'public' vs 'private' on tumblr
|Title:||'public' vs 'private' on tumblr|
|Date(s):||January 12, 2013|
|Medium:||online, Tumblr post|
|External Links:||'public' vs 'private' on tumblr, Archived version|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
'public' vs 'private' on tumblr is a 2013 Tumblr post by luceateis.
As of May 2015, it has 1663 notes.
Some Topics Addressed
- Tumblr, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth
- fandom as a safe space
- privacy, comfort, and other possible desireables
- fannish expectations and "norms"
By 2013, the migration of media fandom from LiveJournal and Dreamwidth was well under way. Many of the fans who migrated to tumblr had years of experience in blogging; however tumblr, with its lack of privacy controls, the inability to delete content once posted and reblogged, the ease of reblogging and its increased visibility to outsiders were new concepts to some. In contrast, large numbers of fans entered tumblr from other communities that had experience with more open platforms. And finally, tumblr also saw an influx of users were relatively new to fandom. It was this mix of cultures that led to frequent misunderstandings as each group assumed that their cultural and technological experiences were universally shared and accepted.
In 2013, there was also a rise in "griefers" and "trolls" on tumblr who sought out personal content to mock and ridicule. They would often search for phrases in posts like "personal", "private" "do not reblog" and "read more".As one fan warned:
"After hearing about the blog “fuckyeahreadmores”, I’m urging my followers to refrain from tagging their personal posts as “personal” or “read more”. Choose a more unique phrase that can’t be easily searched for, because for some reason there are sick fucks out there searching the ‘read more’ tag.
- oh my god this is a disgusting invasion of privacy this blog owner should be ashamed of themselves
- people are SO shitty
- ‘Member when this happened to me, except the post was titled “do not reblog”.
- Don’t tag your posts as ‘do not reblog’ or any variation thereof."
As a result, by 2013 there were increased tensions over the possibility of increased visibility in both fan and non-fan communities.
increasingly, i am running into the following viewpoint: that all posts people make are, by default, open to the public and available to be commented on by strangers, regardless of stated wishes in tags, readmores, topics of conversation, etc
the argument seems to be that because tumblr itself is a public space, anything posted on tumblr is also, because tumblr, unlike livejournal (where many of us are from), has no ability to do filtering or friends lock on posts and i for one have to say i don’t get it? take a step back from your own opinions on the matter for a second, and i’ll tell you a story. say you are meeting with an old friend, and wish to have a conversation. you two decide to meet in a coffee shop. while your friend is talking about difficulties with their new relationship, another person that neither of you know approaches your table and comments on what an awful person your friend is for being frustrated with their partner for [insert reason here]. generally speaking, you are going to respond to someone like this with ‘wtf i don’t know you leave us alone.’ say in this case you do. the person gets very offended at you and tells you ‘you’re in a public space!’ while they are technically correct, social norms and general politeness, generally speaking, dictate that what they have done is Not A Thing People Should Do. being in a public space, shockingly enough, does not void your right to have a private conversation without a stranger eavesdropping on you.so why are we so resistant to this idea on tumblr?
The comments were varied in their content. Most comments did not agree with the original poster's complaint. Some did.From [spiderwolve]:
From [starkinglyhandsome]:Want your posts to be private and only noticed by your friends? Don’t tag them with anything. Otherwise, you tag something your asking for strangers to read and comment.
From [everbright-mourning.]:EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY THIS IS THE EXACT ANALOGY I USE WHEN I TALK ABOUT THIS TOO GOD FUCKING BLESS YOU THANK 
From [thebkwyrm]:Short answer: It’s really hard to leverage effectual social consequence over the internet. IRL it’s easier to ‘get the crowd on your side’ in leveling approbation on this sort of behavior, immediately. Even if you do manage to get other people angry enough at an internet to start making their life difficult, it generally takes awhile unless you have a massive following. In a cafe you can start yelling and instantly get everyone to make grumpy faces at the dude. Also, we’ve had centuries living on top of each other to develop norms of social behavior in 'public’ spaces. The private/public divide of the internet isn’t really nailed down yet, w/o real inconveniences like f-lock.
This conversation is now so spread out over to many Tumblrs and gone in so many different directions that I cannot follow it except for when people I follow respond to it, which I think demonstrates that this is SUCH A SHITTY PLATFORM FOR CONVERSATIONS. And I miss LJ/DW. Everyone come back.
- [kerrikins]: I agree with a lot of this. As fans - as *people* - we have to be proactive about protecting our privacy and our content. I think a lot of people need to re-examine the way they look at the public sphere and their published content in that sphere, and also keep in mind that this is a free service… Why am I pointing that out? Because if we’re not the customer, we’re the content/product. Which means that Tumblr -itself- may try and monetize your content in the future. There’s an article on CNET right now about that very subject.
Some Extended Comments: Divided into ROUGH Subject Areas
Tumblr is Not a Coffeeshop
- [darthflake]: As much as I hate the disrespectfulness of the internet, I disagree with the analogy, because tumblr is a website for blogs, not a chatroom. A proper analogy would be using a megafon and yelling at a public space that you have problems with your partner. Ironically the society rather would criticise you for yelling this out at a public space than for having these problems. Which is why I’m from the “Watch out what you put on the internet”-party.
- [kimberlynne]: I think it would be less analogous to two friends in a coffee shop, talking at a table, and more to two friends in a coffee shop yelling into megaphones. I mean, you know when signing up and posting that this is a public platform without the features that might enable more private communication (excluding messages). And actually, even the messages feature is set up so a private communication could become public by allowing the receiver to post it. Forget the coffee shop completely. A coffee shop has different social rules and mores. Tumblr is not comparable to a coffee shop at all because it was not designed so that those rules would apply. It is more a cocktail party, where people are added or subtracted from conversations as the evening progresses. That’s at least how I see it.
- [embeebe]: Because its not like a private conversation in a coffee shop. Posting a private conversation on Tumblr is more like shouting a private message across the room to one friend and expecting everyone else in the room to just ignore you. You know exactly who is listening and that they can all hear you. Some people will ignore you, in fact, most people will. But when someone offers their thoughts, you can’t say “I wasn’t talking to you!” I mean, I guess you could and you probably would. But I’m not sure that would be fair. After all, you were shouting.
- [hexterian]: if you wanted to really compare it to a rl situation you should take as example 2 people standing across the room from each other holding up signs and expecting nobody to read or react to them out of politeness. thus on the net we’re able to take conversations to more private spaces such as asks or skype, etc.
- [random-fandom-man.]: Posting things brings them into a public forum. not just a public place. If you want to talk privately send an inbox. This place was designed for anyone to say anything anywhere. And untill we are granted to option to lock posts so noone can comment, it will remain that way.
- [liza-spells-beast]: because tumblr is not a coffee shop. It’s a class room during a debate. Everything posted is a comment announced to the rest of the class, specifically put there for others to comment on or listen to. You can have your conversations amongst friends, but you need to be aware that others are listening and have a right to post something on said conversation. Why else do you think a group of people who (mostly) dislike facebook, have it? Because there is a private chat option where people can talk in peace, without it addressing/including followers. There have been rumours though (I’m not sure if they’re true) that tumblr will be getting a chat bar soon, enabling it to be come a classroom where the teacher can’t see the notes you pass and the problem is solved. But for now it’s not a coffee shop, your posts are on there dash. You are literally putting your conversations in front of other peoples faces.
- [katefrets]: Legally, it’s not a matter of opinion. As with all forms of social media, once you’ve posted it, you have legally published it, and therefore have forfeited your right to privacy. You’ve also opened yourself up to accusations of libel. So no. It’s not like having a conversation in a cafe. It’s like publishing a book of conversations you’ve had with your friends and then being surprised when you get book reviews. It may be rude, but you did publish it. If you wanted your conversation to remain private, you might have considered choosing a form of communication that’s protected. Like texting, private email or a phone call.“ 
- [invisiblemelonmoose]: If you want somewhere to blog and express your opinion as well as regulating who gets to see or reply to what you say, why not get a wordpress or blogspot account? I mean, they’re just as legitimate as blogging sites if not more so.
- [lokathor]: because there’s email, letters, instant messaging, texting, phone calls, skype chat, skype calling, livejournal, tumblr fanmail, tumblr asks, and probably lots more ways of communicating privately one on one with someone (or in small groups). If you knowingly choose a forcably public system to have a private conversation and get upset that the general public takes notice of it, then you’re being dumb. The difference is that in a coffee shop at a table you’re having a probably quiet conversation with one or two other people, and the properties of sound cause people far away to not hear you, and not hear you clearly even if they can. Except public posts on the internet have no such limit, and so the rules are different.
- [paronomaniac]: This does happen in coffee shops, and on buses, and anywhere else public- people try to make themselves part of the conversation. I consider it rude, but lots of people are rude, or simply follow other social norms (or both). I don’t see how a Readmore or topic of conversation signals a desire not to be reblogged or responded to on tumblr. Statements in tags, I can understand. But I use Readmore to hide potential triggers or give people the opportunity to not read more. And so many topics get discussed openly on tumblr, amongst strangers, I can’t see how someone could guess by that alone. If you want to have a private convo, isn’t that what the Ask box is for? 
- [carpevitam42]: because if you want to have a private conversation there’s something called email, or IM. or twitter. if you want to relay a message to your friends….they’re you friends soooo…shouldnt they have your number? and if they’re internet friends? im sure they have other means of knowing whats going on with you other than an obscure tumblr post. thats what the ask box is for….if you dont want your personal shit commented on, then dont put it on tumblr. problem solved.
Tumblr as a Performance Platform, The Point of Tumblr
- [leupagus]: Because this analogy is utterly flawed, is why. Tumblr isn’t having a conversation in a coffee shop; it’s having a conversation on a stage with a “Coffee Shop” sign illuminated overhead, where everyone around you is taking turns sitting in the audience and performing onstage alongside you. You’re wired for sound, and everyone can hear you. And you knew that when you stepped up. Tumblr is a performance space, just as much as it is a public space; why else are all these amazing artists and writers and performers on here, showing off the things that they’ve done? For that matter, why else would you be talking about your relationship difficulties on tumblr rather than, oh, say, an email or a phone call or literally any other method of communication? The whole reason for tumblr to exist is for people to hear you and, hopefully, to respond to you. Tumblr is made for performance, and that includes getting commentary from strangers. Otherwise you’d keep your voice down. What you seem to take issue is that people don’t always respond nicely. You want everyone to have the context of who you are before they say anything about what you’re doing or saying. And that’s… just not going to happen. Tumblr is one of the best places to separate the message from the messenger; people respond to what you do and say without having any idea of who you are, and that’s a good thing. Because as a performer, the last thing I want is for people to respond to me as a person; I want them to respond to what I do and what I say. If someone comes up to you while you’re onstage talking loudly about your relationship problems and says, “I’ve got a better idea, this performance isn’t good at all,” that’s not bad manners. That’s not someone eavesdropping. That’s someone ready to perform, and you’ve been onstage too long.
- [youdontlookhelpful]: That really only applies to personal conversations though. Tumblr is specifically designed for people to share things, especially if you post in the tags. Its more like a group meeting centered around some interest, where everyone is trying to share their opinions and get to know each other. And you walk into this meeting and start having a private conversation in the corner and get annoyed if anybody hears or thinks they can join in.
- [girlsofmoonlight]: The corners of fandom that I hang out in—which are only a SMALL PART of tumblr as a whole—would desperately like a better way to communicate and send messages to each other, would desperately like a better way to have discussions. tumblr has said, well, if you want that, go to e-mail or Facebook or whatever. Which seems short sighted and dickish most of the time, but sometimes I can see their point: They don’t want to be lj. Which means leaving behind lj etiquette and developing tumblr etiquette instead. And I think the question of what’s private and what’s public in tumblr is a different one from what was private and what was public on lj, where flocking and filtering was an option. Do I wish that tumblr had the ability to flock certain posts? Yeah, of course I do. But I also know that tumblr is a performance platform, that that’s what they want to be, and my private stuff isn’t meant for here. Maybe I’ll put something under a Read More cut, maybe I’ll stick a “please don’t reblog this” on it (in that case, though, I would just send myself an ask so that it wouldn’t be rebloggable), and I would like to think those things would be (mostly) respected. But if I wanted something to stay private, I would go to a platform that gave me that option (like lj/dw), rather than expecting tumblr to be something it’s not.
Tumblr isn't Built That Way
- [plushpuppetrumps]: Because tumblr does not function the same way as livejournal. You can’t cut people out from your blog as effectively. You can’t private your posts. You can’t limit your posts to a certain audience or even a certain select audience within an overall audience. When people post “Read Mores” it is not the equivalent of a private conversation between friends. It is private or internal or socially unacceptable or whatever… thoughts that are posted in a public forum and hidden behind a border that forces you to click if you’re interested in reading on..... ....I tend to post unimportant or TMI info under “Read Mores” that I think most of my followers won’t be interested in or that might distract from the overall content I’m posting on my blog. But I’m quite well aware that anyone can read it, and that the people who I’d be interested in reading it won’t always even see it. Interesting comments have come from people I didn’t even expect, that way, as well as new associates being made. If you want to limit your posts to a certain select group of friends, then try another medium. Also, the comparison between tumblr’s “Read Mores” and a cafe scene doesn’t make much sense. The internet doesn’t function the same way and boundaries that seem appropriate in real life are completely abolished online. That’s why so many internet friendships feel “closer” than real life friendships. And that’s also why there are so many trolls and cyber-bullies.
- [asezawesome]: If things are in a locked Tumblr (you can create a passworded sub tumblr) then expecting it to be treated as private makes sense. Otherwise? This isn’t a conversation between two people or a group of people at a coffee shop, it’s a person (or people in turns) standing up and addressing whomever happens to be in earshot. In a text medium all of the cues of body language, tone, pitch and volume that signal privacy are gone. The only means of ensuring privacy are via the medium. Tumblr has limited capacity to be that medium. But there are blogging platforms that allow locked posts and filters and varying access levels. There are google+ hangouts. You can still make a group chat in AIM. You can send group emails. Wanting people to ignore public posts so that you can ignore the medium and its limits is a futile effort. Use the tool that fits your purpose.
- [squishysound]: Because putting a post up is not like chatting with a friend. The chat would be more of a Facebook message, where communication is person-to-person. Or a Tumblr ask, or a private ask even. Posting something on Tumblr is more of scribbling in on a communal message board that is designed so other people can share, talk about, and reply to your content. Because Tumblr is basically a communal message board that is designed so other people can share, talk about, and reply to your content… but on the internet. tl;dr: You keep using that word, “public.” On the internet, I do not think it means what you think it means.
- [cherrybina]: The part of this whole thing that confuses me is the concept of your space, and what that means on tumblr. LiveJournal provides hosted discussion. Your journal is very obviously your space. When you make a post, other people have to come into your journal to comment. Even if the post is public, there is the implication that it is your space, and therefore you can dictate the rules. LJ even comes with tools that help you do this - you can lock posts, delete posts, delete comments, disallow anon comments, track ips, etc. Tumblr provides non-hosted discussion. Unlike LJ, where me commenting on your journal means coming into your space, a reblog is me taking your post and putting it into my own space. Unlike LJ, a reblog + comment is NOT a comment to you by default. Maybe I reblog because I do want to reply to you directly, but maybe I just want to disagree without talking to you at all, and by tumblr’s design, I am disagreeing in my space, not yours. It sort of the equivalent to me making a post in my own LJ that disagrees with a post you made in your journal. I disagree with the OP’s analogy about “social norms” in the general public applying to tumblr, because tumblr, by default, is a non-hosted discussion platform. That’s literally the entire point. Some people may choose to use tumblr as a personal blog, but that doesn’t change the fact that it offers no privacy and no way for you to control your content. There are pros and cons to both hosted and non-hosted discussion, but I am genuinely baffled that people who seem to want privacy, control of content, and hosted discussion are using a platform that provides none of these. I don’t believe fandom is an inherently safe space. There are things that we, as fans, have to do to make our own spaces as safe as we can for our own personal needs. On LJ, you have some control over this by locking posts, screening comments, etc, but on tumblr, you have basically no control. I am always going to advocate for being nice over being a dick, but on tumblr, the relative safety of your space depends entirely on other people adhering to some kind of unspoken code that is outside both the functionality and social norms of the platform, and that… just seems like a really bad idea to me.
- [giggledropped]: I feel like this whole discussion should be the new Terms and Agreements for Tumblr, where you’re forced to acknowledge it and have to check IAgree Understand to even be allowed a blog. sicklescript (Something Delicious: 'public' vs 'private' on...), Archived version</ref>
- [saezutte]: Tumblr is designed to bring content to more people with less active engagement, essentially. This is an improvement over LJ in some ways. It makes responding easier but with lower stakes: you no longer have to go into someone else’s space and confront them in order to respond to a post, you can move the conversation into your own space, though there’s no guarantee they’ll see your response. (I appreciate this, since I have, er, pretty extreme anxiety about talking to people I don’t know, but on Tumblr, it doesn’t matter because you’re not even talking TO them.) But the drawback of ease of content transmission, of course, is that content is transmitted too easily, essentially on its own. Posts on Tumblr don’t belong to a single original blog; they exist in multiple iterations on multiple blogs as soon as they’re reblogged. Deleting a post on tumblr is like throwing away a CD after ripping it and uploading it - meaningless, the copy already exists a thousand times over. The boundaries of a particular tumblr aren’t even firmly delineated. On Livejournal, you WERE your Livejournal, you were that user name, you were that particular user pic, you were in that particular clique, you were those posts and those comments, while on Tumblr, user names are fluid, user pics are barely meaningful, following and unfollowing is designed to be easy, and your blog’s content is often not your own in the first place except insofar as you curate it. Trying to claim tumblr or the parts of tumblr that are fannish as a separate or safe space is impossible. Every part of tumblr is equally accessible to everyone who can use tumblr (so pretty much everyone with internet, since it’s designed to be easy to access.) A lot of people have been saying that this debate doesn’t have anything to do with tumblr’s privacy or lack thereof, but rather with fandom etiquette regarding “public” linking. But I never knew of any fandom etiquette that prevented fans from linking to public posts anywhere and every post on tumblr is public. Internet communities centered around a social site have to understand and adapt to the functionality of their particular site-space.
- hellotailor: This is the thing that really confuses me about many people’s attitude to Tumblr: the idea that individual Tumblrs can count as in any way private – particularly in fandom. Tumblr is set up in such a way that you’re practically discouraged from having conversations or forming relationships. Instead, every blog is an outbound information source, where you fling your thoughts and words and personal taste out into the world for other people to look at or reblog or ignore as they please. And once it’s out there, it’s out. You can’t go back and private-lock a post – all you can do it delete it at the source, although that won’t stop anyone from reblogging the version that’s already out there. Plus, the minute you use a tag, you are making it easier for people (“outsiders”?) to find you and/or to see whatever it is that you’re writing. Tumblr is infinitely more surfable than any other social media/blogging platform; who hasn’t got caught in a Tumblr-vortex at some point and ended up on some random blog, scrolling thru hundreds of weird-ass posts in prurient fascination? Now, please remember that other people will be stumbling upon your Tumblr in exactly the same way. It’s beginning to seem like fandom’s attitude towards privacy is getting less practical with time, not more. Yes, it’s important to respect people’s boundaries, but at the same time you can’t rely upon etiquette to keep your blog “safe”, as Luceateis appears to be suggesting. For every one person who is thoughtful and kind about respecting the boundaries of people in fandom and/or private Tumblr users, there will be a bunch of people who either don’t care, or are just passing through. I’ve seen a bunch of reblogs/arguments about fandom’s Fourth Wall this week, but I didn’t have time to comment properly on any of them until now. IMO, anyone who says that fans “should” Out themselves in their IRL lives is being needlessly dickish, but at the same time you shouldn’t really be surprised if celebrities and/or your grandmother knows what fanfic is. Like, 50 Shades of Grey is a thing. People know how to use google. If you run a William Shatner RPF blog then it’s vanishingly unlikely that he will ever know or care, because he’s 81 years old and has seen it all before. On the other hand, if you’re posting about Jeff Davis on the Teen Wolf tag and a few people reblog your post, then chances are he’ll see it because he’s clearly kind of a self-googler and Teen Wolf fans tweet fandom stuff at him all the time. When you’re using Tumblr in any kind of rebloggable format, you’re not having a conversation in cafe – you’re having a conversation, recording it, carefully labelling it with the relevent subject-details, and leaving it in a public place where you hope that passers-by will be courteous enough not to pass it on to the “wrong” people.
- [roddyrick]: I think the problem stems from the fact that the internet and general social etiquette have become estranged friends. sure they know each other, and they used to spend time together. But somewhere along the lines they drifted apart. People see the internet as a place to be anonymous and faceless. So they can be as rude, and generally uncaring as they want. Not everyone is like that, by all means. But sometimes people just don’t think about it. Part of that, for tumblr in specific, is that Tumblr is a public thing. People are on here to share. So it’s assumed that most people’s two-cents worth is welcomed. This is assumed to be true, even when it’s stated otherwise. Heck, even this. I’m throwing my two-cents at the post. Why? Because it showed up in my public feed. And I just assumed that it was safe to comment on.
- [paulsjamminpowerplant]: Because of the way the conversation is presented. Let me toss out a potential scenario here. You and your sweetheart/significant other are sitting next to each other at a small group table and the both of you are starting to get a bit horny, or cuddly, or are just feeling private. Obviously, you’re not just going to get up and ditch your friends, because that would be rude as shit. One thing some couples will do is text each other while they’re at the table talking. It might be somewhat rude, but it’s better than openly talking about what they’re gonna do to each other in front of their friends. Another thing: tumblr is designed to be a website where you present content to others. Sometimes that content is presented in odd forms, such as a chat-log or a current conversation with your friends. The conversation is still being presented in public though; It’s not some sounds spouting off in the background, but a full on announcement of said conversation right on top of you. It gets its own special white bubble and everything. Perhaps this argument could be made if tumblr were presented in a mash of white clouds that you just click at random and hope that you get a cool post that you want, but everything is presented to you, personally, on your dashboard based on the people you choose to follow. If you post something and have more than 0 followers, you should reasonably expect that somebody is going to see what you posted. Maybe it’s not who you wanted. The thing is, you don’t get to make the choice of who does or doesn’t get to see the content you posted. The people seeing your content do. Isn’t blogging fun? 
- [somekindofblogthing]: This is something I’ve thought about before and keep meaning to write a proper post on. In particular because many of us may act differently around different groups of people, e.g. work colleagues, close friends, family etc. You’re not pretending to be someone you’re not with any of these groups, you’re just moderating yourself based on the type of relationship you have with them. The standard example given is that most people don’t want their mum reading about last night’s sexcapades, or seeing photos of their drunken table dancing, but this is something you might want to share with your close friends. With some sites, like Google+ and increasingly Facebook, it’s possible to filter what you post so that only the people you want to see it will, but that isn’t possible on most blogging or micro-blogging sites like Twitter or Tumblr where it’s either all public all the time or private and protected.
- [ninety6tears]: the language of this conversation should be shifted from privacy to comfort - i really agree with that, because my main objection to luceateis’s argument is this idea that tumblr being a public space where any asshole can see your post and comment on it is a “viewpoint.” it’s not a viewpoint. it’s a fact. it is the nature of the medium. now, we can and should think carefully about how to respect one another’s boundaries and comfort level, but privacy - in the sense of being able to control who sees and responds to your content - is clean out of the way. it’s just not on the table, and i think that any discussion which proceeds from the idea that it should be on the table because we want it to be on the table simply does a disservice to the community in question. no matter how you format or tag your post, it is no more private than directing a public tweet @ someone or tagging someone in a public facebook post or shouting at them across a crowded room. the reason i think this distinction is critical and not merely semantics is because the members of individual communities (whether its some specific fandom, or some group of friends, or whoever was involved in whatever breaches of etiquette prompted this post) can try as hard as they like to map LJ/DW fannish norms onto tumblr, but tumblr is a functionally distinct medium with no actual privacy controls and we lose sight of that to our peril. even if you managed to make everyone in your corner of tumblr abide by your wishes, that would still be an infinitesimally small percentage of all the people who could find and disseminate your content! anyone on tumblr can find your content (and easily, too, if you’re using tags); gawker can find it; your celebrity of choice can find it; a search engine can find it; your parents can find it. some of those people might understand and respect your boundaries, some of them might understand but choose not respect your boundaries, and some of them will neither understand nor respect your boundaries. that’s the imperfect reality with which we need to engage. on the other hand, i disagree with leapagus’s assertion that tumblr is inherently a performance space in the sense that anyone using it must be asking for attention - to strain an already flawed analogy, plenty of people perform in coffee shops, too, but we still distinguish them from people sitting there having a mocha and chatting with a friend. i personally have always respected someone’s wishes not to reblog or comment on a particular post, and i wouldn’t be interested in following anyone who routinely disregarded those wishes. that’s just being polite, in my opinion, and i share luceateis’s desire that we respect one another’s boundaries as much as we can. but then that just brings me back to the part of leapagus’s post that i definitely agree with, which is to recognize how quickly tumblr allows (and, indeed, encourages) the message to be separated from the messenger. if you have been on tumblr for any length of time, i guarantee that you have reblogged something the OP never intended for you to see or comment on. perhaps it was a silly text post, or perhaps it already had a billion notes, or perhaps it never occurred to you that the OP would mind, or perhaps it did occur to you but you just ~felt sure~ that they wouldn’t really care, but the principle of the things remains the same! and it strains credulity to think that we can have our cake (sharing the content of strangers while rarely, if ever, going to the source to see if they want it shared) and eat it, too (expect strangers to respect our right to limit access to our content). again, my point here is not “and therefore everyone has the moral right to opine on your real life posts” but that we have to be honest about the community standards of behavior we are already upholding if we hope to effectively change any of them. so i suppose my feeling is: i will continue to do my best to respect your wishes regarding your content. i will continue to not follow people who purposefully disrespect the wishes of others regarding their content. but i am deeply resistant to framing this issue in terms of “private conversations” or “strangers eavesdropping” or anything else that proceeds from a fanciful, nostalgic re-imagining of the actual medium we have chosen to use. we all deserve a more serious conversation than that about boundaries and respect on tumblr.
- [cherrytiger10]: I think you can make private posts on Tumblr where only you yourself can see it? Not sure how the private option works here, but I agree that Tumblr will NEVER be like LJ, and it’s ridiculous to expect the makers to turn it into another LJ. I know a lot of people from LJ who moved to Tumblr are feeling the pinch lately with this inability to post long comments or have private posts between friends and all, but if you want all that well… LJ is still there. So’s DW. I would have stayed in LJ hadn’t the lack of activity drove me to stay on Tumblr instead. Come on guys… LJ is STILL the best place to post up fics and I prefer the comments system there so much more.
- [eleveninches]: i don’t think it’s outrageous for people to say, ‘please don’t link me outside tumblr’; i do think it’s bizarre for people to say 'don’t continue the conversation i started on tumblr,’ which is what drew me to this discussion. i wish we had more control over tumblr layouts and could put a disclaimer or something that said not to link, the way we can do on lj. (i wish everything about tumblr was like old school lj.) the way tumblr is set up doesn’t allow us the same kind of control and personalisation that we’re used to, and i think we’re beginning to see the result of that. ETA: that said, you can’t put a tag on something and then be surprised when a person from outside fandom uses the tag and finds your post. basically, tumblr doesn’t allow us any control whatsoever. we can ask fellow fans not to link us, but we can’t stop somewhere like gawker or wherever from doing it, because they would probably not know (nor care) that fandom has collectively decided not to link non-fandom people or something.
- [rubdown]: I am aroused that I’ve been able to shift the discussion from PRIVACY to COMFORT!!! Things to add to this: I’m not entirely sure how uncomfortable people are with reblogging their posts. I’m not uncomfortable with that, and I think that would be super difficult to go out and ask every person before you reblog something if it’s okay if you reblog a post. Are posts not posted to be reblogged? If a person blogs a post and it is not reblogged, was it ever a post at all? Like, get a blogspot if you don’t want to be reblogged. This is, in fact, tumblr. What I’m talking about is linking to tumblr posts on outside sites against someone’s wishes or without permission, and not keeping the posts on tumblr, even though I also recognize that tumblr is public and anyone could find the posts anyway. I mean bringing more attention to the posts by linking them elsewhere.
- [tildecowscomehome]: ....I really like the term “outbound information source” to describe Tumblr. That’s what tumblr does best: spread information/opinions/art, promote fleeting contact with people who have similar interests, and often make it difficult to maintain that contact for longer periods of time.It’s very different from a meatspace coffeeshop or a run-of-the-mill blogging platform (I would attribute this difference to the tagging and cross-referencing system) because it is not about the person, it’s about the subject.... This is the inter-blog level of tags, wherein lies the real power and uniqueness of tumblr. Strangers see your stuff. I was used to speaking to my followers only, in a conversation that was a lot like my irl or lj conversations. But with the tag system that links your interests thematically with others, you aren’t connecting with specific people, you’re connecting with a stream of interests. This is part of the reason two-way conversations are so difficult to wrangle in tumblr, imho: the medium is designed so you’re nearly never speaking to one other person. Instead, tumblr is a place for shouting.... ... tl;dr version: tumblr doesn’t sustain secretiveness because you’re not connecting with (trusted) individuals, you’re just broadcasting to a (receptive) audience. TAGS, BABY.
- [thebkwyrm]: I just think we’re dealing with a platform (Tumblr) where privacy is, by design, very, very difficult, if not impossible. And even if somehow all of fandom agrees that it is Not On to link to fandom stuff from outside fannish spaces, no one gets a fandom primer when they join and they might be so excited that they start posting stuff all over non-fannish spaces because LOOK OTHER PEOPLE THINK THAT HAWKEYE AND AGENT COULSON MIGHT BE BOYFRIENDS. Or there’s people who just don’t give a shit and they want to mock others. Or someone from outside fandom thinks fandom is inherently funny (hi, Gawker!) and links to stuff within the fandom space. Essentially, while it’s an awesome thing to strive for, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Not because people are assholes and want to be dicks, but because the default is now “if it’s public, you can link to it” and changing that belief would be an uphill battle fought not only in fandom, but in every other kind of media.
The Internet is a Wide-Open Space, and Forever
- [watermelandrea]: I remember a few years ago I read an article talking about new conditions relating to the internet era and I remember one of them speaking about internet anger issues. The idea at the time was that since on the internet people do not have to see the other person’s face then they feel they are free to interact with other people however they want, including being really rude, SPEAKING IN ALL CAPS AND ANGRILY OVER SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T WARRANT IT, and things like cyberbullying and such. I think a similar idea applies to this. The fact of the matter is that psychologically being in a physical cafe has different social norms than being on the internet. On the internet we do not need to see someone’s face to react to them and as such the internet is a more open place to being attacked or to someone butting into your private life when you do not want them to. Furthermore, and I’ve had to learn this the hard way, the internet is sort of permanent. When you speak a phrase in a public place, it is gone; on the internet, it stays there until you erase it. This allows more public people to keep it and share it and see it. When I was in 8th grade I wrote some nasty stuff on Myspace about a guy I didn’t like and happened to be in a class group with me and then his mom found it, months later, and she came into my home to yell at me in front of my parents and tell me how worthless I was. I have gotten into severe arguments with people due to things I have written online that I felt for a mere few seconds.
Perhaps More Exposure is Good?
- [ravenskrag]: Making it public opens it up to those dickheads, but also lets other friends you might not have known could help you with your problems know about it. Though the help you need could just as easily come from a stranger. It’s definitely a mixed bag, but I’d say it’s worth it.
- [kiss-my-aspergers]: Yeah but the argument here is that Read Mores are akin to talking to your friends in a public space and a stranger bursts in and is a jackass. Privating a post would mean literally no one else sees it. You COULD argue that you could move it to a PM, but a lot of the time it’s more convenient to leave it out for any of your friends to respond to, especially for more than one friend to respond to, so you can get different views on your problem. It’s kind of 50/50.
- [punkyfaeflowers]: You can make it ‘private’, but that’s makes it so only you can see it. Opinions are fair game in my opinion, personal posts are not.
Everyone on Tumblr Has Made the Choice to Be There
- [infamousr]: it’s not like it’d even take you much energy to find privacy, either. you’re not in a coffee shop. you’re sitting at your computer, or holding your phone, or whatever, and it would literally take you the most minimal movements of your hands to send your friends messages, to text or call them, to do anything that would actually keep your conversation private. but you don’t. and that’s not the fault of the people reblogging, or leaving comments, or whatever they do with the information you just made public; that’s your own fault. that was you. welcome to the internet, it is not a coffee shop.
Relying on Expected Social Rules
- [themarquisdehoto]: I...disagree. The comparison you’re making doesn’t really apply to this sort of social space. I mean, the example is relevant - if you’re having a conversation with a person through reblogs, and that conversation is personal and one that only you and the other person whom you know would be able to talk about. Like, family or whatever. Or even opinions between each other. Anyone with half a brain would be able to realize “these two know each other, I shouldn’t say anything, no matter what I may think. This is not my conversation. But when people make the argument of pubic vs. private - it’s usually when someone makes an opinion post. It’d be more accurate to pose the example of you being at that very same coffee shop, then someone standing up and yelling out something like…. "I hate all cis people, they should all be whipped or die." I dunno something to that effect. You know how tumblr is. In any-case, this type of scenario you would probably stand up, and maybe disagree with the person, because what they said was insane. This can also apply to other opinion posts, on normal things and not the insanity that is the SJW. Like, honestly there is a password system to a blog for a reason. If you don’t want people seeing your things, or rebloging your stuff, then the best action you can take is make that. Aside from that, you’re just going to have to trust others tor respect your wishes, which is reasonable, I understand, but not full-proof.
- [caffeinatedqueenbitch]: Just because you use tumblr does not mean you cannot use a different place for private communication if you so choose. You cannot reasonably ask everyone to just not read posts that you post in a public place if you’re posting them on a website specifically designed for public posting, because private conversations are not the purpose of the website. There are other social media that can be easily used for private conversations. Hell, tumblr actually does have means of private conversation, like, you know, the ask box (and yes I know that it’s glitchy, but fanmail can also be used and replied to privately. I’ve actually never come across issues with that feature at all.) tl;dr we are resistant to the idea on tumblr because it is not the purpose of the website to have private conversations on public posts, and do not understand why that would not be a given.
- [harshwhimsical]: while i agree wholeheartedly that people should have the common decency to keep their noses out of other people’s business, this quite heavily assumes that tumblr is the only form of communication. if you truly wanted a conversation to be private, why wouldn’t you just find a more personal means of communication than broadcasting your matters all over everyone’s dashboards for them to see? 
- [wabbitwanderer95]: It’s the Internet Social Norms tend not to apply… Also if you don’t want people to comment/reblog/like a post DON’T POST IT. Yes freedom of speech and all that but if you don’t want something shared on a network that is used for sharing why post it on that network if you don’t want it shared? But the only reason I could see someone post something about “Boy/Girlfriend Troubles” is that they want someone to talk to. If you’ve got someone to chat to talk over ask don’t air all your troubles online.
- [jinxasaurus]: It goes to show that peoples’ true colors show through when they don’t have society physically around them to keep them doing socially acceptable things.
- [the-trashbag-Pokémon]: While I believe, yes, tumblr is a performance place. I still think that people should respect others. I think that some people get so big-headed that they think they can interject others conversations and rudely throw their views at people who might come from a completely different angle. I don’t mind someone commenting and having a good debate but come on people, we all have feelings and I think that being rude to raise your self-esteem is stupid. I know there are people out there like that because I had to deal with one. Someone who falsely accused me of of things I didn’t do and her followers blindly followed her (huh go figure) and harassed me. I think that’s the part of tumblr that people are against here.
- [scrawlers]: I agree, for the most part. The one thing I will say, though, is that if someone tags it with “personal,” or “please don’t reblog,” or asks you to delete something you reblogged, you should not reblog it/delete it. Yeah, Tumblr is a social media platform, but it’s also a blogging site. For the most part, it seems that Tumblr wants to bake its cake and eat it, too; it wants to be a blogging site akin to LiveJournal or Wordpress, but at the same time, it also wants to be a social media site like Facebook. There’s a golden rule that you should never post something on the internet that you wouldn’t want to broadcast to the rest of the world, but the fact remains that people like talking about themselves. They like expressing their feelings and their thoughts, and when it comes to wanting to share those thoughts with other people, the internet is the easiest way to go about that..... ...In that instance, though, it’s called common courtesy. If someone asks you, “Please don’t reblog this,” or says, “This is personal,” or asks you, “Hey, can you please take that down from your blog,” you should be what I like to call a decent human being and respect their wishes, instead of acting like a bratty little asshole and sneering, “Nyeh-nyeh, I can do whatever I want!” Yeah, you have freedom of speech and freedom of action, Tumblr is a public platform and people are taking a risk by posting personal things. But since this is a public and social platform, that means that we’re all still bound by basic social etiquette to be decent to one another. We should respect one another, and that goes from anything to not sending anon hate to not reblogging things people specifically ask us not to (as well as taking down things that people post that they ask us to). After all, while Tumblr is a social media outlet, it’s also a blogging outfit. And blogging is good for nothing else than vomiting up your feelings when you have a bad day so that you don’t express them in a more self-destructive fashion, such as by slitting your wrists open. Let people get that outlet, rather than making them feel as if they have one more reason to hate themselves by broadcasting their dirty laundry all over Tumblr. Just be decent human beings, yeah? It’s not that much to ask for.
- [pitchercries]: Oh god, this again. Ugh, I hated this shit on LJ and I see it’s now on Tumblr as well (which I find even more ridiculous)…. :1. If you’re going to talk about a virtual space and describe its social norms (which to you seem universal and obvious and common sense) by comparing it to a “real world” space, DONT’. Just… don’t. I remember when people were doing that “what if you were at a party and someone whispered something in your ear, would you tell someone else?” thing to talk about whether it was OK to disclose info from locked posts (yeah, guess what even “private” on LJ wasn’t really private) and it annoyed the fuck out of me even back then. Not because I think people shouldn’t respect privacy settings, but because I always feel like those theories came from such entitlement and self centeredness, typical of, shall we say, certain sections of the internet population. But anyway, a journal is not like a party, a website is not like a cafe, a tumblr tag is not like a busy street, a crocodile is not like a horseshoe. Just… stop. Those comparisons are always flawed, they’re never accurate, they never work. Websites are different. They have different rules, different codes, different cultures than physical spaces. It’s not that there’s no relation, but you can’t just be like “going on tumblr is totally like going to my neighborhood cafe!” because it isn’t. Public is different, private is different. None of those similies ever work when you try to use physical-space rules and apply them to the internet. *2. ONE OF THE REASONS is that the internet, unlike a cafe, is not based in one country or one culture. Tumblr (and LJ, and DW) are not part of your neighborhood or your street or your college or your hometown. They are not where you went on holiday, they are not where your parents were born. They are something ELSE, they’re a place that exists and doesn’t, made up simultaneously of many different cultures, different spaces, different perspective. THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE IT IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD, OK. You can tailor your internet experience to reflect only people you know IRL or feel comfortable with IRL, but that is not what the internet IS. It’s not what tumblr is. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to guess that people who pipe up about social norms of politeness on giant, international internet spaces come from a culture where most of the people they’ve met on the internet have been from the same geographical area as them (for example, North America). I also think it’s indicative of a perspective that only their way of life, their experiences, their notion of politeness matters, but that’s a different issue. Because the thing is - the internet creates its own norms of politeness, its own culture. And it’s not like a egalitarian process, of course the more people from your area there are the bigger your culture’s influence is. But as someone who’s never known more than 3-4 people on LJ/Tumblr who were from her country, I don’t feel the need to apologize for the fact that my notion of proper, of private, of public, of engagement is different than the English speaking majority’s on the internet. When I go to English speaking countries? Sure, I’m a visitor, I’m a tourist, I have to comply and adjust. But on the internet? Sorry, people, this space is mine as much as it is yours. Stop telling me how you’d behave in your neighborhood cafe - I don’t care. It’s irrelevant. Stop judging internet interactions by the standards of how you grew up, stop telling me what’s “polite” or “proper” or whatever.
- [cherrybina]: I also think it is worth thinking about the difference between what we think people should do and what we can have a reasonable expectation that they will do. Like, we can sit here and have 495867438386 conversations establishing a code of etiquette, but unless that code is widely accepted, it isn’t going to do a bit of good. I said in a previous reblog that fandom is not an inherently safe space, and I say that from personal experience. I have been mocked, ridiculed, and shamed in fandom spaces by fandom people. I have witnessed countless conversations throughout the years with people trying to dictate rules for anon memes, or what is/is not acceptable behavior in fandom spaces. Fandom wasn’t a safe space the first time I was hurt years ago, and it isn’t a safe space today. This isn’t going to change because it’s a different platform..... So yes, by all means, treat others kindly and advocate for a code of politeness. Believe me, I could write a fucking dissertation on why People Should Always Be Nice, but my experience of years and years watching the cycles of debates about anon memes where the same things get said over and over and nothing ever changes tells me that people on the internet aren’t always going to behave the way I would like for them to behave. Since the only person you can control in fandom is yourself, I think it is worth taking the time to do whatever it takes to make your space safe for yourself. I will never convince anons to stop saying mean things about me but I can choose to stop reading anon memes. On tumblr it’s a little different. You’re never going to convince all of tumblr to adhere to your preferred rules of etiquette, so it’s probably worth taking the time to protect your little bubble, because when you post sensitive information on tumblr, a platform designed to quickly and easily spread information, you are relying onthe entire internet to respect your safe space. And anyone who has been on the internet for more than five minutes can tell you why that is probably a really bad idea.
- [thebkwyrm]: See, I can’t get behind the idea of using this standard of “things people are uncomfortable having reblogged,” because there’s no way of knowing what is going to make whom uncomfortable. Tumblr is HUGE, there’s a lot of different levels of comfort. How do we figure out, on a platform like Tumblr, where the various comfort levels are? Yours may be different than mine, which may be different from another person’s - if I assume most people are at my comfort level and I’m wrong, does that make me an asshole? Basically, why is the responsibility on OTHER PEOPLE to figure out the comfort level of countless near-strangers? Isn’t the onus on the Tumblr owner to post with the idea in mind that this may be reposted, that it may be commented on, as that is how Tumblr is designed? I don’t think anyone WANTS to be an asshole, to reblog things the author doesn’t want reblogged, but on this platform? It happens, and it’s going to keep happening no matter how many people swear not to be jerks or intrusive or whatever, because the fact is that Tumblr posts are public and the entire platform is designed for sharing things other people drew/wrote/said.
Seeing/Reading Something Unpleasant
- [sassocalypse]: Also, as much as this argument may seem sound to you, and there is an ideal of a social nicety that should come with society, expecting someone to see something that upsets or causes a reaction in them publicly and not say anything about it is a bit ridiculous. No one should have to be quiet when someone posts something on the internet for fear that they might hurt someone’s feelings. It’s a public space, and if you really didn’t want to be judged for it, why did you put it up period? Why not write it in a text file and save it in some part of your computer that no one looks? If you’re talking to a friend about it, why not talk to them privately about it? There are better ways to do these things. Also, the people who often bitch about this are the same folks who wish for more notes on posts that have no value or substance, then post something about hating kittens and get mad when people call them on it and say “Well, I think you’re dumb.” I don’t know, maybe I’m old, but back in my day if you didn’t want people to know things or judge you on things you kept them to yourself. Because you cannot, in any way, control the reaction that pops into people’s heads. If they choose to voice it, that is also their right. If they somehow begin to physically or (truly) mentally harm you - and i’m not talking ‘oh this made me sad because person didn’t like what I said’ - but SERIOUSLY HARM YOU, then fine, do something about it. Otherwise, suck it up and welcome to the internet.
- [rubdown]: I’m not sure I completely understand this because tumblrs and public twitters are for butting in. For instance, I am butting in on this post right now. On Livejournal if someone apologized for butting in on a comment thread I’d be like, GURL. I AM HERE TO TALK TO EVERYONE. DON’T FEEL BAD. Y'all, I tag THE FUCK out of my posts. Anyone could stumble upon anything at any time, even Louis Tomlinson himself, but my thing is, I’m not actively pushing it on anyone. Go ahead and find it, but the point is I’m not giving it to you. I think this entire conversation’s language needs to shift. Tumblr is not a private space. This should not be about “privacy” but rather about “COMFORT”. People are UNCOMFORTABLE with their posts being linked to by outside sources or reblogged out of control…. My twitter is public because I want it that way and I want to talk to people and I want people to talk to me. However, it makes me VERY UNCOMFORTABLE that an outside source would link to it or make screenshots of it against my will and use it for themselves and their own purposes. It’s not an invasion of my privacy, but it’s a violation of my comfort. I don’t participate in fandom to be made to feel uncomfortable about myself. Doing something like linking to public posts or tweets against someone’s wishes or without their permission in an article or in a new post obviously isn’t ILLEGAL or INHERENTLY EVIL, but it’s mortifying and humiliating. Maybe I can’t rely on the kindness of strangers not to make me uncomfortable, but sorry if I’m naive if I want to be able to rely on the kindness of friends and peers to allow me to feel comfortable with what I attach my name, presence, words, and interactions to, regardless of how public it is to begin with.
- [msilverstar]: I agree, Tumblr is public, the Web is public, and security by obscurity never works. There will always be someone who wanders by and notices that your ass is showing. This may be something that every cohort of fans has to learn for themselves.
- [everbright-mourning]: Short answer: It’s really hard to leverage effectual social consequence over the internet. IRL it’s easier to ‘get the crowd on your side’ in leveling approbation on this sort of behavior, immediately. Even if you do manage to get other people angry enough at an internet to start making their life difficult, it generally takes awhile unless you have a massive following. In a cafe you can start yelling and instantly get everyone to make grumpy faces at the dude. Also, we’ve had centuries living on top of each other to develop norms of social behavior in 'public’ spaces. The private/public divide of the internet isn’t really nailed down yet, w/o real inconveniences like f-lock. It totally suck balls tho. Sorry! 
- [pitchercries]: the internet, unlike a cafe, is not based in one country or one culture. Tumblr (and LJ, and DW) are not part of your neighborhood or your street or your college or your hometown. They are not where you went on holiday, they are not where your parents were born. They are something ELSE, they’re a place that exists and doesn’t, made up simultaneously of many different cultures, different spaces, different perspective. THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE IT IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD, OK. You can tailor your internet experience to reflect only people you know IRL or feel comfortable with IRL, but that is not what the internet IS. It’s not what tumblr is. I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m going to guess that people who pipe up about social norms of politeness on giant, international internet spaces come from a culture where most of the people they’ve met on the internet have been from the same geographical area as them (for example, North America). I also think it’s indicative of a perspective that only their way of life, their experiences, their notion of politeness matters, but that’s a different issue. Because the thing is - the internet creates its own norms of politeness, its own culture. And it’s not like a egalitarian process, of course the more people from your area there are the bigger your culture’s influence is.
- [heidi8]: Fandom norms change over time. Nobody gets a printed (or digital) list of Do’s and Don'ts when they start participating in fandom :Every fandom has slightly different rules, norms and etiquette from every other fandom. There was a time when some Harry Potter fans said that if you were quoting from the books - spells, dialogue, character descriptions - it was immoral and unethical to not italicize it and footnote/endnote it with a page citation. There was a time when people worried whether turning a photo from a magazine into a icon and putting your own text on it was unethical and immoral. There was a time when thanking everyone who’d reviewed your fic was de rigueur - in certain fandoms. There will be a time when people recognize that once it’s out there, it can be screencapped and reblogged and cut and pasted anywhere, and if you want to try and have some control over the distribution of what you say, you’ll say it on a locked mailing list or locked blog post, not in a tweet or a tumblrpost.
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- Stuff and things, things and stuff ('public' vs 'private' on tumblr), Archived version
- Do you want marvels? - onward and outward: 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr, Archived version
- Cherried World, Archived version
- i take pictures of interesting doors., Archived version
- tomato-greens: tout nouveau, tout beau:... - rubdown, Archived version
- 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr - the'ere s no cry inga in baseball, Archived version
- I Know, Right?, Archived version
- public-vs-private-on-tumblr, Archived version
- A bit of everything: 'public' vs 'private' on..., Archived version
- ..., 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr, Archived version
- I think I lost my halo., Archived version
- Villainous Afterthoughts—tsunderegod: 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr, Archived version
- adventures in narcissism: 'public' vs 'private' on... - INSERTNAMEHERE, Archived version
- bwaaah - 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr, Archived version
- voodoo child, Archived version
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- Summer, Archived version
- "Somebody has to go polish the stars.", Archived version
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- 'public' vs 'private' on tumblr - rubdown, Archived version
- I Know, Right?, Archived version
- pengy trash, Archived version
- Lotripper, Archived version
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