Sunday night, Tumblr.com launched a redesign, and some users reacted with so much Internet rage, you'd think Tumblr (or Yahoo, which recently bought Tumblr) had killed all their puppies.
Here's what happened: Tumblr moved the buttons you use to interact with posts from the top of each post in your dashboard to the bottom. It did so in order to make room for a dollar sign icon that will indicate when a post has been promoted using its new sponsorship tools.
As some users have noted, there is now literally a dollar sign where Tumblr's heart (their favorite button) used to be.
Furthermore, in the process, Tumblr broke three of the most popular third-party apps: Missing E, xKit and Tumblr Savior.
It seems incomprehensible to the users why Tumblr would be doing this to them, but any business owner can understand. Tumblr is a business, and businesses have to make money. Tumblr has been under huge pressure to start making some money for some time and that's not changing just because Yahoo owns it now.
But the real lesson here is that the same morning Tumblr released the redesign and broke three apps, it posted about sponsored posts and new servers on its blog. In other words, its representatives are being (as they have been in the past) totally silent on these changes—changes that may seem minor to them, but are a very big deal to their users.
Tumblr's biggest asset is its passionate user base. Tumblr may need to make money, but frankly, that's Tumblr's problem, not its users' problem. And if Tumblr wants to keep those users, especially as it goes through the twin dramatic changes of trying to make money and navigate a major acquisition, it's going to have to start talking to them.