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Among Tumblr users, the basic incompetence of @staff in constructing a functional website is legendary. I would not be surprised if the backend were far worse than you're supposing.

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.

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