I was thinking about the removal of tracked tags and I think it makes perfect sense if you consider the experience yahoo/tumblr wants its users to have vs. what the users actually want to have.
Earlier this week I heard a piece on NPR, or maybe it was KQED, which is my local public radio station–but I digress, about how Yahoo is underperforming financially. This means they’re only making 1 billion per quarter, which, while that sounds like an astronomical amount of money, is 49 billion LESS than Apple makes per quarter. Now, I don’t think it’s fair or even wise to compare Apple to Yahoo considering Apple is in the hardware game and Yahoo isn’t, but here’s the thing. Yahoo needs to make more money to be seen as anything but the dying vestige of the early days of the internet, and part of how they’re doing this is curating the tumblr experience in a way to make the users see more ads.
It’s in Yahoo’s best interest to get as many ads on your dash as humanly possibly. One way to do this? Keep you out of other portions of the site. Tracked tags were a way for you, the user, to glance away from your dash, and in doing so, away from the increasing amount of ads they’ve put there. By making you follow a keyword instead of a tag, it gives them the ability to prioritize posts made by tumblrs owned by products and corporations, rather than people. Search for “pizza” so you can follow it, like the staff recommended in their post, and among the pictures of pizza, and posts that randomly mention the word pizza, you get the tumblrs for NBCnews and MTV.
For Yahoo, tumblr doesn’t matter as a community–it matters as a revenue stream, and while every single company is interested in the bottom line, Yahoo is aggressively trying to turn tumblr into the same kind of money-maker as youtube or facebook, and every single time a feature that gets your eyes off the dash is removed, it’s another desperate attempt for Yahoo to make you see their ads.
I have no idea what yahoo plans to do with the replies, but if they do keep the functionality, I bet it will be because they want a way to imbed more ads into your experience.
Again, I know every company is interested in making money. Yahoo is simply doing it wrong.