Obtvse vs. Svbtle: New Markdown Based Minimal Blogging Engines, Complete with Controversy


Earlier this week I posted a round-up of blog engines that generate static HTML. Most of these enable bloggers to write a post in the Markdown markup language using a plain text editor. These engines typically have no admin interface – bloggers push the files to a server using Git, Dropbox, Rsync or other methods.

But what if you want a simple blogging engine with Markdown support that has an interface?

Svbtle is an blog engine with a remarkably simple interface that was just announced by Dustin Curtis yesterday. But Curtis isn’t making the software available, open source or otherwise. Instead he’s building a blog network and using Svbtle as the backend for it.

In just a few hours Nate Wienert created Obtvse, a free open source clone, kicking off a debate about design and intellectual property on Hacker News.

Both applications provide an admin interface with two columns: a list of ideas on the left, and a list of posts on the right. At the top of each list you can add a new item. That’s it. It’s kind of like Kanban for blogging even simpler. Even Tumblr looks complex in comparison. There are no categories, no tags, and no comments.

Here’s Svbtle:

Here’s Obtvse:

Obtvse is actually a bit simpler than Svbtle. It does away with “kudos,” Svbtle’s generic feedback mechanism. And the site output from Obtvse is similar to Svbtle but does away with the graphics and animation used in Svbtle.



The debate is also affected by the perceived arrogance behind Curtis’ original project. Curtis initially described it as “The blogging platform for creative, intelligent, and witty people. Membership by invitation only.” But he’s since softened the language, albeit reluctantly.

To me it’s clear that this is meant to mean that the blog network, and not necessarily the tool itself, is “for creative, intelligent, and witty people.” But many were offended by the suggestion that they personally were not smart enough to use Curtis’ tool. The pompous “You’re welcome” footer on the bottom of the Svbtle site doesn’t help, either.

Your Angle

Is Wienert’s clone, whipped up in just a few hours, unethical? Would you want to use such a simple blogging application, or does it go too far?