Tumblbeasts: 14; Lisa: 0

I started blogging around 2004. Frankly, I didn’t think much about my choice of platform. Most of the blogs I followed were hosted by Blogger, so I registered there as well. Then Dartblog started offering students a blog presence. If you can’t already tell, I bleed green. Of course, I signed up for a Dartmouth-affiliated page. Shortly thereafter, more & more of my friends started LiveJournaling. Thus, I was “forced” to join LJ if wanted access to posts locked from public viewing and commenting.

That’s how these social networking sites gain new users. Make people register for accounts even if they only want to view content. Insidious!

Speaking of insidious… Well, hello there, Facebook. Do I really need to elaborate? I think we all know what happened. They know way more about the last 5 years of my life than my family knows about my entire life. (Granted, I chose to put all those details into their database.) Looking back, I’ve left a scattered legacy of abandoned false-starts & experiments on Blogger, Friendster, Orkut, Twitter, LiveJournal, Flickr… Just to name a several. I had multiple accounts on a few because wiping the slate completely clean was simply more efficient than editing an unruly mass of existing content. All part of the learning process that has led up to the internet as it exists today.

Which is to say, social media has matured, but it still has a ways to go. Every time Facebook makes a major change in its appearance, interface or “Terms of Service,” I liken it to a teenager trying on another identity. It’s getting a little old, though, and I’m surprised a younger upstart hasn’t disrupted the Zuckerberg monopoly.

Yet.

In any case, I decided late last year to take everything I’ve gleaned from my virtual journey and funnel it into a persona standardized across multiple platforms, connected via my personal launching page. You’ll see I left Blogger to try Tumblr. I didn’t think much about my choice of platform. This time, however, I was sorely disappointed.

* * *

Despite the deplorable color scheme of Blogger, it always worked. The interface was intuitive. Features most people would need or want were built-in. My self-taught HTML skills were handy on occasion, but not necessary. Kind of like buying a Subaru Outback for winter in New Hampshire. It’s not a stylish car, but everyone drives one because it does what you need it to do. Function over form.

Every so often, I am startled by my naïve expectation that new, hyped products on the market are supposed to be an improvement over its established predecessors. Isn’t that what is accounting for their popularity? No.

I learned that lesson the hard way. I let myself be lured by the Siren song of Tumblr. I could barely finish reading their “30 Reasons to Love Tumblr” list.

Email address / Password / Choice of URL

Start posting!

Easy!

Car salesmen wish it were that easy to sell lemons. And that’s what I got. A pretty, hollow lemon.

First, I had to dust off my HTML coding knowledge to customize my template. There are a lot of pre-fabricated choices, but many are very similar with slight variations. Then, because Tumblr doesn’t support native commenting, I had to install Disqus. Then I had to add anti-spam measures. Then Google Analytics…

When can I start blogging?  This is tedious! I expected a fully loaded car—erm—blogging platform.

Too many hours later, my blog looked close enough to presentable. I was ready to take it out for a spin on the [information] super highway, but…

WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME ABOUT THE TUMBLBEASTS???

Tumblbeasts are to Tumblr as the Fail Whale is to Twitter. The Tumblbeasts are enough for me to consider moving on to WordPress; however, if you are undeterred by them, I have other reasons to leave:

  • No auto save.
  • No one-click button to save drafts. (I’ve had to re-type several long posts.)
  • The bullet function does not work past one level. Indenting doesn’t work, either.
  • Dragging and dropping to rearrange the order of queued posts is inefficient, especially if you have several long posts.
  • Is there some way to compact the view of individual entries?
  • The dashboard feed takes too long to load, even if you’re on a dedicated Ethernet line.
  • A navigational button bar should follow user scrolling.
  • The feed page: It’s ugly and only utilizes a third of my page.
  • Tags that users have already created should be listed for easy reuse.
  • Where’s my tag cloud?
  • Grouping. I want to read my philosophy feed separate from my fashion feed separate from my social media feed.

The only reason I’ll consider giving Tumblr a little more time to convince me to stay is that it seems to be building critical mass. Fast. And in Web 2.0, you need to be where everyone else is.

Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. View her online portfolio or follow her on Twitter.