FAQ: WTF is Tumblr?

Tumblr pic

I get a lot of questions life about Tumblr: Why do you spend so much time on that site? Is that why you use up your data so fast? What are you screaming about?

Maybe you’re a new to Tumblr or thinking about getting an account. Either way here are few frequently asked questions about it.

What’s Tumblr?

Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform that allows users to post text, photos, videos, music, quotes and chat logs to a feed known as a dashboard for their followers. Currently, Tumblr is home 142 million blogs with 64.4 billion posts.

So it’s like Twitter?

Not exactly. They do have similar qualities like people can follow you and you can follow them. Tumblr allows to you to re-blog content on your own blog, which is similar to re-tweeting. Tumblr doesn’t limit your posts to 140 characters (which Twitter does), so you can post your 700-word fan fiction about Spock and Kirk (and then tweet about it). Video and picture content are embedded in each post, as opposed to being linked to the source. You can view content based on who you follow or you can scroll though categories of tags to see posts about a particular topic.

Who uses Tumblr?

Tumblr has a high percentage of young users, with 20 per cent between 12 and 17, and 29 per cent between 18 and 24. Both those are roughly 10 per cent above the general average of internet use for those age groups. The Pew Research Center found that 53 per cent of Tumblr users are women. The majority of users are white (73 per cent) and roughly 18 per cent are people of colour. According to Tumblr, 42 per cent of its traffic is from Americans.

Is it true that there is a lot of porn on Tumblr?

Due to concern by advertisers and now Yahoo, which bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion this June, the amount of traffic that includes pornography has been tracked. In an interview with CNET, founder David Karp said that the average amount of porn posted in a day was between two and four per cent of the total.

What other things are posted on Tumblr?

In the same interview with CNET, Karp said that 16 per cent of content was from the top category of fashion. An actual breakdown of content is not available, however the popular assumption is that Tumblr content mostly consists of fans gushing over their OTPs and cats.

What does OTP mean?

“One true pairing.” It’s a term used by shippers for their favourite couple in a book, TV show or movie.

Wait … shippers?

Shippers are fans of certain media who pair characters together in a “ship” i.e. relationship. These pairings may be part of the canon of the TV show or movie but also can be a fan’s own idea.

Why is it such a big deal?

Besides all the shipping, cat gifs, and political rants, Tumblr has a strong sense of community, which is not wholly unique, but Tumblr has its own twist. Users have a fondness of its grassroots appeal, which allows them to create, share and discuss ideas organically. Founder Karp is aware of this and told CNET that he plans to continue supporting that ideal by being “one of few technology companies today that cares about creators and is building tools for creators.”

Chloe Smith

Chloe Smith is a third-year journalism student who, instead of curbing her habit of mindlessly scrolling on the internet, is exploring why online culture matters.

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