Things don’t look good for Canadian developer Jeremy Cutler, who created a popular browser extension that modifies the Tumblr interface in several neat ways, including tweaks to the navigation, the ability to reblog yourself as well as a faster way to add tags and replies, a feature that opens all posts from the dashboard in a new tab, and on and on. “Missing e” has been shared 800 times via Twitter, 3,000 times via Facebook and 240 times via Google+. But Tumblr-proper is unhappy about the extension because it interferes with control over user experience (among other reasons), and has threatened to shut down Mr. Cutler’s personal Tumblr if he doesn’t cease and desist.
Mr. Cutler had already stopped using the Tumblr API in an attempt to pacify Karp and Co. But a surprise conference call made it clear that wasn’t enough. He writes:
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.
I attempted to discuss options through which we could work together on making Missing e something they would accept, but after initial positive statements, they seemed fairly averse to the idea. Their intent is for me to stop distribution of Missing e in any form.
Their concerns range from a perception of an increased support load due to “issues” with Missing e features to a desire to dictate how the Tumblr interface is presented to all users. Even after my commitment to them that I would not permit any feature that removes their content or modifies it in any way that would prevent promotional content from being visible to users, they still would not change their position in any way.
Mr. Cutler has requested a clarification in writing from Tumblr and says he intends to distribute the extension until he gets it.
It makes sense for Tumblr to want to control the ways users access the site; consider Twitter’s crackdown on clients–and it’s best to set the precedent early. But alongside news last week of Tumblr’s clashes with its users in the fashion industry, Tumblr comes across as rather tone-deaf.
The post about the not-so-bright future of Missing e has 1,919 notes. “BUT MISSING E IS AWESOME,” one user writes. Another says, “Excuse me, tumblr, but yeah no, seriously, what the fuck?” Tumblr, which just pushed the first significant Android app update in more than six months, has been working on scaling its infrastructure and has been introducing features at a relaxed pace. So its understandable that users would be miffed when Tumblr tries to shut down a feature rich extension and bullies its creator into backing off.