Are you a member of a small, marginalized identity-based community of Tumblr bloggers, looking to advocate for yourselves, support each other, have meaningful discussions, build, and grow? Then Tumblr itself is standing in your way.
What I criticize in this post is the structure of Tumblr as a platform and what it does to the groups who settle there. Rest assured, it has nothing to do with particular “types of people” or identifying the “bad people,” although it does get into criticizing some bad types of habits, behaviors, and mindsets. The purpose of this post is simply to discuss how the structure of the website itself can undermine community.
On that note, my goal here is to say something different than the usual complaints. I won’t be covering all the usual glitches, inconveniences, jankiness, or even the myriad problems with the automated NSFW flagging and appeal process. A Tumblr user doesn’t need it pointed out to them that the site can be technically dysfunctional. What warrants an explanation, I figure, is how the site itself — with nothing inherent to the userbase — has also been socially detrimental.
[This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort.]
As many of you know, around the Tumblr “ask” messaging system has grown a culture of dedicated ask-advice blogs, typically inviting questions on specific identities and experiences, such as asexuality. Ideally, these blogs should be helpful places for soliciting advice and making contact with new communities. Unfortunately, however, these blogs face certain inherent problems that severely limit how useful they can be.
The biggest limitations lie in three structural elements of the format: 1) the single respondent, 2) the delayed posting of the initial message, and 3) the notifications all going to the person who answers, not the person who asks. In addition, there are also some psychological issues to account for. Popular advice bloggers, facing a deluge of advice-seekers, are especially prone to writing answers that are both 4) overconfident and 5) rushed, resulting in especially shallow, misleading, or even harmful advice. Aside from changing Tumblr’s features directly, one way to mitigate these issues would be by cultivating more of a culture of links.
[Note: This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort.]
This is a post about “visibility” as the name of (and approach toward) a type of primary community goal. While in the drafting stages, I had considered naming this post something more simple, like “on visibility” — but it occurred to me that a potential reader just might think this was simply yet another post on “why visibility is important,” and it is not. This post is not pro-visibility. This is a post inviting the reader to consider the potential for visibility to become a trap.
This post is for the July Carnival of Aces, on the theme of “then and now.”
In the past five years or so, my relationship to the ace community has changed, gradually. There’s a difference between saying that and saying that the ace community has changed, and I don’t think I’m in touch enough now (or have ever been) to confidently make a case like that… but, because there are so many bloggers I know who are burned out on ace discussions or dead sick of the usual unmerry-go-round, I also know I’m not alone in feeling tired, and drifting, and withdrawing, and sometimes, closing the blinds. But this isn’t a post about being jaded and frustrated with the state of things (as fair as those posts are). This is also a post about changing my online practices to better suit what I actually want out of ace blogging, and how that’s still a work in progress for me.