Is Yahoo Ruining Tumblr? Then Work Outside the System

So when Yahoo bought Tumblr my first thought was “Well, let’s hope they don’t screw it up.” Because really, Yahoo has screwed up a lot of the things that it’s had its hands in. Remember Delicious, the bookmarking service? Yeah, they never could seem to do anything with it. How about Geocities? Sure, it was a bit of a cesspool, but you know what? It was a good place for anyone to set up a website about anything. That’s kind of what the Internet and the Web is supposed to be about. Then there’s Flickr. I dunno. I suppose they haven’t totally screwed up Flickr but I’m not hopeful.

Chip truth, chummers.

Chip truth, chummers.

Now, with Tumblr on their books they’ve decided to start delisting popular Tumblr porn blogs and erotica sites and making sure they don’t show up in the apps and in search results or, seemingly, show up at all on Tumblr unless you know exactly where to go. Long time fans of Tumblr are, quite rightly, crying fowl over this and calling it censorship. In some cases, innocuous tags were filtered from the apps even though they have plenty of safe-for-work connotations. #gay was censored and, whether intentionally or unintentionally censored doesn’t mean anything here. Yahoo brought about changes that broke more things than they fixed and introduced bugs into a system where the majority of the people seemed to think things were just fine as they were.

Yahoo explained that the tag #lgbtq was still okay because that’s moderated by the community. Well, I suppose that’s fine, but what about #glbtq, which is how I’ve always heard the term used and is the way I utilize the term on my Tumblr site? Again we have yet another example of censorship making an organization look stupid. While I understand Tumblr’s position on “We need to clean up our app or Apple won’t let us play,’ I have to question why they need an app at all. If Apple is being too prudish and won’t let you play in their walled garden, you make a top notch, HTML5, awesome web app. This has worked for Google and lots of other organizations. When Apple banned the Google Voice app , Google basically took their toys, went home, and came back out with an app that worked on the web and looked almost exactly the same.

One user complained that Yahoo was making it harder to facilitate discovery. That’s true, that’s absolutely true. When you can’t find the thing that you want on Tumblr, or you can’t find like minded folks with similar tastes in adult entertainment, erotica, and pornography, then that’s a problem for you and your followers. Yet in all the uproar and commotion, there’s a simple solution to all of this that I’ve not heard mentioned anywhere.

If you cannot work within the Tumblr system, work outside of it.

Google has gotten prissy with its listings of porn sites, but it’s still turning them up. You just have to be specific. Bing is even better and it’s getting to the point that I’m using Bing more than Google because sometimes I have to work around Google when I can simply work with Bing. All of that notwithstanding, here’s the deal. Your erotica and pornography site isn’t turning up on Tumblr searches. Fine.

I’m not suggesting dumping your Tumblr blog. Far from it. What we need to do is think about how many of the big search engines work and they work not only off of keywording, but popularity and metalinkage, similar to what librarians refer to as “bibliometrics.” Now then, for my non-librarian readers, a bibliometric is a measurement of how popular a thing is by looking at the number of times that thing is referenced by other things. For a simple example, I read a lot of scientific papers on exosolar planets. When you read enough of that stuff, you’ll notice the same names keep appearing. The reason why is because Ms. Scientist and her colleagues wrote about a major study and lots of people are using their data and results for their studies. When they do so, they have to cite their source and thus Ms. Scientist and her colleagues’ paper keeps turning up. Part of a search engine’s method of delivering results works in much the same way. If you search for something, you’re going to get popular results and those results are usually deemed popular (partially) because a lot of sites link to it.

So how does this relate to Tumblr?

If your site isn’t showing up on Tumblr, then you can work around that and make it show up elsewhere. Are you part of a Tumblr “network” and have a lot of mutual followers? (I put network in quotations because this isn’t quite the best description for a group of users and their followers on Tumblr, but it’ll do for now.) Maybe you and your followers could talk about setting up a meta-site elsewhere on the Web that provides linkage into your Tumblr network. For instance, you and five of your followers have a great sharing and re-blogging thing going on Tumblr, but you’re sharing and re-blogging porn and got de-listed because, I don’t know, I guess boobs are bad, okay? So pop on over to, for instance, WordPress.com and set up a site there that provides information and linkage to your Tumblr sites.

The Internet is feline in nature as it is filled with cats and pussy.

The Internet is feline in nature as it is filled with cats and pussy.

Granted you don’t want to break WordPress TOS and have lots of porn at the WordPress site. That’s not the idea here. What you want to do is create another site somewhere else that links into your Tumblr sites and networks. Tumblr can’t delist those and they will show up in Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, and other search results. Refer back to that site on your Tumblr  and, essentially, treat it like a landing page. You can even do things there that aren’t all that easy on Tumblr. While Tumblr themes have pages, they all handle them differently. So if you wanted to do an “About the Tumblr” page, you can probably do it on your “landing site” better than you can on your Tumblr.

Or, and this is something that I don’t see any rule against on Tumblr, embed your Tumblr blog on another site. Tumblr even offers the ability to use a different URL for your Tumblr blog. You don’t even have to go that far though as you can utilize an iframe embed on any site to call the Tumblr blog into that site. Like a cookery show, here’s one I prepared in advance. WARNING THE FOLLOWING LINK IS HIGHLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

NSFW – Tumblr site embedded on secondary site.

By doing this, you basically use Tumblr as a content server while you can create more static content around it. This is a rudimentary, proof of concept thing that I coded in five minutes or so. If you spent some time on it, you could create an entire site around a central Tumblr embed. Using Tumblr and adding content to Tumblr wouldn’t change for you and, since your site always calls upon a given bit of Tumblr, it will always be updated with the latest content.

If Yahoo is indeed trying to fight pornography online, then they’re even dumber than I thought they were. People like porn, that’s not a shock and it’s not a surprise and I still do not see why it’s something to be ashamed of. As any cyberpunk will tell you, if you can’t work with the system, you don’t necessarily have to work against it — you merely work outside of it.

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