Thursday, February 17, 2011

Microblogging Woes

Let me start by saying, microblogging is great! And the two most common microblogging platforms are excellent to! Although, I am rather tech savvy and most people like me are Wordpress geeks, I happen to appreciate simplicity. Tumblr and Posterous range in features and each have their own strengths. Sometimes I just wish I could combine both of them together to have the ultimate microblogging platform, but lately I have been getting frustrated with them. They both have their own quirks. I am completely aware that some things will never be perfect and that there will always be improvements to be made, but I wouldn't even consider these issues to be quirks, these are problems that must be fixed pronto!

Let's start with Tumblr. I use Tumblr every single day. It's responsible for hosting my "life blog" and I love it! It has a super clean interface and is pretty much dummy-proof and fun to use. That is why I use it so much, but one issue I have is the tag and search feature. I have found that whenever I tag posts with a specific tag, say "Starbucks" and then search for "Starbucks", not all posts are retrieved. Worse yet, sometimes it will return ZERO results. What?? I emailed Tumblr about this and received the following response below:

I waited and followed up with another email a couple days later and received another similar answer. But this is where I stand on the matter, if they don't know how to tell how to fix it, at least give me some sort of idea of what might be causing this to happen or a time frame that it will be fixed in.

Another issue I have with Tumblr is how it handles images embedded in text posts. In some aspects, it is better than Posterous, but in another aspect it completely misses the mark. As you can see, there is absolutely no cushioning between the text and the image. This should not be difficult to fix. I haven't expressed my frustration about this to Tumblr, but the real reason is, whenever I contact Tumblr, I never feel like they really "care" about solving the issue. So I only contact them after I've tried everything else to fix it and it is affecting me. This isn't so much, it's rather just an annoyance that I wonder why they haven't fixed yet. I will praise Tumblr on the way they post photos and videos though -- it is very clean and simple. The only problem I have is when trying to embed the actual photo in a text post. Now, the way it is better than Posterous is because in Posterous you have to enter HTML to get the image to right or left align with the text. Otherwise it will only post above or below text. In some ways Posterous handles pictures very well and if you are familiar with it then you know what I mean, but this is also annoying.

The last issue I have with how Tumblr handles photos is very weird and rather hard to explain. I also contacted Tumblr about this problem and received a reply back five days ago, then followed up with it, but haven't heard back since. We will see where it goes. Below is the following email I sent to Tumblr asking them for help on this issue:

Dear Tumblr,

I know you may be getting a lot of "help requests" but I am having a ton of
different problems. Problems that aren't making sense and that I can't fix.

This one is about pictures. Whenever I post an image from a URL it will post
an image I previously posted. There doesn't seem to be any fix or
explanation for this that I have found. What is going on here? What can I do
to fix this?

Please help. Thanks

- Aaron

They replied asking a bunch of questions and I replied back disproving each "possible problem" with an explanation as to why none of those things apply. I think you'll be able to tell what they asked based on my reply:


Thanks for the reply. I have tried this on both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Yes I have cleared my browsing history, cookies, cache etc. Restarting my computer doesn't help as this has been a continuing problem. Also it wouldn't me a modem/ router problem as this has occurred on multiple networks. I am now in college and don't have access to reseting the router/ modem now, like I did while at home. As far as add-ons I don't know if that would affect this either, since I tried two different web browsers and don't have the same add-ons for them. However that would be an option I could try, but logically it doesn't seem likely. The only one I haven't disproved is the security one. I do have Avast! Anti-virus and run the Windows firewall, but that is it. How might this have an effect on it. They really don't seem to relate.

So basically to explain the problem, lets say I upload a photo and share it. Later on, sometimes a few days or even weeks, I try to share one via URL, when I preview the post (or post it, as I have done that assuming it was fine and realized I had posted a different picture) a previous image I have posted earlier will show instead of the one linked to the URL. This makes absolutely no sense to me.
1. How does another image previously posted "infiltrate" the linked image via URL?
2. The "infiltrating image" doesn't even have to be the previously posted image. I can reblog, post and share several other images prior to this "infiltration" without a problem.
I put "infiltrate" in quotes as this seems so obscure to me, I know no other way to describe and explain it. Like I explained to her this has happened to me on various browsers and computers and at various times throughout the year. That said, this rules out several of her questions.

Tumblr has also had some problems being down in the past couple months, this happened so frequently that, there were mascots made for Tumblr to display on their "sorry we screwed up again" page. You know it's bad when you get a mascot! Thankfully, it seems like Tumblr has straightened up a bit and is back on track.

Posterous LogoImage via Wikipedia

This pretty much concludes my frustration with Tumblr, now on to Posterous. Posterous oh Posterous, how you are even more confusing. The first statement I'd like to make is that Posterous has pinged itself as being "simple" as you can simply email your posts to your blog.
Posterous is the easiest way to post and share your content. To get started, just email

That's taken directly from their blog. Okay so we have the groundwork laid down. Posterous is easy right? I thought so at first! However, the more and more I use it, I find myself asking questions like "How do I..." or "Why can't I..." or just plain "WHAT THE HECK POSTEROUS?!" I already discussed the inconvenience of embedding images in text, but thankfully there is a solution to that. It still bothers me that these basic features haven't been enabled. I feel like a blogging platform should first start with the "necessities" which include: Proper photo and video embedding, scheduled posts, easily cite sources underneath the images, embedding via URL, saving drafts and proper formatting. Once these have been established, you can move on to nicer features, but claiming to be the easiest way to blog and then telling me I have to use HTML to right align my picture to the text is contradictory.

On the subject of images, I would also like to make a statement that there is NO way to import an image, etc. by URL, unless you do it through your email client when emailing your post. This also includes embedding video and audio clips via URL like you can in Tumblr.

The next thing on my mind about Posterous is, what is up with its theming and formatting? I don't know whether this is a image problem or what but it needs to get fixed pronto. This is unacceptable.

I don't know whether to blame the process of embedding the photo or that there is a tremendous amount of wasted space on either side. In reality, I'd like to see both fixed. I'd like there to be a simple adjustment for the theme width, like there is for Blogger, and I would also like to see Posterous handle images better. If Posterous points the finger at me and says its my responsibility to resize the images so this doesn't happen, they're shooting themselves in the foot because I'm simply going to take my blog elsewhere. This doesn't happen to all images, but it does to a handful of them. Now for some of the images I was able to go in and edit the HTML and change the height and width, which is a pain, but it worked. However, for the images that Posterous embeds into the post, this does not work, which I don't understand. How can Posterous not be compatible with its own platform and themes? It just doesn't add up for me.

My last complaint I have about Posterous is that it doesn't save drafts! What? This has to be the most basic feature of them all. The most primitive blogging platforms on the web can do this, but not Posterous. What I really don't get is, okay, so it wasn't one of the first features out (which it should have been), but Posterous has been around for a few years now and there is still no option to save your post and come back to finish it later. The only workaround is scheduling it for later and then editing it after it's "Published". This is fine, but what if you forget or just get busier than you planned and the post, which was "private", gets posted publicly for all to see. Well, it's out there now! Nothing you can do about it. Hopefully when/ IF this option is enabled, Posterous doesn't just take the easy way and just have the ability to make drafts, but also include auto-saving like other platforms, such as Blogger.

All in all, these are fairly decent platforms and if you want simple blogging, they're the way to go. Blogger is also good and I haven't done a lot with Wordpress, but personally it doesn't appeal to me. I don't know why, but it doesn't. I hope that maybe someone from these blogging platforms will read this post and make some improvements! Hopefully.

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