Should I start using Pinterest?

I am seeking the opinions of my readers!  Please comment!

Over the course of this year, I’ve browsed other people’s Pinterest boards a number of times, and I’ve seen a small but increasing amount of visitors to my site coming in through links on Pinterest.  I read more about Pinterest in my college alumni magazine (an alumnus was involved in designing it) and thought it might be something I’d like to use.

After all, I’m constantly collecting links to assorted things that interest me that I want to share with everybody.  I post these links on an old-fashioned links page, where I can write as much text as I like to describe and comment on the things I’m linking to.  It works for me–I look up things there whenever I feel like reading them again–and it gets a few readers every time I update it, but in general I think Web users have moved on to other methods of browsing, and Pinterest seems to be quite popular.

So, one day last month, I devoted a lunch hour to setting up a Pinterest account.

I was instantly annoyed.

As best I could tell, the set-up process requires you to “follow” 5 other boards before you can start your own board–and you must choose those boards from a limited set, grouped into categories that mostly don’t interest me; I couldn’t find any way to search for a particular board or (if I found boards from some other direction, in a separate browser window) enter particular boards to follow.  I couldn’t find anything I actually liked much, so I was forced to follow 5 boards that seemed worth a brief glance, just to get this step over with.  I will now have to un-follow these boards, I assume.  (I hope that’s allowed.  I didn’t look into it yet.)

Then I found that the above step resulted in my homepage–my page, which I thought would be blank until I filled it with stuff I chose to pin–being cluttered with a huge number of mostly uninteresting items.  It felt like I had purchased a new bulletin board and taken it out of the packaging only to find that it was already completely covered with a bunch of junk!  (My perception that this means my brand-new bulletin board is already full of holes is, of course, very old-fashioned and incorrect, but it made me sad nonetheless.)

Next I had to start a new board.  Apparently I’m not allowed to have just “my board” and pin all my stuff on there.  I was required to give it a name.  Okay.  But then I was forced to choose an image for my board from another board, from among images somehow connected to words used in the title of my board.  How does that make any sense???

Finally I got to pin some things.  That part was fun, until my fifth pin wouldn’t stick into the pinboard for some reason.  Maybe my little piece of virtual cork has one of those weird hard bits in it.  Anyway, I was out of lunchtime, so I gave up for that day.

So far, I’ve been unable to convince myself to work on it any more.  Instead I updated my links page with the links I’d been saving for Pinterest.  Meh.

My questions are:

  • Is Pinterest really so cool to use (as a user pinning things on one’s own board) that I should put the time and effort into figuring out how to do it?  If so, what advice do you have for doing this, and/or what resources do you recommend?
  • As an Earthling’s Handbook reader, would you find an Earthling’s Handbook pinboard to be a valuable accessory to the Handbook?
  • Am I totally stupid and clueless, or is it in fact difficult to set up a Pinterest account in a quick and non-ridiculous way?  Do I actually have a completely wrong idea about how one is supposed to use Pinterest?

8 thoughts on “Should I start using Pinterest?

  1. I use pinterest, but mostly as a networking tool – I like pinning things but I don’t (and don’t understand) how people can spend a bunch of time there browsing things. When I signed up (a long time ago) I didn’t have to follow any boards, like you’re describing,

    It depends on what you want to use pinterest for and if you have time for it. I like pinning recipes, eco-friendly ideas, crafts, decorating, etc for myself to check out at a later time. I’d totally follow you. (even though I never look at what other people are pinning)

  2. I also dislike Pinterest’s setup process, but like Pinterest itself. I think the theory with making users follow boards right away is so people will be able to immediately see how it works and start repinning things, rather than being confronted with a blank screen and not knowing what to do. For those of us who prefer starting from scratch, it’s annoying. But yes, you can unfollow users and boards — on your homepage, click the name of someone you don’t want to follow, then click Unfollow All at the top of their page to unfollow all their boards.

    A lot of people use the site for browsing other people’s pins and re-pinning them to their own boards; I do this on my personal Pinterest account (I follow only recipe boards). On my blog account, I use my boards for pinning links to interesting articles, so I use the Pin It button because it’s easy to click when I’m on a page I want to save, pick the image to pin, and then pick the board to save it to. If you’re mostly pinning new links rather than searching for things to re-pin, I definitely recommend adding the Pin It button to your browser toolbar.

    I would enjoy an Earthling’s Handbook Pinterest board because I’ve enjoyed the links you’ve shared previously and would like regularly seeing new things you’ve found.

  3. I found all of those same annoyances when I signed up. Once you get past that it’s worth it. You can delete those boards that they require you to follow in the beginning. I think it would be a good resource for your readers. Good luck and merry Christmas!

  4. Thanks for the advice, everybody! I would still welcome more. I just spent another lunch break working on my Pinterest page, and although I was ultimately successful in unfollowing the unwanted boards, they sure don’t make it easy. (Isn’t it supposed to be standard that when a button is pale gray, that means the action of that button is currently unavailable? But the “unfollow” button is pale gray, and it does work!) I also did some looking at the help files, but the whole experience was filled with myriad annoyances. So I’m still on the fence about whether Pinterest will become something I use regularly, or not.

  5. Hmm, sounds like you had a real pain in the ass getting that started. When I signed up I didn’t have to follow anyone (though I think I did click on a few topics or something, just to see how it worked), all of which I have since deleted and totally customized to look and do what I want it to. But if it is too much hassle, then fuck it! Time is too precious. Anyway, this is me: What is your name on there? I’ve never actually bothered following anybody on there as I use it more as a way to organize links I want to remember, but I would like to follow your boards.

    • Sorry for the delay…holidays and other important things…. I finally got my pinboard cleaned up enough that I felt it was ready to publicize. I’m EarthlingsHand and the board is

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