I wrote a long piece the other day — What Twitter Could Learn From Tumblr — praising the deep integration of tags in the Tumblr implementation. However, there is a fly in the ointment. The way that tags are edited is a UX mess.
Here’s the Tumblr editor, with the tag edit region to the right:
Tags for the associated post are not entered in the obvious way, as text delimited by commas, as most tool support tags do. Instead, Tumblr has an oddball convention for entering the tags.
First, you move your cursor to the editing region set aside for tags, and you click to select that region. Then you start typing a tag, say ‘cat’, and then you hit enter. Then the text is converted to one of these green box things, after which the tag text is not longer editable. If you misspell a tag you have to delete it and do it over again, which is annoying if your tag is something like ‘things to learn from carlos castenada’.
You can also end a tag by entering a comma, which sounds like a good idea if you imagine that you’d like to enter a series of tags all at once. Note that this is the way that the bookmarklet works: you enter a series of tags as “twitter, liquid media, social tools”. But in the Tumblr editor using the comma sort of works, if you type the comma and wait for Tumbler to recognize it. In that case, the comma works like a return. But if you merrily type along after entering the comma, strange things can happen. In my case I usually end up with a strange collection of tags, like “twitter, l” “iquid media, so’ “cial tools”. On approach that the team at Tumblr might take is simply ignore the comma during typing, and parse only after the return is hit.
But best would be to simply rethink the implementation, making it more user friendly. Especially reworking things so that tags are editable.
There is also a strange problem with tags: they can’t be selected. There is an ‘x’ in each tag box, which is one way that they can be deleted, but otherwise they can’t be selected, which just seems strange. Obviously, if tags are made editable, selection would have an obvious outcome: making the text area editable.
I hope that the nice folks at Tumblr carve out a little time from major UX changes — like the recent Dashboard overhaul — and put some thought into a redo of tag editing.