UPDATE: Good news! Tumblr has answered us with a positive position on browser extensions. Read More.
~ Your Freedom To Use Your Browser Is Under Attack ~
Tumblr’s Terms of Service hasn’t changed yet. So please read and help out!
The Tumblr staff recently requested feedback on updates they will be making to their policies. They specifically mention one of their goals is to prevent the promotion of self-harm. However, their updated Terms of Service includes something a lot less laudable.
Unable to find the required avenues to stop developers from creating and distributing browser extensions that enhance the way you use Tumblr and not getting enough of a response to their scary warning campaign, they now seem to be preparing the groundwork for coming after users of these extensions.
~ Who, you? Yes, apparently. ~
Tumblr had been previously unable to prevent all development of these extensions, scripts and add-ons because they function within your web browser, allowing you to direct these extensions to use your browser to automatically perform tasks for you on Tumblr (like quickly reblogging from the dashboard, uploading images to posts, adding control buttons to your sidebar or hiding content you don’t want to see). The extensions, themselves, do not interact directly with Tumblr, only help your web browser to do it for you!
With the upcoming changes to the Terms of Service, Tumblr will soon be able to punish someone: you.
~ How is it wrong to use something to help me enjoy Tumblr more? ~
The important part of the new Terms of Service is under the section titled Limitations on Automated Use:
You may not do any of the following while accessing or using the Services: … (c) access or search or attempt to access or search the Services by any means (automated or otherwise) other than through our currently available, published interfaces that are provided by Tumblr… (d) scrape the Services, and particularly scape (sic) Content (as defined below) from the Services, without Tumblr’s express prior written consent
These limitations will make using almost any browser extension, add-on or script for Tumblr (and even some not specifically intended for Tumblr) against the rules!
Do you use Missing e, XKit, Tumblr Savior or any Greasemonkey script for Tumblr? Well, pretty soon, that will mean you will be in violation of Tumblr’s Terms of Service. That would be grounds for terminating your account!
~ What’s the Big Deal? ~
Extensions, add-ons and scripts like Missing e, XKit and Tumblr Savior help you get better use of Tumblr. They might mean that you decide against leaving Tumblr, or that you come back to it. They make it easier to spend more time on Tumblr than you might have normally and become a more involved member of this community. These are the kind of things a company like Tumblr should want, but is instead fighting against.
This most recent step effectively means that Tumblr apparently wants to reach into your web browser and tell you exactly how you are to use it to interact with their website. Their way, and NO OTHER WAY.
~ So, What Can We Do? ~
Tumblr’s new Terms of Service policy has not yet been put into effect. They are still looking for feedback. My suggestions is that we give them feedback.
Contact Tumblr (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let them know that this decision will alienate the userbase they work so hard to grow. Let them know that a browser extension (be it any of them) brought you back to Tumblr, or convinced you to stay, or kept you on this site longer. Tell them that your Tumblr is better off with a Savior, a Kit of the ‘X’ variety or that Missing e!
ABOVE ALL, BE POLITE. The best way to present your case is with clearheaded statements that show Tumblr that these tools make you want to use their product more!