Last night, Steven Pears—the developer behind Windows Phone app DashBuddy, which brings Tumblr functionality to the WP7 Marketplace—penned a post lambasting Tumblr for failing to work with their developer community despite working so hard on their API. He probably didn’t expect to get a response, or an especially public and contrite one. Which, for the record, he did.
Mr. Pears wrote:
A lack of communication with the team running [the Tumblr API] means I’m going to have to take my app offline indefinitely because I won’t release it without the pieces I’m missing, specifically the pieces they were interested in seeing – that even with detailed information about my apps interaction I can’t even get a reply saying “yes, we’ve seen your posts, we’re swamped – but we’ll try and get someone to look at it soon” – and quite frankly, if I were a user of my app, I’d be angry at how long I’ve waited for the next release. I don’t want promises, I don’t want to be pushy or agressive. I just wish I didn’t feel so let down when the API has come so far so quickly.
Today, David Karp wrote on his own Tumblr, in a reblogged response to Pears:
You’re absolutely right — we’ve been letting down our developer community. This is an extremely high-priority for Derek [Gottfrid, Tumblr's Director of Product] and me, and something that our Engineering team (especially JB) has been pulling extra hours to help with. We don’t, today, have engineers dedicated to supporting our developer community — something we’re working to change as quickly as possible. You guys have been doing unbelievable work for Tumblr users, and we want to do everything possible to support your efforts.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful note. I’m sorry to let you down.
Karp then offers to Pears: “P.S. If empowering incredible developers is your kind of thing, we’d love to chat” replete with an email hyperlink and all.
A contrite, sincere apology! An admission of not doing something correctly! Refreshing, by any reasonable standard.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Tumblr’s had problems with their developer community—they threatened to shut down popular Tumblr extension Missing E, and pulled API access for another developer’s Tumblr directory—but maybe, given the tenor of Mr. Karp’s apology, the way they approach relations with their developer community may indeed be changing. Time will tell, actions speak louder, all that noise. But: it’s a start.
Unless they cruelly drag along Tumblr devs like Lisa did Screech until they all finally just snap and grow out porny mustaches and make all these weird sex tapes and just become these ultimately sad caricatures of human beings who once brought joy to the world and held the potential to be something, nay, anything more than the fate they eventually resign themselves to. That’d just be mean.
But also, kinda funny.