Platform Muddle – Tumblr Explained

Forgive me, dear readers, if I take the opportunity and exploit the heightened awareness of Guylty’s presence on WordPress to bring you a non-RA-related post. FanstRA has been great in bringing the A___ fandom together, I think. I have heard from good authority that this year’s web fan event brought a lot more tumblr-bloggers into the fold than before. While heightening the awareness for different blogging platforms, this also proved to pose some problems for the participants in FanstRA as the conventional blogworld and the tumblr universe are different in a number of ways. On a practical level that kept some conventional bloggers from commenting on tumblr-blogs – and possibly vice versa.

 

My first home in the A___ fan world was a tumblr blog and over the 11 months of my more or less public participation in the fandom I have come to understand the pros and cons of the various platforms that are being used for communication in the fandom. I have a presence on most of the platforms – I am on tumblr at guylty.tumblr.com. There is my wordpress presence at guylty.wordpress.com, and I also have a dedicated RA twitter @GuyltyPleasure. I am active daily on my tumblr account. My wordpress blog has only been activated temprarily for my stint during FanstRA. You will usually find me with a weekly post on the fabulous me+richard, where I publish an *ooof* a week. Twitter is largely lying idle – just like Richard “I simply don’t get it”. (I do, of course, also do Facebook. And in all honesty that is my preferred channel of communication. However, as Facebook insists on real names, I am not using my account there for much RA-ing. My friends would probably unfriend me if I did.)
Now, the reason I am so shamelessly plugging myself here is to make you see that I am fairly familiar with the three platforms most commonly used by RA fans. Before I joined tumblr, I was firmly ensconced in the world of conventional blogs. (I still am as I blog for a living in various genres spanning topics from photography (of course!), travel, crafting and interior design, to expat life.)

Public tumblr blog - archive view

Public tumblr blog – archive view

However, I quickly found that tumblr was the right platform for visual people: tumblr is designed for easy re-blogging of content. It has extra-easy, intuitive settings for sharing photos, links, videos and text, and most importantly, also enables gif-sharing. Posts on tumblr are generally public – for members and non-members – while also offering private settings, if needed. Tumblr also relies heavily on tagging – all posts can be tagged with the appropriate keywords to enable quick and easy search for saucy pictures of RA the relevant material.

 
However, for me as a very wordy, and text-loving person, tumblr also has a downside. Commenting is not particularly clear and communication friendly. First of all, commenting is only open to those who have an account on tumblr. If you have one of those and you want to add your two cents’ worth on someone else’s post, you do so mainly by re-blogging the other person’s post and writing your comment underneath.

tumblr reblog and like

Show you “like” by clicking the heart or re-blog by hitting the arows

Previous comments will be marked so that a chronology of commments is visible. However, this is not really conducive to proper exchange, as the constantly re-blogged content shows up on your public tumblr site and looks like a constant rehashing of the same picture over and over again. Some content can be commented on via a little speech bubble icon. Again, this is only open to tumblr members and it only gives you limited character space. Private messaging is also possible, but tumblr has a very annoying habit of not saving outgoing messages – so you can’t go back to read over what you have written before. With all that in mind you can see how tumblr is perfect for visual communication – sharing beautiful pictures and gifs of RA. That is what goes on mostly in the RArmy on tumblr. It is fast-paced and news get spread very quickly, similar to Twitter.

 

The post with the most reblogs and likes I ever received - the delicious new RA pictures from last week

The post with the most reblogs and likes I ever received – the delicious new RA pictures from last week

For those who are looking for a more text-reliant way of communicating, conventional blogs on portals such as WordPress or Blogger are the go-to place. While it is not as quick and easy to draft and publish a post on those platforms as it is with tumblr’s two-clicks , they are the places where you can start interacting more extensively. The commenting that is enabled on blogs is much more conducive to proper exchange, as different strands of a discussion will be separated while still open for everyone to read and to butt into. However, you do not see your reach quite as easily as on tumblr, where posts are clearly labelled with the amount of “likes” and “re-blogs” they have collected. And your readers do not necessarily cross the threshold from passive lurking into active participation (by liking or commenting) as easily as on tumblr. Chances are your blog posts are seen and appreciated by many more people than the number of comments. (The stats give you a little insight.) But blogs are much more personal than the fast-moving and slightly more anonymous tumblr, where you pick up “followers” (people who have signed up to receive your original posts and your re-blogs) at a posting of a juicy RA peaches pic the drop of a hat.
By and large it could be said that tumblr is where the “young lot” is. I regularly “tumble” with A___ fans who are teenagers. The average age is probably under 30. And yes – as a self-confessed “cryptkeeper” (credit to Abby of playazindaback.tumblr.com for coining this lovely moniker) I sometimes feel slightly out of place. But then it also makes me feel young and “up-to-date” to be mingling there… The blog world, however, holds much attraction for a rambler like me, especially as this is the appropriate place for extensive interaction. That is why I was more than happy to follow Servetus when she approached me in October 2012 and suggested a collaboration. The decision to post my *ooof*s on her platform has been the best I could’ve made and I will be eternally grateful to her. I would be stubborn enough to post my *ooof*s on tumblr for*ever*, whether they were appreciated or not, but (for me) the point of *any* creative endeavour is to add knowledge to something, to entertain and especially to initiate discussion. I like people, I like being personal, and I like getting a glimpse  into other people’s minds. But I also like the quick satisfaction of ogling, and so I will remain a wanderer between the two worlds of tumblr and conventional blogs. They do not exclude each other but complement each other. And ultimately they work together to spread the word about the wonderful foil that is Mr A, his craft and – admittedly – his beautiful form.
This post was actually suggested to me by Nat of Armitagefanblog. Thank you, Nat, for getting in touch with me – I hope I have been able to shed some light on the mysteries of tumblr. Give it a go – you can always sign up and then just leave it lying idle 😉

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12 thoughts on “Platform Muddle – Tumblr Explained

  1. Indeed the various social networks and blog platforms are different and all have their pros and cons (twitter apart that has only cons, sorry). I am on tumblr since 1 year and half and I’m probably one of the oldest people there! But some virtual friends got my age totally wrong of about 25 years… younger! So, probably the spirit is young or so I want to believe 😉 Or, perhaps, my development has stopped at 30something 😛
    As you said, tumblr is a quick way of finding things, reblogging and commenting pics, gifs, news, links (using extensions like Xkit or the now out-of-work missing-e helps a lot in getting in contact and do a better use of tumblr). I found all of you through tumblr so I’m really fond of it 😀 There are some nasty people there, just as in the real world. The trick is to follow nice people and let the nasty ones play each others thinking they are better than you. I think tumblr can work like a news feeder, while blogs are, of course, on specific subjects that you can value as interesting. Of course blogs can be much more deeper and personal and have an utterly different role. As a nice gif used on tumblr says… both, both of them. The more means we have to talk and interact the better 🙂

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  2. In the end, I suppose, age doesn’t really matter. We are all united by our shared interests. And we choose platforms according to personality and preference re. communication. I am very happy to be at home in both areas now – and FanstRA has certainly made it easier for me to meet people on the blogging half of the universe. 🙂

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  3. My main reason for reading tumblr is that I like the content that’s there — created by a group of people much more conversation with video editing than the average blogger and very visually inventive — and I appreciate the cultural broadmindedness of those people as well. Tumblr is fun to look at.

    That said: I DO NOT find tumblr a convenient way of reblogging anything. I would say average time to reblog a post from another tumblr on my tumblr for me is something like 40-50 seconds — whether I’m using Firefox on my MacBook with wifi in a café or IE in my office PC on a T1 Internet connection. About 10-15% of the time the interface fails entirely — just hangs up w/o reblogging after churning for a minute or more. I would say only about 30% of the messages I’ve tried to pass on via the tumblr msg system arrive. And I don’t like that you have to reblog to say something about another post. That often keeps me from commenting, actually, because reblogging is such a pain. WP, in contrast, lets me reblog with two clicks, and the reblog’s typically occurred within 5 seconds because it doesn’t reload the *entire* graphic of the post when it reblogs — just gives you a little window to comment.

    re: tumblr on — there were NO tumblr participants in F3, so yes, there are a lot more now! This happened in F3 for two reasons. One was a small chunk of the planning committee that wanted to limit the event to traditional blogs; but the more important reason was my (as organizer) basic unfamiliarity with the interface. So we just didn’t invite the tumblr crowd, and tumblr had its own event: #RApocalypse.

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    • Ah, thanks for explaining the re-blogging issue with tumblr, Servetus. I suppose the loading time is heavily dependent on your broadband service. My private broadband is very fast and a reblog takes seconds. – I, on the other hand, have not quite grasped the way you reblog on WP. I gather you click a button there, too.
      The commenting on tumblr is a complete write-off (pun intended). But then again, commenting facilities don’t seem to be desired by the majority of tumblrs as they are only passing on visuals that they have enjoyed looking at.
      Glad to hear that tumblr has been put on the map, though. I think it’ll serve the fandom much better if platform lines are crossed. After all we share the same interest – albeit on different platforms.

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      • I can reblog fast too. For me, the creator of Tumblr is being shortsighted in his approach. If he would listen to his users and fixed the messaging and commenting limitations, the service could grow and evolve into a more satisfying platform and probably expand his market in the process. I am glad that FanstRAvaganza has brought me to WordPress. Now I can do all the things I love – it’s like having twin creative babies! 😉

        P.S: Later today I expect some visual Richard hotness, Ms. S!!! Thank you.

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        • Absolutely with you on that one, B. Mr Tumblr could make a lot users happy if he tweaked the settings. There is a good reason why there are so many add-ons in use…
          On the subject of blogging – yes – I like this type of platform, but I have to admit I am not a great fan of WP. I prefer Blogger – more intuitive, nice picture settings. Better custommization. But yes, I do know that WP is the preferred platform for those in the know… For beginners, I think Blogger is much easier. But that’s just my opinion.

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          • My first blog ever was on Blogger. I think I opened it in 2007, but it was personal and not very many people knew about it. You are right – it’s very easy to use.

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    • Hehe, not to worry, A. Reading over it again, I think more could have been said, but there is a start. Maybe I should sit down and write a “tumblr 101”.
      Cryptkeepers rulez!

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  4. Yay! Thanks for taking the time to explain the differences! I really enjoyed reading this. 🙂
    I know, I know… I bugged you to write this post and then just barely get around to viewing it… please forgive me, my social media navigator friend!!! (I have a good excuse for being a space-head. Tell ya later.) Anyway, tumblr sounds a little more approachable to me now. Although, not gonna lie, blogs are my safe zone, because that’s what I know.

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    • Hey Nat – better late than never, eh? All good. And I am glad if my post cleared things up a little bit. Having just read over it again, there are actually loads of other hints and tips that should be mentioned, but well…

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  5. Pingback: Armitage Weekly Round-up – tumblr edition – #1 | Guy-lty Pleasure

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