Supporting Content Creators
Tumblr is dying and it's time to care.
Tumblr is a multimedia blogging platform that has graced the internet since 2007. It originated as a simple place to express thoughts, post photos, and share the classic '07 memes. However, by 2012, Tumblr became an immensely popular platform for people in "fandom." Similar to DeviantArt, it became a place to share content regarding whatever media was popular! And of course, as the internet does, Tumblr introduced many memes into our lives.
The older Tumblr became, the more... refined it became, in a way. Although memes and relatable textposts still prevail, another type of content is nearly just as popular. This of course, is the Photoshop content. From simple edits from a TV show, to GIFs of a movie, to beautifully made graphics themed after Pantone's Color of the Year, people have spent years now making content to post on their own Tumblr blog!
As a blogging platform, Tumblr was truly the perfect place to post content like this! With a huge fandom presence, so many people became enamored with this content and the rates of sharing were through the roof! Someone would post a set of GIFs, and by the end of the week, it would be completely expected to have a good 10,000 notes. Nearly three-quarters of these, of course, would be reblogs! Reblogs are the sharing option of Tumblr. You "reblog" something, and the post is shared onto your blog, while still showing who the post was created by. This feature would be comparable to Facebook's "share" option or Twitter's "retweet."
From general knowledge, we all know how good it is to share. We've all seen a viral Facebook video of a mom in a mask, or an Instagram post of an egg, for some reason. We've reached a point in time where having a social media presence is nearly a necessity. We're all familiar with the general workings of a sharing platform, and we certainly are all familiar with the concept of sharing as a whole.
This is why it's so shocking that a blogging platform like Tumblr is dying off. The purpose of a blog is to share. Whether you're sharing photos or stories or the sort of content I mentioned above, a blogging platform is the place to be. And Tumblr's search feature is ideal for sharing. You can search through tags and keywords with ease, and this, of course, allows for you to find the type of content you may be interested in. So why are people unhappy? Why are they leaving? And why are content creators so angry?
To put it simply, the reason is disrespect. That's a vague way to put it, but definitely the most understandable way. Tumblr users have lost any and all respect for the people that post GIFs, edits, and other forms of media. These creators spend hours of their time downloading programs, creating content, coloring the content, and then hoping that whatever they've created will fit Tumblr's strict guidelines of size and content. Overall, it can take hours to create a set of six single GIFs.
Around 2015, a set of six GIFs would easily reach 30 thousand notes. Notes being the "likes" and "reblogs" that people leave on the post. The ratio then was easily 2:4. For instance, a post would have 2000 likes and 4000 reblogs. While every note is greatly appreciated by content creators, reblogs are the more superior option to use. A reblog allows the content to be spread among more and more people. A like simply rests quietly, eventually forgotten by the person who liked it. Anyone even slightly familiar with content sharing knows that the whole point... is sharing...
So, while it may be a shock to those unfamiliar with Tumblr, these numbers have changed drastically. A set of six GIFs will be very, very, very lucky to gain 1000 notes. And the ratio for posts like this? 4:2 at the absolute best. Not only have the notes themself dropped by tens of thousands, but the ratio of likes to reblogs is completely flipped! From 30 thousand notes with 25 thousand reblogs, to 1000 notes with 800 likes. You don't have to be a mathematician to know that these numbers... simply don't make sense. Why have the numbers changed so much?
Of course, Tumblr isn't as popular as it once was. It's gone through a few different owners, and many of the changes the site has made were not greeted well by its users. But, websites grow and change. That's understandable. And that would even explain why the number of notes has gone down! Less users means less notes, obviously. So how about the ratio?
Well, there's something called a "repost." It sounds similar to a "reblog," I know. But here's the different. A reblog is a way to share content while still showing respect to the person who created and posted that content.
A repost is the exact opposite. Reposting is theft. Plain and simple. A reposter will take the content from the source, and post it as their own. For instance, UserA may take UserB's post, and post it as his own. So now, when someone sees this post, they will think it came from UserB, when in reality, the post is UserA's. It's simply stolen.
The big issue with reposters on Tumblr is that it's not easy to identify a repost. There are millions of post on Tumblr, so identifying stolen content isn't always easy. Thankfully, Tumblr has taken steps to prevent this. There are now options to report people who have reposted content. However, this doesn't help when content is stolen and reposted on other websites. The most popular place that people post stolen content is Twitter.
Recently, Twitter introduced a feature to post four images at a time, where it used to be two. This has become a reposters dream, because now they have the ability to post even more stolen content! And no matter how many times these people are confronted, almost all of them... ignore it.
Rather than respect the person who created the content they stole, these reposters react in anger and hate. The most popular argument is that "making GIFs is easy" or that "anyone can do it." The first issue with that is that it's... a lie. Creating GIFs takes time, patience, and computer programs like Photoshop. Sure, someone could have all three of those aspects, but it doesn't make GIF-making easy. In fact, if "anyone can do it," why aren't these thieves making their own GIFs? Another simple answer is that these people are lazy and entitled. They believe that since these GIFs were posted publicly that they are "public property" so to speak. I don't need to go into details as to why this is a disgusting thing to do.
While Twitter is, arguably, the most popular place for content thieves or reposters, Instagram is definitely a close second. Instagram, however, is much more popular with theft of traditional art. As Twitter users repost GIFs, Instagram users may repost digital or traditional art. Many people create and post photos of paintings, drawings, and other forms of art. Although most of these pieces are signed or watermarked, it doesn't prevent Instagram users from stealing and claiming this art as their own. Again, I don't need to explain how disgusting this is.
Theft in any context is bad, obviously. But the fact that these thieves almost always respond with anger, hate, and disrespect is infuriating! They claim that "anyone can do it" and that content creating is "easy," but then go about stealing the content they claim is so easy to make on their own. Their logic is flawed, but that doesn't stop them. Along with the lack of content sharing by Tumblr's own users, it's not surprise that Tumblr content creators are... done creating content.
They're tired. Tired of being stolen from, disrespected, sent hate mail, and overall being treated like garbage. They're tired of it, and they're leaving. With no support from their own peers, and even less support from the people of other social media platforms, what's the point of creating anymore? If no one cares to share the things they post, then there's no longer a reason to post.
And now you're probably asking, "what's the point?" What can you do to help? What can anyone do to help, at this point? The answer is, unfortunately, not much. In reality, though, what I'm going to ask from you is so sadly simple.
Respect content creators. Support content creators. Reblog, give feedback, send love. Just show these people that they are still supported by someone out there.
And the best part is, you don't even need to be on Tumblr! You can send anonymous messages to most users without even making an account! And if you do join Tumblr, it's so amazingly simple to find a community to settle in to. Every niche and fandom is represented in some way on Tumblr; no matter how small.
So why don't you go check some folks out? Tumblr has millions of users, millions of posts, and you can easily scroll through the content there for hours upon hours. Try out the reblog button, or send some feedback to the source user. Click "join" and find a community to join, and maybe even create content for too!
Tumblr hasn't always had a great reputation. It's been passed around by so many owners that it's nearly impossible to keep track. And we all know just how ridiculous the textposts can get. But truly, it can be an amazing place, full of amazing people. And full of even more amazing content (made by amazing people). The internet isn't respectful, but you can make such a huge difference with the click of one reblog button, or a simple message to a creator you love.
No, the internet isn't nice. But you can help. Head over to Tumblr and find some content to support. Trust me, you'll truly make a difference.