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Name: Waterfall
Dates: December 2018-
Type: multimedia microblogging platform
Fandom: multifandom/panfandom/original work
URL: https://waterfall.social/
https://waterfall-social.tumblr.com/ (WF on Tumblr)
https://staff.waterfall.social/ (Staff Blog)
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Waterfall.social is a blogging website that was created in the wake of the Tumblr NSFW Content Purge in late 2018. The site is deliberately designed for users familiar with Tumblr.


Waterfall first cropped up as an alternative after Tumblr decided to no longer allow adult content. Unlike many alternatives appearing around the same time, Waterfall stated that their goals did not focus on allowing of adult content on the site as a gimmick, but instead focused on the general atmosphere of the Tumblr community without the toxicity while encouraging artists and fandoms[1] as well as to build the site what the original developer considered the right way, by taking the Tumblr core and adding the most commonly used Xkit features as part of the core experience. [2] The site originally started to "prove a point" about Pillowfort and Tumblr, and has since expanded its core team from one to five people[3]. The staff pride themselves on transparency, and the lead developer frequently answers asks going into detail about decisions the team makes and why, as well as providing a (subjectively) balanced view, often bringing up negatives as well as positives even if it makes the site look bad[4], though the staff admit that they have issues with tone while communicating and can come across as unprofessional and abrasive. This is stated to be partially intentional, as they try to avoid the "cold, clinical corporatisms" of other sites communications[5].

In August 2019, Waterfall launched a Kickstarter[6] with the stated aim of raising funds for mobile apps. The goal was hit after six days[7] and raised, in total, £3,066 of their £2,500 goal.

In December 2019, as part of the first anniverary, Waterfall offset 20 tonnes of carbon and donated to Team Trees on behalf of its users. [8].

In February 2020, staff announced that they considered the site to be mostly usable, but were cancelling leaving beta[9]. Stated reasons included their self-imposed race with their closest competitors to leave beta as unnecesary, acknowledging that Pillowfort had a three year lead on them and that despite the age gap, the user count gap was closing (however, the lead developer notes that user count is an unreliable metric[10]) and that user retention was high even with the beta status, and announced that a feature freeze would take effect so they could focus on the apps. At the same time, a raffle was announced for non-Kickstarter backers to get access to the betas. It was also announced that after the rewrite, the core site would recieve an updated, modernized uesr interface.

In the same month, the staff considered reneging on their stance of not having ads, stating that the site was outgrowing the resources available[11]. Users in the comments and reblogs generally praised the staff's transparency and seeking opinions before going ahead with it, as well as for them finally doing what users said they should do to begin with, but a day later the site staff announced they'd been rejected from Google AdSense[12], speculating that their policy of allowing NSFW content was the reason. Rather than ban NSFW content, the site elected to continue trying to be user funded for as long as possible instead, and opened a Patreon until they finished their premium features.

The site maintains a small but growing community, citing almost 50,000 blogs. In comparison, Pillowfort, being several years older, has 60,000. Many artists using the site have stated that their art gets more attention on Waterfall despite only having 50 followers than on Twitter where they may have thousands of followers.

Recently, the staff added featured posts, which automatically features all art posts meeting a minimum notes threshold. Explicit NSFW art is allowed to be featured, though users have to explicitly opt in to viewing it. [13] Staff elected to go with automatic features under the belief that any staff biases shouldn't affect whether art is featured, and it also means that artists with thousands of followers wouldn't drown out new artists who are still trying to get established. [14]

On 1st January 2020, Waterfall announced a sister project, Glacier[15][16], though noted that they wouldn't provide a release date as they wanted the Waterfall App to be finished first. More recently, it was hinted that a site for writing was also in development. The aim of the sites is to provide an outlet for all forms of artistic media under the same platform, creating a one-stop shop - while separate sites, full crossposting would be supported.

Policy regarding adult content containing minors and other controversial topics

Waterfall is hosted from and run by a British group, and local laws prohibit any sexual content of minors. As such, the site does not allow depiction of minors in sexual acts. [17] The site also banned depictions of rape, bestiality, and torture for sexual pleasure due to Britain's obscenity laws, though these rules were loosened slightly after the Crown Prosecution Service loosened their guidelines. User response to the loosening was mixed, with some users saying they used the site because of the restrictions, and others praising the new rules as allowing more art while also still blocking most unsavory stuff.

User Control and Privacy Features

The site has less privacy features than Pillowfort, citing that the main point of sites like this is the sharing of content. However, the site does provide some granularity - the site introduced "DNI" and "DNR" modes early in its existence. Enabled by simply adding a tag to a post, a user can control whether a post can be reblogged (DNR, or "do not reblog") or be commented on (DNI, or "do not interact"). Liking is enabled on both post types, and DNR posts can be commented on. Staff have stated this is intentional. DNI mode also disables reblogs.

Updating a post will update all reblogs of it, though unlike Pillowfort, deleting the original post will not delete reblogs. Similarly, the site doesn't allow editing what others said in posts, stating that they don't believe a user should be able to alter the content of other people's posts. [18]

Waterfall has one of the most comprehensive blocking systems of all the Tumblr clones, with blocks taking effect at the user level. This in effect means that a user can block one blog, and all blogs controlled by that blog's owner would be blocked from all blogs the blocking user controlled. As of a recent update, staff stated that all known workarounds and methods of bypassing blocks were fixed, and announced that a bug bounty programme would be instated soon for anyone who found additional ways around them. This update also included fixes that prevented a post from being displayed if the OP was a blocked blog. Blocking is bidirectional, with the blocked user's blogs appearing to not exist for the blocker, and the blocker's blogs appearing to not exist to the blocked user.

Notable Features

Waterfall has the following notable features:

  • Reblog icons change color if you've already reblogged the post.
  • Sideblogs are fully independent of each other. This allows users to maintain separate follow and likes lists, as well as send asks from them. [19]
  • Users can filter dashboards to show original content only.
  • Art posts, a unique type of post that has built-in anti-theft features. If someone tries to repost the art on the site, it gets converted to a reblog of the original instead.
  • A commission marketplace to allow buyers and artists to commission art safely.

Meta/Additional Reading


  1. ^ [1], There's dozens of NSFW Tumbr clones popped up. Why is this one different?
  2. ^ [2], I'm not going for a "Vanilla" Tumblr, I'm going for "Tumblr + XKit".
  3. ^ [3], Waterfall - End of Year One
  4. ^ [4], "In your opinion, what's holding the site back?"
  5. ^ [5], "Hopping on because I just saw this..."
  6. ^ [6], Waterfall Social - Kickstarter
  7. ^ [7], 100% Funded!
  8. ^ [8], Waterfall - End of Year One
  9. ^ [9], Community Update - End-of-February 2020
  10. ^ [10], We keep track of two in the admin panel - overall users on the site who've visited in the last month, and users who registered in the last six months who've visited in the last week.
  11. ^ [11], Moving out of beta starts bringing new challenges with it, and to meet those, we need funding.
  12. ^ [12], Community Update - End-of-February 2020
  13. ^ [13], Patch Notes - 0.25.0
  14. ^ [14], I'm curious about the featured posts system - can you talk us through why it's automatic instead of staff picks like other sites?
  15. ^ [15], GLACIER
  16. ^ [16], Announcing Glacier
  17. ^ [17], I have no idea what the shit that first one is saying since “wringing your hands” implies a vague or non-definitive stance, but as for the second one, I can’t believe this is still an issue, so here’s some further reading for you
  18. ^ [18], Hi Staff, just curious, do you ever plan on adding a feature which allows us to cut post length (aka removing part of a reblog or making edits to other user's posts) such as the 'editable reblogs' feature on Tumblr's Xkit?
  19. ^ [19], A bunch of folks apparently don’t realise sideblogs have separate likes - they do!