So I’ve noticed some interesting things about Tumblr. I’m not a professional, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed it. Tumblr is very unlike most other websites I’ve been on, from the users to the site layout and mechanics.
Facebook has features allowing users to control who sees what on their pages. I can set my Facebook for anyone can view it, or only certain friends, even down to an individual post. It’s also got a feature where friends are always mutual. One must ask to be friends with someone, so it’s quite controlled by the user. The block features are fully functioning and reports and complaints are responded to timely and actually dealt with and investigated if needed. If there are big updates, they let users test them and tell them of the new updates a long time in advance.
Instagram also investigates reported posts so that they follow the user guidelines. They implement features that make the platform more accessible, or add things like filters and things for the photos. They let users know what new features are available and what they do. The private only following option protects younger users or users who have been bullied or have anxiety, et cetera.
Twitter is, I think, the most similar to Tumblr of the social media platforms I’m discussing, in terms of layout. A user followers other users and can view, like/favorite, and retweet things. It doesn’t allow for quite as much conversation as Tumblr, due to the character limit. Twitter’s blocking feature works. I don’t spend very much time on Twitter, so I can’t say much about the features or updates or how they handle complaints and reports.
Now Tumblr has an impressive userbase, and millenials, LGBTQ people, mentally and/or physically ill, and other minorities make up a loud majority (and I myself am one of these millennial mentally ill queer folks). The age of most users, 13 to 29, is when people are seeing what the real world is like, and feel what’s known as righteous indignation. It’s anger focused on inequality, injustice, and unfairness. Under a guided leadership, righteous indignation can lead to incredible things. Marches, protests, real change. It’s much more evident in real world situations how well it can work with good leaders. On Tumblr, there are no leaders. Everyone is essentially equal. Most people know how to deal with anger, but righteous indignation is different. It can’t be fixed, it can’t be dealt with, like anger, so people lash out at each other about it.
Most websites, if they were faced with such a userbase, would work on reeling them in, stopping them from attacking each other. Tumblr does not. It’s almost entirely user governed. The staff do not do very much for the users, hence the amount of gross blog on here. Hate blogs, neonazis, pedophiles, abusers, etc. Despite many users reporting these blogs, nothing happens, or rarely happens. There is no punishment or risk of being deleted like on most other websites.
In regards to features, I’m sure most users will agree that they are absolutely useless. The staff does not listen to user feedback and implements useless features or changes things that worked fine (tracked tags, anyone?) or removed working features that people like (replies) and they don’t fix broken features (audio posts not working, videos lagging and taking long times to load). The many, many jokes and passive aggressive posts about useless and unwelcome features and updates are more than evident of the staff’s apparently laziness in regard to user-friendly accessibility. Users have resorted to using an extension for their web browser (x-kit and/or new x-kit now) to make Tumblr accessible and usable.
To make up for staff’s lack of leadership and control, the users have taken to governing their own behavior, and that’s where behavior policing comes into play. Users determine what is right and wrong, often in a fairly skewed way with little to no guidance otherwise, and try to apply their own moral code to others. With so many different users from all over the world (with some ethnocentrism in regards to most users being from the Unites States) there are conflicts. Users become too afraid to be honest or to even ask about things (I’ve seen users lashed at for asking what a certain gender is and other things so easily handled with polite conversation and explanation). Bullying is rampant under the guise of “social justice” and with poor blocking features users are still exposed to nasty messages. Again, X-kit and blacklisting comes into play here; an external force that corrects where Tumblr has failed, allowing users to hide posts containing a certain word or phrase they do not want to see. They give users more control of what they see and how they interact and how the website functions for them. Users with X-kit, I’ve noticed, tend to be more peaceful in their blogging experience because they have control.
I’m not really sure why I spent the last hour typing this up. It’s just quite interesting to me how a website’s functions, features, and staff all affect the behavior and experience of the users.