Discussion Bubbles in the Ace Community

Even in a community as small as this, it’s not surprising that there would be some fragmentation.  What’s frustrating about it, though, is seeing the same mistakes and flawed wording repeated over and over again, not to mention all the different attempts to reinvent the wheel, simply because we’re not paying enough attention to each other to know what’s already been critiqued and detangled before.  If you’ve been around a while, you probably know what I’m talking about.

I don’t think this is a matter of seeing things and then ignoring them.  I think a large part of it has to do with a genuine lack of exposure.  Or maybe I’m wrong, but regardless, this problem has driven me up the wall just enough times that I want to figure out what I can do about it.

So, first, I want to sketch out the different discussion bubbles I’m aware of, just to map out what I’m talking about and how I’m seeing things.  Note that I’m not really sure how offline/meetup circles figure into this, so this will be focusing on online bubbles for now.  I also have no clue what’s going on at AVEN at any given time, so y’all will have to fill me in on that.

  • The AA bubble is what I’m going to call the circle of blogging with ties to the Asexual Agenda.  Most of these are WordPress bloggers, with a smaller percentage of them posting on tumblr as well.  It’s a bit of a fringe group, due to most of its discussion happening on WordPress, and the only reason I’m not outright referring to this as the WordPress bubble is because there are, occasionally, some WordPress posts on asexuality by ace bloggers who have no interaction with the AA.  My current impression is that the AA bubble is relatively attentive to/reactive to other bubbles.
  • The tumblr-personal-blog bubble is probably the largest, and most of its ace-related discussion takes the form of brief and sporadic venting, understandably so.  Ace discussions generated here tend to start from this bubble or gain momentum as reactions to other tumblr bubbles.
  • Themed blogs are another tumblr bubble, this one devoted entirely to ace-related content, but not always a stage for much in the way of dialogue.  Dissemination of graphics and single-response ask-and-answer messages are the order of the day.  Currently, this strikes me as the bubble that is the most isolated from the others.
  • Somewhat of a subset of the tumblr-ace-themed-blog bubble, the tumblr-ace-advice-blog bubble sets up shop as a place where curious anonymous people can send in their questions and quandaries, which… has been a big source of problems, as you can see from Queenie’s tag here, although it may simply be the most transparent/visible of the bubbles in that regard.

While I don’t mind the community being fragmented this way, I do mind the cycle of misinformation and faulty advice, and so what I want is to concoct a plan to achieve more cross-pollination, so to speak, between the bubbles — at least enough so that self-nominated advice-givers are being held to a standard of keeping their ears to the ground.  Me waving my arms around and saying “hey, listen to us!” doesn’t seem to have worked well so far, since, on the whole, the tumblr bubbles are too insular to take much notice.  With that in mind, I’ve been trying to come up with other options, and this is what I’ve got so far:

  • create a tumblr blog to serve as a mini news network and report on/link to intracommunity discussions
  • host a Carnival of Aces and choose a theme related to fragmentation in the community
  • reinvigorate (or recreate wholesale) the ace advice network
  • get everyone to leave tumblr and go literally anywhere else

Okay, you can see my frustration showing through here.  I’m not particularly attached to tumblr in the first place, so it’s difficult for me to talk about this set of issues without zeroing on that platform as the problem — but I recognize that the alternatives have their downsides as well.

What I need from y’all, at the moment, are any reflections on or additions to this list of discussion bubbles, plus any suggestions you might have on how to build more dialogue between them, preferably with a minimum of telling me it’s hopeless.  Or any kind of feedback, really, because I’ve been thinking about this to myself for too long.

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95 responses to “Discussion Bubbles in the Ace Community

  • cinderace

    “I don’t think this is a matter of seeing things and then ignoring them. I think a large part of it has to do with a genuine lack of exposure.”

    I agree, and I think part of the problem, besides community fragmentation, is the fact that important things are said and then just kind of disappear into the archives of WordPress or Tumblr. I started really following online ace communities last fall, and have tried to both keep up with current discourse and get caught up with past discussions that I’ve missed–but there are so many ace blogs, some of which have been going for years, that it’s impossible to ever read all the content. And on Tumblr especially it can be difficult to browse someone’s old posts, and there are also bloggers (on various platforms) who have stopped posting and ceased being involved in the community, so while they may have said some really good things, I might never even come across their writing.

    But it is really important to know what previous discussions have gone on, what ideas have been tried out and rejected, what phrasing and attitudes are considered problematic. If you try to jump in and start blogging yourself without knowing all this stuff, you’re going to end up saying some problematic things and rehashing discussions that have already happened (I’m taking a break from blogging right now in part because of worries like this). But the difficultly of finding the important stuff, of knowing where to look and what to read before you start writing yourself, is a major obstacle.

    My idea to help with this is to set up a site that would serve as a sort of online ace library–a collection of the most important posts (from WordPress and Tumblr and elsewhere) that have been written on various subjects. Like “important discussions on asexuality and race” and “here’s what the community has said about romantic orientation.” And then just linking to it everywhere, and adding to it as more stuff is written. It would be a big project, but I think worthwhile.

    • Coyote

      Hm. Thanks for the suggestion. Those sound a bit like Queenie’s linkspams, but more comprehensive, I’m guessing? That would be useful to people just joining the conversation and who’d like to get the lay of the land, but I don’t think most folks would be willing to wade through that much material. So, I’d be happy to see something like that, it’s just I’m worried it would face the same fate of being largely ignored.

      • cinderace

        Yeah, my thought is for a website that’s basically a giant archive of linkspams. if we could categorize them as narrowly as possible (e.g., within the category “sex-repulsion” have sub-categories like “living as a sex-repulsed person” and “experiences of sex-repulsion”), maybe that would help make it more accessible? Some people might always be put off by all those links in one place, but I think others (such as myself, and Ace in Translation based on their comment below) would find it really helpful. There could be an option to sort by date if you wanted to just see the more recent stuff. And a site like that could even be combined with a regular roundup of recent discussions by publishing posts once a week listing new content that was produced that week, since someone would already be on the lookout for new posts to add to the archive.

    • Sciatrix

      I want to say this was the purpose of the Asexuality Archive, but I believe that as it’s gone on redbeardace has shifted to focusing much more on original content. Nevertheless, it might be something to look at.

      With respect to linking to tumblr, the big problem there is that tumblr people change their goddamn handles or delete their blogs, so tumblr is really prone to linkrot. I don’t know how to really deal with that, though.

      • Coyote

        Linkrot! There’s a word for it!

        But yes, another good point, and super annoying.

      • cinderace

        When I came across the Asexuality Archive I thought it might be something like that, but as far as I can tell it’s all original content? And yeah, I am always running into dead Tumblr links (and a few on WordPress too), and there’s not much of a way to solve that…

      • Dawen

        Could you ask the Tumblr bloggers for permission to copy the material into something a little more permanent? That way it’s relatively safe from linkrot but still contains the original content.

        But then someone would have to stay on top of them all, to add on others’ comments and additions…

  • cinderace

    Also, I really like the first idea on your list, kind of a Tumblr version of the Asexual Agenda, and I think having a Carnival on this topic would be great too.

  • Silvermoon

    @cinderace: it seems like a really good idea to sort by subjects like that. I was just thinking, would it be linked or posted? Because people so often take things down or it disappears and then the knowledge is lost…

    In terms of cross-communication right now, I feel like either linking and/or quoting AA posts more often would help spread awareness? Although that only really works as well when the topic is relevant to you right now.

    • luvtheheaven

      As Coyote said above, “Me waving my arms around and saying ‘hey, listen to us!’ doesn’t seem to have worked well so far, since, on the whole, the tumblr bubbles are too insular to take much notice.”

      I think maybe, if more people said “Hey, listen to us” complete with actually quoting relevant sections, AND linking at the same time, maybe more people would start to realize just how much the Asexual Agenda bubble has to offer.

      I think what needs to happen is when the problem arises, and we notice it, we post a NEW post with the relevant tags (only tags on new posts end up showing up for anyone looking in that tag on tumblr – only the first 5 tags on a new post – reblogs that have tags added don’t ever “count”, and neither do later tags past #5.)

      Do this often. Encourage as many people as possible to do it. When someone does it, reply to them or at least “like” their post – make them feel appreciated for their effort in educating the tumblr ace community.

      As an example of what I’m taking about… if you see people engaging with the “Are aces queer” question on tumblr as if this discussion hasn’t happened for years already… make a new post, right then and there, tagged with pretty much all the same tags as the offending posts, and say “The Are aces queer discussion has happened for years in multiple places. Here is a linkspam (including many Asexual Agenda/Wordpress community links, maybe some links to specific threads on AVEN forums if you know about them or even Reddit or some other place… if we know about the place we can link it).”

      “And I highly recommend you read from here. Here are some short quotes from each link that I deem most relevant and as a tease that might get you to actually click.”

      I just feel like that could be a slightly more effective method of waving ones arms and saying “please listen to us”. If as many people who are on both wordpress and tumblr did this whenever they saw the problem arise on tumblr, that’d be great.

      Bonus if they also reblogged the offending original post(s) with a link to your now new post, asking people to read your reply and summarizing that this is a compilation of other discussions on the topic that have already taken place.

      • luvtheheaven

        And double bonus points if you specifically ask the tumblr bloggers who were ignorant before of the discussions to please reblog, for the sake of their followers, your new linkspam thing. It could even be one of Queenie’s Linkspams that you’re asking them to reblog. Just… if it’s an ace advice blog or an otherwise devoted to asexuality blog that some people might follow on tumblr rather than tracking any specific tag… then it’d be nice if we could get as many of them as possible to reblog the relevant posts from people who are trying to keep everyone else aware of all of the old stuff that’s already been said.

      • Coyote

        “If as many people who are on both wordpress and tumblr did this whenever they saw the problem arise on tumblr, that’d be great.”

        It would be. It’d be a lot of work, but yeah.

        I’d do it myself it I weren’t so averse to making a tumblog.

    • cinderace

      Dead links is a hard issue to deal with; reposting instead of linking would help with that, but you’d have to get the author’s permission which would make it a much more time-consuming process, and you’d lose the discussions in the reblogs/comments…

  • Elizabeth

    I totally share your frustrations, especially with tumblr. I pretty much only follow 2-4 tumblr blogs, and hear about the notable posts from AA people linking things. It’s not a format that’s very friendly to me because of my PTSD—although admittedly, even if it was okay on that front, it still wouldn’t really appeal to me. It’s too social-media/marketing-oriented* for me, and not designed to encourage streamlined discussions. There’s some fragmentation in the WP group, for sure, but at least we’ve always had the benefit of having real comment sections by default (bloggers who turn them off excluded, of course). The discussions that happen on tumblr are hyper-fragmented and extremely difficult to follow due to that lack. Sometimes I try to piece together what people have been talking about over there. It usually doesn’t work, because the conversations are not tied together in any way that persists over time and is obvious to someone who isn’t on tumblr and following a specific tag at a particular time.

    I dunno. Maybe I should make an account just to read what’s going on, although I doubt that would be good for my mental health.

    The problem is… I think people like having bubbles, because what’s outside the bubble is sometimes just a lot of harassment. Or harsh critiques, which many people actively avoid even when they’re reasonable. So I can’t see people just straight-up leaving their bubbles—especially because it’s often inconvenient or impossible to really know that some other discussion exists, so practically speaking, where would they go? But they may be willing to incorporate another perspective that exposes them to things outside of their bubble, which is why I like your idea about creating a mini news network the best. That could be tough to keep up long-term if you’re the only one running it, but if you have several people helping you collect links, it could be a workable… maybe not solution exactly, but more like a salve?

    You can’t guarantee that people will listen, but at least if you make it more convenient for them to find the discussions, then their ignorance will seem much more inexcusable.

    I’d like to have both more bubbles, and more connections between them. More safe places outside of tumblr are really necessary… but they take A LOT of effort to create, and we can’t expect most people to just leave tumblr. However, I think there are some people there who would prefer to be somewhere else, but there aren’t really any other options that rival the strength of the ace social networks that exist on tumblr. So if there was somewhere else for them to go they might leave—or exist in both places at once—but the challenge is making that happen.

    * I mean marketing-oriented from the perspective of the site’s designers, not the users—although I have seen a lot of writers (of books) who specifically only joined tumblr as a place to market themselves and gain readers.

    • luvtheheaven

      Elizabeth, I think you make a ton of great points.

    • Coyote

      “The problem is… I think people like having bubbles, because what’s outside the bubble is sometimes just a lot of harassment. Or harsh critiques, which many people actively avoid even when they’re reasonable.”

      Mm, true. I wouldn’t want it to get as adversarial as that. But when people are speaking with a voice of authority and serving as a resource, I think they have an obligation to be as well-informed as they can, and by all appearances that would require more feedback and cross-bubble dialogue than currently exists.

      Also lots more nodding to the rest of what you said.

      • Elizabeth

        Oh, absolutely. The people spreading bad advice totally deserve any harsh critiques they get. In their case, I think they need to shush and listen—not actively avoid it as some of them do.

        In the case of those not speaking with any particular authority though… It’s more a fear of harassment that is sometimes justified and reinforced that keeps them in their bubbles. Lack of good moderation in comments/forum discussions can keep people from engaging, because they just don’t want to deal with a troll-filled environment. Even when the trolls are actually not that common, a few bad experiences can create the perception that they are.

        This whole discussion is reminding me of one I had with David Jay last month on community-building. He had some very good advice. The major relevant point is that collaborating is the key to getting things off the ground. So if you eventually decide to do a big project, network as much as you can, and don’t try to do it all alone. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed.

  • maralaurey

    I think setting up a sort of news-type Tumblr would definitely be worth doing to create a bit of a bridge between Tumblr and WordPress. I know myself that I’m unlikely to click through to a WordPress blog from a link I see on Tumblr (when it’s just a link, not a link embedded in discussion) because I don’t know how worth my while it’s actually going to be to read, but having one blog that shared posts that you could trust to be interesting would be good.

    I don’t know that the ace-themed Tumblrs are the main problem, though. Maybe I’m biased from running one myself, but I’ve always felt that the advice blogs were more of a problem. I follow a lot of advice blogs from when I was new to the community and because I get some asks myself and don’t want to go wrong on what I say, but so often I see terrible responses that make me cringe. There’s a lot of telling people how to identify, of not unpacking things that really seem like they need unpacking so that the person understands, and (most importantly to me) answers that suggest that certain things are clear truths of life when I’ve never seen anyone else talk about them. I don’t know what happened with the ace advice network (as far as I could tell it just somehow never got off the ground?) so I don’t know what could be done with that, but something does definitely need to be done. Tumblr is so fragmented even on its own that it’s hard to find a way to work with all of the advice blogs, but there are maybe five or so that would probably be worth contacting because they post the most/the most publicly, and then the information could hopefully trickle down to the smaller blogs. If a network isn’t possible, I think it would at least be worth asking them to add contact forms to their blogs that would allow followers to share their complaints more easily.

    @silvermoon, I think that might be how I found AA, actually! It’s definitely worth doing.

    • Coyote

      “I know myself that I’m unlikely to click through to a WordPress blog from a link I see on Tumblr (when it’s just a link, not a link embedded in discussion) because I don’t know how worth my while it’s actually going to be to read,”

      Oh, true. I’m the same way. Makes it understandable why those links aren’t clicked more often.

      “There’s a lot of telling people how to identify, of not unpacking things that really seem like they need unpacking so that the person understands, and (most importantly to me) answers that suggest that certain things are clear truths of life when I’ve never seen anyone else talk about them.”

      Yeah, tell me about it.

      “as far as I could tell it just somehow never got off the ground?”

      I believe that’s the case, yeah.

      “If a network isn’t possible, I think it would at least be worth asking them to add contact forms to their blogs that would allow followers to share their complaints more easily.”

      And recommend they follow the news blog to stay up-to-date?

  • Siggy

    The Asexual Agenda could probably figure out a way to crosspost everything onto a tumblr…

    I don’t really want The Asexual Agenda to adopt a paternalistic attitude (or whatever the ungendered version of that is) with respect to other ace communities. I mean, I like when we get more readers, and I think our writers write some great stuff, but it’s not like we’re the only solution to all the problems. I hope people can come up with answers on their own too, even if they didn’t read that particular essay from last July.

    I mean, AVEN hasn’t collapsed yet, despite being fairly isolated. I think the up and coming community these days is actually Facebook, and isolation is practically their operating principle.

    I’m used to read the atheist blogging community, and I really don’t any particular expectation that there *should* be much cross-pollination. I’m used to entire factions of blogs contemptuously ignoring each other. I’m used to dramas burning across the blogs for months, and then finding other groups which have never heard of the issue and don’t particularly care. I think I’ll survive even if not every single person reads our blog.

    • luvtheheaven

      I think you make a good point about The Asexual Agenda not being the be-all, end-all, and how it shouldn’t be.

      And you’re right, there is more and more happening on Facebook that I’m completely unaware of.

      I have a feeling in-person meet-ups are quite insular, usually, too. Discussions often happen without documentation, and without any other people being able to share in any insights or add their input…

      • Silvermoon

        I had no idea that there was a community on facebook.

        I recently joined a Queer community at Uni offline and they only just recently formed an ace meet-up, so at this stage, because everyone knows different things, it’s a lot of personal experience and re-hashing…

    • Coyote

      “The Asexual Agenda could probably figure out a way to crosspost everything onto a tumblr…”

      That would be appreciated! There are some differences I had in mind, though. AA usually includes links to articles from outside the community (like those journalist “hey look, asexual people are a thing!” pieces) and that makes sense, but I was thinking something much more oriented toward just whatever aces have been talking about that week.

      “I don’t really want The Asexual Agenda to adopt a paternalistic attitude (or whatever the ungendered version of that is) with respect to other ace communities. I mean, I like when we get more readers, and I think our writers write some great stuff, but it’s not like we’re the only solution to all the problems.”

      Right, right. What I mean is, I want there to be more interaction between bubbles — say, for example, if I take issue with how an ace tumblog handles something, instead of stewing in my irritation and shouting into the void as per usual, hypothetically we could actually get in contact with each other about it and hey, maybe it’d turn out that I was wrong, but that dialogue (and the facilitation of it) has to take place before I can realize, you know?

      I mean, sure, I can send an ask message, but that system is super clunky and not a great way to reply to specific posts and engage in a back-and-forth discussion that I think would be beneficial. Terminisitc screens and all that.

      I would be happier to just stick to WordPress and ignore Tumblr if that weren’t… such an infeasible way to engage with a sizeable chunk of the community I’m interested in.

      • Siggy

        If the tumblr were to cover current ace discussions, and not simply repost material from AA, then in principle there’s no reason that we’d have to be the ones doing it. Anyone can do it just as easily as we can.

        That reminds me of another idea I had, which was a tumblr which simply reblogged everything in the asexuality tag minus the trolls. It would have solved a lot of problems in 2011, but nobody did it, so there you go.

        • Coyote

          Oh, er, what I mean is mimicking the AA weekly linkspam format — and no, of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to fall to anyone in particular.

          I just want it to happen without having to do it myself, honestly.

      • Silvermoon

        I think the other thing about cross-posting to consider is, longer articles seem to suit Tumblr less- so quoting relevant passages is probably a better way to go.

    • Sciatrix

      We could do this very easily, but I would be very sad to see the discussion in our comment sections get lost in Tumblr. When I post, I always cross-post a linked quote of my posts to Tumblr–and ONLY a linked quote–because I want to direct traffic to the wordpress version. I find that’s better for discussion than allowing people to comment primarily during reblogs without moving to a place with a centralized comment section first. I feel that crossposting all our content in full to tumblr would result in LESS community around the Agenda itself, not more.

      • Siggy

        Sciatrix, do you know if there’s a way to automatically cross-post only the linkspams?

        • Sciatrix

          It looks like this is possible if I install a free WordPress plugin and the WordPress programming suite. Give me some time to tinker with it. (Do we own asexualagenda.tumblr.com, by the way? If we do, I’ll eventually need the login information.) It might turn out that whoever runs the linkspams has to have this program installed for the plugin to work, but it also might not.

          • Sciatrix

            Scratch that–this IS possible, but will take significantly more work than I had anticipated (Basically, we need to have WordPress installed on a mySQL server and then we can tweak it from there with plugins like the one I found, but I don’t currently have one set up. I can work on that, but it’s going to take some doing. On the upside, once I do that we can really customize the site if we want to.)

          • Coyote

            Wow, that sounds like a lot more work than I would’ve thought. What about just making it a practice going forward?

          • Siggy

            We might as well continue this discussion in private.

          • Sciatrix

            Yeah, Siggy and I are having an admin discussion about automating this via email. :)

  • Ace in Translation

    Perhaps that’s not how you want to steer this conversation, but Tumblr as a platform really has it’s problems, and as most of the ace bubbles you identified are on this platform… that’s an issue.
    – When it comes to discourse, it’s so difficult to find stuff. When looking for relevant discussions, I find more Tumblr conversations through google than through searching on the website itself, but that also means I’m missing out on all the blogs which have turned off the option that google finds them.
    A Tumblr/other kind of blog or website which made relevant discussions and resources searchable and findable by topic would be really great. When I started exploring the Ace-ternet, I remember just endlessly going through google results, clicking on blogrolls, links in blogposts and usernames to get an idea of where the discussions that I wanted to read were. That’s only done by the obsessive (like me). For searchability – apart from google (which is tedious and incomplete), we’ve got the occasional fabulous linkspam from Queenie (and you’d have to know that she has these fab linkspams), the Asexual Agenda, and initiatives like the race and asexuality resource list which is a google document. It’s too scattered to be easily accessible for people who are new to the community and/or the discussions.

    – I really don’t think the ace advice blogs are a good format. There’s no control or quality check and there’s one person (or a couple) in a self-appointed god-like position and they’re supposed to know it all. Not only a big responsibility, but also a lot of pressure. Not that my disapproving look is going to make the lower quality blogs go away. But yeah, I agree with you that the Ace Advice Network was a great initiative to tackle these problems, and it’s a shame it’s not really active anymore.

    Funny that you mention AVEN, I checked it this week and I noticed that there’s an awful lot of posts on sex-repulsed aces: them not feeling welcome, them wanting a place to discuss things. Like??? we had that discussion half a year ago??? I’m too lazy to read through all the topics, but there doesn’t seem to be much working with / building on any discussions that happened on Tumblr/Wordpress, except for one link to Queenie’s post on AA (without, as far as I can tell, any engaging with its contents). Cycle of internet life. Especially on AVEN. It seems to be less insular than it used to be – there seem to be at least some members who are aware of ace stuff happening off-AVEN -, but there are still plenty of members who seem to think that AVEN is all there is, or is the only place with relevant discussions. (me? frustrated with that attitude? No, never! /sarcasm

    • Coyote

      “Perhaps that’s not how you want to steer this conversation, but Tumblr as a platform really has it’s problems, and as most of the ace bubbles you identified are on this platform… that’s an issue.”

      I don’t really understand why people stick with it besides the fact that so many other people are on there. Self-perpetuating cycle?

      “A Tumblr/other kind of blog or website which made relevant discussions and resources searchable and findable by topic would be really great.”

      A Great Library of Queeniespams, eh?

      But yes, I get what all you’re saying here, and I largely agree.

      • Ace in Translation

        oh what I wouldn’t do for a Great Library of Queeniespams! It seems like quite a few people in these comments would like something like that. Though I agree with Elizabeth: maintaining such an archive is time consuming. One can dream, though, one can dream!

        • Silvermoon

          Tbh once I graduate in April I have like 9 months off before studying again and I would totally be down with working on that with someone (recently I’ve really wanted to get more involved in the ace community but like I don’t really have much to say?? I don’t think of half the stuff you guys think of. So that’s a thing I could do, you know?)

          • Ace in Translation

            That would be AWESOME! Getting involved with the ace community is all about finding something that you feel like doing. So if this is something that you want to do, go for it!

            I’m more than happy to turn over my stash of links. I have plenty of unassorted stuff, but I actively collect about two topics: ace history (I feel confident that this one is relatively complete) and blog posts / general chatter in other languages (who wants a blog post about asexuality in Indonesian? Who wants newscoverage in Senegal? I found it!). I’m sure that other people also have personal stashes.

          • Silvermoon

            @Ace in Translation: that sounds cool. Although I don’t think I’d like go do it alone haha, it’s just too big. Also, with other languages, I’d need help organising them…

          • Coyote

            Awesome! Maybe we could work on that together. My email should be listed on the Askbox page.

          • cinderace

            I’m so excited that something like this might actually happen. :)

  • Siggy

    As for getting people to leave tumblr, I really think it would help to have an appropriate rss reader. A major part of the appeal of tumblr is that it has a ready to go news feed, and nobody needs to fiddle around with rss (RSS? what does that even stand for?). But in principle, rss feed is superior to the tumblr news feed, because it’s more customizable, and you can actually subscribe to blogs that aren’t on tumblr. You can also subscribe to webcomics. People like webcomics, right?

    So what you’d need to do is to scout the rss apps, find one that’s palatable to people accustomed to tumblr. And then make a sales pitch. Make it over and over and over.

  • Arf of Demi Gray

    I was actually thinking of closing the Ace Advice Network because it is not serving the purpose it was founded for—to solve the problem of advice blogs holding each other accountable for giving proper advice. In order for it to work, people would need to open up a public or private discussion any time they saw an advice blog saying something questionable but I’m not sure that idea really took off. It drives me nuts when I see advice blogs identity policing, for example, but I don’t want to be continually calling people out.

    • Coyote

      Oops, looks like I forgot to reply to this.

      According to that system, all advice blogs would have to be following each other, right? That does sound overwhelming enough to be dissuasive.

  • epochryphal

    I use tumblr mostly for its culture? The memes, man. The memes.

    I am super irritated by how lost my posts get and how entitled people are to “commenting” on them like it’s a public space that’s not intrusive. But Xkit moderates a lot of those factors. And I tag pretty well so I can usually find my stuff (and tbh I doubt WordPress or elsewhere would be different).

    It also strikes this funny medium balance for me, of feeling like I can say Important Things and reach people, then hastily bury myself in anime gifs and avoid too much scrutiny. Be a whole person all in one place, engaged with my environment consolidated into my blog (unlike the comments I leave elsewhere on WordPress).

    It’s a lot less pressure to tumbl, the activation energy is lower, it feels broader in purpose.

    I think cinderace hit it: it’s much easier to keep up with a slow steady stream of content, rather than archive binge. What even is the solution to that? On tumblr we revive dead posts and reblog them; I guess there’s relinking to things? Could there be a “hey, you signed up, here’s a link a day starting from the beginning of our ordered recommended reading” thingy…how even. Ugh.

    • embodiedinlanguage

      I definitely agree about the lower-pressure environment–although, on the other hand, Tumblr call-out culture can add an element of stress with the worry that you might accidentally screw up and Never Ever Be Forgiven.

      The other reason I’m really attached to Tumblr is the cross-community interaction. It may be its own little bubble in a way, but there’s a lot of great cross-pollination within that bubble. I can’t seem to find much of a bi or nonbinary WordPress-based community at all, let alone ones that interact so freely with the ace community.

      • Coyote

        Funny thing about that — I see a lot of aces comment on the crap they deal with from non-ace tumblr users reblogging with derailing comments/sending anon hate/being otherwise demeaning and how sometimes they’re too tired to deal with it all… meanwhile, here on WordPress, esp. in general beyond the ace sphere, there are times when I’ve gotten the impression it’s practically a taboo to say anything critical or leave negative comments. It’s downright eerie, not to mention a bad fit for me since I’m the kind of person with an almost boundless energy reserve when it comes to fights.

        It seems like we ought to switch places, sometimes, but I would hate to give up my comment section.

    • Elizabeth

      Being a whole person in one place—yes, that’s exactly what I think tumblr offers over WP. It’s why I used to use LiveJournal, and why I think tumblr has mortally wounded the already weakened LJ, which is now dying a slow death from bleeding users to tumblr. That broadness can’t be replicated elsewhere, and I don’t think we should expect it to be, at least not until some other major social blogging site gets released. It will take many years for that to happen.

      And yeah, there’s definitely more pressure for original content on WP, and it’s historically been so hard to track your posted comments that I forget where to look, although that’s gotten way better recently. And it can be more open to google searches and random trolls sometimes. But its narrow focus helps with keeping your posts from getting lost in a sea of reblogs, so there’s that. I think we should expect WP and tumblr to be different, and just use them for what they’re good at. WP can more easily power a professional-looking website—people have been using it for that purpose for years, so it’s well-developed. Tumblr is more like social media.

      Things getting lost in archives forever are a problem on both platforms, and I think the only way to solve it is for people to dedicate time to summarizing conversations and linking to them—just like the posts on what happened in 2011. Keeping a bunch of links to these conversation summaries in a handy, well-organized place would be the best way to keep them from being lost. That means probably a master page for linking to all those summaries. But it’d have to be well-organized and frequently updated, and who has that kind of time? I know I don’t, and one person can’t be everywhere at once anyway. So I think the only way to keep that up long-term would be a sustained group effort.

    • Coyote

      Makes sense, makes sense. And… yeah, archive binges have a niche appeal, you could say. Although I do like the “link a day” idea.

  • Arrela

    WordPress is scary, though. You need to be really smart and have worthwile things to say that other people are not already saying and also be a good writer to be on WordPress. If you are writing a WordPress post about something then you are kind of saying that you are an authority on that thing, or you are expected to be. While I can just tumbl away about my day-to-day life and reblog funny and pretty and smart things without having to be a haver-of-knowledge. Even just commenting on a non-tumblr blog is scary. Everything is so serious here, so well thought out, and so open to scrutiny. I can tumbl in my own little corner for my own amusement without anyone noticing me, that is not how you use WordPress. And, okay, apparently RSS is the answer here, but. 1) Didn’t that already die like five years ago? 2) How on earth does one use it? 3) It just seems so boring and complicated and serious and non-intuitive and something you actually has to put effort into 4) How do you communicate with people? 5) It doesn’t seem like it would be possible to form little safe friend bubbles where saying things is not terrifying.

    So, while I agree that Tumblr advice blogs are terrible and that Tumblr in itself is a little annoying and that the online ace discourse is weirdly disjoint, I am probably going to stay a tumblrite who tries to remember to check a handful of WordPress blogs every other day.

    • Coyote

      “WordPress is scary, though. You need to be really smart and have worthwile things to say that other people are not already saying and also be a good writer to be on WordPress. If you are writing a WordPress post about something then you are kind of saying that you are an authority on that thing, or you are expected to be”

      …You do? I mean, maybe it’s associated with a certain writing style, but I wouldn’t say being original or authoritative is a requirement.

      “I can tumbl in my own little corner for my own amusement without anyone noticing me, that is not how you use WordPress.”

      Oh don’t worry, being ignored is a phenomenon that spans the whole internet.

      “And, okay, apparently RSS is the answer here, but. 1) Didn’t that already die like five years ago? 2) How on earth does one use it? 3) It just seems so boring and complicated and serious and non-intuitive and something you actually has to put effort into 4) How do you communicate with people? 5) It doesn’t seem like it would be possible to form little safe friend bubbles where saying things is not terrifying.”

      1) In popularity, pretty much, although there are people who still use it. 2) Working on that one. At the moment, it looks like you make an account on a reader site (ex. feedly) and input the urls of the stuff you want to follow. More details to come later. 3) Heh. Well, they certainly don’t have the best marketing. 4) That’s another thing I was wondering about. I don’t think it’s something you can make posts/comments on. It’s more of an alternative dashboard. 5) Well, I suppose the only real safe friend bubbles are group im and skype chats and the like. But at the moment I’m not sure RSS feeds can be used for replying to things.

      “I am probably going to stay a tumblrite who tries to remember to check a handful of WordPress blogs every other day.”

      And that’s fine! That’s all I’d wish for, really — more people like you who keep a little more than tumblr on their radar.

      Thank you for commenting. :) I hope it wasn’t too scary.

    • Elizabeth

      “WordPress is scary, though. You need to be really smart and have worthwile things to say that other people are not already saying and also be a good writer to be on WordPress. If you are writing a WordPress post about something then you are kind of saying that you are an authority on that thing, or you are expected to be.”

      Aww, this makes me so sad.

      It’s kind of odd, from my perspective… because I was really not an authority on anything when I started blogging on WP. I was some random person ranting on the internet. Most of us were. And are. The authoritative tone I have now comes from blogging for a long time, not from being super special or anything. And let me tell you a secret: I really don’t think I’m good enough either, even after all this time. I just do it anyway.

      I think there’s a difference in perception between tumblr and WP due to the way posts are or aren’t publicized. On tumblr, anyone can see what you’ve written from how you’ve tagged it. But on WordPress, it takes a long time for anyone to notice your blog actually exists. Things move slower. You kinda have to go do all the networking yourself by commenting on and responding to other bloggers. A lot of people give up before they truly gain momentum. So the Super Awesome Serious Bloggers that you see? We’re just the ones who didn’t stop ranting on the internet, even while we were being ignored. You don’t see all the ones who don’t get any scrutiny because they’re still new.

      You don’t need to be authoritative to be on WordPress. You can write about your personal experiences and perspectives on things, without saying you are an expert. But you know what? When it comes to your own perspective, you ARE an expert!

      I totally get the anxiety—I have it too. But if you want to? You can do it.

      • Sciatrix

        Yes, everything about this is accurate. WordPress is a free platform, not an Award of Writing Quality. And jesus, I have no more authority on this front than any other opinionated loudmouth ace. I just… find myself incapable of saying things as they occur to me.

        • Silvermoon

          I totally get where Arrela is coming from though? The people on AA etc have a fluency of writing that makes them seem much more of an authority on the subject. Also, it seems like a lot of these bloggers have degrees etc that aid in their discussions and understandings, which gives the impression of them being ‘The Intellectuals’. Whereas I have never studied any form of social sciences and therefore the only thing I can think to comment on is what directly affects me in day-to-day life (eg, how sick I am of the phrase “sex sells” from my teacher (in fashion design)).

          • Elizabeth

            That’s true, but you know why? Our writing benefits from fellow AA bloggers helping us revise. That’s it, really. It’s just revision that refines our writing. Even before I joined AA, it’s always been about revision—just re-reading, re-wording, thousands of times over. My partner often helps me find problem areas.

            I don’t actually have any degrees that give me authority. I studied a little social science, but I dropped out of those programs. I learned enough to use big words, but that’s it.

            I’d actually really love to see more analysis of asexuality and fashion design. I also have a fashion design background, but only self-study, so I don’t know anything about what classroom experiences are like. So please write about that! I’d be excited to read it.

          • Silvermoon

            I can’t seem to comment on your comment Elizabeth, so here:
            But even then there’s not much to say tbh? The only place that sexuality gets pushed really is marketing; when we have a specific class, or in our projects. And it depends on which of my design teachers that’s talking (guess what? It’s the male one that’s like that!) I guess the only other interesting observation is how everyone, at least once, uses feminism/female empowerment as their concept haha.

          • Elizabeth

            Yeah, looks like we’ve hit the end of the comment nesting.

            I can think of a ton of questions about asexuality and fashion design. Would you be interested in doing an interview about it to be featured on Asexual Agenda? We can set something up if so. My email is prismatic [dot] entanglements @ gmail.com.

    • Siggy

      WordPress doesn’t need to be ultra-serious, it’s more that people who want to be more serious find that Tumblr doesn’t serve their needs. So we have a lot of prominent examples of relatively serious WordPress blogs. But they don’t have to be that way. I read plenty of blogs outside the asexosphere which post memes quite liberally.

  • elainexe

    I agree with Arrela there. My impression of WordPress has been that’s where all the awesome serious bloggers go, and I’m just not good enough for that. So I keep to the comments.
    Also the RSS. I never tried to use it and didn’t see why I should when it seemed kinda hard.

    Me and all my offline friends use Tumblr, and we agree: it sucks. It offers two things: reblogging, and a huge population of users. Other than that, it took all that was good about forums and social networking sites and stripped it down to the bare bones. It’s so hard to communicate with others there. I just want to comment, not reblog the post with my comments to make everyone look at my conversation. So I just don’t comment. Tumblr severely inhibits conversation for me, but I feel like there’s nothing to do for it until the next big thing comes along.

    • Coyote

      Man, I didn’t know we were seen as so serious. Is it the lack of memes? It’s the lack of memes, isn’t it.

      Also, I think WordPress has a higher average age among its userbase, probably.

      But anyway, don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m sure you’re plenty good enough. ;)

  • Amp

    I agree that tumblr has lots and lots of problems and is most definitely not ideal, but I think it has some benefits for asexuality awareness/visibility. The reblogging feature combined with the plentitude of personal/multi-theme blogs means that I might follow someone because I know them offline, or because they post non-ace-related content I am interested in, or for any other reason, and then they might reblog something ace-related and it shows up on my dashboard. I could be following only allosexual people for reasons that have nothing to do with asexuality, and still see ace-related content created by ace people. (Although, I’m not sure how often allosexual people reblog ace-themed posts, but it does happen sometimes, generally other MOGAI people who want to help with awareness.) As far as I know, outside of tumblr, there are not (m)any places online where ace-related content will show up for someone without them seeking it out or following/subscribing to the creator of the content. I think this is important for addressing the phenomenon of feeling ‘broken’/’Oh, there’s a word for it? It’s not just me?’ that seems to be common for ace people. It’s hard to seek out a word or community for something that is inherently difficult/impossible to describe when you don’t even know the concept exists at all. It is also important for spreading awareness to allosexual people, who probably won’t seek out ace-themed content or subscribe to the ace-themed blogs (on and off tumblr), but will see the ace-related posts that the personal/multi-theme blogs they follow reblog.

  • Silvermoon

    ^contrary to what elainexe said, I actually really like the way you can have a conversation on Tumblr and everyone sees both halves with equal emphasis. But what I use it for is different- it’s something I usually use to come to a personal understanding in a discussion that involves a small number of people.

    The other reason I use Tumblr despite its continual problems is a: I’m already set up there. I have a history of things I don’t want to lose there and b. I blog about Asexuality, but not primarily.

  • Fox

    I’ll admit to only having skimmed the (exceedingly long) comment section on this, so if anything I say has already been covered forgive me.

    The thing is, moving people out of ‘bubbles’ isn’t going to entirely fix the problems of repeating arguments. Newbies to the ace community are ALWAYS going to be turning up, and while some people will respond well to ‘we already had this discussion, read these ten articles to catch up’, others won’t. And it gives the idea that there are Proper Answers to things that need to be discussed only by the Proper Authorities and end up creating our own exclusive little bubble rather than fixing the problem, unless it’s done exceptionally well.

    Also, not everyone has the time/spoons/inclination to constantly be immersing themselves in ace community discourse. There was a long period of time last year when I was just completely overwhelmed by compulsory sexuality and even going onto ace blogosphere was too much because we’re -still talking about sex- just in a different way, and now work and life and stuff has been so hectic that I still don’t have the time to really sit down and read articles and there’s lots of stuff I want to say but that I’m currently unable to sit down and formulate. And so something like shifting people off tumblr isn’t really going to work because there will still be people who don’t constantly browse RSS feeds etc and miss parts of the discussion, and so we’re STILL going to be having the same conversations over and over again.

    One final thing – someone above me mentioned sex-repulsed aces still feeling really excluded on aven and being like ‘oh yeah we covered this already’ – well, clearly there’s still a problem there if they’re still feeling like that, we can’t just talk about something and go ‘but we covered this already’ if people still feel like it affects them negatively, because clearly whatever we did didn’t work, y’know?

    So yeah, I know it’s frustrating, and I admire attempts to solve this, I’m just not sure if it’s a thing that CAN be solved.

    • Coyote

      “And it gives the idea that there are Proper Answers to things that need to be discussed only by the Proper Authorities and end up creating our own exclusive little bubble rather than fixing the problem,”

      Right, and that’s not what I’m going for. The “Proper Answers,” more like previous answers, wouldn’t necessarily be the end to the discussion. It could be more like, “hey, since we’re having this discussion on X, are you aware of the previous things that have been said about X?” and providing those links could help form a more solid jumping-off point, you know? And, uh, I’d like to see more prevention of things like this, where a person running an ace-themed blog (and thus claiming a kind of authority) gives the impression that no one has touched on the subject before.

      “Also, not everyone has the time/spoons/inclination to constantly be immersing themselves in ace community discourse.”

      Right, fair enough.

      “And so something like shifting people off tumblr isn’t really going to work”

      I apologize for making that flippant remark. It was inappropriate.

      I think the value of the RSS feed idea is that it might make it easier for some folks to keep up with other sources (such as WP blogs) the same way that they do with tumblr.

      “One final thing – someone above me mentioned sex-repulsed aces still feeling really excluded on aven and being like ‘oh yeah we covered this already’ – well, clearly there’s still a problem there if they’re still feeling like that, we can’t just talk about something and go ‘but we covered this already’ if people still feel like it affects them negatively, because clearly whatever we did didn’t work, y’know?”

      Yeah. And that’s definitely not something that’s been solved here. I think some of those people might benefit, though, from seeing the posts that have been written on the matter.

    • Tristifere

      As I am that someone who wrote that comment about sex-repulsed aces and AVEN, let me clarify. I didn’t mean that the thing was solved, or that they shouldn’t be talking about it. I’m sorry if I came across that way. I would never want to silence someone like that.
      I used it as an example to point out that people are discussing the same thing without being aware of relevant discussions and posts elsewhere on the internet. It frustrates me that people aren’t linking or delving into discussions which are relevant to them. It means that they’d have to reinvent the wheel, and not build on things that have been said before.

  • queenieofaces

    So I’m pretty late to this party, but some scattered thoughts:

    Several people have brought up my linkspams already; I’ve always intended them to serve as a “hey, here’s what people have already written about this topic so you can stop saying nobody’s ever talked about the topic before” kind of thing. (Alternatively, you can be a huge nerd like me and want to read ninety discussions of the same thing back to back and track how discourse has changed.) The linkspams are generally pretty popular and seem to be relatively successful at getting people to read stuff of off tumblr/older stuff/stuff they wouldn’t have read otherwise.

    I was actually joking with a friend a while back that I’m basically writing mini-syllabi whenever I create a linkspam, so I could pretty much run a course on asexuality if I really wanted to. I dunno if anyone would ever want to have a sort of “asexuality course” where each week is on a different topic with a different linkspam (and then you have to write a post or two by the end of the course? I don’t know, haven’t thought this through too much), but I’ve definitely tossed that idea around before. (Mostly when I’m like, “UNDERGRADS WILL NEVER APPRECIATE MY BEAUTIFUL BIBLIOGRAPHIES, BUT MAYBE ACES WILL. *sobs while compiling linkspams*”)

    I’ve been trying for YEARS to get ace advice blogs to PLEASE just link their followers to Resources for Ace Survivors or any sort of writing on asexuality and sexual violence if people ask questions about that, and it’s mostly been totally futile. A lot of ace advice blogs only want to generate original content and don’t want to, you know, actually link to or read things other people are writing. It’s really frustrating, but I don’t think it’s ever going to change; people are going to keep springing up and pretending to be the Ultimate Voice of Asexual Authority and being like, “Yes, if you have experienced sexual violence your asexuality card is irrevocably revoked” or whatever it is that they’re saying these days.

    • Coyote

      “I’ve been trying for YEARS to get ace advice blogs to PLEASE just link their followers to Resources for Ace Survivors or any sort of writing on asexuality and sexual violence if people ask questions about that, and it’s mostly been totally futile. A lot of ace advice blogs only want to generate original content and don’t want to, you know, actually link to or read things other people are writing.”

      Which has become this weird sort of subcommunity norm there… and I think, due to the existence of people like Arf who run ace-themed/ace advice blogs and are aware of bubbles beyond themselves and seem to care about these things, it’s possible push back with a new norm, or at least crystallize a splinter group with an explicit commitment to being better than that. Certainly people are always going to keep springing up and acting like theirs is the sole voice of authority, but I like to believe it’d be possible to create an environment that shuts them down quick rather than allowing that sort to gain traction.

      Or I’d like to try and find out, anyway.

      No high expectations, I promise.

      (I would totally take that asexuality course btw.)

      • queenieofaces

        Oh, yeah, there are a couple of good advice blogs that are hooked into the larger community discourse (Arf runs one) but for every one of those there are five others that aren’t. Sorry if I sound defeatist, but when I started running Resources for Ace Survivors, I was like, “Yeah, I can change the discourse on ace survivors! If people have things to read and resources to give, then they’ll stop being horrible!” And obviously that didn’t happen (and has gotten worse in some ways, but that’s another post) and I’m not expecting it to happen anytime soon, which is mostly saddening and exhausting. I worry because ace advice blogs are THE most likely to be on the front lines of welcoming newcomers to the community, so newbies often don’t realize that there is another option or better advice blogs or that the advice they’ve been given is actually pretty sketchy and not okay. And I can tell you that if my first interaction with the community had been some apparently authoritative blog being like, “Haha, no, you can’t be ace because we said so,” I wouldn’t be here right now.

        The other thing is that people keep saying that we should keep a closer eye on advice blogs and shut them down if they say awful stuff, but who’s going to do that? I don’t have the spoons to read just the asks on sexual violence let alone the whole blog. (There’re only so many times you can read variations on “Haha, no, you can’t be ace because we said so” before you burn out.) A lot of the other more hooked-in bloggers I know don’t have the time or interest to read the pretty overwhelming output from ace advice blogs. So unless there’s some dedicated soul who wants to spend a huge chunk of their free time reading ace advice asks, I’m really not sure where this environment of watchfulness will come from.

        Again, sorry if this sounds defeatist or pessimistic, but we had this conversation nine months ago and not much has changed since then. :I

        • Coyote

          “So unless there’s some dedicated soul who wants to spend a huge chunk of their free time reading ace advice asks,”

          I could do it.

          I’d like to get more of a plan together and make it something more than a lone-soul effort, but I could do it.

          I don’t always know the right things to say or what direction to follow, but I do have a deep well of energy to offer. More organization and backing are my main concern.

          I mean, I understand you trying to warn me, and I appreciate it. The cynicism is justified.

    • luvtheheaven

      I’d take that “asexuality course” too! Truly. :P

      And yeah it’s awful that people aren’t linking to that stuff in their advice. It’s really frustrating and upsetting. I like Coyote’s optimism and “let’s not completely give up” attitude, though!

  • elainexe

    Y’know, now that this topic has sat in my head for several days, it seems inevitable people are going to have their isolated bubbles. Asexuality is one thing out of near infinite things that we have in common…. Now that the community isn’t a tiny baby community, we’ll bring pockets of asexuality across the internet, in the same diverse places as non-asexual people.
    Is there such a thing as one wide asexual community? Or if we look even wider– if we make connections beyond our asexual bubble– has this discussion of discussion bubbles happened with other non-heterosexual orientations?
    Or differently I know this comes up constantly with Muslims. We’re always throwing it out there how we’re supposed to be one community across the whole world. And of course that’s sorta only a partially realized ideal….

    • Coyote

      To be clear, I’m not hoping for the dissolution of bubbles entirely.

    • Sciatrix

      I’m actually not sure that’s possible. And I mean… okay, I access the ace community through blogs, and that lets me get in contact with one set of people. And I access the ace community through an offline meetup, and that gets me in contact with a different but overlapping set of people. And I also access the ace community by talking with activists in other forums–like the listserv I’m on for offline meetup organizers or a couple of facebook groups–and those put me in contact with another overlapping but also different set of people.

      Not all of those people talk to each other. Actually, while all those bubbles have connections, I would say the majority of the people I know through the online meetup never talk to people in the blogs or read them. I would also say that the majority of those people (possibly none of them, actually) do not check in with the organizing online groups or read them. And of course, the online blogosphere is not sitting in on my offline meetup, and neither is the organizing group. And the organizing groups are composed of people who connect to online communities in a variety of ways, and their primary community is about as likely to be AVEN as it is to be Tumblr, with I suspect blogs being a distant third.

      I don’t think a perfect mixing, such that I can’t say with confidence that a person in group A is equally likely to know and communicate with a person in group B as they are with another person in group A, is ever going to happen. I’m kind of glad it doesn’t, because groups have the chance to shift and have conversations and change in particular ways over time and diverge from each other. Then people from one group meet people from another, and ideas meet in the middle with a bump! I personally find those bumps to be the kinds of things that really foster innovation and growth. But they don’t happen if the ace community is one big panmictic group.

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