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Programming The Almighty Buck

'My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT' (pinboard.in) 177

Like many of you, I use IFTTT. It's one of the handiest tools on the internet to get your work done. Want a text alert for weather? Want a notification on your Android smartphone whenever someone you follow publishes a blog post? IFTTT can do all sorts of such things. It is able to do so because it works with different companies and utilizes APIs of their services. Many of these companies are happy to have IFTTT trying to enhance the experience of their customers. Many don't necessarily want -- or can allow -- IFTTT to do that. Pinboard, a social bookmarking website, falls in the latter category. Maciej Ceglowski, CEO of Pinboard in a blog post explained why that is the case: Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet. Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things. You would feel surprised. This is the position I find myself in today with IFTTT, a form of Internet plumbing that has been connecting peaceably to my backend for the past five years, but which has recently started sending scary emails. [...] Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because [their request] 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. In the blog post, Ceglowski further explains his concerns with IFTTT. He says IFTTT wants ownership of all right, title, and interest. "Pinboard is in some ways already a direct competitor to IFTTT. The site offers built-in Twitter integration, analogous to IFTTT's twitter-Pinboard recipe. I don't know what rights I would be assigning here, but this is not the way I want to find out." You should read the blog post, it's very insightful and sheds light on things that many of us might not have considered otherwise. Jason Snell has offered his take on this as well, he writes: If IFTTT sticks with this philosophy, it will rapidly become a lot less useful and interesting as a service.
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'My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT'

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  • goodwill (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:03AM (#51799481)

    Goodwill can be hard to get back. Tread lightly IFTTT.

  • For the curious, "IFTTT" is an Android app ("If This, Then That") which allows one to make scripts for chaining other app functions together. Of course, it's mostly for noobs because real men use BusyBox to make cron scripts with Android's API.
    • by ubrgeek ( 679399 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:12AM (#51799561)
      No it's not (at least not entirely). From the Wikipedia page (because I'm too lazy to write it up myself):

      "IFTTT is a free web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called "recipes", which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. IFTTT is an abbreviation of 'If This Then That'."
    • Thank you kindly, sir. I nearly thought that TFS had gotten it twisted and misspelled Inverse Fast Fourier Transform again. Oh, and um.. I'm not joking when I say I've been hacking up cronjobs from my phone's busybox bash shell since the first day I've had a smartphone, but, ehm... could you just tell me how long I actually have to keep this shit up for until I turn into "a real man" already, you insensitive clod?!
      • by GTRacer ( 234395 )
        Would you mind elaborating? What sorts of things do you cron? I'm assuming you do this to minimize reliance on third-party apps or because some function is not otherwise doable?
        • I use adb from my PC so I hit the same limitations as with other busybox-based embedded systems: creative scripting tends to get awkward or impossible and even basic stuff like sleep and grep is gimped. Testing latency is all I've ever had to do on these machines though, so there's cron to kick off some periodic profiling and tracing. Not that it helps much for repeatable audio latency test, but hey, that's a Dalvik-based smartphone for you.. So far I've never bought one and I don't like any of them for cal
    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      IFTTT is primarily a web service which chain web services together like facebook to twitter.
      If you want to chain app functions together on your Android phone, I suggest an app like Tasker. Tasker, by the way, is incredibly powerful if you use it "like a real man" as it support things like scripting and direct calls to the Android API.

    • IFTTT pre-dates Android. In fact, it is just as much an "Android app" as it is a GMail app, or an iOS app. It's just a front-end that allows a user to have two separate APIs work together to do something. Want the pictures you load on Facebook to go to your Google Drive? Sure! Want them to go to Dropbox instead? No prob. When weather.com reports rain, want a calendar event set up? Done! There are TONS of possibilities that IFTTT can string together that have NOTHING to do with Android. It just ha
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:10AM (#51799547)

    This acronym is mentioned no less then 12 times in the summary. And yet I still have no fucking clue what it is or what it does.

    Perhaps someone here could enlighten me?

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:15AM (#51799579)

      How else can the poster boast about his intelligence, unless you use an obscure Acronym, and just expect everyone else to know it.
      On Slashdot there is a wide variety of geeky interests, and we don't have the time to follow all of them.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "How else can the poster boast about his intelligence"

        I thought he was trying to emulate Bill the Cat [iseethefrog.com].
      • How else can the poster boast about his intelligence, unless you use an obscure Acronym, and just expect everyone else to know it. On Slashdot there is a wide variety of geeky interests, and we don't have the time to follow all of them.

        This seems to be happening with more frequency here. Last week we had a similar post where the submitter was clearly upset about some sort of injustice and it involved something so obscure that I don't remember the name of it. It got a lot of "What the bleep is ________?" posts though.

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      I had never heard of it either, but luckily this is one of those things where the top hit on Google gives you all of the information you need. It's basically a web scraping/scripting service. Seems modestly useful, although they appear to be kind of full of themselves.
    • it's a website to collect your credentials for everything and for geeks to script out automation for dumb sh1t that if it never happened, no one would have cared anyway
    • by orev ( 71566 )
      There's no excuse in 2016 to sit there and think to yourself, "Gee, I don't know what this thing is, let me post on some random message board asking other people about it", when there's a Google search box in literally every piece of technology in existence.
      • There's no excuse in 2016 to sit there and think to yourself, "Gee, I don't know what this thing is, let me post on some random message board asking other people about it"

        Yes there is. It's called "expecting the supposedly professional providers of a tech-skewed news aggregation website to do their bloody simple jobs."

        As interesting an idea as fully-linked hypertext is, humans are still far better as taking in written information linearly.

        Call me lazy, but I come here to get news because I don't want to be bounced around teh interwebs.

        All I ask is enough information so I can at least be reasonably sure about whether or not I want to go looking for more on the subject.

        • Yes there is. It's called "expecting the supposedly professional providers of a tech-skewed news aggregation website to do their bloody simple jobs."

          That seems very ironic to me. I would expect a _non_ tech-skewed article about this to explain it... Not necessarily the summary to this article though. (I've never used it, BTW, but have heard about it, even in CNET videos which are pretty much 'normal user' coverage. Even the very few they call 'hard', aren't.)

          Plus, the other implication still applies: L

  • TFS is misleading (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:15AM (#51799577)

    > Many don't necessarily want -- or can allow -- IFTTT to do that. . Pinboard, a social bookmarking website, falls in the latter category.

    No, Pinboard already has perfectly working IFTTT support. IFTTT want to break this unless Pinboard develop to their custom API and sign a large legal document.

    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      Before you say no, you should be aware, that the sentence you quote is taken verbatim from the blog post the actual operator of Pinboard wrote. Basicly you were telling Pinboard that they are not what they claim to be.
  • Analogy (Score:5, Funny)

    by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:17AM (#51799595) Homepage

    Did Maciej Ceglowski just use an analogy in which his users live in a sewer and his content is the shit he flushes down the drain?

    • Did Maciej Ceglowski just use an analogy in which his users live in a sewer and his content is the shit he flushes down the drain?

      No surprise there, considering that a "pinboard" is common Dutch slang for one of them ol' wooden shithouses.

    • Did Maciej Ceglowski just use an analogy in which his users live in a sewer and his content is the shit he flushes down the drain?

      We ARE talking about social media... so the analogy is perfect.

  • Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:17AM (#51799601) Homepage

    You know, reading that, it's hard not to think IFTTT (which I've never heard of) are being the dicks here ... YOU wrote a tool which scrapes content from other sites, and now YOU want THEM to conform to your API, as well as preventing 3rd parties from using your shit? And possibly give YOU rights to THEIR content and retain the right to change the license? Good luck with that.

    This sounds like an illegal squatter suing the property owner to upgrade the plumbing and fix the leaky roof.

    What, exactly, is IFTTT offering in return other than to say "in order to allow our users to access your site with our stuff, you have to agree to the following". Why would anybody accept random terms and conditions by a third party who merely redistributes your own stuff is a mystery to me.

    Sorry, this sounds like a bit of bullshit shakedown, and expecting someone to take steps to support your stuff ... my answer would be to ignore them as well.

    Everything about this sounds like childish, petulant and over-reaching behavior in which the 3rd party service is asserting some form of control over the original service so the 3rd party can retain their users. What makes you think the original service owes you a damned thing?

    Two words: Fuck that.

    • Squatters suing property owners seems crazy, until you remember it's america we're dealing with.

    • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:30AM (#51799697) Journal

      Notice the waaaa tag.

      What's happening is IFTTT says, "We made a site that lets users do things with other sites. You didn't rewrite shim code for us, and the module for our site is ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR AMONG OUR USERS; rewrite it for us or we remove you."

      Pinboard guy is saying, "... what? Really? You capitalize heavily off integration with my site, and you want me to maintain your service?"

      • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:41AM (#51799743) Homepage

        Not just maintain their service, but agree to terms of service IFTTT is imposing, and write new code for them.

        Wait, what? You integrate with my stuff and you want me to agree to YOUR terms of service? Really? And write you code for free? Gee, sounds awesome.

        What legal leg to stand on to IFTTT think they have here? This is a land grab, basically with the thinly veiled threat that IFTTT brings value to site owners, and that they should be signing their contract to keep that happening.

        Again, this is so much bullshit it isn't even funny.

        The people from IFTTT who wrote that shit are utterly delusional, and have apparently lost sight of the fact that they're providing access to someone else's stuff, and that someone else doesn't owe them a damned thing.

        Who the hell would sign any rights away to some random asshole who says "since our stuff uses yours stuff you owe us something"?

        I'd rewrite my own terms of service that says "if you're a third party accessing our stuff, or writing tools to access our stuff, you owe us 25% of your revenues" and then tell them to pay up or fuck off.

        This is a street busker asserting copyright over the songs he sings. I hope nobody has ever actually signed this, because if they have they've essentially been robbed.

        • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @11:15AM (#51800015)

          The people from IFTTT who wrote that shit are utterly delusional, and have apparently lost sight of the fact that they're providing access to someone else's stuff, and that someone else doesn't owe them a damned thing.

          I don't see them being "delusional". They provide a free service both to users and to Pinboard. They simply are telling Pinboard that if they want continued service, then they need to contribute. I wouldn't be surprised if IFTTT at some point actually told sites they provide access to that they need to pay to be an IFTTT channel. That's not about "owing" anybody anything, it's a business proposition, and it's rooted in the fact that IFTTT provides a service that users like and that businesses may need to pay for if they want to receive it. You know, just like mail delivery, Internet service, and... sewer pipes.

          • Again, bullshit.

            IFTTT provides the same service to Pinboard as I do to Pepsi by not poisoning their product.

            IFTTT makes money by providing something to access the content provided by someone else. That isn't providing a "service" to Pinboard, that's claiming Pinboard has no value without your service. Pinboard doesn't agree.

            The only thing rooted in fact is IFTTT is now demanding someone else maintain the parts which allows IFTTT to generate money, and that in the process they should get consideration unde

            • The only thing rooted in fact is IFTTT is now demanding someone else maintain the parts which allows IFTTT to generate money,

              IFTTT doesn't generate money from users. In fact, I expect they generate, or will generate, money from sites they provide access to. That is, in the future, Pinboard would probably have to pay for being listed in IFTTT. This is all completely normal day-to-day business stuff: freemium models, for-pay infrastructure, loss leaders, etc.

              "Nice content, shame if it stopped being featured

              • Who's getting pushed out of shape? The CEO just responded to a public announcement by IFTTT that basically told users that Pinboard decided to be incompatible with IFTTT. I don't see them ranting beyond pointing out that "deciding to become incompatible" amounts to not signing a very unfavorable legal agreement. All the vitriol I've seen so far came from /. comments.
              • IFTTT doesn't generate money from users. In fact, I expect they generate, or will generate, money from sites they provide access to.

                So, you agree that IFTTT is just a shakedown racket, with no business model other than conning people into maintaining their product, and with an over-inflated sense of the value what they bring to the table?

                If your "business model" is "write connector for web sites, then demand those web sites maintain it and sign a license agreement with you", then you're little more than a c

                • So, you agree that IFTTT is just a shakedown racket, with no business model other than conning people into maintaining their product, and with an over-inflated sense of the value what they bring to the table?

                  I can only speak for myself, and I find IFTTT limited by still useful. I've actually quit a for-pay service because it didn't provide IFTTT integration. YMMV

              • It's not unreasonable try and set up a service that provides value to content providers and charges the content providers for that service, this is kindof like how cable tv works. Unfortunately for IFTTT it isn't generally how the internet works. Most aggregators don't try to charge their content providers for showing their content. If IFTTT provides large additional value over general browsing then yeah maybe they can overturn these tables, but they need to prove that they provide the level of value tha
          • They don't provide anything to Pinboard. They provide a service that allows IFTTT users to use pinboard. They've threatened to discontinue that relationship. The owner of Pinboard has told them to go fuck themselves. IFTTT can now withdraw support and see if this angers their user base. Whether this will work or not I guess would depend on how important Pinboard is to IFTTT's customers and vice versa for Pinboard's customers. If the relationship is terminated then I would wager one of them or both of them w

    • There is a fair bit of misunderstanding in the original post.

      At the end of the day, IFTTT provide a service. And they provide a means to provide content to / access content from the service. And from time to time they update it.

      If you want to participate, then you need to implement the service, and if you want it to keep working, then you keep it up to date.

      It's got nothing to do with anybody else "owing" IFTTT anything - IFTTT are just defining what it takes to provide their service.

      Nobody is being forced

      • And the whole 'we own all the work you do to support us, plus all the content you flush down our pipes' thing?
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:29AM (#51799691) Homepage

    Just one question...

    What the bloody hell is IFTTT?

    Like many of you, I use IFTTT.

    I think you've overestimated.

    • If only computing devices had some sort of a virtual pointer... One could use a dedicated peripheral to position this "pointer" over the green, underlined IFTT [wikipedia.org] in the article summary. One could then press a button on the controller for this "pointer" and have a document describing exactly what the hell "IFTT" stands for and what the "If this, then that" service it refers to does delivered to them.

      But alas, it is futile dream.

      • That sir, would be AMAZING! But what would you call it? I mean, somehow it joins, connects, even links two things together! Truly momentous! And it does it really fast, incredibly fast, faster than a person could type in the secondary thing. A speed that could be compared to hyper speed...

        I have it, let's call it IncrediJoin!

        Oh, and you should patent it, too...

    • by jlv ( 5619 )

      Just one question...

      What the bloody hell is IFTTT?

      Did you try to look it up? [lmgtfy.com] This is "news for nerds," after all.

      • No, I didn't, because I expect (in vain) the editors to do their job and make stories understandable for the great majority of their readership without having to refer to another website.

        I don't think that's too much to ask of a site like this.

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          No, I didn't, because I expect (in vain) the editors to do their job and make stories understandable for the great majority of their readership without having to refer to another website.

          I don't think that's too much to ask of a site like this.

          But they did do that. The first link in the summary is the wikipedia description of the service. This is hypertext, why write everything inline when a link is supposed to describe any term?

          Unless of course the Slashdot editors added that in after posting.

          • Because Hypertext in that fashion was never going to work, not really. I don't see why I should have to open a new tab and wait at the very least one second (they add up, y'know) and could be much longer (if it works at all) to find out what a decent editor could have explained, succinctly, with a few words. I could have taken in such information literally at a glance.

  • IFTTT Explained (Score:5, Informative)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @10:35AM (#51799729)

    For those of you geeks who see an abrevation they've never heard of and that is presented as some super high-tech thing that you should know (I know, I've had the same problem):

    IFTTT [ifttt.com] (if this then that) is a commercial web service (free as in beer, but they want all your data, like Google or Facebook) that hooks together a slew of popular other services using API calls and probably a little scraping aswell to automate tasks and data migration using a neat and shiny web-based click-ui. Think Apples Automator on OS X, but for all those shiny Web SaaS thingies hippsters get a hard-on about these days.

    The wannabees like to throw around "IFTTT" because it sounds really nerdy, geeky and high-tech and they get all giddy when their Linux admin looks really confused having never heard the word. But don't worry, they just use it to send smilies on facebook whenever they've taken a picture in instagram and stuff like that. Your Perl & Python scripts are just as indespensible as always - so no trouble here.

    Glad I could help.

    • Will my AHK scripts n triggers to JS automaters be "Ok" too?
    • Or just use Tasker. It's better and more powerful then IFTTT (IMHO), and doesn't send data into the cloud for them to steal. Yes, it's not free as in beer, but it's a damn good app with a pretty responsive developer behind it.
      • Tasker works without Android?

        Last time I looked at it, it was a pita to use. IFTTT watches my Dropbox for images to appear in a particular folder (the auto-storage for my desktop business card scanner), picks them up, transfers them to a specific notebook in my Evernote account, then deletes the image in the original location. Took all of 2 minutes to set up. I can't say that for anything I've ever tried to get Tasker to do on my Phone.

        • by mcmonkey ( 96054 )

          Tasker works without Android?

          Last time I looked at it, it was a pita to use. IFTTT watches my Dropbox for images to appear in a particular folder (the auto-storage for my desktop business card scanner), picks them up, transfers them to a specific notebook in my Evernote account, then deletes the image in the original location. Took all of 2 minutes to set up. I can't say that for anything I've ever tried to get Tasker to do on my Phone.

          I don't get it. So your scanner is set to place documents in place A. This utility moves them from A to B. Why not just set the scanner to place the documents in place B?

          I read the summary and the wikipedia entry on this thing, and still can't figure out why'd I'd use it. Weather alerts? My weather app does that. Alerts for blogs I follow? Congrats, you've invented the RSS feed. Send an email when I use this twitter hashtag? If I want to send an email, why don't I just send an email instead of using twitter

  • The good thing about IFTTT is that it is so simplistic that it will be easy to replace when something better comes around.
  • IF That Then Fuckoff.

  • IFTTT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @11:24AM (#51800081)

    I used IFTTT for all of about twenty seconds. It seemed interesting but once you advance beyond "take this data and send it to Twitter, take that data and send it to Facebook", it becomes useless. I wanted to use my smartphone's built-in abilities more and IFTTT wasn't giving me the capabilities. I found an app called Automate [google.com] that lets you set up a process flow to do things such as upload to Google Drive or an FTP server, send e-mails, take photos with the camera, etc.

    Wisely, the app comes with minimal permissions and you need to enable further permissions as scripts require them. For example, I wrote a script that takes a photo of someone if they don't put in my correct unlock code and e-mails that photo to me. Of course, before this script could work, I needed to grant Automate access to my camera. If I remove the script, I can easily disable the access and keep Automate from accessing the camera in the future. Much more powerful than IFTTT.

    • Great tip. Thanks! :) Fun to use and indeed powerful. Oddly enough, when I installed IFTTT I thought that it would do what Automate does.
  • Firehose. Use it.
  • I mainly use IFTTT in concert with my Hue lighting (which is all through my house). Here are my main observations:

    1. It is _really_ slow. Like terribly slow. I have a Recipe on there to change the color of my lights when my favorite football team starts a game... it usually changes the lights sometime during the second quarter! Useless

    2. The fact that there is only one "if" clause damns it into being just a "toy". For instance, it can turn my lights on and off as I come and go from my house. Awesome

  • This is the first I've heard of IFTTT, and I'm wary of it because I'm not sure if I'm being COND.

  • That's simply a fantastic trashing of a silly move. Quoting the ruinous parts of their secretive agreement is just icing on the cake. Absolutely brutal.

  • Blatant product advert is blatant.

  • Going by the extracts, the agreement out to him might not do what he says it does.

    There might be diverting in the definitions that changes that, but I doubt it. More likely, this guy is just being a jerk who is too cheap to pay a lawyer to review the agreement and advise him, even though it seems he has the money to do so.

    From TFA, it seems that IFTTT has just gotten it's hands on done venture capital. One of the first things incoming venture capital will do is require regularisation of important ad hoc

    • by mhkohne ( 3854 )

      Why is it Pinboard should be doing any agreement at all with IFTTT? It's nice that they have money now, but they want him to do work and make promises while they sit on their asses. They have apparently told the users that the Pinboard interface is going down if Pinboard doesn't do something, but they've given Pinboard NO reason to do anything but mock them.

      Sorry, if they were asking Pinboard for a promise to give notice before changing Pinboard's API? Perhaps that might be reasonable for Pinbaord to consid

    • Yet another "entitled" idiot. The regularizing of relationships and copyright licenses are for IFTTT's purposes, not for Pinboard's. Pinboard has no obligation to accept any business proposal, and certainly no obligation to spend time and/or money considering one. If IFTTT wants an agreement, IFTTT needs to make it worth Pinboard's while to consider it. This includes not making a prima facie unacceptable first offer.

      Just because your new VCs say you need something is not a reason for me to give it to

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