IFTTT v Pinboard

Never mind Batman v Superman. Now it’s IFTTT v Pinboard and I’m caught in the cross-fire.

I use Pinboard daily in some form or another. I also use the great “connector” service, IFTTT, daily to automate a host of little tasks like adding Instapaper highlights to a text file in Dropbox and many more.

In particular, I use a number of IFTTT recipes that include Pinboard in various little workflows that make my life easier and now it seems that is going to come to an end in just a week or two. I received this alarming email from IFTTT:

I rushed over to the Pinboard blog to see what Pinboard’s creator, Maciej Cegłowski, has to say about the matter. It turns out, he has quite a bit to say in his blog post titled “My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT”. He cited two reasons for this little impasse:

Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because this email makes it sound like I’m the asshole, I feel I should explain myself.

In a nutshell:

  1. IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free
  2. They have really squirrely terms of service

It’s entirely IFTTT’s decision to drop support for Pinboard (along with a bunch of other sites). They are the ones who are going to flip the switch on working code on April 4, and they could just as easily flip the switch back on (or even write an IFTTT recipe that does it for them). Weigh their claims about Pinboard being a beloved service accordingly.

I understand his concerns and I agree with him that he shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel at his cost to satisfy IFTTT’s requirements to remain connected to the service. Surely IFTTT could have come up with a more developer-friendly way to migrate to their new platform and help developers make the transition at a lower cost?

I would also have reservations about the contract they want developers to agree to as part of their transition to the new platform. Requiring developers to agree to the sorts of terms Cegłowski quote seems pretty unreasonable given what the clauses would seem to be saying.

At the same time, I’m caught between these two providers I rely on for various tasks. I don’t like the approach IFTTT seems to be taking but I love the service they provide. It literally makes my life easier in so many ways. I have also been using Pinboard for a while now as my personal bookmarking service and I even pay for the archival service. It is a simple and effective service.

This IFTTT v Pinboard impasse between the two companies just hurts people like me who either have to switch to some IFTTT competitor to address the soon-to-be introduced gaps in my workflows or just abandon those workflows altogether. The effect of that is to diminish the value of both services for me, just enough to leave me with that sick, disappointed feeling you get in times like these.

I hope this situation is resolved in some form or another but, if it isn’t … well, that just sucks.

Postscript:

IFTTT v Pinboard Redux – Contracts and Condescension

By Paul

Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at Automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

6 comments

    1. Paul Jacobson – Modiin, Israel – Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.
      Paul says:

      Firstly, I understand that he is doing this solo and don’t expect him to spend what could translate into obscene amounts of money to meet IFTTT’s demands. I’m not suggesting that.

      And, no, Pinboard is not the party caught in the middle of this. I’m a user of both services and rely on both in varying degrees. Like other users, I’m caught in the middle of the impasse.

      Bottom line is that it is just a lousy situation and I hope it’s resolved.

  1. Paul Jacobson – Modiin, Israel – Enthusiast, writer, Happiness Engineer at @automattic. I take photos too. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.
    Paul says:

    When I wrote about the IFTTT v Pinboard standoff yesterday, I didn’t spend much time on the contract stuff in my article. Here are a few more thoughts about just how objectionable those contract clauses are and why I believe we are the ones caught in the middle of this mess.

  2. The news that Instapaper sold to Pinterest shocked me from my early evening domestic routine. At first, it seemed like a mistake. It didn’t even seem like something that could happen but, sure enough, there was a tweet to confirm it:

    Today, we’re excited to announce that Instapaper is joining @Pinterest! https://t.co/6qCgN7Flyy— Instapaper (@instapaper) August 23, 2016

    As I read the blog post, I forced myself to slow down so I wouldn’t miss some vital detail about the fate of my favourite “read it later” app. It was all a bit of a blur, I just couldn’t believe it was happening.

    #notthrilled #tryingnottopanic https://t.co/FNdXjqEryB— Paul Jacobson (@pauljacobson) August 23, 2016

    The key paragraph was this one, the rest of the post was mostly filed for later analysis:

    For you, the Instapaper end user and customer, nothing changes. The Instapaper team will be moving from betaworks in New York City to Pinterest’s headquarters in San Francisco, and we’ll continue to make Instapaper a great place to save and read articles.

    Of course, Pinboard’s Maciej Ceglowski was in typical form with a series of sarcastic tweets about the sale that included a hefty dose of “I told you so” (as you would expect). He made a few good points that concerned me more than a little and prompted me to think more about my investment in Instapaper:

    To Instapaper users who are sad to see their favorite product die and in no mood for my gloating, rest assured: I feel your hilarious pain— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    What do people want most from the site that saves all their links? A brief lifespan, radical redesigns, and frequent changes of ownership— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    So far, more “I told you so”. And then he raised an issue I hadn’t thought much about:

    Wait, is it true that you can’t export your full data from Instapaper? I guess you all have to take screenshots and get Evernote to OCR it.— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    You used a free-ish site that doesn’t let you export all your data, and now it sold out? Please /cc me on your lamentations— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    This next one worried me …

    To be fair, the Instapaper restriction that limits you to exporting 2000 bookmarks makes the missing timestamps less important— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    … until someone replied with this:

    @Pinboard I was able to export 12000 bookmarks with no problems— Anh Do (@quanganhdo) August 23, 2016

    Abandon ship?The way the conversation was going, you’d think the Instapaper service was being shut down.

    The “we sold to Pinterest but nothing is changing” email is Instapaper’s equivalent of reassuring grandma about her move to a nursing home— Pinboard (@Pinboard) August 23, 2016

    I’ll admit, I jumped to that horrible conclusion. I’ve seen many services that I loved and used just shut down out of the blue or languish after a bad acquisition.Still, I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

    You’re getting a bit ahead of yourself there, @Pinboard. @instapaper isn’t dead, at least not yet. https://t.co/BpTG5xIFyH— Paul Jacobson (@pauljacobson) August 23, 2016

    Instapaper’s CEO, Brian Donohue challenged Ceglowski’s suggestion that Instapaper was in financial dire straits and inspired enough hope to move beyond the panic and start assessing the news more rationally.

    @Pinboard there were three of us, Maciej. We weren’t losing money.— Brian Donohue (@bthdonohue) August 23, 2016

    Straight and trueMarketing Land published an article that pointed out how this acquisition could actually make a lot of sense. In his article titled “How buying Instapaper could help Pinterest become a media portal like Facebook”, Tim Peterson highlighted the synergies between the two services:

    People use Pinterest and Instapaper for similar reasons. The similarity is almost too close for the deal to make sense. Pinterest started out as a way for people to collect content from around the web for themselves and others to check out later. At first, people were mainly saving images, but they’ve also started saving articles, to the point that Pinterest considers that “a core use case.” But saving articles is the same reason people use Instapaper — its “core use case,” if you will. So why would Pinterest buy a company whose product largely duplicates its own?

    It’s a fair question and, as Peterson suggests, this could be more about putting two similar services together and using the Instapaper team’s know-how to improve Pinterest. For now, at least, Instapaper doesn’t seem to be at risk of vanishing. According to Peterson:

    Instapaper’s service will remain available post-acquisition, and Pinterest has no plans to put ads in Instapaper, according to a Pinterest spokesperson.

    Still, so soon after the news I panicked and downloaded Pocket to my iPad. I have an IFTTT recipe running that adds stories I save to Instapaper to my Pocket queue so I wouldn’t lose much if Instapaper inexplicably vanished.I also created a series of IFTTT recipes that captured my Instapaper notes and highlights into MultiMarkdown-formatted notes after the Great Pinboard Shock of 2016 so I wouldn’t lose too much of that data either.The big loss, to me, would be the loss of an app that I use daily and really enjoy using. Pocket could be an acceptable replacement (I used Pocket regularly for a while before I decided to switch back to Instapaper). While I’d lose some functionality if I had to switch, switching would be more a matter of installing the various Pocket extensions and apps.Will Pinterest be a good steward for Instapaper and give the team the tools it needs to keep making Instapaper better? I hope so. Ultimately, if it all goes badly, there are other options. If Pocket doesn’t capture my affection, I could always switch to Evernote even though the reading experience isn’t even close. I’m getting ahead of myself.For the time being, I don’t need to (or want to) change anything. I pay for my Instapaper subscription for a year at a time and, assuming the service will continue operating as promised, I can keep doing what I’ve been doing (after a quick backup of my links).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading…

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