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.Real Life page), and the aftermath caused the site's entire culture to change.
Like a deflating balloon, Tumblr's rapid-fire 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.
Trope | Photo | Quote | Link | Chat | Audio | Video
- 420, Blaze It: The about page is formatted to look like actual Tumblr posts, complete with fake note counts displaying "69,420 notes".
- all lowercase letters: Mop, one of the April Fools' Day 2016 characters, writes in all lowercase letters, reflecting his quirkiness.
- Anti Poop-Socking: There's a limit of 5 asks per hour and 250 posts per day.
- April Fools' Day:
- In 2014 they encouraged users to upgrade to "Tumblr Pro", not explaining what was so special about it. Those who clicked it received nothing more than a fedora placed on their avatar for the rest of the day.
- For 2015 they debuted an "Executive Suite 2015", complete with spreadsheets, a notepad, and a calculator (which didn't work). Also, if you tried the "free trial", your blog got a business-esque addendum to its name, and your dashboard was overrun by a "helpful" Clippy-esque icon: A copy machine named Coppy which you couldn't get rid of (clicking its X caused it to go away for about 3 seconds before it popped up again). Coppy subsequently became a hit among users.
- In 2016, the site piggybacked on the hype regarding the U.S. presidential elections by unleashing "Decision 2016", in which users were asked to vote for one of four lizards (Rick, Wretched Tooth, Deborah, and Mop). Voting would cause an "I Voted" sticker to appear above your profile picture for the remainder of the day.
- In 2017, the site introduced a simple Tamagotchi-like virtual pet where bloggers had to clean up after a pixel-art horse with a randomly-generated (and often quite silly) name.
- In 2018, they introduced "Tumblcoin", a cryptocurrency acquired by liking and reblogging posts that could be exchanged for additions onto the dashboard, such as the aforementioned virtual horse pet, a frame around the avatar, an AIM skin for the messenger, and the "missing E" in the logo.
- In 2019, they created a blog bot called Tumblr Memories, which would personalize posts for the viewer by inputting tags and usernames frequently used on their blog into premade posts, Mad Libs style. This backfired, however, for users who frequently used trigger warnings, as a lack of forbidden words in the code led to custom posts that said things like "Pour one out for #abuse."
- In 2021, they introduced a button that said "Summon the Tumblrcryptid," which parodied the cryptocurrency NFTs. Clicking it would generate a Non-Fungible Tumblcryptid, a simplistic blob creature with an introduction to their personality, formatted as, "Hi! My name is [weird name]. I love [something most people like]. I hate [something most people dislike]. Like my parent, I can't get enough of #[tag from your Tumblr blog]." You could post this to your blog with the tag #NFTumblcryptids.
- In 2022, they added several click-based minigames to the dashboard, courtesy of an odd fictionalized marketing businessman named Brick Whartley.
- Ascended Meme: One meme from the site's userbase dating back to 2012 involves a code phrase ("I like your shoelaces") and response ("Thanks, I stole them from the president") for identifying Tumblr users. When the official Tumblr store opened in 2022, one type of product offered was shoelaces, with one of the color options being "Presidential Purple". The front page of the store declares: "Where else would the president get his shoelaces?"
- Character Blog: Some of the April Fools' characters have their own blogs.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mop, one of the April Fools' Day 2016 characters. His comments and replies are often nonsensical and he has some odd fascination with lungs.Anonymous: Which presidential candidate do you relate to the most?
Mop: my friends call me relatable too!
- Embarrassing Browser History: Played with. Mop releases his entire web history to the public, which for most presidential candidates is something that would be done to them and would be a scandal. Mop's history includes hundreds of searches about lungs, with the occasional other odd search such as 'Miracle Toast With Stunning face'.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: Mop believes that lungs are not real because he has never seen one.
- Literal-Minded: One reply from Mop to a user-submitted question:water-rat: Where do you stand on the issues?
Mop: over here hi! have a good election!
- LOL, 69: The about page is formatted to look like actual Tumblr posts, complete with fake note counts displaying "69,420 notes".
- Non-Answer: When Deborah is asked about her species, she dodges the question.polteaageist: Deborah, are you a salamander or a newt?
Deborah: I am a 100% tried and true, experienced candidate with the right skills for the job.
- Non-Human Head: Brick Whartley, a character created for the April Fools' Day 2022 site overhaul, is a suit-wearing businessman with a brick for a head.
- Stylistic Suck: A certain banner ad◊ for shoelaces from the official store is just the words "Shoelaces $19" crudely drawn onto a white background. There's also a "dark mode" version◊ in which the colors are inverted, the words "(dark mode)" are scribbled onto the bottom, and the last "s" in "Shoelaces" has a straight black line crossing it as if from a careless pen stroke.