Tumblr is a "short-form" multimedia blogging platform. It was a project initiated by then-high schooler David Karp, who eventually fulfilled his goal in 2007.
It steadily grew from modest beginnings to becoming the place to blog, allowing users to connect with one another over interests and discouraging the sort of real-life friends and family environment (and thus feuds, embarrassments, and hiding of interests) of Facebook, while also boasting much more posting utility than sites such as LiveJournal or Twitter. The many differing post types and the flexibility of blog creation and theme production led Tumblr to become the fastest place a user could begin exploring their own interests and setting up their own little home. LGBT activism took full steam, as did the social justice movement, the latter of which led to mockery from a lot of the internet for the perceived "social justice warrior" attitude of the site.
On May 20, 2013, Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo! for $1.1 billion. This led to a veritable panic from the userbase for two reasons. One, Yahoo was (at the time, jokingly) threatening to make the site child-proof and thus devoid of all sexual content. Two, Yahoo had a documented history of acquiring, killing, and then selling sites. As neither of these (immediately) came to pass, people forgot their worries. Later that same year, a convention known as "DashCon" was announced and, by June 2014, had garnered incredible excitement and anticipation. The con was nothing short of a disaster (full details are on our TroubledProduction.Other page), and the aftermath caused the site's entire culture to change.
Like a deflating balloon, Tumblr's rapid-fire Keet personality depleted. Activism contained itself only to those passionate for it, fandoms began more self-examination, badly-behaved but popular bloggers were called out, and the site's humor took on a more snarky and memetic tone. The term "dashcon" became synonymous with a cringier, more immature time that haunts those who were on the site long enough to see it happen. Around the same time, site staff started to become the target of outright loathing from users. Numerous changes and updates rolled out despite the heavy resistance from users, and said updates were often accompanied by the site going down for days at a time, earning the staff a reputation for incompetence. This worsened when the staff stopped answering emails, leaving the site's problems (such as child porn, neo-nazism, and virus bots) to fester and grow.
In 2017, Verizon bought out Yahoo and placed ownership of Tumblr under their "The Oath" branding. On December 3rd, 2018, after the Tumblr app was removed from the iOS store for allowing users to access child pornography, The Oath announced that all adult content on the site would be banned. Following a large purge of the userbase in which thousands of blogs were deleted, the ban was enacted on December 17th, 2018. Said adult content ban turned out to be The Last Straw for its userbase. The 6 months following the ban saw a mass exodus of users to more relaxed sites, which caused Tumblr to lose close to a 33% of its once-massive userbase, a percentage that only rose higher as the weeks wore on. Finally, on August 12th, 2019, Verizon sold Tumblr to Automattic (the parent company to Wordpress) for less than $3 million.
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- Accentuate the Negative: Following the energy burst from Dashcon, this has become a lot more popular. Some see it as a good thing, in that media no longer gathers a blind, rabid fanbase quite so quickly. However, others have claimed that the userbase has become too obsessed with pointing out flaws to enjoy a work anymore.
- All Crimes Are Equal: While the rise of callout culture put an end to pedestal-pushing and far-reaching blogger influence, it also came with the tendency for bloggers to crucify others with whatever scraps of dirt were on hand. While it's often exaggerated in complaints, callouts can range from legitimate complaints about a user to reasons a person the OP had a falling out with should be ostracized.
- All for Nothing: This was the salt in the wound with the adult content ban: aside from being rather obviously enacted over a potential loss of revenue in the app store, the ban failed to impact any of the problems that inspired it (if anything, the spawning and activity of porn bots increased). The image recognition tech was quickly discovered to be rather faulty (as in, it flagged its own post of allowed content), so it was ditched in favor of tag-based post deletion... which meant that users that really wanted to post porn could simply change the tags and avoid getting flagged. Worse, many LGBT tags (such as #gay and #lesbian) were cleared due to a large amount of porn in them, while tags such as #fascism and #fashwave were left almost entirely untouched. For all intents and purposes, Tumblr was left in worse shape than before the adult content ban was enacted.
- Inverted. The more key-smashing is used, the happier and more carefree a blogger is. It's when they start talking in complete sentences and speaking coherently that you know someone is pissed off.
- Parodied with "crytyping", which is meant to mock people or characters that need an asskicking but want to act like victims.
- Animal Reaction Shot: Highly popular here.
- Anti Poop-Socking: There's a limit of 5 asks per hour and 250 posts per day.
- Arch-Enemy: With Facebook and Twitter. Notably, this is one thing that didn't change post-2014. Tumblr users at one time held the site to be the greatest thing ever. Many of them now regard it as garbage. But all of these people will agree that moving to Twitter or Facebook, even to escape the porn ban or functionality decline, is something to be strongly hesitated over.
- Art Imitates Art: The speed at which memes spread through the site tends to create permutation after permutation, often crossing them with other memes for the sake of humor or using an otherwise context-less image as a response because the humor is in everyone knowing what it means anyway.
- Ascended Glitch: Self-reblogging and tag blacklisting, which were available with various extensions, eventually became part of the site proper. The latter only on mobile, though.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land: 20072013 Tumblr in a nutshell. And arguably still today.
- Costume Porn: Tumblr was the best place for artists to get their work noticed, and this was never more true for any than for cosplay artists.
- Crossover: The experience cultivated by Tumblr allows for a lot of fandoms to be enjoyed simultaneously, though bloggers today discourage this sort of thing going to extremes, as was the case of "Super-Who-Lock" and other such phenomena.
- Deadpan Snarker: The turn the site's humor has taken lately, often capitalizing on an error or fumble made in a previous post or in response to a picture.
- Design Student's Orgasm: Take your pick! Be it art, photosets, or even theme construction, the users of Tumblr have talent pouring out of their eardrums.
- The Fashionista: With thousands of code-capable bloggers, independent themes abound, enabling you to make your blog look like just about anything. And with the right Xkit extensions, this extends to your dashboard too!
- Forced Meme: Due to the incredible speed that posts can spread, a meme can be created, become forced and die in a matter of days while still getting thousands of views.
- Incompetence, Inc.: Nobody respects the Tumblr team or their decisions. The latest move was absolutely baffling; you can now create and enter group chats...which are publicly visible.
- Insistent Terminology: "Female-presenting nipples" quickly became mocked by every user who read the terms of the adult content ban.
- Large Ham: Innumerable examples, but one that probably sticks out the most is Warriormale, a blog devoted to celebrating masculinity with all of its posts captioned with highly dramatic expressions of life-coaching advice to become more of a man.
- Mood Whiplash: The effects of full freedom to customize your feed to your interests means you won't be the only one who scrolled from pictures of cute kittens to hardcore porn and then right back to kittens.
- Nerdgasm: Some bloggers get very excited about their favorite shows. A trailer alone can cause massive squee attacks.
- no punctuation is funnier: Essentially where this sort of thing bred itself into existence, along with Twitter. Language studies have actually been done on the steady phasing out of punctuation in open blogging.
- NSFW: It's actually called "lemon" again, if you're serious about posting it.
- Otaku: A large portion of Tumblr could be considered as such, to the rest of the site's annoyance. "Read another book" is a common response for encounters with Harry Potter variants, and "Watch other movies" is the one used for MCU fans.
- Out of the Frying Pan: The dilemma faced by those who participated in the mass exodus grudgingly or wanted to but didn't. Yes, Tumblr is near un-usable without serious help from extensions and its staff goes out of its way to piss off its users, but leaving for *shudder* Twitter?
- Poe's Law: Due to the danger of this trope, a common joke is to post something completely insane but just realistic enough that it sounds like someone could truly say it and mean it, and then break off halfway through saying "can you imagine".
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: At its worst, this was very popular on Tumblr. Post-energy burst, some would say it's still popular on Tumblr, but takes on more insidious forms. Pushbacks occasionally happen.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A common Parody method of having fun by way of Disproportionate Retribution, a la the copypasta "300 confirmed kills" days of old.
- Running Gag: Memetic Mutation lends itself easily to this treatment with how fast memes spread. A common and timeless one is based around the Troll Fic My Immortal.
- Satire / Parody / Pastiche: And any form of humor not covered by the above two tropes is usually found in this one.
- Scenery Porn: There are quite a few blogs dedicated to pretty pictures of scenery. Sometimes with a theme, such as skyscrapers, scary-looking places, or abandoned buildings. Sometimes not. For a while, a common example was the infamous "Do You Love the Color of the Sky" posts, which spawned first large amounts of vitriol as users complained that it was a nightmare to scroll past, and then spawned infinite parodies.
- Soap Box Sadie: The "go outside" treatment is often given to individuals who delve too far into their own ideas of social justice even today.
- Spiritual Successor:
- Tumblr itself is this to MySpace, in all of the right and wrong ways, to Generation Xerox levels.
- DashCon has had its own spiritual successors in subsequent disasters of community organizing, to the point where Fyre Fest and Tanacon are linked in the "See Also" section of the page on Wikipedia.
- After "the Xkit guy" came under an false accusation of harassment and mob mentality kicked in, he deleted and has not returned. "New Xkit" came in to pick up where he left off.
- Nowadays, Tumblr is looking for its own spiritual successor. Most of the userbase who feel the site isn't fun anymore reluctantly admit that, broken to pieces though it may be, its construction and format made it one of the most popular places to blog for a reason. Many who have moved to other sites post-porn bad or post-Automattic acquisition have admitted that it feels like a downgrade. Although no site has truly reached this trope yet, several are trying.
- Suddenly SHOUTING!: When excited, some users tend to start screAMING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE. Will also be seen as a form of Angrish.
- Troll: On Tumblr, if you like something, you post about it in that something's tag. If you dislike something, you post it into the same tag but with anti in front of it, so fans don't have to see it. This attitude, while commonly accepted, doesn't stop fans from trying to "dunk" on critical fans or haters by going into their anti-tags and laughing at how dumb they are to dare hate something.
- Urban Legend: Many things from days gone by make it into Tumblr lore among those who are veterans of the site. Sometimes this is in the form of users who were particularly prolific or problematic, such as pizza or sixpenceee, and other times it's in the form of events, such as the infamous Mishapocalypse.
- We All Live in America:
- A frequent deconstruction of a pervading social justice post is that it's centered on a viewpoint that could only originate in America or an otherwise privileged first-world country in the west.
- Many users have grown tired of "things Americans do" posts by British bloggers who are convinced something completely normal in numerous parts of the world is something alien because it isn't called the same thing.
- What You Are in the Dark: Users can be this, specifically the ones who run very classy unassuming SFW blogs. While likes don't appear on your blog (as opposed to re-blogging), the person who blogged that thing you just liked can see what you just liked. It can be kinda jarring seeing a born-again Christian female like a gorn post or a DP/facial/lesbian/gangbang/bukakke gif set, sleazy story or whatever you just posted.
- You Are Not Alone: The most positive part of Tumblr is the userbase's unfailing attitude towards helping those in need. Recent times have made this more prominent, but even outside the realm of GoFundMe posts and organized relief, it's still very easy to find someone to talk to your problems about on Tumblr.
- You Keep Using That Word: You can find any word on Tumblr and see it used in any context, even in contexts not appropriate for it's meaning or phrase, so don't be surprised if you end up thinking this, a lot.