So Bad it's Good, Tumblr

Often regarded as a dead website to those who don't use it and both affectionately and derogatorily deemed "hellsite." What is it about tumblr that makes people still come back to it after all this time?

For some background I was not someone who had access to the internet during the time of the old web. It was only at around 2013 I really began to use it reguarly. During that time we were in a period in which the shift from independent websites to social media was becoming apparent. Due to this I was never actually a part of the old web but I always felt some discontentment with the lack of personalization and the conflict driven interaction of modern social media.

So how does tumblr fit into this? I and many others who have utilized the site into the recent years may not have known at the time but part of the reason I now realize it hooked me was because of one simple factor. It's not good at being a social media website. Now this may sound somewhat harsh at first but when you consider the current purpose of social media. (To mine as much information and keep you engaged for as long as possible) It starts to make sense especially when compared to something like twitter.

On twitter you are forced into the same profile layout with only the icon and header being able to be changed. Contrast this tumblr which has full theme customizion, meaning you can make your blog look however you wish. (My favorite example of how crazy blog themes can get is this blog)Another perk tumblr has over other social media sites is the keeping of a chronological order by default and having the easily found option to disable recommended posts.

So now you might be thinking that's pretty good, what's the catch? What makes tumblr bad? Users who are familiar with the site will recall that in December of 2018 tumblr banned all explicit content from the site causing a large portion of it's userbase to jump ship. Which is bad on it's own but is compounded by the fact that tumblr's automatic flagging and blacklisting methods aren't effective and will misidentify sfw images, as documented here. Those who choose to stay on the site are now finding it impossible to tag nsfw content both so that others can find or avoid it.

This also leads into another issue with tumblr being the ineffective tag searching. Tags, which have a seperate container outside of the main text of a post, are what tumblr uses to classify your posts and supposedly make it easier for people to find them. The only issue is this doesn't always work both when searching your own blog and when searching general tumblr. Users will often find their posts mysteriously not showing up in the public tags as if they've been blacklisted, leading them to get less exposure.

With all these issues people still continue to make tumblr their primary social media. Revisiting the idea that tumblr is a bad social media site we find this to be a benefit. There are no targeted ads or nearly as much data used to track you as say facebook.

Overall Tumblr has been an interesting social media experence to say the least. But overall it is reletively one of the best social media sites on the radar in 2022.

This article was created by Nova