owlmoose: (cats - teacup)
KJ ([personal profile] owlmoose) wrote2016-01-19 07:33 pm
Entry tags:

Tumblr, fandom, and setting expectations

So remember the old days, when we used to write about other people's posts in our own spaces rather than just reblogging everything, maybe with commentary, maybe with a few thoughts hidden in the tags? I miss those days, so here I am, being the change I want to see.

This post about Tumblr and people's issues* with it was making the rounds a little while ago, and it struck a nerve with me. I don't disagree with the original poster's complaint, exactly -- there often is something dysfunctional about the way people interact on Tumblr, and that detracts from my enjoyment of both the site and of fandom as a whole. But it seems to me that the OP has cause and effect exactly backwards. Tumblr isn't a personal journaling site that people are treating like a public forum. Tumblr is a public forum that people are treating like a personal journaling site. Tumblr is a broadcast medium, specifically designed to promote the sharing of content as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. It is not meant for private conversation or personal journaling, so folks shouldn't be surprised when trying to use it that way is a disappointing experience.

I feel like I've been beating this drum a lot, especially since the end of Tumblr comments (and was there ever a more clear sign that Tumblr doesn't want to be a conversation platform than their decision to take away commenting?), and you might fairly ask why I care. It's purely selfish in the end -- I think fandom would be a better place if we would accept Tumblr's limitations and use it for the type of content and interaction that does work well there -- sharing multimedia, links, memes, and other short-form content. As far as I'm concerned, Tumblr works best when you treat it like Twitter writ large. No one expects Twitter to host personal conversations. No one expects an unlocked Tweet to be private. No one expects to avoid spoilers or negative commentary about characters they like. No one expects Twitter to serve as a long-form archive. And yet these are all complains that I hear about Tumblr on a regular basis. The secret to happiness is setting proper expectations, and the way to do that as a Tumblr user is to embrace the site for what it is, rather than fighting the interface to make it into something that it isn't, and was never meant to be.

I get the desire to have your entire community living on a single site. But the days of One Platform to Rule Them All are long behind us, if that particular beast ever even existed. Is it more trouble to go to Twitter for news and links, Tumblr for images and memes, Dreamwidth for meta and discussion, AO3 for fic? Maybe so, but I find that playing to the strengths of each site is making me happier overall. If that means I drift away from some elements of my fandom community, so be it -- I miss some people who I don't see nearly as much as I used to, but I hope to enjoy the time I do spend interacting with them all the more.

*Linking to a reblog because the OP deleted the post. The respondent here words things more strongly than I would have, but as you might guess I largely agree. The fact that the OP can delete but the reblogs live on forever is a whole other can of worms with Tumblr's design, but getting into that would be a different post.
sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2016-01-20 04:49 am (UTC)(link)
Well shit. I posted a long fact-filled comment and DW spit back an error and then ate it.

Sadly, I don't have time to retype it. The short version is that I've seen a lot of people on twitter and tumblr fail to understand that both of these services are public broadcast platforms. A number of "fail to understand what twitter is" cases have been covered by journalists.

I agree with you 9000% regarding the above but I also think that tumblr is a very deceptive platform because it advertises itself as a blogging system but it is actually twitter on steroids.

The other thing is:

I find that playing to the strengths of each site is making me happier overall

me too. Although Tumblr has a very low barrier to entry compared to LJ, DW, AO3, FF.net, DevArt, the Wikias, etc. Each of those platforms are geared towards content creators. Tumblr is all about setting up your blog and reblogging to your hearts content. Some people think of tumblr as a place where they create and curate an image of themselves that is personal albeit internet searchable. So, I can see how people form misconceptions about the platform...
sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2016-01-21 05:55 am (UTC)(link)
The twitter things I know about were all reported by journalists or social scientists and, if I remember correctly, all of those many incidents were outside of fandom. In all nearly cases it was the same story: person thinks their tweets will only be seen by their tiny 2-digit number of followers who are also RL friends ... until chaos ensues. Either a fundamental misunderstanding of what a broadcast system actually is or a mistaken notion that only twitter uses with 50,000+ followers need to polish their tweets so they aren't misunderstood/taken of out context.



sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2016-01-22 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
The similarity is with original post you posted up at the top of this page: some people mistakenly believe that broadcast based social networks aren't really broadcast-based for them. Tumblr isn't your personal diary despite it being a "blog", twitter isn't a place for minor chitchat amongst a close group of friends despite it's similarities to SMS. Even if you don't hashtag your tumblr posts or your twitter tweets, people can still find your stuff and reblog/retwet chains can begin. It's all stemming from the same error.
ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (Default)

[personal profile] ossobuco 2016-01-20 08:14 am (UTC)(link)
I agree with your analysis and feel all of it with increasing annoyance. I still use tumblr to babble about personal things (briefly and without a lot of detail, for various reasons), of course, but I really wish I could migrate back here to Dreamwidth... except none of my friends, both fandom and real life, will follow me.

I remember having accounts on LJ and DeviantArt and ff.net and a few other sites, and using mostly the same names for each, and 90% of my online (and plenty of offline) friends also having the same, and all of us interacting across all platforms as needed, and though the exact platforms might be different now, but it was really effective, both for fandom participation and for social interaction, and I miss having all those options.
Edited 2016-01-20 08:15 (UTC)
ossobuco: Legion from Mass Effect 2 (Default)

[personal profile] ossobuco 2016-01-21 05:13 am (UTC)(link)
That's really true, I suppose a fandom arrives at tumblr and goes, oh!! You can post fic AND you can post art AND you can meta/rant/link to things, and share it all around and discuss it and never have to leave this one site. You just can't do them all quite as effectively or wholly as you can in other individual places, and it has gradually become still harder to do some of them, in a proverbial "frog in a slowly-heating pot of water" way.

I have wondered that, too, and I have a really strong feeling that what'd happen is I'd just never see most of my friends again. :/ I'm happy that the crossposting feature exists, but for me, I guess the ideal sort of thing I'd post to tumblr would be those short, punctuation-less/tumblr dialect commentary posts, you know? whereas what I'd post to Dreamwidth would be... the kind of more personal/meaty things I already do, but more frequently.
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)

[personal profile] schneefink 2016-01-20 11:25 am (UTC)(link)
Agreed.

I wonder how the rise of popularity of Tumblr and the decline of communities on journalling platforms is related. A few years ago to find new people in the same fandom and to talk with them I searched for that fandom's comm. Today there are fewer/less active comms (in my perception; not sure if there really are more anon/kinkmemes or if I just didn't know them before) and to find people to talk about a new fandom more often I have to go to their personal journals, which feels like a higher entry barrier.
It may also have something to do with the rise of AO3's popularity: fic announcement comms are less necessary than they were when most fic was on LJ.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-20 02:47 pm (UTC)(link)
This is my impression too -- that Tumblr and the opening of AO3 had a lot to do with the decline of LJ, and the much slower adoption of DW by fandom. I used comms the way you did but now I go straight to looking for tags I'm interested in on AO3, or googling for rec lists. Or if someone I know on DW has a rec list. What about meta for shows? Is that happening on Tumblr? (I do not have a Tumblr and have never gotten comfortable there. I read there if I'm linked, which I always appreciated, but I don't go there independently.)

ETA: Clearly people who felt a bit overloaded by the idea that LJ or DW was for Long Well Thought Out Blog Posts or Not At All are much happier using Twitter for sharing their transient ideas, as well. I was very sad when I saw that misconception take hold. Because I think it reduced people's desire to post here.
Edited 2016-01-20 14:48 (UTC)
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)

[personal profile] schneefink 2016-01-20 06:06 pm (UTC)(link)
There is some good meta on Tumblr, but it's hard to find, at least in my experience. Only new posts show up in the tag search, so if there's interesting meta in a reply to a post you don't see it unless you follow someone who reblogs it. Which is frustrating!

I hadn't thought of that, but yes, there is a perception that LJ or DW are for "proper" blog posts, not just a few lines here or there. That probably also creates a higher entry barrier for new people.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-21 12:48 pm (UTC)(link)
My experience is different. Having never gotten into Tumblr or Twitter, I basically use DW for everything. Posting something two sentences long does not seem weird to me.

But I do see that many people have a different feeling about what's appropriate for each platform.
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)

[personal profile] schneefink 2016-01-20 06:09 pm (UTC)(link)
I think at least in the beginning many fans who were looking for a new platform went to Tumblr at least partially for the "oh, shiny!" factor, the pictures and vids etc. That part was easy to get into, and the realization that conversations like those that happened before on journals are very difficult to hold on Tumblr came later.
sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2016-01-21 06:00 am (UTC)(link)
Just want to remind folks about the death of Delicious being directly caused by Yahoo buying it and then failing to turn it into a money maker despite how wildly popular it was.

Makes you wonder what will happen with tumblr.


sarasa_cat: (Default)

[personal profile] sarasa_cat 2016-01-21 03:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Haha! Geocities is such a prophetic example of a very likely future, right down to billion dollar purchases and not being able to make money off a popular thing.
auronlu: (thatslife)

[personal profile] auronlu 2016-01-27 12:27 am (UTC)(link)
I have been predicted that Tumblr would fold for the same reasons since before the Yahoo acquisition was announced, and then my geeky therapist sagely asks if it's actually happened, because I tend to be a pessimist.

But still.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-21 12:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Right; I was one of the early adopters of DW because of Strikethrough.

But it's my impression that some people did leave LJ over that, but many other fannish people made their peace and stayed. Then as Tumblr and Twitter gained momentum, more people didn't really leave LJ as neglect it for other platforms.

And with AO3 for fic posting, the decline of comms on both LJ and DW accelerated too.

My point, which I didn't really clarify very well, was that after the founding of DW and AO3 all the existing trends kept accelerating.

I wasn't aware of the impact of Delicious -- I'd forgotten about that! Thanks.

Platforms have a huge impact on us, for sure.
krait: a viper on the ground (viper)

[personal profile] krait 2016-01-23 04:49 am (UTC)(link)
I agree. I kept on with LJ through and after Strikethrough (though that may have been when I started crossposting to IJ, JF, and GJ), and left not all that long, I think, after Boldthrough - I either wasn't there for the removal of subject lines, or else was inactive enough not to have noticed.

I've repeatedly toyed with the idea of starting a Tumblr, but for me there's a much higher bar to entry, to wit I am completely unfamiliar with how it works, so it's a big investment of learning and trial-and-error. (And, ultimately, would require a shift in How I Fandom that I so far have been unwilling to make; I *want* discussion, and I *especially* want that discussion and its attached content to have stable URLs and be findable through a search!)
momijizukamori: An extremely excited super-deformed Dante from Devil May Cry 3. The text reads 'Booya!' (Dante | booya!)

[personal profile] momijizukamori 2016-01-25 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Some of it may be that there was an overlapping period where LJ was going downhill, but DW was still kind of in beta. And then we didn't remove the need for an invite code until early 2012, when LJ destroyed subject lines and the RP community decided they had had enough. I know some people were turned off by the invite-only thing and ended up just drifting away from fannish communities and the like.
seimaisin: (Default)

[personal profile] seimaisin 2016-01-20 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I have SO MANY thoughts about control, or lack thereof, of content and engagement on social media. For a group of people who believe so strongly in the "death of the creator" when it comes to the fannish properties we consume, fandom can be spectacularly dense about the reach of things you post in public. No, your publicly accessible Tumblr is NOT your private safe space. No, Tumblr appears to have no interest in making a friends-locked function a la LJ, because it's NOT LJ/DW and has never wanted to be. Posts are public. Tags are public. You don't have control of what you post - once it's out there, it's out there. You can talk about how strangers should respect your space all you want, but in the end, you've put something out there in public, and you lose control of it once it's out.

I've also seen recently where some people get mad when people respond to them on Twitter - not in harassing ways, which are always unacceptable, but just asking questions and making comments, having a conversation like the Twitter platform is meant for. And it IS what it's meant for. You can either ignore the comments or engage with them, but telling people not to make them is futile.

The current generation of social media is not meant for safe personal spaces. I'm hoping someone, someday soon, creates a hybrid space where we can be more in control of our own spaces. But until then, I'm not sure why people refuse to understand the limits of the sites they choose to use.
cumuluscastle: (stubborn)

[personal profile] cumuluscastle 2016-01-21 12:11 pm (UTC)(link)
I am weary of Tumblr. I still post my art there, I guess. But I don't look at it anymore. I never really connected with fans very much in that space, anyway.

Prompted by your post I just scrolled through it for a bit and realized that the only thing I miss on it is the fabulous clothing Tumblrs I follow that post amazing period costume. In fact, I used it more as a way to collect reference for art than anything else.

Rather than finding the entry level to starting up a Tumblr blog easy, I have found it baffling the whole time. I never understood either the etiquette or how people managed to feel themselves connected to fandom in such a sea of stuff - but maybe that's just a product of the types of blogs I ended up following, as I stated above.
cumuluscastle: (bad sheep)

[personal profile] cumuluscastle 2016-01-23 08:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Maybe I just follow too many people and don't look at it enough. I feel like I don't even see people's posts half the time.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-21 12:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Also, may I link to this discussion?
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)

[personal profile] lassarina 2016-01-22 01:41 am (UTC)(link)
*just nods a lot*
auronlu: (Default)

[personal profile] auronlu 2016-01-22 09:20 am (UTC)(link)
I managed to build a core of meta-writers on Tumblr by being in fandoms of old things. Final Fantasy... a bit harder to find, but there's people. Admittedly my FF Fandom on Tumblr in the past few years has been heavily skewed towards meta through images: someone posts fanart, and we geek off the art.

What's curious to me is that classic Who fandom on Tumblr thrives and prospers in meta-land. Lots of Meta. Challenges, questionnaires, prompts, photosets with commentary, audio clips with commentary, fanart with commentary — it's hard not to engage in those discussions, despite Tumblr driving us batty. I think it's partly the nature of that fandom: it's a 50+ span of material, much of it from the 60s through the 80s, and people have to give at least a little meta/context for everything they share, because nobody in fandom is familiar with all of it.

I've seen meta-posts for Steven Universe like that. Interestingly, Harry Potter tends to drive a lot of long meta-posts, which makes me think this could be more true of older fandoms where the initial "oo shiny" has worn off, and the people sticking with the fandom are going deeper.

Obviously that would be easier on DW, except (a) Tumblr's where the action is and (b) being able to embed audio clips, video clips, or incorporate images into meta can be handy. I find myself missing it now when I don't have a quick-and-easy mechanism for doing so.
dirty_diana: colored pencils sit in an empty latte cup. (Default)

[personal profile] dirty_diana 2016-01-26 11:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Hmmn, that's interesting what you say about fandom age and tumblr meta. Star Wars OT/PT had a fairly steady stream of meta too, long before the ep 7 explosion. Sometimes about fairly obscure aspects, not typical first watch observations, so I think "going deep" is indeed what can end up happening with older fandoms.
jjhunter: Drawing of human J.J. in red and brown inks with steampunk goggle glasses (red J.J. inked)

[personal profile] jjhunter 2016-01-22 09:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Here via princessofgeeks. I strongly agree re: "Tumblr is a public forum that people are treating like a personal journaling site". A lot of periodic tumblr bursts about tagging, esp. where 'strangers' come to somebody's tumblr and request that that person change their tagging to accommodate / facilitate blacklisting of certain content types, tend to bring this into focus. On Dreamwidth, you can opt out of having your journal content be publicly searchable; on tumblr, to tag is to flag.

It does make me wonder what the DW experience would be like if there were some good free third-party hosting sites for images, gifs and vids that were easily integrated with posting on DW — part of the appeal of tumblr is the ease of multimedia sharing and the free hosting of the multimedia in question. The hosting comes with downsides - you can't delete what you've uploaded if someone else reblogs it (and I wonder if it still gets permanently grabbed even if you delete your post before someone else reblogs it - who knows?), but 'free' and 'convenient' are so very seductive, as is the sense of any post *could* be the post that takes off spectacularly and makes one internet famous!!! or at least temporarily tumblr famous.

I guess for me, sites like tumblr and twitter combine the possibility that something I write could reach what feels like anyone, with the risk that it will be heard by no one - like there's quantum flickering between an audience beyond my mental grasp to fathom and a void of existential anxiety. I find Dreamwidth being smaller scale and more intimate a feature - it's still internet mom & pop, and that's something I hold very dear.
jjhunter: Watercolor tomato resting on radiating stalks of lettuce (tomato)

[personal profile] jjhunter 2016-01-22 09:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Speaking of 'One Platform to Rule Them All' - comparisons of DW vs Tumblr often remind me of conversation about print books vs ebooks - yes, it is awesome and shiny to have ebooks, but there's still demand for print books too, and the two markets seem to have settled into supplementing each other, rather than some One Book Format To Rule Them All economic deathmatch.
bloodmooninspace: (Default)

[personal profile] bloodmooninspace 2016-02-03 06:53 pm (UTC)(link)
So, (here via princess of geeks link)

Would you all be interested in an xkit.com, essentially? A public partner to go with the private nature of DW, that is designed *to work with* A03 and DW, to create a threefold fandom experience?

DW brings the posts with strong lockdown protocols, and threaded comments section.

Ao3 is a brilliantly executed archive.

xkit.com could be the twitter/tumblr equivilent that has limited commenting (replies, for the love of all that is holy we need replies) and is art, music/video, and sharing focused.

Making a meta post? post to DW and share via xkit ... post your fic to Ao3, share via xkit. Use "Ao3-feed" accounts that are paired with DW comms for fic updates via xkit and then talk in the comm ...

What do you think?
china_shop: text icon that says, "In my day, we downloaded fic onto paper" (download fic on paper)

[personal profile] china_shop 2016-01-23 11:09 am (UTC)(link)
A friend linked me to this post. Hi!

Something I don't think has been mentioned yet: the change in technology over the last eight years. I think one of the things that shifted fandom towards tumblr, once strikethrough made LJ less attractive, was the arrival of smart phones and tablets. Before 2007, we were mostly internetting from desktops and laptops -- with keyboards. LJ/DW are still not ideal for smaller screened devices, and participating in wordy conversations is laborious compared to reblogging or kudosing. Maybe it just became easier for people to default to tumblr and twitter, and as you and others have said, with the rise of AO3 there was less need to follow journals or comms to get a fic/fanwork fix.

(Um, I say this never having tumbled or twittered from my phone, so I don't really know what I'm talking about, disclaim, disclaim, disclaim. These days I do most of my fannishness in email. :-/)
auronlu: (Lucretia)

[personal profile] auronlu 2016-01-27 12:33 am (UTC)(link)
As someone with bad vision who has to boost font size... I hadn't even thought of it, but scrolling through images I can zoom up to iPad-screen-size and reading short text posts became SO MUCH MORE APPEALING since reading conversations like this requires squinting. Also, as you say, it's a lot harder to write replies, even on a tablet.
msilverstar: (Default)

[personal profile] msilverstar 2016-01-24 06:41 am (UTC)(link)
Tumblr is terribly convenient for reblogging media. I seem to remember that Dreamwidth and/or LJ put some kind of reblog button and fandom went batshit about it. But that may be my imagination.
momijizukamori: Green icon with white text - 'I do believe in phosphorylation! I do!' with a string of DNA basepairs on the bottom (Default)

[personal profile] momijizukamori 2016-01-25 05:03 pm (UTC)(link)
It was LJ! afaik DW has never considered it, just because of the fuss it caused on LJ. I think some of the issues people had with it are still relevant on tumblr - I've occasionally seen stuff to the effect of 'how dare you reblog my post to argue with me about it'. LJ didn't have the same visual-heavy culture that tumblr is best for, so there wasn't that to balance it out.
momijizukamori: (tits against the rte)

[personal profile] momijizukamori 2016-01-25 05:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm also here via princessofgeeks, totally interested in this discussion! I was kind of tumblr-resistant for a while, and then finally gave in and after a bit of finagling have found a place where it mostly works for me. I cosplay, so the visual nature of tumblr is great for sharing progress photos paired with quick write-ups - I've set up something to do DW crossposts when I want to, though the mechanism (via RSS) means the formatting on DW isn't great. I think I'd like to set up a crossposter from the other direction, too, to capture some of my fannish commentary. Most of my problems with tumblr are culture problems, rather than technical problems, though some of that is because I'm pretty zen about the fact that as I give tumblr no money, I'm not actually the audience they're courting (which is another thing tumblr uses don't seem to grasp - funding through advertising means the end user is not actually the priority).

I think I'm kind of an outlier in that I actually use a different platform (Plurk) for livewatch commentary/personal griping - it's sort of like Twitter, except replies to a post are gathered under that post. This is what the interface looks like. You can also mute plurks so you don't get notified of new replies to them, which solves my main problem with Twitter (hard to control the input volume). The platform is not the most stable, but it's fairly easy to lock down and I think more importantly, it's really easy to post - with DW, you still have to click through a lot of pages, which is fine for a longer one-off, but I think would get kind of tedious for a pile of short posts. Though now I'm wondering if we could make a 'quick post' module or something, much like we have 'quick reply' (and when DW added the ability to do that from your reading list, without having to go to a new page? WONDERFUL).