Concern for Tumblr

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Tumblr is this weird conglomeration of blogging platform and social media – both which come with their own pros and cons. I knew that Tumblr has been exploring new ways of support the site for quite some time, but it came to light yesterday just how thin a line they are walking.

Tumblr released a subscription plan for users that will allow them to pay a monthly fee of $4.99 (or $39.99 a year) to remove all ads on web and mobile versions. This is totally fine and typical for most sites that need to find an income stream to keep things moving.

Tumblr has been very active in development lately, and they have to recoup that cost somewhere. Only problem is, there’s a pretty vocal group of users there who seem to respond to everything Staff does as some kind attack on their personal Net freedoms.

That very day, the official WIP blog got an Ask that represents this group, those who seem to think they can make demands of the developers because Tumblr only exists for their whims. And instead of ignoring this Ask, Tumblr actually answered.

That’s a big yikes!

Yikes that Tumblr is losing money in no little way – something I always guessed but never heard stated so plainly.

And yikes to the Staff who have to deal with a group in the userbase who think that Tumblr is their personal wild west on the Internet, where they can run amok without any consequences just because that’s what the site has a reputation for being.

I’ve been a Tumblr user for years and I’m ashamed to see this behavior every time Staff tries to make a change. Heaven forbid if the site needs to try to recoup the cost of development to keep the lights on and pay its workers. I hate to use the word “entitled” but I can’t find a better term to describe this behavior.

All of this rolled up into one makes it hard for me to want to continue to associate with the site, which is really sad. I respect the work of the devs applaud Tumblr for being a platform that’s super easy to create and share content on. If WordPress (who owns Tumblr) could take a page out of the social media backend and somehow mash it into the Reader features, I’d be a super happy camper.

But what’s really telling is that that the CEO himself made this statement:

Remember that right now Tumblr costs a lot more to run than it makes, part of that bet is predicated on the idea that it’s losing money now but it’ll grow and make it up later. 


Don’t get me wrong, I hope the best for Tumblr. But if the majority of the user base is like this vocal group, then I worry if a subscription plan will be enough to infuse the site with the needed funds.

What about me, you might ask?

While I like Tumblr’s features and have found a small follower group there over the years between GW2 and FFXIV projects, I see it as a blogging platform that has social media stuck on to it. Paying $5 a month to Tumblr is the equivalent of paying for a basic package of a WordPress blog account, which I would get much more out of in the long run.

Given all this, I have a very strong concern for the future of Tumblr. I’ve talked about moving my important content off it (my FFXIV stuff) for a long time, and have even pushed to do that in the past. This time, I’ve made the full export (almost four years of it!) to a WordPress blog, which I’m going to have to spend a lot of time cleaning up. But to have security and peace of mind for that content is worth the work.

Going forward, I’m treating my Tumblrs as pure social media, only putting there that which I won’t miss should the site eventually fall on hard times. On the flip side, the new full site block editing WordPress is a big pull for me to work on WordPress designs, alongside of my Neocities sites.

Best of luck, Tumblr.

6 responses to “Concern for Tumblr”

  1. The timing of this is noteworthy to me b/c for some unknown reason, lately Tumblr has crossed my radar and got my attention a lot. I looked into it a bit…to me it seems more like social media than blogging, but I’m not sure since I haven’t used it. I think Automattic is as good a steward of Tumblr as any, likely better than most. But Tumblr’s popularity seems to have waned. I’m okay in general with paying for premium features. I’m generally interested in Tumblr b/c of its tumblog format using post types by default. I’ve looked at WP blog themes like that; guess you could create one in the new full site block editor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tumblr does have a very flexible theme system as long as you know how to code – I’ll give them that. I’m very sure you could recreate the feel of a Tumblr blog using the full site block editor in WordPress, however.

      There’s a very different culture of users between Tumblr and WordPress. For example, on Tumblr, it’s the highest compliment for someone to reblog your content and share it. However, WordPress bloggers tend to not want their content copied and reposted by other blogs – it’s seen as theft, in fact! It’s a very strange and interesting dynamic between the two.

      I know for certain that Tumblr usage has waned, at least in my social circles on the site. Many folks have moved to Twitter for the social media aspect and interaction – myself being one of them. However, it’s not a bad idea to roll up a Tumblr and hook your WordPress to it just to have another social media connection that pulls in your blog updates. I do that with this blog, though seeing the number of engagements I get there, I don’t know that it brings much (if any) readers here. It’s one of those set it and forget it things.

      I do post daily RP Calendar posts on the Tumblr because it just doesn’t seem the kind of content to post here. However, it would be pretty easy to create a blog with in a blog thanks to the full block editing on WordPress if I chose to! I’m seriously considering it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea WordPress owned Tumblr.

    Based on the way Tumblr turns up in fiction these days, which it does with surprising frequency, it seems already to be something of a signifier for outdatedness, somewhat like when authors use MySpace to suggest a time gone by or to give a character the feel of someone who can’t quite keep up with modern life. MySpace, of course, still exists, and maybe Tumblr will carry on indefinitely too but I would guess its era of influence is over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a number of folks from Tumblr moved to Twitter as of late, but they are big Discord users, too. Still, that doesn’t scratch the itch of a personal online journal type thing. And you have a good point there – Tumblr is less of a blog and more of a journal.


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