Monday, May 21, 2012

Tumblr is terrible

One of the biggest developments in the ace community over the past year is the growth of the ace tumblverse, which has been accompanied by the death of the blogosphere.  I'm one of the last blogging holdouts.  Growth is great, but tumblr is terrible and blogger is better.  Here's why:

Tumblr has no comments.  This is what makes me the most angry.  I can't comment on tumblrs without getting my own tumblr.  And not just a tumblr account, I have to start an actual tumblr.  That's such monopolizing bullshit.

In case you're not familiar with tumblr, the comment system is replaced by a reblogging system.  People comment by reposting quotes on their own tumblr, with added comments.  At the bottom of the original post or any rebloggings, you can see all the people who have reblogged the post, with a one-line excerpt of anything they added.

Reblogging is a terrible substitute for comments.  For one thing, you have to visit many many tumblrs just to see what people are saying.  Most people say nothing of importance, and you just wasted a click!  Other people engage in these long comment threads full of nested quotes, and it's a real pain to root the whole thing out.

If you follow any tumblr user that wishes to comment on other tumblrs, it brings their tumblr down to commenting quality or worse.  I comment on a lot of blogs, but you should be happy that the comments don't appear here because it would just be a lot of noise.

There is no comment moderation.  It's said that tumblr is a drama machine, and this is why.  The "comments" do not belong to any particular tumblr, so there is no moderation.  Additionally, if anyone from a far-flung community makes a comment, their whole community sees it as well, leading to these huge community clashes.

There is some value in having diverse perspectives, but when uncontrolled (as is always the case on tumblr), it can also just lead to a lot of unproductive flame wars.  I say this as someone who takes a laissez-faire approach to comments.  Blogs are often derided as "echo chambers", but at least they have relatively controlled conversations.  (And ironically, since reblogging is uncommon, they have less echoing.)

There is a culture of no citations.  Last year I talked about how it is good to cite your opponents.  Because for all we know you're making up opponents, or mischaracterizing your opponents.  Also, some of us may want to respond to your opponents as well?  But on tumblr, I've been shocked at all the blatant omitting of citations.

Since then, I've come to understand why tumblr people don't do citations.  People don't cite because they're afraid they'll attract unwanted attention and start more drama.  Also, tumblr lacks effective search and archive functions and contains a lot of reblogging noise, so it's really hard to find a post that you recall.

There is a culture of memes.   This is obviously a personal preference, but I really hate memes.  I will stop reading a blog if there is too high a density of captioned animals, I am not even kidding.

Blogger is better.  Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the way blogs connect to each other.  If someone leaves a comment, you can choose to go to their blog if you like what they say.  If you think you have an important response to a blog, you can choose to respond on your own blog.

I suppose one of the major advantages of tumblr is that you can follow a particular tag, while with blogs you basically have to find bloggers who'll track that stuff for you.  But I think the greater effort is worth it to eliminate the noise.

In other news, I was considering starting a tumblr so I can comment on tumblrs.  Good idea, bad idea?


Isaac said...

I had the same dilemma months ago, and what definitely moved me to get a Tumblr was the flourishing of the aromantic community in Tumblr, which was the first aromantic community flourishing. There was a forum for aromantic asexuals, but it died. Now not only an aromantic community arose in Tumblr, but it even created a forum, now for aromantic of any sexual orientation.

At the beginning I posted and reglogged, having it as ancillary and keeping my primary blog for long posts(*), as other people have done, but now both are dead and I only use my Tumblr for commenting.
(*) There is a culture against long texts in Tumblr, it seems.

I would recommend you to get a Tumblr and not to feel obligated to post regularly. This way you could post links, quotes or images you wouldn't devote a blogpost.

Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly. I just got an email about this today regarding this as well.

My tumblr exists more as a broadcast system to get out interesting links and news. I don't follow people, rather I follow tags, and rarely at that. The blogs worth following I use RSS for.

I keep my true content - well thought out essays and posts - on my main blog,

Also, in Wordpress you can follow tags, which has made me discover other blogs like mine!

Qwin said...

OMG, you don't even know what percentage of my day is dedicated to yelling at the world because of tumblr. I think tumblr is a somewhat poorly designed implementation of a great idea, but that idea is NOT DISCUSSIONS OMG. Nothing will ever make tumblr anything other than the worst medium for blogging and discussing things. AGHDKFELJRSIODFDSLKJRESJDLF

But if there's one constant on the internet it's that people always flock to whatever is the worst idea for what they want to accomplish.

miller said...

Interesting that you mention tags, Maddox. I think one of the reasons people use tumblr is because of the relative accessibility of the tags.

But tags also have their problems. I was looking at the tag just now, and I noticed an anti-asexual post which made one decent point:

"Oh and FYI, please don’t cry about the sanctity of your tag. Communities aren’t based on fucking tumblr tags."

We need a different kind of aggregator, one that's moderated, not mindless.

Anonymous said...

While all your points are valid, the thing I do like on Tumblr is that it's easy to disseminate the long posts that I do write, and it's easy to find other posts. Instead of going to twenty different asexual blogs, it's all in one place, and similarly, my Tumblr gets a lot more traffic than my blog.

I usually post long things in both places, though, or on my blog and post an excerpt on Tumblr.

Becka said...

You can get comments on Tumblr if you add disqus but it's certainly not a good blog platform.

miller said...

Becka is correct.

Larry Hamelin said...

We need a different kind of aggregator, one that's moderated, not mindless.

Perhaps something like Planet Atheism?