Tumblr is a kind of hybrid between social media micro-blogging platforms like Twitter or Facebook and a more traditional blogging platform such as Blogger or WordPress. Depending on the purpose of your blog, this is either the best or worst of both worlds. That is to say, it is a great site for sharing pictures, quotes or articles, a somewhat mediocre blogging platform for writing, and a substandard medium for having conversations.
The following are a few usability pet peeves.
The ask box
The primary problem with the ask box is that if you answer a message it immediately disappears from the inbox. This does not make a lot of sense; you should not have to go through your previous posts in order to re-read a comment someone sent you. It can be extremely time consuming, particularly if you have a very active Tumblr. A secondary problem is that while it is possible to schedule answers to comments and questions, you have to press the “alt” key on your keyboard in order for the “queue” button to appear. (And if you didn’t know you could do that before, you do now.)
Answering “asks” and posts
While it is possible to respond directly to “asks” and posts, it is a nuisance to respond to the comments put there. (Unless you have Disqus but that is an add-on.) In order to respond to a comment typed in via the speech-bubble icon, you have to copy and paste the comment into a new text post, and tag it with the other person’s ID so they will see it. (That is, if they’ve tagged their user ID.) Then if they respond by using the speech bubble icon instead of reblogging, you will have to copy and paste to a new post again.
Not being able to reblog your own posts
The reason given for not being able to reblog your own post is that this is to prevent spamming. (It is possible to reblog your own posts if you have Missing E, an unauthorized extension that enables the user to do a number of useful things. Unfortunately, the Powers that Be of Tumblr really don’t like Missing E.) While spam posts are definitely a potential problem, the average user or the dedicated blogger is not likely to reblog more than a couple times to ensure that everyone saw an important post. This is because the average user does not want their followers to become annoyed with them over repetitive reblogs. A spammer would not care about this. Also, a spammer will eventually be reported for spam, which takes care of the problem.
Non-intuitive user interface
Tumblr recently changed its user interface from a more standard “blog platform” style to one more reminiscent of Google+ or Facebook. This caused some confusion, since the icons being used to represent previous functions were a little confusing. The ability to reblog something while staying on your blog roll does not really make up for fumbling around trying to figure out which icon does what. (I do kind of like how they made the queuing option part of a dropdown on the post button. Now if they’d only done something like that with the ask box.)
The feud over Missing E
As previously mentioned, Missing E is an unauthorized extension that generally improves the usability of Tumblr. Adrianne Jeffries on Beta Beat has more information about Tumblr’s specific problems with Missing E. The gist of the problem seems to be that Missing E interferes with “user experience.” Since a great many users of Tumblr also use Missing E, it would seem that the design team would be on board with something that made Tumblr easier to use, but this is apparently not the case.
Despite these pet peeves, Tumblr is a simple to set up, if somewhat counterintuitive blogging/social media platform. It has a lot of potential as a way to drive traffic to your blog or website, as well as promote media and topics of personal interest.