A Speculative Design: How Tumblr Notes Should Work

In the hopes of getting someone to fix Tumblr’s notes — either inside Tumblr or an outside developer — I am offering the following proposal for a how I’d like Tumblr notes to work. (By the way, anyone who is interested in implementing, give me a call.)

Today’s notes work like this:

  1. A user, say gbattle, reads something of mine, let’s say in his Tumblr stream. He takes an action, let’s say he replies to it (which I have enabled), and that gesture is reflected in the list of notes associated with the post.
  2. Later on, others looking at the post — either in the stream or on the post’s page — can see his reply along with all the other social gestures left behind by others, including other likes, rebloggings, and replies.

The problem is that I can’t reply back.


Imagine a product called Notr, that replaces the notes section of Tumblr themes. It would interact with Tumblr’s API to fetch notes, but it would also keep track of the relationship between notes implied by nesting. Where Tumblr’s notes system is inadequate, or blocks the creation and management of notes, Notr would conserve the notes in its own database.

Note the little talk balloon next to gbattle’s reply, which is provided by Notr here. I could re-reply to gbattle by clicking the balloon, and typing in some text:

And then others could also reply to that thread:

The implementation would be something like Disqus, but integrated with the Tumblr notes system, to the extent that it is possible.

Obviously, it would be simpler if Tumblr would implement notes this way, and we could all drop the amazingly annoying use of unintegrated Disqus. Alternatively, Disqus could implement this as a version of the product.

(This post is related to this gripe, from earlier today.)

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