I was very impressed with the engagement and activity Tumblr has continued to have, and I hope that with this new ownership and investment the product will blossom.
At the point when we start this the Tumblr team will have been part of Automattic for the better part of a year if not more, so there will be a lot of learning and evolution of the products on both sides to make any migration easier.
I promise we'll write about it afterward for anyone who is curious.
I don't want to be so presumptuous as to define
an exact approach before the technical exploration
I am, of course, completely ignorant of how WP and Tumblr's infrastructure works. I'm not saying the migration would be a bad idea, technically or financially. Or good. Just honestly curious.
I promise we'll write about it afterward for
anyone who is curious.
1) You come up with a working (if expensive or otherwise imperfect) technical path
2) You define a half-dozen other potential (less expensive, more practical) paths
3) You announce the decision
4) You complete due diligence, and take the best path
There are other ways as well. Announcements and plans aren't binding; they occasionally change. You can make an announcement when you're 98% confident you'll do something. You can pivot if it doesn't work out. There are places this doesn't work (e.g. customer promises), but on something like an internal migration, this is a-okay.
The funny thing is, the incompetence of @staff is the value proposition for Tumblr, as a user - because Tumblr's backend is a rickety tower of matchsticks and paste and the devs couldn't program themselves out of a wet paper bag, it means that they haven't been able to implement - for instance - algorithmic non-chronological timeline ordering, or competent data harvesting / robomarketing. And the comically broken search tools actually give a reasonable approximation of privacy for discussions. The user experience is firmly stuck in the mid-2000s, when social sites were for communities and discussions instead of data farming.
Don't get me wrong, Tumblr's user experience is also awful - search sucks, tags suck, moderation EXTRA sucks, the website's still overrun by pornographic spambots even after the Great Titty Purge - but any development team competent enough to make real improvements would also be one competent enough to squeeze out what makes Tumblr work.
Find a way to get Verizon to sign off on this, and then get in touch with an established documentary maker. Pair them with an engineer and follow the story of the migration efforts. It will take time, and it'll certainly have a narrative.
Nothing like this has been done before. I struggle with making what I do relatable to people, but having a technical or semi-technical documentary following this large project would be eye-opening.
We'll even crowd fund this if you give us the chance. I'm not kidding.
Please, please, please make this migration a documentary film.
In Automattic, we basically evolved to remove all that :) There would be basically zoom calls and slack discussions.
The most ambitious project I worked on in Automattic were just me, looking at the code and trying to understand why something is happening.
Or looking up Stripe documentation.
We get to sit in front of our laptops in nice places though :)
We need discussions about how to untangle integrations of your user model with Verizon/Yahoo's auth system, how you'll consolidate all the microservices, which ongoing migrations you'll halt, the puzzled looks you'll have at undocumented code that performs nested eager-loaded lazy migrations of data, etc.
I've been involved in a multi-year migration effort. I expect this may be the same for y'all. It'd be fun to have an account of something that is so prolific and well known.
Currently I think Tumblr stores all posts across all sites in one big table? WP.com does different tables per site.
I also think Tumblr's post ids are often above php's int max for 32-bit systems ( 2,147,483,647 ) -- I know I've seen some issues trying to parse tumblr's post ids to integers rather than strings on some old servers years ago.
For an overview of how our systems are run here's Barry, our head sysadmin, talking about six years ago on how the wpcom infastructure is structured:
It's changed somewhat, but not much conceptually. It's a really fascinating talk and I'd encourage anyone curious on massive scale data to give it a look, and see precisely what can be managed with determination and mysql and coffee.
Thankfully nothing is 32-bit so no worries about integer overflows. That would cause huge headaches everywhere on the PHP side. In MySQL, a regular unsigned INT column does have that limitation (roughly max 4.5 billion for unsigned, 2.2 signed), so BIGINT must be used there (Twitter had to do the same). Where it gets interesting is PHP doesn't support unsigned integers, so with 64 bit your max integer in PHP is 9,223,372,036,854,775,807, whereas in MySQL an unsigned 64 bit int is double that. I think it's safe to say though that neither Tumblr nor WordPress, even combined, would ever have more posts than atoms on Earth =)
If my math is correct, you're a wee bit off.
9,223,372,036,854,775,807 is 2^63, which is roughly 10^19. The Avogadro constant, which is about 6 * 10^23, is the number of particles (atoms / molecules) in a mole of substance, which for atoms amounts to (atom number of element) grams of mass (so e.g. 12g of C12 is a mole).
I'm sure you have an interesting prospective based on your experience working at MySQL-friendly shops, in addition to being an engineer at Tumblr once upon a time.
Edit to avoid anyone misconstruing, I'm not trying to imply one thing or another, just that I can't approach this impartially. And in any case, I wish everyone well on both sides of this acquisition. I'm just genuinely curious how they plan to proceed from a technical standpoint, as it's a really interesting challenge.
This appears to be 6 years old. Is it still relevant?
Primarily the product backend is monolithic PHP (custom framework) + services in various languages + sharded MySQL + Memcached + Gearman. Lots of other technologies in use though too, but I'll defer to current employees if they want to answer.
Reality big data: Let's shard it across Mysql.
My answer above was limited to the product backend, i.e. technologies used in serving user requests in real-time. And even then I missed a bunch of large technologies in use there, especially around search and algorithmic ranking.
I honestly don't see the draw for Kafka. And by all means I get it, I just don't buy it. Maybe I'm just holding it wrong or something.
For high-volume OLTP though MySQL is an excellent choice.
Regarding Kafka: in many situations I agree. Personally I prefer Facebook's approach of just using the MySQL replication stream as the canonical sharded multi-region ordered event stream. But it depends a lot on the situation, i.e. a company's specific use-case, existing infrastructure and ecosystem in general.
Kafka is not going to replace MySQL specifically because it depends on the task at hand.
If you can't replace MySQL with Kafka, then why not just stick with whatever queue/jobs/stream infra you had before kafka. At least those solutions are quite limited in scope and easily replaceable.
At this point Kafka is a solution looking for a problem.
But there are relatively few situations where that's absolutely vital. And you can solve it with good ol' SQL.
I completely understand that “Adult Content” can cause a ton of headaches for a business but Tumblr’s current definition of “Adult Content” is very broad and I hope when the transaction is complete you’ll at least be open to reviewing the scope of the definition. Right now it includes many things that aren’t adult at all, like “female presenting nipples” which could be seen by children on many beaches in Europe and even on the streets of Boston and New York City. It also includes illustrations of genitalia or sex acts which can be found in biology textbooks and many magazines like Cosmo. The instruction leaflet that comes in a box of tampons wouldn’t currently be permitted on Tumblr. That doesn’t seem right to me nor does it seem like that sort of content would pose any risk to Tumblr’s operations.
I understand where you’re coming from with the adult content but I do also hope you’ll consider liberating the definition a bit. I actually think Tumblr is pretty well positioned to be the “next Instagram” for many young women today who would really appreciate a major social media platform recognizing that Kama Sutra illustrations or a photo of a woman’s nipple is no big deal, it’s just natural.
Nipples seems a pretty silly thing to start focusing on when he clearly said they weren't interested in adult content.
EDIT: Generally I'd say in Europe while women's breasts are sexualised, they're not considered sexually explicit. The US is exceptionally prudish in comparison and for well-known historical reasons, too.
If you re-read my comment you’ll see that my point of starting with nipples is precisely because they aren’t the adult content that Automattic is understandably interested in avoiding. Why are your nipples nbd while mine are adult content? That seems “pretty silly” if you ask me.
Also seen by young children when they, ya know, eat.
Rules aren't for moneyed interests, they are to ignore the masses, gatekeep more simply, “read the sign”
What you're essentially saying is 'Adult content is hard because the US government is willing to lean on payment providers to enforce quasi-legal, anti-free speech policies.'
Have you considered adopting a federated corporate structure that would legally firewall off a "tumblr-for-porn"?
Most of the goodwill bonfire seems to have been caused not by Tumblr treating adult content differently, but by not even putting up a fight to provide a space for it.
Having a mirror world Tumblr that adult blogs could be kicked to would earn a lot of that back, while presumably amortizing platform development and ops over a larger userbase.
Surrendering because free speech is hard is never a good look.
That is literally the convoluted situation photomatt was trying to avoid.
I also think that the suggestion is hilariously naive. Presumably the founder/head of the company has considered a variety of incorporation structures.
One would think, but apparently neither Yahoo nor Verizon made any effort in that direction.
To the tune of putting approx $1 billion through the corporate paper shredder.
Given that track record of handling, and an ostensibly similar approach, I thought it was a valid question.
Arguably, that happened June 20th, 2013, the day the Tumblr acquisition was closed.
Sorry for being so blunt but I couldn't agree less with. If you leave this to "big porno", you will get the same exploitive, generic bullshit you get anywhere else as well. It's a shame that nobody dares to touch that who isn't in the porn industry already.
That's exactly what Tumblr's ex-users don't want, however.
Those Tumblr users want a place to freely exchange what they like, whether that's cute cats or hardcore porn.
That's what made Tumblr so beautiful. I'm sad to see it (apparently permanently) go.
Then again something nice is coming out of it as well: The main competitor is now the non commercial, federated, ActivityPub based Fediverse, frequently referred to as Mastodon.
Buying a brand name and some domain relevant developers for that little is probably a good deal.
Talent, a brand, and eyeballs. Even if the ship can't be turned around in the end, presumably all the new hires are top notch.
I am curious to hear more about the: "...to be more of a Berkshire Hathaway-inspired model and businesses with a lot of autonomy". Could you share some details?
Thanks for building Wordpress. When I used to be a prolific blogger, it was my platform of choice.
even if it was, people have shown over and over that they prioritize convenience over privacy, and businesses simply aren't conscientious enough to try a different way.
People are extremely creative in how they use it, basically turning sites into stores or kickstarter-like campaigns with that little feature.
We are looking into extending this functionality.
Could you give us more information about this, since Pornhub once said they wanted to acquire Tumblr.
I mean personally I think if e.g. pornhub were to launch a product like that, they should make sure that it's not associated with PH or pornography directly. That creates a stigma - "oh, it's that porn blog" - which in my outsider's perspective was never Tumblr's identity.
This also raises other questions:
What is the difference between Pornhub and a pornographic Tumblr?
What is the essential demand behind the demand for a pornographic Tubmlr?
A very interesting phenomenon is that since Tumblr announced the ban on adult content, many bloggers have turned to Twitter instead of Pornhub.
Pornhub is like a swamp, content wise.
Porn = male gaze-y, intentionally and overtly about sexual gratification, less about exploration
A free-wheeling blog site = a place open to the exploration of a number of different aspects of identity, of which sexuality is one of them.
In short: If Pornhub were to create a tumblr clone, they'd inherently be enticing people to _produce porn_ rather than producing content which might happen to be somewhat pornographic. There's a huge mental barrier there for lots of people, even if they happen to enjoy viewing porn or producing sexually explicit imagery.
 Yes I know women watch porn, the default assumption of porn viewership is still a cis male audience
>Pornhub Premium launched in 2015, and now has more than 1 million signups. That's nearly the number of people who subscribe to the Showtime channel's streaming service.
>According to various reports, currently, the porn industry’s net worth is about $97 billion. This money is enough to feed at-least 4.8 billion people a day. Every year, Hollywood releases roughly 600 movies and makes $10 billion in profit. And how much porn industry makes? 13,000 films and close to $15 billion in profit. The porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, The NFL and The NBA combined.
Craigslist went through legal hell dealing with NSFW content because of puritanical US States Attorneys. See any remaining dating links on CL?
Matt doesn't need that either.
Yes, Kamala Harris in particular.
There are more open platforms. There are more popular platforms. There are more independent platforms. How is the new Tumblr going to improve on the existing options?
The future is not centralized. The future is distributed.
been hearing this promise for so long, it's becoming a meme like The Year of Desktop Linux
The dream of decentralized everything sounds wonderful, but there's an implicit assumption that most folks involved are good actors.
It quickly becomes untenable when corporate-backed or state-backed bad actors are introduced.
Here's a very simple thought exercise for anybody who disagrees. Imagine a modest social media team of perhaps 10 paid employees. That's 24,000 people-hours' worth of content generation per year... and it is perhaps multiplied by a factor of ten if they're sophisticated enough to put some work into tooling to automate their work. Russia alone reportedly had hundreds of people doing this sort of work, and surely they're not alone.
Now imagine 10,000 of those teams around the world. That's 240,000,000 people-hours of span and/or bad-faith social media posting. And that's probably an extremely conservative estimate.
How would a decentralized social network possibly combat this?
It's a life-or-death struggle even for a company with deep pockets (and huge cubical farms full of human content moderators) like Facebook to combat this sort of thing.
If one of the decentralized solutions ever reaches any sort of critical mass, it will have to confront this in a hurry, and it will not be able to.
It's arguably harder to do it on a decentralized platforms since they are... Well, decentralized. Those 240,000,000 people hours are then spread over all of the decentralized platforms instead of being focused on one or a few. Also, the cost of moderation is spread over everyone instead of a single entity having to pay for all of it.
The same analysis makes it untenable for centralized platforms, as you noticed yourself.
It is not easy, but it is most definitely tenable for centralized platforms with sufficient funding and motivation i.e. Facebook, Google, etc.
1. Many millions (billions, in Facebook's case) of users, some percentage of which are willing to click those "Report..." buttons
2. Their own farms of in-house workers
3. Their own bespoke tools and heuristics to identify trends and more easily identify malicious actors/content, for review by the human moderators. this would presumably incorporate reports from users.
It's arguably harder to do it on a decentralized platforms
How does a malicious social media team "attack" Facebook? For the most part, they produce content that winds up being spread virally. They don't spead the information around Facebook; the users do. This would function largely the same way in a decentralized network.
Keep in mind that today's decentralized networks are a bit like the Usenet was before "Eternal September."
In other words, these decentralized networks are currently populated primarily with relatively savvy users. Not perfect by any means, but on average, more savvy than your average FB or Twitter user who will eagerly share articles and links without even a cursory vetting. That will change in a hurry if any of these decentralized networks ever gains critical mainstream mass.
Or are you just trying to take this out of context because of a casual tone?
Good luck with it anyway - we need more independant platforms rather than a few mono-cultures.
The heydays of "blogging" was/is all BS.
To be specific, is adult content going to be kosher on Tumblr again? Because if not, I'd have very little faith in the platform (and I do have an account there).
>Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.”
If you're worried about cross-links between non-adult and adult content tarnishing the platform, add better features for user flagging.
They (before the Yahoo and Verizon cluster&#-1s) were essentially sitting on a gold mine of training data, and ongoing training data generation, for an industry-leading porn detection engine.
A subscription filtering product that would be worth $$$.
Throwing that away because of some overly prudish concept of brand identity is hilarious.
Tumblr had issues with jailbait and childporn. Even with a lot of moderation and policing, it was difficult to keep under control. As an interesting consequence, people who use scripts to rip entire blogs, may have underage selfies and other pics they're not even aware of. It's a strict liability crime in the US, so even having huge Tumblr dumps can be risky!
There were a lot of factors involved in the censorship, and it makes me thing the future of the open web needs to be more federated/distributed. Sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook need to lose relevance.
That's because they had crappy design:
* How does one report a post? Click the share button (I'm not clicking something labeled share on child porn).
* Can moderators delete posts and the comment chain that allows for coordination? Nope, just the images.
Doesn't matter how moderation one does if the tools aren't there.
Simply banning adult content en masse allows them to use heuristics to identify nudtiy and genitalia in images.
Previously, they would have had to make a judgment call on whether those depicted were of adult age. By banning all of it, they no longer have the responsibility to make that choice.
That wasn’t the case. They had the industry standard tools (PhotoDNA + partnership with NCMEC), but I can’t say how well they were being maintained at the time of the situation with Apple.
There was some great snark about Safari being next on the ban list.
The outrage comes when people stumble upon photos of minors in the early pubescent or even prepubescent stage of development intended to titillate. That is, content that is fairly consistently classed as child pornography, and no apparent action is undertaken to purge that content.
> […] as there's no real way to classify something so fuzzy with the requisite accuracy.
For the odd case where an account is uploading content that looks like it might involve a minor nearing adulthood, a platform privately and confidentially asking for proof of identity and age is reasonable enough. It's a fair solution for, to name just one example, the odd flat-chested twenty-something exhibitionist of Asian descent.
Very true, but there's a notable distinction: they can devote 100% of their expertise to moderating such nuances. It would be costly for a company such as tumbler (one which is not built around inappropriate material) to build out and maintain such expertise.
> The reason they won't is because they don't like to go against the grain of the currently advertiser-mandated vision of an exclusively family-friendly internet — where 'internet' here means the ad-supported part of it; i.e., all of the bigger commercial content silos.
Are you surprised this is the case? What brand wants to be associated with that sort of stuff?
> The outrage comes when people stumble upon photos of minors in the early pubescent or even prepubescent stage of development intended to titillate. That is, content that is fairly consistently classed as child pornography, and no apparent action is undertaken to purge that content.
There have been quite a few instances of prosecuting minors due to sending pictures of inappropriate content, taken by themselves: https://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2010/03/21/is-sexting-c...
> For the odd case where an account is uploading content that looks like it might involve a minor nearing adulthood, a platform privately and confidentially asking for proof of identity and age is reasonable enough. It's a fair solution for, to name just one example, the odd flat-chested twenty-something exhibitionist of Asian descent.
I'm sure there was a more polite way to phrase that. Regardless, much of the internet consists of downloading and re-uploading media. This would remain difficult.
I bet that those sites also hosts vast amounts of illegal material as well. The law isn't fully enforced because doing so would have so many people arrested that it would lead to invalidating the law.
As you said, the outrage doesn't really exists in those hard to tell cases, but the law isn't written to align with the outrage. So the content is largely ignored unless a specific case happens to get popular attention.
Overall the standards are about as sane as our standards around other similar topics, which is to say not at all.
Serving ads is hard when there's porn on the site.
What if there was a way to "ban" something by changing it's domain? What if there were two web apps with a linked backend? Let's say:
And has famously had issues monetizing itself.
I guess, because prudery.
It does not work that way. If some average person sees some brand advertised on WSJ and FT, and another competing brand on PornHub he will attach more 'premium' value to a first brand, and will pay more for owning product from this brand. It's only normal and a part of human nature.
People enjoy content from PornHub, but they want to be associated with something advertised on WSJ/FT/NYT/etc. People want to signal status, not just own a good stuff.
That doesn't explain the connection of "porn" with "less than premium". You call it "normal and part of human nature" but looks like totally cultural.
Historical prudery, and a past that associated looking at adult content with "low status", lesser citizens (and not what the "proper people do", does explain it.
(While we of course know that people of all statuses and walks of life look at porn, from the industrialist, to the bank executive, to the judge).
>People enjoy content from PornHub, but they want to be associated with something advertised on WSJ/FT/NYT/etc.
I'd understand it if we were talking about high status ads, yaugt ads, hi-fi ads, expensive clothes ads, and so on. But most people don't read or care for WSJ/FT/NYT -- that's a small minority. Most people read magazines just as popular/mass market as People, Reader's Digest, CNN, FOX, USA Today and the like, and advertisers have no issue advertising at those.
Brands don't want to be next to content that has that stigma.
People are biological animals first and humans at a distant second. It's short-sighted to so brazenly dismiss the long term effects of periodically associating a brand with the strong feelings that come with an orgasm.
Sorry, you are mostly wrong here.
Let me present you with example of an ad targeted to 50+ very rich audience. This is an ad directed by Cohen brothers ("Big Lebowski", "No Country For Old Men", etc) advertising Mercedes AMG Roadster and shown during SuperBowl -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxaJrtH2kg -- and pay attention to a punchline -- "still looking good". Pure signaling for an older folks.
This may sound illogical, but most people who buy "signaling" products (such as Mercedes AMG Roadster) are in +40 y.o. cohort. They got money to spend, unlike millenials who can only signal status while choosing craft beer on Friday evening.
Also, your guess about me living in my "pristine little bubble" was too personal, tbh, but I'm fine with that. No offense taken here.
These concepts are not mutually exclusive concepts:
- targeting a group of people that are 50+ years old
- for the people that actually buy the cars to be vain, young and dumb, and insecure.
> This may sound illogical, but most people who buy "signaling" products (such as Mercedes AMG Roadster) are in +40 y.o. cohort.
That's not illogical at all; that's mainly who I see in Porsche dealerships and nothing about that contradicts what I said. In that individual statement, I was merely commenting on the set of people who care about their things being associated with a porn advertisement, not the intersection of people who care about status to that extent and have money to signal their status.
> Also, your guess about me living in my "pristine little bubble" was too personal, tbh, but I'm fine with that. No offense taken here.
It was, I'm sorry about that and I've removed it; Frankly, I am frustrated and probably overly sensitive (to the point of false positives) to the trend I noticed in the Bay area where people who couldn't be bothered to leave their home/tech bubble and interact with people outside their comfort zone, remarking on how people the world over work. Their abstractions are incredibly wrong if you just go 50 miles outside the bay area.
Due to having family and their friends spread out over the world and due to having a remote job, I've seen and lived with people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds; the Bay rarely understands any of those people except those in their bubble and despite that, it's not uncommon for them to speak with authority on them; I find that audacity infuriating and is something I need to work on.
I don't know, I think signaling is OK, and I don't consider people why buy signaling products as "vain dumb and insecure". I just don't see that anything wrong with that. I mean, you made enough money to choose good, quality product, be that t-shirt, bike or even a car. Why not choose some premium brand with some signaling attached to that, instead of just buying generic nike t-shirt or toyota corolla car? If you like that Mercedes AMG Roadster because you think that it will make you more attractive to chicks (and btw it will, I guarantee) -- and you got money to spare, well, go for it! You made enough money to buy Porsche 911, why drive Honda Civic then?
I see people signaling with their choices wrt premium products, and I don't judge them at all.
>Frankly, I am frustrated with a common trend I noticed in the Bay area where people who couldn't be bothered to leave their home/tech bubble and interact with people outside their comfort zone
I've never visited USA in my life, and do not plan to, so your guess about me being SF resident living in SF bubble is wrong. :) I do work in ad-tech / advertising, though, so I learned something about how industry works. JIC, during my daily commute (I don't own a car and use public transit) I see more people who make $500/month than people who make $5000/month, so no bubble here. :)
I own a Porsche, I couldn't care less who they are advertising to so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Moreover, I've learned with anything that attracts that much attention, it's not signaling any kind of attention you would want. I get really annoying attention, on a daily basis. If it wasn't for the tears of joy that I get from driving it down twisties, I would sell it in a heartbeat.
From my perspective as someone in the 1% of my age group and was apart of the set of young and dumb, vain and insecure people, signaling with expensive items is childishly overrated; it's far more fruitful to signal with kindness, compassion and intellect; any trust fund baby can afford a porsche and be as vapid as anyone else.
This is, in fact, a billion dollar opportunity -- ads on porn sites are so abundant and so cheap, first person who will help sell more premium product by advertising it on porn sites will become a billionaire. Not happened yet, and most porn sites advertise, well, other porn sites. There might be a reason for that (and it's not a hidden cabal of puritans who run marketing departments of well-known brands being haters of porn. trust me, those folks will sell their souls to the devil for 10% uptick in sales).
In fact, as this generation of baby boomers dies off, I have a strong feeling porn will become far more normalized and have more prestigious non-porn brands associated with it, so long as more prestigious porn brands can rise up.
I mean current moves are more along the lines of dropping topless women from tabloids/Playboy ending nudity, Britain trying to age-limit porn, etc.
Also probably comes down to the basic technical difficulty of targeting ads on websites often browsed in private mode. Which will probably keep being the case for a lot of people, for practical reasons, regardless of how normalized porn might be.
Where an ad is seen can be just as (if not more) important to the advertiser as the ad itself. So, if your site serves up adult content -- you can guarantee that companies with large ad budgets won't be buying ad space.
If all brands allowed their ads to appear next to adult content, then it wouldn't be any special association for any particular brand, just another outlet.
So I guess it has more to do with the historical prudery of some countries, when an ad appearing next to adult content would trigger angry letters to the editor, editorials, and so on from "concerned citizens".
That said, advertisers didn't seem to have much issue advertising all kinds of stuff on Playboy back in the day, or FHM and the like today...
I guess it’s because Playboy and FHM are somehow considered tasteful and for connoisseurs?
Well yeah. Brands aren't going to put in the effort to solve a thorny collective action problem just to open up a bit more ad space. They're trying to make money, not repair broken social norms.
They are equally put off by pirated content, for example.
See this line from the FAQ on Automattic's ad service:
>> "The ads tend to be broad national campaigns, rather than targeted local or topical campaigns. We have found that the broad campaigns pay better. That said, visitors from countries outside the US and Europe will often see targeted local ads."
Companies like that have to think about sales everywhere, not just in places with progressive views on sex.
Maybe the critical difference is that if your account would have anything remotely adult at all, including text, or would repost anything from account that was flagged adult then your account would need to be flagged adult. And as a result a lot of accounts were adult flagged and a lot of users felt they had to log in and enable view-adult in order to not get left out. And then even if you have no particular interest in browsing the explicit content on tumblr you can't have many contacts before you start getting occasional reposts of it.
Regardless, being able to have a site which users can fully engage with without a steady stream of surprise crotch shots that they aren't interested in seems like a pretty reasonable goal. Banning the content outright seems like a really blunt way to get there, but maybe that was less damaging to the monetization strategy than making a lot of images click to load?
Still trying to find where all the people landed after the purge.
I'd rather have an internet full of dark and danger than a safe theme park moderated by corporate entities and governments.
 UK equivalent of somewhere between a motel and a hotel.
What seems at least as likely as "adult content is vital to the future of Tumblr" is that adult content has much more valence in an HN discussion thread, since people have opinions about adult content and not so many opinions about the overwhelming majority of Tumblr content that isn't suppressed. So it takes on an importance on HN that it doesn't have elsewhere, simply because of the fundamental dynamics of message boards ("controversy is always important").
Think of it this way: a pharmacy sells both prescription drugs and OTC drugs. You can buy OTC drugs from anywhere (e.g. a grocery store, a convenience store, etc.) but you can only get prescription drugs from a pharmacy, so people tend to buy their OTC drugs from pharmacies while they're there for prescription drugs. If your neighbourhood pharmacy decides to stop selling prescription drugs, would you still bother to go there for your OTC drugs? Or would you just buy your OTC drugs from whatever pharmacy you end up now having to go to for your prescription drugs?
Tumblr was always fun because you could get both. I could have a feed of all of my interests, not just those some group deemed acceptable. I’m sure there’s some who’s interests fall entirely within the venn diagram of “acceptable”, and for those, it’s still viable. But as you stated, many like both, and many of the creators I think (who are also consumers) had interests in both SFW and NSFW content.
I don’t have any data to back this up either. But I think – and it’s a very certain feeling – that more individuals are into, let’s say, deviant content, than is spoken publicly. And the tech community, which has always skewed the populations of these platforms as opposed to the population whole, influences this. To put it succinctly (and bluntly) as a friend once told me, “the venn diagram of “kink” and “geek” practically overlap.)
I visited Tumblr for it’s digital art community, but also because it was also heavily used by the shibari community, which practices and demos erotic rope bondage.
Photographers, riggers, and models all maintained accounts on there and Instagram (IG). Tumblr was in some cases the preferred (with Instagram accounts forwarding their users over to Tumblr) as it was the more open platform.
There was a huge outcry in this community and others when the shift was announced, with people scrambling to maintain connections and set up alternate platforms. For while IG was (and to some extent still is) popular, many accounts on IG are often deleted due to reports (“female presenting nipples”). Tumblr was a good anchor to reconnect because it was consistent.
Tumblr’s “closing” had many discussing what to do, as IG is becoming increasingly intolerant to even “artistic” adult content. Twitter remains somewhat usable. But to go back to the original point, I asked some of my favorite artists if they didn’t want to consider a platform such as “Ello” (which seemed a natural fit for this content) instead of Instagram or other mass-market platform, which seemed all too likely to follow Tumblr’s path. The answer? “Because I want my work to be seen.”
And I think that’s what the controversy comes down to. The legally questionable content notwithstanding, artists want their work to be seen, to be viewed by new people, and to connect with those who are waiting to find something to inspire them. Our community meets people all of the time who see an image and get drawn to something about it, feel something unlocked inside that they never knew to ask about. Walling this content off into “adult-only” areas is like a segregation of sorts. You may be able to post pictures, but with it comes the implicit labeling that somehow, it’s different, shameful, and isn’t worthy of being grouped with everything else. And this has a chilling effect on people and their interests which different from the mainstream.
So I’m dismayed when I see waves of channels deleted on YouTube, accounts taken down on Instagram, and one more artist I follow declaring that they’re tired of fighting whack-a-mole and head off into one of the secluded boxes in some corner of the internet like bdslr, or FetLife, or others. They essentially “go dark” . This doesn’t bode well for the internet and society at large, for all we’ll have left is the sterile, the “acceptable”, the echo chamber which we find so troublesome today.
P.S.: I didn’t hit upon the tremendous hypocrisy I feel occurs when it seems to pull a hate speech post offline requires hand-wringing or controversy (or god forbid, a shooting), but adult content accounts can be shuttered instantly with no explanation other than a boilerplate. That, I feel, could be an entirely new discussion however.
> To put it succinctly (and bluntly) as a friend once told me, “the venn diagram of “kink” and “geek” practically overlap.)
It's nice to have an outside view on this. I was always of the opinion that my friends just happen to overlap because my interests select people in both worlds. But yeah, there might actually be a strong correlation.
Well, according to this chart (which I have only cursorily vetted), it seems there are a lot of "former users": https://www.reddit.com/r/dataisbeautiful/comments/af9rwu/oc_...
It shows that as of Jan, 2019, there were about 50% as many users as when the ban was announced. That would suggest that there are as many "former users" as there are current users. And the downward trend has probably continued in the subsequent 6 months.
For example, Facebook shows a 71% drop worldwide in Google Trends over the last 5 years. Their Q2 2019 earnings showed a 20% worldwide growth in monthly users over the last two years alone.
Google Trends can't tell you anything useful about a site's growth or activity.
Also, for platforms with network effects, a drop-off (or even belief that there will be a drop-off) can do major damage to even unrelated communities on the platform. For example, Tumblr used to be a huge referrer for my startup, thanks to Tumblr's robust ADHD, dyslexia, and CFS communities who spread the word about our tools. We still get occasional traffic from posts, but I get the sense that those communities have been hollowed out by the perception that Tumblr is dead. I don't know if they've moved elsewhere (perhaps Twitter), but they sure aren't on Tumblr much anymore.
I certainly hope Automattic can revive Tumblr one way or another, but it seems like the smart play here would have been to announce that they'll be looking to find a way to restore the prior functionality, and then work out the details later. That way they can get a bump in traffic from the expectation that there will be a bigger community, which helps them regardless of the extent to which the ban is reversed.
The Wayback Machine doesn't have fine-grained enough details to get a good estimate of how much the loss of adult content itself was responsible, but this does reinforce the impression given from the Google Trends link cited several times that there has been a steady decline in Tumblr punctuated with a massive hit on or around the removal of adult content.
 Each of these dates is a Saturday, so not quite a year later, but matching time of year and day-of-week is better anyways.
So, network effects work both ways, people leave because their kink got banned and people who followed that person now have one less reason to log on.
One of the reasons that I left is the need for Yahoo to share all my actions with some of the shittiest trackers, advertisers, and privacy violators. Not fun fact: you can't shake/AdBlock/NoScript/PrivacyBadger them if Tumblr itself is doing the sale.
I’m not sure if it’s still a problem, but the ban resulted in loads of non-porn images being flagged as porn. Most people gave up trying to fight it and left. When I visit tumblr now, it’s dead. Everyone moved on and fast.
Artists use it less and less, mainly to bait and switch (patreon). Adult content is out. Fandoms wither because well teenagers grow and abandon this slowly - until the next/new fandom pops up.
Curating is one thing. Make "chinese walls" and prevent teens to access the hard adult stuff, but let them free and it will organically grow again.
We are past the years where teens needed a journal, they've gone to FB/IG for that.
Tumblr is fun if let free. If not, then it will wither further and die.
I can only see Automattic using it as another wordpress, a bit more hip. But still the user geneated content needs to be the free driver, not the gagged driver.
It's a niche, but not a small one. Enough niches tumbled together (or out) is a lot of people.
Or in other words porn was free marketing and lead generation for tumblr. I somehow doubt a buyer will be willing to put in enough money to make up for it.
Tumblr was a hot property specifically because of the former users, and if the site doesn't try to get them back it will become something reminiscent of Digg and Myspace- something to be looked upon with nostalgia but not for spending any time visiting.
With Tumblr I had my lists of soft things where there was a lot left to imagine. Some of them are still online, proof they were supersoft. But I had to surf away and I can’t find mild ones. All because some überentity wants to sanitize and cleanse the world. And drove all the softporn to Instagram, where the everyday girl poses, which... is worse for the masses. And is less easy to browse.
If anything, closing Tumblr has driven my habits to way worse, and I’d bet we’re hundreds of thousands in this situation. As much for sanitizing society.
I believe your anecdotal experience in this area is true and accurate. But at the same time, the raw stats just don't reflect it being universally accurate across all users. A similar phenomenon has occurred regarding people saying they're quitting Facebook, deleting Uber, moving off GitHub, etc.
In this specific case re: Tumblr, my guess would be that only a portion of them actually stopped using Tumblr at that specific time and for that reason. I suspect some of these people already stopped using Tumblr long ago, and meanwhile some others do continue using Tumblr despite previously saying otherwise. I'm just speculating though.
You do however see how that is a bit difficult to just accept without any backing up, considering a former engineer might naturally be a bit biased about the public perception of a former project dying? By no means a personal attack, just picture yourself in my shoes. I do understand however if there is just no such data available.
Like everyone else here I saw whole communities with active people, with sometimes over a decade of content creation behind them, just vanish. And those werent just the complete porn focused ones, hell even the few leftists i followed from soup.io days packed up for good. Granted, just my anecdotal experience but given how many experienced the same, i would be confident to say that some rather big, active and motivated communities died and others lost a great share of formerly active members and especially content creators due to the sometimes bizarre overlap.
So if tumblr isnt dying, which new active communities sprung up to fill that void? Did any with the current public perception of tumblr? How is the rate of content creation and interaction looking pre and post porn ban announcement?
Differently put, what good do lurker numbers do if the content creators are gone? Without them lurkers arent going to be sticking around forever and which new content creators are acquired?
I do mean what I said in the last post and I mean everyone who reads this,
>If there are great hidden communities that grew in the vacuum left, please do share.
edit: I also forgot to mention the most damming part, Verizon selling tumblr for under 3m. They sure are convinced its dead for good.
Personally I'm not too concerned about that. I have other things on my resume.
I'm more concerned that people keep blindly parroting that Tumblr is/was primarily a "porn site", when the internal data absolutely did not bear that out at any point.
> So if tumblr isnt dying
I haven't said anything about whether or not it is "dying". Afraid you've misunderstood. My point is that HN tends to vastly overstate the amount of adult-related Tumblr usage. Far more users slowly left over time long before the adult content ban.
You want public numbers, OK, I'll link directly to the wayback machine info that I previously mentioned downthread:
Jan 21 2014 (random day around "peak Tumblr"): 110m posts 
Dec 16 2018 (before adult content ban): 28m posts 
Feb 3 2019 (a bit after adult content ban): 23m posts 
While daily posting volume doesn't perfectly equate to MAUs, in my experience with UGC / social networking products, posting volume is closely correlated with overall usage.
Additionally, Tumblr started requiring a logged-in account to view adult content some time before the ban (something like 9 months before it iirc).
Furthermore, GP specifically said "forced off the platform", "go to Tumblr", etc which strongly implies people with accounts / using the site's dashboard feed which requires an account (as opposed to visiting specific blog subdomains directly as a logged-out user).
I really don't understand the implicit distrust of my direct first-hand experience here. The amount of gaslighting in this thread is profoundly disturbing.
> Additionally, Tumblr started requiring a logged-in account to view adult content some time before the ban (something like 9 months before it iirc).
Is only technically accurate; it's irrelevant to the user experience. The ban was implemented by enabling safe mode for all users, removing the option to disable it, then automatedly marking a huge number of accounts as adult (plenty of which that got caught in this step weren't actually adult).
Content wasn't actually deleted, and can still be viewed on your own dashboard for the accounts you're subscribed to, making it less obvious to users with accounts - the ban primarily affected visitors without accounts and the posters who wanted them as an audience. Those posters are the ones who have been forced off the platform, no longer able to grow an audience, but some have been slow to realize they even got caught by the ban because of how it was implemented.
I haven't expressed any opinions about the user experience of the ban, or whether the ban was implemented well, or whether the ban was a good idea or a bad one. I have no horse in that race, and was not involved in the ban's implementation in any way whatsoever.
What I am stating is that I'm directly aware of the rough percentage of Tumblr activity that was adult-related from ~2010-2018, and that percentage is significantly less than the numbers commonly thrown around on HN. But several people here think I'm lying for whatever reason, so clearly it's time for me to bow out of this infuriating gaslight fest.
If you consider a "user" to include non-monetizeable lurkers who were just there to view adult content, then saying "most users" is definitely still wrong, but perhaps slightly less so.
Tumblr's peak was many years ago (2013 iirc), and the very slow drop-off over time is far more significant than the recent adult content ban. If you choose not to believe me, you can go to Internet Archive / Wayback Machine and view post-per-day stats on https://www.tumblr.com/about going back a decade and see for yourself.
I'm not going to reply to this further. I know the stats, I've seen the internal stats over many years, and this is a pointless thing to argue.
Well, 30% of the traffic leaving within the first couple of months of the ban, seems rather significant to me:
"The blogging platform’s traffic has dropped by 30 percent since the December ban on all adult content (...) In December, Tumblr’s global traffic clocked in at 521 million, but it dwindled to a mere 370 million in February, according to The Verge".
And moving onwards, it continues to look like a death spiral - a website that lost half or more of its users and is on a slope:
>I'm not going to reply to this further. I know the stats, I've seen the internal stats over many years, and this is a pointless thing to argue.
Sure, no reason to reply. I've posted the stats myself, people can draw their own conclusions...
You are linking to incorrect stats. These numbers claim Tumblr has more MAUs than Twitter and Snapchat combined.
Elsewhere in this subthread, I've linked to public info showing that in absolute content creation numbers, the impact of the adult content ban was far less than a majority of content, and also far smaller than the slow drop-off of users over the previous five years.
Judging by your use of quotes around "correct", it seems you've already made up your mind anyway and I'm wasting my time discussing this. If you want to trust clearly incorrect numbers in The Verge over the person who built the company's relational storage tier, I suppose that's your prerogative.
So, the Verge refers to data from two sources SimilarWeb and Statista, whereas your data are basically "trust me" and "absolute content creation numbers" (that is: not visitors).
And on top, you say you've built Tumblr's infrastructure.
I guess it's me and The Verge who is biased.
Do you actually believe these numbers from SimilarWeb and Statista claiming Tumblr has more MAUs than Twitter and Snapchat combined, even after banning adult content (which you claim was a majority of Tumblr's usage)? Does that even remotely make any sense at all?
You're outright accusing me of lying here. I find this insulting and do not wish to continue this discussion. Goodbye.
I'd have no problem with people insisting it being "primarily a porn site", any more that if they insisted it was an "anime site", "fan fiction site" etc. The point is whether they're right or wrong, not if I don't like the type. I'd have no particular urge to disprove claims that it's a specific type of content that it's most successful.
You also repeat "having no real evidence", while the Verge article has 2 sources, and you gave none.
>Do you actually believe these numbers from SimilarWeb and Statista claiming Tumblr has more MAUs than Twitter and Snapchat combined, even after banning adult content (which you claim was a majority of Tumblr's usage)? Does that even remotely make any sense at all?
I believe Statista and SimilarWeb have no particular reason to lie about Tumblr. They just post their stats. Are they off in absolute numbers? That's neither here nor there. Even if e.g. Statista double counts, it double counts before AND after the ban, so whether the absolute numbers are accurate is irrelevant. The huge relative drop is still there.
>You're outright accusing me of lying here.
No, I'm simply accusing you of being biased and giving no numbers.
In any case, I can't see how anyone would insist Tumblr did OK after the ban, when it's said to be sold for 3mm (or close).
Heck, that's so low, that if I sold some family property, I could have bought it...
Precisely. The point is saying Tumblr is/was "primarily a porn site" is simply factually incorrect. At no point have I expressed whether or not I "like the type".
> I believe Statista and SimilarWeb have no particular reason to lie about Tumblr. They just post their stats.
And what's the source of their stats?
> Are they off in absolute numbers? That's neither here nor there.
So it's "neither here nor there" if their stats are blatantly inaccurate, but you trust the relative proportions of their stats anyway because they "have no particular reason to lie". And yet I do have some reason to lie about this? I no longer work for Tumblr, have worked on other things several orders of magnitude larger than Tumblr, haven't been an active Tumblr user in years, and had no involvement whatsoever with the implementation of Tumblr's adult content ban. Why on earth would I spend my free time making supposedly false claims about the relative percentage of adult content on Tumblr? Why not have a good-faith discussion where you assume positive intent of the person you are conversing with?
> I'm simply accusing you of being biased and giving no numbers.
I've repeatedly linked to the only publicly available numbers (posts per day stats publicly provided by Tumblr itself). What is your expectation here? It seems like you expect me to somehow retroactively capture internal confidential statistics from a former employer and then post them publicly, in order to satisfy the whims of some random pseudonymous person on HackerNews?
> I can't see how anyone would insist Tumblr did OK after the ban
At no point have I made any statement on whether Tumblr "did OK" or not after the ban. Rather, what I have stated is that the impact of the ban is a drop in the bucket relative to the much larger decline in usage over the preceding 5 years. And the reason it's a drop in the bucket is because the amount of adult content/usage on Tumblr was much smaller than you and others claim, which was precisely what tptacek theorized and I confirmed.
In any case -- you certainly aren't going to somehow change my mind regarding my personal first-hand experiences, and it seems unlikely you will change your position either, so for the third time let's please disengage and stop discussing this!
Which it pretty much is. That kind of content (which wasn't exactly porn, though if one is prude enough everything is porn) was Tumblr best differentiator.
> Either way, even if they leave everything as is
Which is their plan for the moment. Which worries me about the sanity of Automattic. When you’ve stopped growing long ago and you start buying ventures to keep the turnover going, you end up like this big company which was buying ventures to stay afloat. What was it again?
English translation: "We are hell-bent on making sure not to steal bdsmlr's thunder and maintain tumblr's death-spiral."
instagram and tiktok are where kids are building their brands now
the nsfw sphere is on twitter/reddit
tumblr is/has been dead for years
It's specifically a question to him, so seems directly on topic.
The next 'tumblr' that comes along, i.e. when it is another thing that Automattic do, need not carry over any of the adult content connotations of the past. It can be fully repurposed with the SFW punters happy with whatever comes next. I doubt it will be mySpaced.
It wasn't even worth the effort of trying to get previous posts on my Tumblrs unflagged; I just stopped using the site.