Don’t be a Knee-Jerk: On Quitting Instagram, Feedburner, & Other Rash Decisions

You're have such a knee jerk reaction to everything.

Are you a quitter? I don’t mean the kind of quitter who gives up because something is too hard, but the kind who quits an online service in a huff over a perceived piece of bad news or policy. It seems a lot of people, including several friends, have made rash decisions to quit services lately, and I’m not certain these were the right calls. They weren’t for me, anyway. The examples:

Feedburner: Feedburner is a very common tool for setting up RSS feeds for blogs and other web sites. The basic tool is simple, though there have always been possibilities for more, especially in terms of analytics (let’s not get started on the failure of Google, which bought Feedburner a few years back, to integrate these analytics with the Google Analytics tool, but that does play in to the general frustration.

Late in 2012, things started to happen – or rather, they stopped happening. The @Feedburner Twitter feed was turned off, and the separate Feedburner blog was put to rest. Surely signs of the apocalypse, no?

No. The core tool continued, and continues, to work, There was a brief outage of the Feedburner user dashboard that gave many of us the agitah, but the feeds, by and large, worked well.

Still, there was justified concern. A number of friends moved their feeds to other services, like Feedblitz, which happily charges for extras like analytics (and likely worth the cost too), but Feedburner hasn’t stopped working. The care it takes to move a blog’s feed without losing subscribers, or having to rebuild a subscriber base (granted , only part of the audience for many blogs) from scratch is a lot to consider; it’s even more to consider when you have clients using Feedburner.

I haven’t moved this blog as of this writing. It has been months, and there has been no issue, no interruption. If Feedburner were to go down, the pain in switching would likely be little or no more than if I did it now. In fact, I heard some rumblings of service issues with the alternatives, though they weren’t necessarily permanent or fatal. So there is no point in panicking and making a premature move.


Instagram is a different story, one of trust, privacy and ownership. When Instagram announced a change to its terms of service, it was widely read to mean that Instagram reserved the right to (implication: intended to) use your images to sell advertising without compensating the owners. That caused an uproar, which included many people threatening to and even going ahead and eliminating their Instagram accounts. I didn’t, for two reasons:

  1.  If I were worried about intellectual property, privacy, and photo quality to such a degree I wouldn’t care about Instagram in the first place. And I don’t care; for me it’s a place to put colorful filters on otherwise crappy phone-camera photos, and share them with people who want to see them (there and on Facebook). There was never any rights management, such as the Creative Commons licensing features on Flickr, and they don’t seem to be fixing to start that now.
  2. I just don’t go for the knee-jerk bans. I was willing to wait and see (Instagram did appear to back off in a later statement, but it’s hard to say for sure what it all really means) before cutting myself off from a service – a free service – from which I got some enjoyment.

I’m not a knee-jerk person when it comes to these services. The worrying about their intentions or futures may or may not be valid, but if I ran to another service or platform every time the wind blew, you wouldn’t know where to find me online (no, I’m not on Tumblr), let alone come across a somewhat cohesive set of content. Sit tight and don’t so anything rash.

Photo credit: spencrpdx on Flickr



  1. Doug while I don’t disagree with your points the combination of “failing fast”, bad communications and free don’t sit well with people. One of the three is completely fixable and, as you point out, unless there’s an alternative people are now in an uncomfortable situation of being perpetual beta consumers. Because of that I don’t think any knee-jerk reaction is unwarranted but should be expected.

  2. I just think that the majority (not all) are doing this as a kneejerk response without analyzing all the factors- whether things are true, how much it really matters, and what the response of the company is. Instagram certainly realizes that people can live without them, which is why they are responsive at times. Feedburner? I think the reactions to that can take a lot more scrutiny than just pulling out.

  3. So true, Doug! I admit, I do sometimes bandwagon to a degree – sharing the apocalyptic information, though I rarely, if ever act upon the information right away.

    With Instagram, however, I do think that if people had *not* angrily decried the TOS change and if people hadn’t quit or threatened to quit, it’s possible the terms would not have been changed back.

    And with Feedburner, the issue to me was always that they refused to answer any questions about it. I even reached out to some friends within Google (different divisions), no one there really knew what was going on with Feedburner. That caused much more consternation than if they’d responded in any way, even just to say Feedburner wasn’t going anywhere.

  4. No question the outcry made a difference. Quitting, on the other hand, has a bit of finality to it that wasn’t warranted for me as it apparently was for others.

    I totally agree on Google’s lack of communication- not to mention that it was a running joke for years that we were waiting for the google Analytics integration announcement. They obviously don’t care enough to dole out information, though, as I said, the lights are still on and I’m fine until (and if) that changes

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