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.Source
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.