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Why Tumblr can go & f*ck itself as far as I’m concerned… missing-e:
Well, I might as well break it to you. It is unlikely that Missing e will come back. If it does, it won’t be the same. Please note that what follows is my interpretation of communications and feedback I have received from Tumblr staff. It does not necessarily represent their full and complete position on the matter, and it is quite possible that my conclusions are incorrect. I don’t think so, though. There are a few main issues Tumblr’s staff seem to have taken with Missing e. First is Missing e’s use of the Tumblr API (for such features as TimestampsMagnifierBetter Reblogs, etc.). In a number of cases, these features use what Tumblr considers to be too many API calls. I have attempted to get clarification on this point, in order to have some yardstick or metric by which to measure and limit overuse of the API. Unfortunately, the responses I have gotten back only reiterate the position that these features do not “respect API limitations”. Another point of contention is the use of a technique called “page scraping” (wherein a number of webpages are read into memory by the browser for the purpose of extracting information from them, rather than to present the whole page to the user). Currently, Missing e’s Follow Checker and Unfollower features use this technique. The reason for this is that the first version of Tumblr’s API provided no method to get this information. Before this dispute arose, I had fully intended to modify these features to use the new version 2 API, rather than use page scraping. What I consider to be the most major factor for Tumblr’s refusal to license Missing e for use is their desire to prevent any and all “content modification”. In the Tumblr API License Agreement, users of the API are called upon to refrain from modifying user or Tumblr-created content in any way other than to adjust formatting to make display more appropriate for a licensed application. They appear to be applying this section of the license agreement in a very broad fashion. Nearly every feature of Missing e modifies the display of the dashboard (or other Tumblr pages) in some way. Each and every one of these (from the added sidebar in Sidebar Tweaks down to the icon replacement for editnotes and reblog buttons on posts in the dashboard that are part of the Dashboard Fixes feature) is a no-no from Tumblr’s perspective. I imagine that the purpose of this requirement is so that Tumblr and Tumblr alone will decide how you view your Tumblr dashboard, the desires of power users and Tumblrs who want a smoother experience be damned. Complying with these demands would mean gutting nearly every feature in Missing e. I have but one recourse that I will pretty likely decide not to take. That is to stop using the Tumblr API. Some features will be lost, but most of the great interface tweaks, fixes and added features Missing eprovides could be retained. By not using the Tumblr API at all, Missing e would no longer be subject to the API License Agreement. Display modification at the browser level would not constitute copyright infringement as the HTML and JavaScript code generated by Tumblr is not changed or reproduced. The document as loaded into memory is simply adjusted within your browser. I am no copyright expert, but I feel confident that this would constitute “fair use”. This is where I hit a personal snag, though. Tumblr’s Terms of Service and Content Policy documents (like many such documents for other sites) are not ideally worded. From what little legal-ese I know, it appears to me that these policies have holes big enough to drive a truck through. In case you don’t follow my metaphor, the “trucks” driving through these “holes” could very possibly carry with them any permission I have obtained from Tumblr to hold an account on this site. I do not in any way mean to imply that this is a likely reaction! I only mean to say that it is a possibility. I feel very much like the little guy under pressure from a much bigger… uh… guy (that simile needs some work). I do not want to lose my account. I don’t even want to consider the possibility of that (however slim it may be). Just this morning, my wife and I flew into New York from Toronto for the purpose of meeting a bunch of fellow Tumblrs (and Tweeters) I have gotten to know and learned to care about over on my personal Tumblr account (cutlerish.tumblr.com). The kind of community, social atmosphere and, most of all, friends I have found here on Tumblr are not things I take for granted. Unless concessions are made or assurances given, I have chosen a large group of my Tumblr friends over fighting the good fight. I will toast Missing e this Saturday night at the SnarkNYC meetup, and lament the fact that I had to make such a choice as this.
Tumblr Staff blog- http://staff.tumblr.com/ <- But you can’t submit anything to them, and they don’t have an ask box. Of course. I’ve just unfollowed them, as their blog isn’t good for anything but updates when it’s NOT working. They have a Twitter for that, though. I say start a petition to get/keep some form of Missing e. That or bombard them with emails until they finally respond… if everyone who downloaded Missing e (which would be 400,000 people) emails Tumblr at support@tumblr.com, that would probably clog up their email inbox and maybe annoy them enough to at least do a blog post about Missing e (so they can’t just pretend it never existed).

August 5, 2011

Missing e {browser extension for tumblr}: What’s the hangup with Missing e?

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