A few thoughts on Tumblr's acquisition by Yahoo! (and on the state of Squarespace)

First off: I'm happy for the team behind Tumblr and I believe that it'll benefit the platform in the long run.

A little backstory for those who are interested in it:

When I first got serious about maintaining a personal site, I took a look at all the alternatives out there and decided to sign up with Tumblr. Previously I had used a site made with iWeb; it was nice, but not being able to add posts on my iOS devices got on my nerves quickly.

Tumblr was my home on the web for a long time, but at some point the limitations imposed on users became too much for me and I starting looking for alternatives. My search lead me to Squarespace, right when they transitioned from version 5 of their CMS to version 6.

At the time it was a good choice, because Squarespace offered;

  1. more customisation options than Tumblr,
  2. the promise of good iOS applications,
  3. and a clear company-customer relationship.

Unfortunately Squarespace v6 has steadily gotten worse since I signed up. While I'm still their customer on paper, the changes that are made behind the scenes that directly impact the functionality and look of my site, without me having a say in them, speak a different language.

On this front, the only advantage I have over Tumblr is the lack of ads in my CMS (Squarepace's excellent support and dedication to uptime notwithstanding). Tumblr's iOS app is the best on the market right now, while Squarespace's app is slow, buggy, doesn't work well with v6, and often breaks things on the site when used.

And last but not least there's the fact that the only export format Squarespace offers today is Wordpress XML. The one thing I cannot stand when using paid services, are companies trying to lock me into their platform with my own content, when I'm already paying them.

At this point I'm on the verge of moving my site to a static site generation engine that's self-hosted on some dedicated server (most likely Pelican). It would be a lot of work, but it would also mean that I'd have complete control over the site and wouldn't have to deal with crappy CMSs (one can add posts by uploading Markdown-formatted text files), making the site leaner as an added bonus.

Tumblr's acquisition has me perking up my ears. I might be willing/able to cancel my plans of going full-on neckbeard with my site (see above) and go back to Tumblr, if two things happen:

  1. Tumblr@Yahoo! introduced a true paid option that not only removes ads, but also makes it clear to them and to myself that I'm their customer, not advertisers or other third parties.
  2. They reintroduce (in the paid plan if they want) simple options to import to, and export from Tumblr.

I just want an easy way to write articles and post funny pictures, knowing that I own my content and can take it anywhere I want, if I want to.

Alex Hoffmann @mangochutney