All this talk about unpopular writers reminds me of how tumblr fandom is really lonely.

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Title: the post does not have a title; the title used here on Fanlore is part of the opening line of the original ask
Creator: an anonymous fan, linzeestyle, and commenters
Date(s): August 2015
Medium: online
External Links: original (defunct)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

All this talk about unpopular writers reminds me of how tumblr fandom is really lonely was an untitled Tumblr post by linzeestyle, responding to an anon ask. It was posted on or before August 23, 2015, but was later deleted along with linzeestyle's entire Tumblr. The original post had 586 notes as of September 5, 2015.

Anon's ask was lamenting the "lonely" nature of fandom on Tumblr, given the difficulties of engaging and interacting with other fans on Tumblr since the platform is optimized for image-heavy content and not for text and comments. linzeestyle's response argued that while Tumblr has its merits, it should not be the primary platform for transformative fandom, instead suggesting simultaneous use of both Dreamwidth and Tumblr to gather the best aspects of both the pre-Tumblr fandom culture and the low entry to participation offered by Tumblr. This sparked a great deal of discussion from other Tumblr users, who reblogged the post and added commentary discussing whether or not they agreed with these points, and how the issues could be solved on Tumblr or other social media platforms.

This discussion was part of growing dissatisfaction with Tumblr among fans related to consistent problems of basic functionality,[1] as well as growing concerns about the contradictory nature of Tumblr as a fannish platform.

The Post

Anonymous asked: All this talk about unpopular writers reminds me of how tumblr fandom is really lonely. I don’t remember having this big an issue making connections in other fandoms, but here you post things in the tags to see if anyone will converse with you, or send asks to blogs, and there’s no response. I've tried to reach out, but no one cares unless you have a popular blog. Being on tumblr feels like talking to a wall. Unwilling isolation sucks, but I've given up on engaging on tumblr. It's no use.

linzeestyle replied: I’ve seen discussion about how Tumblr is a superior platform because it’s better for lurkers – and I can see on some level how that is true. Tumblr is in many ways a great leveler: anyone can create a blog that’s “worth watching” in that the majority of any Tumblr blog consists of reblogs and rapid-fire images to be consumed quickly and pushed down on a dash just as fast. But the downside to this, I think, is the anonymity of it. We are actively discouraged from adding discourse: don’t add commentary, it clogs the images and ruins aesthetic. Don’t leave your opinion, no one wants that! Anything you want to say should be in the tags, where they disappear upon reblogs. Just reblog, baby, reblog; don’t speak, don’t think, don’t talk. I also believe this contributes to the often-antagonistic slant to much of Tumblr’s discourse: there’s so little in the way of “voice” on most blogs that it’s far easier to forget that blogs are comprised of individuals, with personalities, emotions and complex relationships to the texts they engage with. It’s far easier to reduce people to extremes.

The thing I wish Tumblr had more than anything else was a comments system worth using. I hate the extent to which any kind of discussion is reliant on opening new posts, or reblogging the same post repeatedly in a kind of unwieldy threading system, until it’s gotten big enough that there’s just no way to keep going. I’d love to see Tumblr embrace Dreamwidth as a simultaneous-use platform, i.e., someone writes meta and the “read more” sends you to Dreamwidth where openaccess posting allows for commentary and threading using your Tumblr name (or even anonymous posting, if it makes the commenter more comfortable). I’d also love to see this used as a way of keeping attention on fanfiction longer: perhaps Tumblr blogs devoted to reading and discussing lesser-recommended fic, with discussion taking place on Dreamwidth, but Tumblr used to tag the author, alerting them that – yes, people are reading your stories!, but without the immediate anxiety that comes with writing comments Directly On AO3. Similarly, it would be lovely to see more people, who feel that Tumblr has been better for them in terms of allowing for visibility they didn’t get on DW/LJ, be able to use Tumblr to introduce themselves to DW: perhaps use Tumblr as a primary location, but still comment on DW. Openaccess linking would draw hits to their Tumblrs, but regular commenting on DW would allow a space for their personalities to shine through in a way that (as you mention) isn’t really allowed for on Tumblr, where the best we can often hope for is that someone, somewhere will read our tags.

I do believe there’s a place for a platform like Tumblr in fandom. But it is absolutely not as our primary platform. At the end of the day, like it or not (unpopular? opinion forthcoming): fandom is a text-based culture. It needs to be generative. If it becomes primarily consumer-based it will die. And right now, the Tumblr-based model is not sustainable for the very reason that it is alienating so many of those who create the material that keeps fandom going. Gifsets are lovely, but they won’t sustain a fandom. Eventually we will all be discussing the maybe 5% of fanfiction written by authors who can survive in this climate, and reblogging moving images of the texts we watch on screen. That isn’t transformative fandom, and honestly it holds no appeal to me.

Comments to the Post


I like Tumblr and the gifsets are pretty magical, but it’s really frustrating when one post gets reblogged by six different people who all add captions and the discussion goes all over the place. It’s like trying to catch all the seeds off a dandelion. And a lot of you are much better than I am at group chats and knowing each other’s real names, and that’s how you connect, and a lot of it is so alien to me.[2]


I have never been as lonely in fandom as I am on Tumblr! I can’t imagine making some of the friends I have made in other fandoms (mostly XF and HP) if there was just Tumblr. It’s a great place to look at pretty pictures but getting to know someone? No. Following any conversation is a nightmare. You can post something and no one says a word but some other thing gets reblogged until there is nothing else on your computer screen. Tumblr is a strange beast for sure.[3]


I agree with all of this. Tumblr fandom could be distilled down into one word: repetitive. I miss the discussions you could have on lj, and I miss the forums that proceeded it, I even miss the inelegant way you had to email writers feedback if a story touched you in some way. You’d be slightly embarrassed writing a gushing email, but then you’d get a reply from an author absolutely incandescent you took the time, and it became worth it. Appreciation required more effort I suppose - on both sides of the creative endeavour, and that was nice. It sucks that this anon has given up on trying to engage on tumblr, certainly the ingredients are present for discourse to be so much richer, which surely could be remedied, if not by a change in the platform itself, but a growth in awareness of how we’ve come to use it.[4]


What limits tumblr in terms of fandom is what I appreciate about it - it means drama is very focused and over quickly and I miss most of it. My blood pressure stays pretty level on tumblr, especially when I can remove blogs as my interests change. It’s my no-commitment good-time place. Also there are lots of fandoms to look at instead of just one. You’re right, though, it’s not a place to build a fandom and tbh I don’t even really read fanfic posted here - I wait for it to show up at ao3 or[5]


I agree very much with this post. I miss LJ comment threads so much, and Communities, and the tagging system, and the journal layouts, and all my user icons that could change depending on my mood. If DW/LJ could figure out a way to make uploading content as fast and easy as it is on tumblr, they would have the ultimate fandom platform.[6]


I find attribution difficult to track, which I think is one thing that feeds into the feeling that content just appears magically. Posts don’t have a home, by design. I regret the ephemeral nature of the tumblr medium, it’s curation of a stream of consciousness; blogs and journals accumulated more readily visible character in the way of links to fic/deviant art/websites, memory posts, people’s accustomed icons, etc. Reading pages and threaded comments are social networks in action, it’s space for conversation and getting to know people. I think exploring how we can cross-pollinate and get the best of what each has to offer is WHAT FANDOM DOES! It doesn’t die, but it does break apart and scatter and find more fertile ground for what it wants to do–which is why tumblr took off in the first place, for the benefits above. But it’s a rocky salty environment for meta and fic. Tumblr is like trying to have a salon discussion by way of the game of telephone.[7]


man I miss ye olden LJ days. I find tumblr fandom profoundly alienating, to the point of not really knowing how to engage any more because it’s so difficult (and I’ve been on tumblr for four years at this point). like, it was fine when I was in a tiny fandom with few enough people that it was manageable to follow everyone and keep track of a conversation that way, but now unless you’re an OP it’s impossible to keep track of a reblog conversation even if you do go to the trouble of making an addition. and then the hassle of trying to have a conversation makes everything weirdly high stakes and feeds into tumblr fandom’s reluctance to say anything outside the tags.[8]


....having more and different styles of platforms has my whole hearted approval, that was never what I wanted to oppose with my comment. And an update/change to the PM/fanmail system so that you could talk to more people at once and there wasn’t a limit on them like now would be welcome. Unfortunately it’s also unlikely, but a girl can dream.[9]


I’ve probably had better luck that a lot of people engaging on Tumblr over the course of five years, but I think it’s largely a matter of timing: the current way of doing things wasn’t the way of doing things when I started using it fannishly in 2010, so I talked/wrote in my reblogs and connected with people who also talked in the reblogs, and gradually formed a few pretty keen relationship over askboxes.

I’m from a text-heavy subsection of fandom. Text is how I live. I appreciate the advantages that this space gives artists, certainly, but the disadvantages here as far as text goes cramp my style. As do the cultural shifts that come along with that. I talk more in tags now vs reblogs than I even did two years ago: my use has shifted with the shift in customs. Not that I’ve ever been able to get a firm handle on those, seeing as they’re a moving target. (The whole tagging system here is a hot mess of conflicts of use cases, for example, with subgroups using them just differently enough for there to be a whole lot of shouting.) At this point, I’d take just a better messaging system here: that an ask has a single use and then it’s done, this irritates me. Puts a lot of overhead in what should be a back and forth.

Hell, the overhead is what keeps me from doing more cross linking between this and DW, or any at all.[10]


I love fandom because, at its heart, it’s about transforming and responding to what we see and read, not simply consuming it. Wanting to make new things out of the worlds we saw on the screen was why we came to fandom in the first place, and I miss the ease of being able to respond in that way to the work you all generate. I would be all over the fic discussion posts linzeestyle suggests. That way even if I don’t look at my dash for 48 hours, I will still feel like I could chime in.[11]


Okay, first of all, I recognize the irony of trying to have a conversation about how difficult it is to have conversations on tumblr, on tumblr.

Secondly, YES OMG I HATE THE TUMBLR COMMENT SYSTEM. And how there’s the tag tier and the reblog comment tier and the reply tier and none of them is kind to threading. And in fact I feel like tumblr fandom wouldn’t be where it is today without the supplemental use of email, AO3, and chat systems, just because tumblr is so bad with comments. That said, some thoughts: 1) Let us recognize the ways that tumblr *does* contribute to discussions, namely: discoverability and a lower cost of entry. [snip] 2) I think it’s important to be more aware of what posts are best for what platforms, and to build social conventions around that. [snip] 3) Can we also have more linkage between AO3 and LJ/DW? [snip]

4) The crux of the issue is revitalizing LJ/DW. [snip] ... I think this requires a few things: (1) the AO3 linkage mentioned above, (2) the tumblr linkage mentioned by the OP, (3) some sort of critical consensus on either DW or LJ. Like, the fact that half the stuff is on LJ and half is on DW right now is such a mess.[12]


This “pipe dream” doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. We already have the platforms, and nothing is better at rapid-fire dissemination of an idea than Tumblr. Having a tumblr for sharing ideas, and a DW (or an LJ–if we’re finding each other through Tumblr I don’t think it matters which we use) for discussing them, is absolutely brilliant. So why don’t we just start doing it? I’m gonna make a DW and link to it in my tumblr. It’ll be the wordy part of my fandom experience, the way tumblr is my visual/shitpost side. And when I post on AO3, I’ll link to both. Who’s with me? [13]


These suggestions are incredibly constructive! Let’s implement them, guys! I don’t know that LJ/DW are in much shape to be revitalized, but I bet we could get some mileage out of linking to LJ/DW posts when we want to spur comment-based discussion.[14]


Honestly I prefer tumblr to LJ precisely because it was always difficult for me to sort through the beginnings and ends of comment threads on LJ. Posts would get buried. That being said, I think I’m lucky in that my primary fandom is A) Very inclusive to new people and B) A writing community as well as a fan community so it’s very normal for people to seek out, comment on, and recommend one another’s work, even if it’s not by someone who generates content often. Having spent time in the MCU fandom where I really felt like I was looking into a window but unable to cross over to the other side, I’m glad I’m in the community I’m in right now.[15]


I guess if everyone was vigorously cross-posting, it could work out pretty well - the OP on tumblr gets reblogged here there and everywhere, and anyone who sees it can click through for a threaded-comments experience. If it were possible to cross-post in an easy and streamlined fashion, then it could really take off. Hell, I’d reblog things way more often if it was specifically to bump the post, maybe show it to someone new, and know that people could join in with the whole discussion instead of getting lost in the chain. Tumblr posts become the clickbait link, with the DW post as the ‘article’ it’s linking to :D This is exciting, I really want to give it a shot.... This is interesting stuff. I would absolutely love to be able to follow conversations in a threaded format, instead of having to hunt for them in the comments of a post. That being said, I like the more ready exposure to new blogs etc. that tumblr brings, finding new shit through friends’ reblogs rather than trying my own luck at sorting through a whole bunch of related-but-different communities. (I sometimes have a steep learning curve when it comes to navigating large, feature-heavy websites, esp. when the irritation starts to edge out my sense of enjoyment. But hey, if it doesn’t do the pointless-update-with-cosmetic-changes that tumblr often does, I’ll get the hang of it easily enough.) I also appreciate the ‘like’ feature - sometimes I just want to do the quiet-acknowledgement fistbump for a personal post, or figuratively thumbs-up something cool that’s on my dash. I’d love for there to be more engagement options available, but not necessarily at the cost of losing this one. Does DW have anything resembling tumblr’s reblog function? I more or less gave up on LJ and never made a DW account. Are they basically the same, except for ads? [16]


I absolutely love the idea of people linking their tumblrs and DWs. Posting meta on the journal and linking it on the tumblr seems like a good way to use the strengths of both. Time to add some people to my DW circle… (same name, though I never post there. sometimes I do comment on meta, though!) [17]


Like, I’m coming to realize I don’t especially want to use DW on a standing equal to my use of Tumblr–I want it to supplement Tumblr, not the other way around. Crosslinking to “articles” on DW/LJ, and using Tumblr as our RSS feeds, seems the easiest, best way to go about it.[18]


I don’t have much to contribute about cross-platform usage but I do agree that the nature of this website does not lend itself to useful and engaging discourse (not saying it can’t happen, I’ve seen it, but it’s a chore). I’m pretty sure the “SJW” would never have become a term if not for this website - not the people on it, but literally the features Tumblr and how people are able to interact with one another. The invasive and often hostile feel of added commentary on a reblog (as someone mentioned above), even if the intent was merely to contribute to the conversation, plus the level of anonymity and uncertainty if anyone is even listening, probably gave rise to Tumblr’s “brand” of social justice. I hate the term SJW, and I don’t believe any one person trying to talk social justice is malevolent or overly sensitive or whatever, but I do believe a certain culture has been created simply by the counterproductive nature of how we are able to communicate with each other on this website.[19]


You couldn’t pay me to go back to the scary toxicity of LJ fan communities, but these are all excellent points.[20]


This is all pretty much on target, and part of the reason why I still actively maintain my LJ (tilmon, in case you were wondering). The other part is that I maintain a paid LJ so that I can control exactly who sees what I post. Not everyone needs or wants to see everything, and I don’t want to share everything with everyone. Not having control in Tumblr over how I communicate leaves me hesitant to do much other than reblog. I even post original posts in LJ first. The other thing that’s frustrating about Tumblr is not being able to sort the blogs I follow. I can easily do that in LJ, and can’t do it here at all. The dashboard is like an endless loud party. It can be fun, but it isn’t conducive to meaningful conversation.[21]


I want a blending of platforms, one that allows for a well-rounded conversation/interaction, as time and energy permits. Tumblr tends to lull me into a high level of passivity - it really is more consume, less produce for me. And, like many have said above, it’s isolating. for the life of me, I can’t figure out the best way to interact with folks, and possibly strenghten/ extend community [fannish or otherwise]. I do love tumblr - I love love LOVE curating content, and I have learned so much about a wide variety of things on this site. But that’s personal, not interpersonal - and I miss interpersonal. I’m so glad to see this discussion.[22]


I have the hardest time engaging with people on tumblr. I feel like it’s 100% harder than on livejournal or even deviantart. I have been trying for a long time now and I never felt like I was really part of a fandom or a community like I had the opportunity years before (the Shikaneji livejournal community please.) Maybe I’m not tumblr material enough? I don’t know. It does sometime drags me down because I see a lot of peeps, even very shy ones, doing it successfully and I just don’t know what it takes. (Which is why I’m so adamant about enjoying my things in own lill corner, because in itself I have no choice.) I don’t really agree with the comment saying that drama is very focused. I find drama on tumblr everlasting. I spend so much time being angry and upset about people, what they say, etc. Tumblr does exhaust me sometimes. I never was an angsty about fandom before. I had drama on rpg (Hetalia peeps? :D) but never to that extent and on livejournal, I never had to go through such drama. It happened but it was, I don’t know, I think it depended on the fandom. I wish I could just erase my account but, let’s be real, I love some of my fandom, even if I don’t talk to people. I’m glad I’m not alone feeling like connecting here is very difficult.[23]


Profoundly alienating” is a mild way of putting the way I feel about Tumblr in comparison to LJ. I’ve started checking my LJ Friends page again recently, and I’ve set up automated crossposting from Tumblr to LJ and DW, but if everybody else isn’t doing that, there’s not much point. I would love it if LJ or DW or both could wake up and return to the world. I miss comment threads and comms so much.[24]


Just to really illustrate this point the post I’m reblogging failed to add the quote indent to the last comment by qcity-blackbird: “I want a blending of platforms, one that allows for a well-rounded conversation/interaction, as time and energy permits. [snip]." Anyway, I, @cimness, think using Tumblr as the center and linking to long text “articles” on DW for the comment feature could work really well… I’d love if people used it that way. It would run up against a problem though: I see the Tumblr post being a partial quote only with a link, but I also see people reblogging and adding comment on the Tumblr post, depending on what they found important about it: if you just reblog as-is and comment on the post, then your followers on Tumblr don’t know what you focused on or to follow the link at all necessarily. But even beyond that, people aren’t necessarily using the same names or linking their DW/LJ to Tumblr, and that’s gonna make it a bit hard to keep track of the two disparate follow lists unless we have a longform-post-top template that automatically adds the Tumblr details for example, as well as linkbacks in the blog sidebars.[25]


I can’t really say I miss “the LJ days” because I’ve never been an active part of it, just a lurker. (my English wasn’t that good at the time and due to its size, the possibility of socializing on the Italian LJ-based side of fandom is equivalent to that of tumblr) The main focus of my fandom nostalgia is actually (Italian) forum boards, due to the threads being indexed by topic (making stuff easier to find than on LJ, I remember doing an awful amount of googling “topic + LJ” to find what I wanted) and the focal point being the interaction among people.

Doing the double platform thing would make finding stuff easier and turn interaction into a central point of fandom again, while keeping the tumblr-only stuff like gifsets. Having more than one “major” platform seems like the most logical solution to have an appropriate space for all sorts of fandom expression* (unless the OTW receives a donation of 5 million dollars and sets up a website that fulfills all our needs). So I might seriously try to do it, even though I can’t really see many people in my fandoms being interested. Besides, I’ve been looking for a reason to set up a Dreamwidth since the dawn of time.

*In the sense that, since fandom started being the one-platform entity we know, there’s always been a part of fandom that received the short end of the stick. With LJ it was the image-based part, now that we’re on tumblr it’s the text-based one. Not in the sense they didn’t have a place, but that they got certainly less attention. I mean, you could use DeviantART, but it was never considered the core of fandom by anyone.[26]


Something I find difficult that might well be a generational thing, is that people change their URL/username. I’ve always used the same name so people can follow me from one platform to another, but since it’s common on Tumblr to change your name, I’m always confused as to who is who. My crotchety out-of-date self who doesn’t know shit about these newfangled things postulates that whippersnappers these days know each other from school or some mysterious social platform that is beyond my ken. Still, I miss LJ/DW so fucking much.[27]


This. I too miss the LJ/DW for the threaded comments and the ase for following the conversation. Also, it was never difficult being a lurker on DW/LJ - you could just read, not comment. And while some argument could be made like said here upthread that you could not find some conversations in someone’s DW/LJ, I’d say that a lot of interesting discussions got linked to meta information comms (Metafandom, anyone?), or linked to by someone you did know, so after the initial flailing about trying to friend/subscribe to interesting sources, you were pretty much connected to the hive mind and could follow the threads into the nice labyrinth. My beef with Tumblr is that it is much more difficult to find meta here, because people are not consistent in tagging, if you subscribe to many blogs your dash is full of things and you may just miss it and there is no easy timestamp visible on reblogs (at least not in the basic layout I use - maybe there are layouts that have that?).

I honestly do not think people would abandon Tumblr, but I would very very much love some kind of interface for Tumblr with DW (and AO3), exactly for meta and discussion posts. Actually, i think that if enough people would ask, DW would probably look into the possibility of implementing something like this, same with AO3.

*goes to add one’s DW account info to Tumblr bio, just in case* [28]


some thoughts of a Tumblr generation fan:

trouble is, there are fandoms and then there is Fandom. As in, “Mad Max fandom” and “we people who nerd out about things and sometimes maybe make things about those things”. LJ is good for a fandom, tumblr is primarily a Fandom space. LJ/DW is good for long, in-depth discussions about a single topic (or topics within a theme). That’s what a fandom needs. But, it sucks for Fandom newbies without strong affiliation to a fandom, for fandom drifting, and multi-fandom existence in general. I got into every single fandom because friends dangled pretty gifs and meta under my nose long enough for me to bite. Some things I just read fic for, others I engage more deeply with… either way, Tumblr lets me play with all those fandoms at the same time. But when I stop being interested in something, I don’t have to abandon my whole social structure - I just blacklist a bunch of tags.

Anyway. I like the idea of using LJ/DW as a “hosting” for long texts. We’re already using 8tracks and YouTube and whatever, so it makes sense. I’m not so sure it will work, because you would constantly face a dilemma between commenting on the reblog (so your Tumblr followers see) or on the post (so you can thread better), but it’s definitely worth a try.[29]


I’ve found Tumblr to be a very lonely place. It’s great for when I’m not really in the mood to interact with people, but when I do try to reach out I tend to get very little in return.[30]


I still have my LJ and DW and crosspost fanfic to the journal sites as well as AO3. I still love the comment system there, and have friends that I made via fandom that way. So I am already on board with this plan! :) [31]


Aaand then I spent at least an hour reading Dreamwidth backend how-tos, trying to figure it out. Best I can tell, first the person who will be using the OpenID – I’m gonna use you as the example, Brin – first Brin creates their OpenID, which I’ve done exactly once in like 2007and don’t remember a thing about. ^_^ Anyway, then Brin goes to Dreamwidth and does something there, e.g. comments on one of my posts (or somebody else’s, or subscribes to me or whatever), using their OpenID. Then I can click on Brin’s OpenID username to go to their profile on Dreamwidth (I think? I’m not sure I understand this bit), and from there I can grant them access. Then, if I understand all these hijinks correctly, Brin can be reading their tumblr dash in the ordinary way, can see that I’ve posted a crosspost link to Dwth, and can click through and read and comment on my post without having to re-log-in. Except it would be terribly awkward for me to crosspost links to something that only a few of my non-Dwth Tumblr followers would have access to. (Actually – Sha, TPF, Shades, Max, Jade, Quark – if any of y'all have a Dwth or LJ you’d like me to friend/grant access to, just shout! Or, hell, do the OpenID thing, although idk if there’s some kind of new-post notifs feature with that.) Hmm. This is difficult to social. :S [32]


Okay, I have the exact opposite experience. Because I found LJ fandom extremely hostile and alienating unless you had oodles of time and energy to devote to it. Unless you were prepared to make arse long metas or write fic updates every week then you were very much not welcome. Fandom is changing, like it has always changed and very much of what I hear here brings echoes of when fandom went from being zine and con based to being online based.[33]


Hah, I was on LJ fifteen years ago, too ;) I remember marvelling over the introduction of moving icons, hahaha.

I agree with what you say about gif commenting. For me as a creator, I love it when people reblog an image or text I’ve generated, and add what they think in the tags. Not only does it mean others after them get to reblog the ‘base’ version, they needn’t even have to agree with the tags, because they can simply reblog with their own.

Another thing I thought of, is that a lot of gis sets contain a visual kind of meta. The way you process a scene in a film versus a looped gif of that scene is very different, it allows you to notice different things. Don’t discount visual analysis as something valuable. In visual media based fandoms, especially film/tv, these are just as integral as analysis of the words, and how the words are said.[34]


I rarely add commentary when reblogging out of fear of being attacked by some random person, but after further consideration I feel compelled to do so. I still consider myself relatively new to Tumblr, and I often find it both lonely and intimidating. I’m sure this is due in part to my social anxiety, but I think that while Tumblr does many things well, promoting connections between people who don’t already know each other is not one of them.

Based on what I’ve seen, I think a lot of people on Tumblr would see me as an old lady – I’m in my mid-thirties – and I’ve been doing the fandom thing for a long time. I love seeing new people come into my fandoms, because I look forward to perhaps enjoying fanworks they may choose to share, to maybe making new friends, or just to have more compatriots, as it were. I like the visual stuff on Tumblr. I like gif sets, art, anything anyone chooses to make and share, and if more visual stuff makes fandom more accessible I think that’s great. I just wish it was easier to connect with other people who share my interests, perhaps in part because I often feel isolated where I live because many of my interests would be considered weird or even wrong by many people I know.

This is why I would either love to see some different ways of interacting on tumblr, either with improvements to ask/fan mail or some thing else, or at maybe tumblr working in tandem with some kind of journaling platform that made in-depth conversations a little easier.[35]


I’m in my mid-thirties too, I’ll be 35 in a couple of months, so we’re of an age.

And I can see how tumblr could feel alienating to some people and I’m not opposed to having multiple platforms. Though how much I’d participate off tumblr would depend on lots of stuff, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t mean there shouldn’t be alternatives. What got me going was the whole ‘omg things were better in the old days’ line. (Nah, they were just excluding another group, plus they were a lot more authoritarian.) And that thing about how fandom has somehow become less critical and more consumer oriented. (Again nah, it’s just found new forms of critical expression is all).

So having more and different styles of platforms has my whole hearted approval, that was never what I wanted to oppose with my comment. And an update/change to the PM/fanmail system so that you could talk to more people at once and there wasn’t a limit on them like now would be welcome. Unfortunately it’s also unlikely, but a girl can dream.[36]


I also come from a Livejournal background, so I guess it never even occurred to me that there would be people who don’t want discussion on their posts. I love discussion threads, that is what tumblr is to me. That’s my community. Reblogs and likes without commenting just clog up my dash for no purpose. All of my original posts have an open invitation to discuss anything, on topic or on tangent, or even sharing recipes if it strikes one. Also, I just want you to know that I recently submitted an academic article where I use the term you introduced us here on tumblr.[37]


Quoted text (source unknown) ”Oh no, fandom will be destroyed. How will we keep track of everyone? [Hint, you won’t. Because now people who had no chance to join fandom before because it was so locked to physical access now actually have a chance to join so you get much larger fandoms and can’t keep track of everyone]. There won’t be any quality fics anymore because there’ll be no control. And so one, and so forth.”

Reply text : Thing is, fandom didn’t die -obviously - in fact the change made it prosper more than it ever had. But it was different, very different. because there was no central control as to who could and couldn’t enter fandom or write fanfiction it became a free for all game. And yes there was a lot of horrible fanfiction, but fandom coped with that as well by inventing beta reading. And now fandom is changing again. It’s becoming less texted based and more visual - it sucks for those invested exclusively in text based fandom but this is the nature of the beast - but no less critical for that. People attach their metas to the gifs - and the gifs makes their points so much easier to make, because now people don’t have to rely on descriptions or their memory, they can actually see the scene in question. People make shorter metas, you no longer have to write 3.5 pages of meta in point 12 Times New Roman to be taken seriously, your point can be made by six gifs and 3-4 lines. (That by the way does not make fandom less critical or more ‘only focused on consumption’, they just have a new way of communicating.) In fact the visual/gif based version is a very welcome thing for people who doesn’t have English as their native language because they have to write less and might be more comfortable with communicating their point in a visual manner, than a exclusively text based form. (I wish it had been about when I was young, I’d have been a much more active fan. Instead of getting sidelined because my English wasn’t good enough to write those 3.5 pages) The one and only thing I miss about LJ is the possibility of having a closed discussions that not everyone could comment on or even see. Sometimes that would be nice. But over all, thank god and good riddance to the LJ era. For some people it was a good way to keep us out. Tags

Filed under fandom fandom history fandom wank I really don't know what fandoms these people are in but this sounds so much more like a problem with those specific fandoms than an overall problem plus I hate hate hate that whole 'things were better in the old days' i.e. I don't like new fans and how they're doing things I want it to go back to being exclusionary and eliteist like it was in my day not like I'm a spring chick I remember fucking geocities and yahoo groups ugh even worse and man the way people went on when fandom went from geocities to lj it was the same fucking argument as presented here it's almost hilarious almost [38]

[laedes reblog with tag comments]:

"#fandom #tumblr #livejournal #dreamwidth #i think about this more and more often #tumblr is the perfect platform to enjoy fandom as a lurker #there's no need to produce content #be it posts or just comment #you can just enjoy all the stuff that's already there and share it #so that's kind of relaxing #a no-pressure way to be in fandom #but at the same time i miss the livejournal era so much #you never felt isolated #there was always a sense of connection to other people in the fandom #and privacy settings made it easy to be more personal with some people #while also participating fully in fandom #there was more incentive to produce content #fanfics or fanart or fan theories #but also recs and reviews #and contributing to comment threads #so while i really like being on tumblr #i'd also like to have LJ or DW again as an active platform #i think they'd just complement each other well " [39]

Related Posts


"All your observation on tumblr vs LJ or whatever are valid, however tumblr is also terribly dismissive of older participants - like we aren't supposed to be here. And the comments are not conducive to discussion for the most part. It often seems a collection of people trying to outwit each other in tags, full of inside jokes and references. To each his own I guess."[40]


"Please define as being ‘conductive to discussion’? Because if you mean discussion as those long elitist metas of the LJ era, then probably no, but as private discussions between a person and their followers/mutuals, then hell yes they are conductive as they spark those inside conversation. It’s two very different forms of discussions, I just hate the mentality that one is worth more than the other because it’s more highbrow. I have a general hatred of the elitist mentality that something have to be more or less peer reviewed and footnoted to be a valid addition to a discussion."[41]


"Remember the post I reblogged yesterday about the differences between Tumblr and LiveJournal/DreamWidth as platforms for fandom? (If you don’t, check it out, it’s a really good post.) So, I’ve dusted off my own LJ account. I don’t know how long I’m going to stick to updating it (I’ve already tried to revive it several times, obviously not that successfully) but hey, who knows, maybe I’ll be better at it this time around."[42]


"LJ fandom was much far more centralised, where fanon and fandom stuff was dictated by central authorities (there’s a reason the term BNF exists, believe you me though it wasn’t an LJ invention it pre-dates it, but LJ certainly perpetuated it) but tumblr fandom is based on a slew of voices. Granted it can at times be very confusing, especially when you’re new to this way of doing things, but it also encourages newcomers to participate, where LJ fandom often did its level best to keep new people out until they had reached a certain level of mastery.

And minority opinions had a lot more difficulty being heard.

So when I hear ‘I miss the LJ fandom’ all I can hear is ‘I miss the days where fandom was more exclusionary and not everyone could butt in on my territory. Where there weren’t so many different opinions to take into account and I could be racist/misogynistic/lesbophobic/homophobic and people would just let me be so in peace.’"[43]


"After reading through like 10 entires from 2011 (the last year I was on lj with some regularity) I have figured out what the difference between lj and tumblr really is: all of my writing on lj was unfailingly optimistic despite literally any circumstance, on tumblr I feel like 99% of the feelings I share are eternal exhaustion and dread 👍🏻"[44]


"The ongoing debate about Tumblr vs Livejournal is like a fan with a hammer arguing with a fan with screwdriver over who is better at building a waterbed."[45]

Reasons for Deletion

The original post "All this talk about unpopular writers reminds me of how tumblr fandom is really lonely." is now offline. Linzeestyle made several follow-up posts about it on her dreamwidth.

August 29, 2015:

One thing that surprised me quite a bit in the responses generated off of my post about Tumblr and text-based content were the number of discussions/replies that involved some sort of admission that the person in question didn't normally reblog text posts, period, generally for "aesthetics." It presents a bit of an interesting conundrum to me because one of the complaints I often see when other platforms are suggested for fan-use (particularly DW) is that they are unwieldy, uncustomizable, and generally unattractive. Appearance really does seem to be built into the current fandom experience at the base level -- but it isn't just a statement of personality; it's actively molding fandom itself. Of course a text-based post announcing, say, a fanfic, isn't going to do well if it's only getting "likes" because text-based posts "ruin aesthetic;" of course drabbles, meta and discussion will always have a limited role in an environment where the visual is privileged because the goal is not to cultivate discussion, content or interaction, but beauty and appearance, regardless of repetition. Of course, on the other hand, one of the other common concerns I saw was the extent to which fanfic writers are impossible to follow because no one wants to follow a writer only to get "the same reblog another 70 times" on their dash -- which is fair, but again: if the only thing considered fit to reblog in the first place is visual, doesn't this by its very nature set a potential text based/writing tumblr up to fail from the start? Ah well, at any rate. In an effort to combat this I'm going to try only posting to Tumblr fic that are "worth the effort:" that is, large enough to justify the creation of image-sets that fit Tumblr's aesthetic desires. If we're thinking of Tumblr in terms of a fandom RSS feed, there isn't much point to crossposting in an environment where you know the majority of the audience views what you're crossposting as visually unattractive/unsuited for their own "feed;" it certainly limits Tumblr's value as a tool of engagement with/advertising within fandom. In all other cases, as several other responses to that post suggested, it appears that there isn't very much crossover between Tumblr and AO3 in terms of fic-seeking to begin with.[46]

August 30, 2015:

Other things: I'm taking a bit of a Tumblr hiatus because it is eating up far too much time that I want to be spending at least feeling the illusion of productivity. I've exhausted myself just reading the responses on that post I made about cross-platform use, it's terrible. I mean -- the responses aren't terrible, it's been fascinating to read them. But the sheer enormity of variation in All The Reasons for fandom to remain the way it is are daunting. Ultimately I think it perhaps does come down to personal preference. I've been reading the tumblrs of quite a few old-school XF fans, who have come back for the revival, and it's been a big part of what's gotten me thinking about platforms and usage, largely because the way that fans who are coming back into fandom after being gone two, three, in some cases five, six years is so very different than the way uses who have followed platforms more seamlessly are using them. There's far more back-and-forth reblogging and discussion, but the result is (I will admit this) a very, very cluttered and difficult to read space that eventually becomes impossible to follow. even with the ability to track conversations on the post I made a few days ago, as an OP, I'm finding that threads reach a point where I just can't read them anymore because they're stretched out twizzler-thin. I think ultimately I'm just not equipped with the time necessary to make Tumblr into a platform that suits my needs, but I'm also okay with that - I find myself far more comfortable with the idea of posting in a text-based space with very little audience, than trying to adapt to a space I'm uncomfortable in, with a similarly small audience, if that makes sense? [47]

September 1, 2015:

I've had a stress headache for the last solid 36 hours. I put my Tumblr on indefinite hiatus: somewhere in the reblogging of that post I deeply regret making, and in true Tumblr fashion, someone deleted my original response to the anon who had begun the conversation, and instead took a small portion of my reply and quoted it out of context in favor of attacking "the old people" who are "whining" about how fandom used to be. I cannot even explain to you the many twisted, bizarre, nonsensical directions that post took from there: the desire for text-based crossposting is classist, racist, ableist (I...worked in Disability Resources for four years, and I desperately want someone to explain how GIFs are more accessible than screen-reader accessible text), pick your poison. The very act of using text-based platforms is an elitist, clique-based enterprise and (actual phrasing) tumblr is an anarcho-socialist subculture that allows for universal equality regardless of whether or not you're contributing! I can't handle this. I'm tired. Tumblr is exhausting to me, like trying to follow a Donald Trump stump speech. More and more I find myself beginning to plan out a fic idea, and then stopping to think, "there's no point in this," and moving on. Which of course is no problem, as I was reminded in one of the last reblogs I saw before I deleted everything but my fanart and blocked myself out of Tumblr (I have a week to decide if I'm deleting or not): 'every time some whiny old fan leaves we're just going to get two new better ones anyway.' (...)[48]


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