Microblogger shootout: Posterous Spaces vs. Tumblr

A new wave of free sites encourages fast blogging, multimedia entries and social networking.

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Site management

Sites like Posterous Spaces and Tumblr are intended for people without much experience in managing a website, so the onus is on them to guide newbies into best practices and generally make site management easy.

Both companies make it easy to perform basic blog publishing tasks, like queuing up a cache of posts to roll out on a schedule, and spinning off new blogs from your account. Both provide the ability to create private blogs with access limited to people with the password. In these blog basics, the two sites are about equal. It's in the details that the two differ.

Posterous Spaces

At press time, Posterous Spaces was in a state of transition and several of the features of its new Spaces interface were not supported by all browsers.

Posterous Spaces vs. Tumblr

Posterous Spaces makes it simple for users to register their own domains.

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Strangely enough, Internet Explorer supported so few features that Posterous Spaces slapped on a notice to that effect: "We are working hard to support Internet Explorer, but in the mean time, please try using a different browser." It's possible that this will be rectified by the time you read this -- as we all know, browsers and online services are in a constant state of flux. However, it is interesting that Internet Explorer, which for so long was considered the standard browser, has been left out of this particular party.

In its new revamp, Posterous Spaces missed the chance to catch up with Tumblr's excellent Mass Post Editor -- when Posterous Spaces users want to edit tags across a whole range of postings, they have to do it one post at a time (or more likely, just not do it because the task is too onerous).

Posterous Spaces' focus is more on letting its users roll out new blog spaces for different purposes -- some of them public, some private -- and switch between them readily. They also make it easier to brand your blog (or Space, as they insist on calling it): Posterous Spaces will register a domain for you using the ICANN-accredited registrar eNom, at the middling price of $24.95 per year (with multi-year discounts going down to $12.99 per year with a 10-year prepaid contract).

For that price, you get ownership and control over your domain, your Posterous Spaces pages appear under your own domain name, and you get ten e-mail addresses in the bargain. There are cheaper ways to register a domain, true, but none of them make it easier to brand your Posterous Spaces site. On the downside, you can't transfer an existing domain to eNom to link to your Posterous Spaces site; for that, you have to get into editing your own DNS records. Posterous Spaces tells you how, but it's not as convenient.

Tumblr

Tumblr's a real mixed bag when it comes to management tools. Its one standout tool is the Mass Post Editor -- a great productivity feature that opens a thumbnail-filled window on all your blog entries and enables you to perform production chores like applying consistent tags on multiple posts. Every blog site should have a feature like this, but it's conspicuously absent from Posterous Spaces (and from higher-end sites like Blogger).

Posterous Spaces vs. Tumblr

Tumblr's Mass Post Editor enables you to perform production chores like applying consistent tags on multiple posts.

Click to view larger image

On the other hand, Tumblr makes you jump through hoops to perform much more basic tasks: For example, the ability to make comments on your blogs is only possible if you install a separate module from Disqus, which you can install from Tumblr's Customize page on most, but not all, templates. By contrast, Posterous Spaces provides this as a natural part of the blogging process -- and, to most of us, it is natural (though you can turn it off if you don't like it).

When you're ready to make your blog look professional by branding it with your own domain name, Tumblr is, shall I say, reluctant: It won't handle domain purchasing for you, and though it does provide instructions to help you map an already-registered domain to their servers, it appears to discourage the practice with such comments as "Please contact your domain registrar for support. Our staff is absolutely unable to assist with DNS configuration."

Bottom line

Both Posterous Spaces and Tumblr have strong features and conspicuously missing ones in the area of site management. If you're the kind of compulsive cataloger who wants consistent tags, Tumblr's Mass Post Editor will win you over. If you're all about maintaining Google+-like areas for different groups of people, then Posterous Spaces is the obvious choice.

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