Tumblr Extorting its user because of a browser plugin


This situation basically sums up 90% of the worries I had when I moved my blog to Tumblr.


Is tumblr really holding a user’s personal account hostage to extort him into shutting down his service / competing UI? I cannot believe this.

For those of you who don’t know, “missing e” is a great browser extension for tumblr. It’s a browser add-on for firefox/chrome/safari with an updated user interface that makes doing some things on tumblr easier. (ie, I can edit posts on my blogs from the permalink page, set reblogs to default to my reblog instead of my main/art blog, etc). Some features (such as keeping tags on reblogs) have even been adopted as ‘real’ tumblr features.

Then tumblr called Jeremy Cutler, the creator of “missing e” and asked him to stop distributing it, because they said it was violating the API agreement, hurting their business structure (by allowing users to hide the radar/ads) and ‘page-scraping’ which put a big load on their servers.

So he took missing-e down, and fixed all of those problems. Missing-e no longer hides the radar, no longer scrapes pages, and no longer uses the API at all. In fact, it doesn’t even interact with tumblr— everything it does happens once tumblr is already loaded in your browser, between your browser and you.

But apparently that wasn’t good enough. Because the page-scraping and API reasons weren’t tumblr’s real/only reasons— they didn’t like the UI changes missing-e implemented.

Here’s where things got interesting:


Moments ago, I participated in surprise conference call with Tumblr staff members. They have indicated to me that they continue to take issue with Missing e even with the removal of usage of the Tumblr API.  …  That’s their prerogative, I’m sure. Whether or not I have grounds to justly disagree with them on this, the fact remains that under the Tumblr Terms of Service, they are well within their rights to delete my Tumblr blogs as a punitive action should I continue to distribute the extension. They have informed me that this is the course of action they will take should I not acquiesce to their demands.

So, tumblr is threatening to delete his PERSONAL BLOG if he doesn’t meet their (unrelated to his personal blog) demands?

Tumblr staff— I know you and you’re all smart, good people— is there a word for when you can’t get someone to do what you want, so you threaten to damage them personally in an unrelated way?

Are you really holding users’ accounts hostage because you don’t like the things that the things they build are popular with your users?


Noun: The practice of obtaining something through threats.

If you want to bring a cease-and-desist against missing-e, that’s your right. (And I suppose if you had a case, that’s what you would do.) But instead you’re threatening to delete a user’s personal account unless they remove a BROWSER add-on that doesn’t interact with your service and that thousands of your users love, because you don’t like its features?

Lots of people make lots of browser extensions for lots of sites, from youtube to facebook to everything else. The problem here seems to be that Jeremy’s extension is very popular. Wouldn’t the correct course of action be to, I don’t know, hire him?

Now, it’s true— I don’t have your side of the story. But that’s because tumblr hasn’t said anything publicly about this issue.

So please— you’re all intelligent, good people—** I would love to hear your side of this**.

Because given the positive experiences I’ve had with all of you, what I’m hearing just doesn’t make any sense to me.