Why I Don’t Like Pinterest

I don’t like Pinterest.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s a cool site, and I like the community it’s building, and the sharing that’s going on. I also like the back end SEO that’s happening, and what it’s doing for web traffic.

But I just don’t like it.

I’m a words guy. You know, these things you’re reading right now. They give me context. I get meaning from words that I don’t get from pictures. They express ideas and educate me. Pictures can’t do that nearly as well as words. And Pinterest, as a collection of photos, doesn’t always give me the context and meaning that I need in order to understand why you thought that particular photo was important.

As I’ve said before, a word is worth a thousand pictures. A picture of a baby has a different context and meaning for me than it does for you. Pin a picture of a baby on your board, and there could be any number of reasons why you did it. It’s your child, it’s your niece or nephew, it’s you as a baby. Whatever. Right now, it’s a picture of a baby, and I have no idea why you think it’s interesting.

“But you can read the description and board title to figure out the context,” you’re saying.

That’s right, I can read the description and title — made up of words — to figure out the context. Without your words, that’s just a picture of a baby.

Why did you think this was interesting? Where did you see this? What’s the story behind it? Is that you when you were 14 months old? Is that your nephew about to dump a bowl of cereal on the floor?

You have 500 characters to explain this all to me, but most comments I read are usually “too funny,” “WANT!”, or “that’s a deal breaker, ladies!” so I have no idea what was so interesting about the chicken sleeping in the kayak converted into a hammock.

Basically, if you’re not putting words with your photos, I have no idea what’s so important about what you just pinned, so I don’t click it, follow it, look at it, or pay a lick of attention to it.

It would be nice if Pinterest could include the websites where the photos were pinned from, or let you highlight important text to include with your pin. It would be great if people would put more than one or two words describing the photo. It’s not that hard, is it? Answer the question, “I like this because it _________” and tell everyone why that particular item caught your eye.

(For the record, writing “grapes” under a picture of grapes is not helpful. I can see they’re grapes.)

Like I said, it’s not that I think Pinterest is a bad thing. It’s a cool site, and I use it occasionally to share pictures of stuff I want (making it the most expensive Christmas list manager ever created), interesting ideas I’ve found, or funny photos and captions that made me laugh.

But as someone who thinks in words more than pictures, I need Pinterest and its users to give me a little context about what I’m seeing. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of pictures of food, clothes, and last night’s Oscars fashion.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. Dave Huffman says

      I just love that you stood up amongst the rest of us fan-childs and said something different.

      And to be honest, I think the REAL reasons I like it are the same reasons you mentioned in the intro…In other words, I truly can’t say I’ve spent enough time on there exploring and genuinely sharing to jump up and say I love the medium for what it is…

      I wrote a post a couple weeks ago that included a call to give more robust descriptions of the photos…a la’ “grapes” under a photo of grapes. I’m visual…but I really do love words too. Plus, I’m color-blind…so big vibrant photos don’t always hit me in the same manner.

      I wonder if Gentlemint will have a “For Color-Blind Dudes” section?

    2. I think people are still catching on . I see a lot of comments that ask who, what, where, – when most of the time (as someone else mentioned) you can just click on the image and it will take you to the original content. I love images AND content – but I love to browse the visuals first to see what catches my eye. My favorite board is my DIY board – I have actually pulled the app up while at the store to remind myself what I need. Very handy.


      I’m like Pavlov’s dog with it. Jeez.

      It does allow you to see the website you’re pinning from…if the site allows it. Some people are getting around the sites that won’t allow it by taking screen grabs and pinning that instead. Which doesn’t drive traffic to the original site (and drives me nuts). But the weird thing is that I’m also a words person. I don’t learn visually. But I love Pinterest because it doesn’t require me to be creative. Need dinner ideas? No problem. I have Mr. D look at my “must make” board, tell me what he’s in the mood for, and I make it.

      For really busy people, it’s great for that kind of stuff. Now we can get things done instead of dreaming them up and then getting them done.

    4. That’s exactly why I love Pinterest! I’m a very visual person. I like words too, though.

    5. I’m one of those who uses cryptic captions for my pins. Sorry. But my purpose for pinning is to remind me why I pinned it and not necessarily for other people—I guess you can say I use it as a visual note-taker. I’m rather self-centered in that way. I’m a visual person, also, so it really helps.

      Pinterest does include the follow-up website as long as the pinner hasn’t removed it. I won’t pin something that doesn’t lead to a website or to the original poster because that’s irresponsible. Because Pinterest keeps the URL for the pin, I use Pinterest to remind me of interesting information on other websites I’ve read. For example, I pinned an image from roundpeg because it had to do with design. I wanted to remember the blog she wrote about it. Now when I click on that pin, it takes me to that blog.

      But I agree, Pinterest isn’t for everyone. I’m still getting used to it, especially the sharing aspect of it.

      • Hey Dezra!

        I use Evernote for exactly the same reason. I like it because I can clip entire websites and articles, although I can’t easily share it. I *can* share a notebook (similar to a board) with a few friends, but not with an entire network.

        • That makes perfect sense to me, then. If I had started with something like Evernote, I probably would have balked even more at using Pinterest because I just don’t need another social site to keep track of. But I’m starting to get the hang of the community. I’ve only been using it for about 3 weeks. I spend an average of 15-30 minutes a day on the site itself.

          I’m installing Evernote as we speak. I want to see if it is usable for me. I have tried Microsoft OneNote for maintaining URLs for me but I find I actually do better with an image as a reminder rather than words! So I’m completely opposite you in that regard.

        • Erik: Kudos on stepping up with legitimate criticism of Pinterest. My problem with is has been the lack of privacy – quite simply, I don’t WANT to share everything that I want to pin! Not giving me a choice about who can see my boards (oh, and all the copyright issues) are my two biggest issues. I have not used Pinterest much because most of what I want to “pin” is for me only (ideas for clients, etc. etc.), rather than for public consumption. But for me Evernote is proving to be a really relevant tool. Do you know of an easy reference guide on using Evernote as a private/personal clipping service option, as you mention here? (A ‘pin it’ type feature or….??) I keep thinking that there’s got to be something I’m missing on how to use it more effectively.

          • Hi Kellee,

            I don’t know of any standout Evernote references, but I know there are several out there that show how they use it.

            There are also plugins for browsers that let you save something to Evernote just by clicking the button. I use Google Chrome and have their Evernote extension. It’s the best of all the browser solutions I’ve used.

    6. Great post, Erik. I think a lot of us who do social media strategy get blasted if we say negative things about a given tool, so I appreciate your willingness to comment about what you DON’T like about Pinterest. Understanding it and even recommending a solution for clients does not require that you personally like it, or even use it, as long as you can remain objective about its pros and cons for other users and businesses. I also have my qualms about Pinterest as it applies to me (in short, other tools are higher priorities and there are only so many hours in the day).

      • Thanks, Anthony. I appreciate it. I actually was worried that I would get blasted. I tried to make it a personal viewpoint, rather than a “Ten reasons Pinterest sucks!” post, and end up offending nearly everyone.

        I finally got on Pinterest after my wife told me for nearly a month that I should try it. I like it, but I like Gentlemint better. I keep waiting for my invite so I can get on.


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