Tumblr v. WordPress


I’ve been exploring migrating my Tumblr (http://azspot.net) to WordPress. As part of that endeavor, I rolled up a new WordPress instance (Naumionus) and began tumblelogging there. I’ve been on Tumblr since February 2007, almost 10 years of Tumblr! Some recent developments have compelled me to contemplate moving off the platform.

So, after a week or so of experimenting and tinkering with WordPress as a new tumblelog platform, here are some observations and in conclusion, my future blogging roadmap, as it stands in this present moment. I’m going to examine the platforms side-by-side in comparison, with my thoughts on various aspects of each platform.


Obviously, Tumblr excels here. Basically, you just click on a button and bam, you’re off. It couldn’t be more simpler.

WordPress isn’t much more difficult. It did take some searching and scrawling to find an appropriate template, and then customize it. (But Tumblr requires a template select and tweak step too.) And then getting a few plugins installed and initalized.

No big deal. But advantage Tumblr here.


I hate the way WordPress works, with code and layout interspersed. And it’s spread across a bundle of files. It’s abhorrent and touches pain points in just about every developer oriented bone in my body. I much prefer the Tumblr template model with the big caveat (the one that propelled me on this quest) — the auto-injection of content into the middle of my Tumblr template.

OTOH, WordPress has evolved to be the predominant blogging platform, so there is such a wealth of templates to choose from. Free or fee. And I found a WordPress theme suited for tumblelogging.


The big allure of Tumblr is the drop dead simple click and post mechanic. But over time, Tumblr’s bookmarklet mode, where I conduct most of my posting from, has accumulated a set of drawbacks:

  • Unable to resize the dialog box, and worse, if your text size is larger than standard, your content is truncated. I squawked about this when they introduced this “smart” bookmarklet, but I adapted, mostly but setting a minimum font size on the browser and at times using accessibility features in my OS (my vision is poor).
  • Total bookmarklet failure for a number of sites — when you click on the bookmarklet bar tab and the resultant dialog panel containing url info and highlighted text never returns. Then, I must close that tab, open up a browser tab, and manually fill in a post with all the details. Sort of defeats the raison d’être for Tumblr.
  • The act of reblogging is a far more complex one than simply posting a link or quote – often, your post type is restricted, and then there is addendum content added that grows ever more tricky to format or suppress. It’s almost impossible for me to clip from a brother/sister Tumblr blog.
  • And again, auto-inserting superfluous, redundant content that does not obey template.

WordPress also features a bookmarklet, Press This and it works well, maybe even better than the Tumblr bookmarklet. There is an extra click or two, for when I set “Category” and “Post Type” (for which Tumblr has a superior tab mechanic). But the actual edit box, which I’ll address in Editing is far better. And it’s an actual textbox, not the “smart” dialog that often mucks things up.

One big plus for Tumblr is in image posting, however. There, Tumblr auto-creates images on their server farm and creates copies in multiple sizes. The WordPress bookmarklet can pull some images from the page you’re linking or quoting, but it just prepends some HTML. Also, I installed a plugin (I may not have needed to do this?) to auto-embed YouTube videos. OTOH, Tumblr can recognize YouTube (as well as some other video sites) and auto-embeds by default. So Tumblr wins here in non-text media.

So, a tie.


No contest here, as the WordPress offers an actual editor text box, with a monospace font and a dialog that doesn’t infuriate you by constantly shifting the focus. And it’s resizable.


A mixed bag here. Some notes:

  • Tumblr hosted on Tumblr. You can point a custom domain to it or run a backup script to save your posts, but it sits on their farm.

  • WordPress (though WordPress also offers a wordpress.com service that will house your blog and posts) is a self-hosted affair.

  • It might seem an advantage for WordPress, but WordPress is so tied to PHP scripting and MySQL backend database. This might not seem an issue but I have defunct blogs on old blog engines, where the platform became abandonware, yet the old software will not run under new versions of PHP. Now WordPress is so popular, but anymore, I tend to think that any web output that isn’t plain HTML may not enjoy a long shelf life. This would seem to elevate a blogging engine like Jekyll — but I’ll need another post to go over its advantages and shortcomings. But suffice to say, it’s not a good candidate for a tumblelogging platform.

  • With the uncertainty about Yahoo future, Tumblr long term outlook is questionable too.

Conclusion / Future Roadmap

For now, I just can’t quit you Tumblr. So, I’m going to continue on tumbleblogging here. But I’m also going to keep active my Nauminous site. Some content will be duplicated but I foresee AZspot more devoted to shorter form posts and images. Where Nauminous will feature longer link posts & quotes.

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