/gists/pasties around the web that will give a simple script to download your posts.

So, Tumblr is a site where you can press a button to put stuff in but you have to deal with the stuff you just listed to get it back out. You've made half my own point there.


If they design one such. With Marco's anti-Microsoft proclivities, such a thing might never see the light of day.


Then they should offer to do the damned export on their end with their Macs. I don't care if I have to wait a week or a month. I'm not using Tumblr anymore. Just give me my damned XML.




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