Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tumblr sucks

I got a number of hits from Tumblr this week. One link was for the sake of "discussion"--which I find patently peculiar since Tumblr does not allow discussion.

So, you can discuss, but just don't share it with US. Keep your discussion to yourselves, bitches! (Now, I ask you, WHAT kind of discussion is that?)

I find Tumblr strange and do not understand how it works. This is by design; I was not at all surprised to learn that the founder/CEO of Tumblr is younger than my daughter. It is obviously and proudly age-segregated. Wikipedia informs us, "The service is most popular with the teen and college-aged user segments with half of Tumblr's visitor base being under the age of 25." I didn't need anyone to tell me that. This is one of the big attractions, keeping out the nasty old people. Ageism is highly marketable, you know.

FINALLY, a place where your awful mom can't follow you.

I have had a lot of mixed feelings as my various (young) blogger-friends have deserted Wordpress, Blogger and Livejournal, joining the trendy stampede to Tumblr. This is terribly disappointing, since I know this means I can no longer participate on their blogs. Tumblr allows "likes" (as Facebook does) but no comments. No brawling. You like it, or you hit the bricks. They have rejected the possibility of any dissent. NO uppity types daring to pipe up! It is deliberately not permitted--it has actually been planned that way. (Another big attraction: you can pretend everyone agrees with you, since nobody is permitted to say otherwise.)

I find this fascinating, that Tumblr has the necessary razzle-dazzle craved by the young, yet pointedly doesn't allow disagreement or comments. Is this the new culture of the young: like it or shut up? (Dissent? What's THAT?) Rather disturbing.

I have been blogging for five years, doing html code, and I still can't decipher the Tumblr layout. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for people even more unfamiliar with the internet than I am (and I have been online since 1998.) The odd page-layout and nested re-postings (difficult to follow or read, especially if you have any vision issues) effectively exacerbates the existing division between the trendy-youthful Tumblr crowd and everyone else on the net. I have some online friends who don't even know how to FOLLOW Tumblr, and I admit, I find it very confusing and (personally) hard to read. And that's how they like it, since it keeps out the riff-raff. After all, only us old-fogies try to make ourselves understood and/or worry about accessibility. Tumblr does not allow questions (no comments, remember?), so if you don't understand something or seek clarification, well, you must be an idiot. The trendy Tumblrites DON'T WANT the kind of person who needs any sort of clarification.

In short, fuck you.

Thus, we see the ongoing class/age/education divide online (also known as the Digital Divide) growing by leaps and bounds, nicely aided by Tumblr. (As a lefty, I find it bleakly hilarious to read social-justice fulminating on a blogging-platform that is so deliberately inaccessible to so many.)

And the Tumblr kids like it that way, or they would use an interactive forum that is user-friendly to everyone. But why should they do that? They prefer to interact with the people who already agree with them.

However, if they don't, they can correct me. They can argue with me. They can tell me I am full of shit. Because Blogger allows comments.

Unfortunately, even when they link me, I can't tell THEM a damn thing.

And they like it that way.


Danny said...

Oh yeah Tumblr is totally not the place for discussion. At best it is a place to put up bits and pieces of a discussion in hopes of getting people to click the link and go over to the discussion itself to participate.

But for the most part tumblr is pretty much a place to make statements. For me it's been a nice place to see people speak up about their bodies (in fact most of my tumblr feed is of people sharing pics of themselves and talking about body acceptance).

And yet even then you're right it's not discussion, it's a statement.

The closest you will get to a disagreement you retumbling someone else's tumbl and the chance that they will retumbl you. But that's not real discussion just an exchange of retumbls.

In regards to fostering discussion ideally people would not try to use tumblr as a discussion forum but rather use tumblr as a way to draw people over to the discussion forum (whatever site, blog, etc... that may be).

susie Q said...

amen! i hate it

JoJo said...

OK so it's not just me who hates Tumblr and can't figure it out. Good to know. One of my regular blog friends defected to tumblr a few months ago and I couldn't figure out how to leave comments at all. It didn't occur to me that you CAN'T leave them. so I stopped visiting her blog. I mean what's the point right?

Between Facebook, Blogger, Pinterest, Project 365 and my email, I definitely don't need another site to waste time on!

thene said...

I think an awful lot of the readability problems on Tumblr are simply the fault of bad, dumb design trends; it reminds me a bit of some custom Deadjournals I've seen (being as I am one of the five or so people who still uses Deadjournal). They're decking themselves out in a way they consider fashionable, never mind that it's an ugly incomprehensible wreck to anyone over the age of 20. I've even noticed the return of some trends that were junked as being bad for the internet over ten years ago, such as auto-playing embedded music.

Some tumblrs have an 'Ask' button where you can submit questions and comments to the blog owner...but they'll only be posted if the blog owner likes them. It's an awful site for discussion, and it kills me that so much of fandom has drifted that way; the part of fandom I value the most is the discussion that can be sparked.

bryce said...

i dislike it too - glad im not the only one

John Powers said...

I like Tumblr.

You raise points that fit in with the broader discussion of the problem of Internet silos. That's a really important topic, and one that my technophobia tends to make hard for me to understand.Dave Winer writes thoughtfully about the subject and more important than that does something about it.

A simple point that Winer and others concerned about silos make is that RSS feeds are really useful. With RSS it's possible to follow Tumblr blogs outside the Tumblr system.

Your point that Tumblr layout is hard might obscure the fact that if you just go with what's there, it's incredibly easy. To enable comments is simply ticking a box to enable Disqus. Tumblr is great for curating links precisely because it's so easy.

Discussion does happen and I think looking at what Nezua does shows how. Old as I am, I find it almost impossible to read white text on a red background, so I only get his output within then Tumblr dash. But I notice that Nezua doesn't make his archive view-able at his blog. Something to take from that is there is conversation, but it tends to be timely.

Lindsay said...

I've seen a lot of Tumblrs that I like --- like Danny, I think it's great for sharing images --- but I also find the format confusing and don't like the lack of comments.

All this time I thought it was just me.

John Powers said...

I mentioned you and this post on Tumblr. Don't worry, I've few followers. Still, thought to alert you to the post both because it exists and as an example of conversation happening on Tumblr.

Anonymous said...

I actually before reading this had never even taken into account the fact that tumblr does not have comments. What we have instead is tags and reblogs. With tags, at least in the fandom portion of tumblr, what happens is people tag their thoughts as sort of whispers, not comments but more reactions and stuff. Then rebloging is like commenting, and thats how we have discussions. It's odd, I got involved in tumblr and just merged with it. We do have different oppinions, but to an outsider it may seem like all users think the same. Well, that's not true. We do have similar opinions though, since we are a younger age group, that everyone is equal and lazy and fabulous no matter what. It is centered around a younger age group, but that is not because of a confusing layout, it's just because it's not really all that well known beausethe users don't really want it to become like a facebook. On tumblr, the key is to not be following anyone you know in real life. On facebook, you're friends with practically everyone you have ever met, whereas on tumblr you are surrounded by strangers who, through the site, are kind of living in another seperate and private world. We can do and say what we like and want to and don't have to be judged by the people we know and see every day. So... um, yeah, that's my opinion.