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Tumblr is a microblogging social network site founded by David Karp and Marco Arment. The interface allows users to post still images, animated GIFs, videos, links, quotes and other text. Members of the site can follow other Tumblr pages that can be viewed on their dashboard, and can “reblog” or “heart” other user’s posts.


The site was founded in 2007 and was originally funded by Karp’s personal earnings as a software consultant for the parenting site UrbanBaby.[1] According to an article by The New York Observer[11] from January 15th, 2008, the name was inspired by the word “tumblelog”, a term for micro-blogging that Karp discovered when he was 19. In the Observer interview, Karp acknowledged that they were targeting a young demographic:

“Right now, we’re going after artists,” said Mr. Karp. “Before that we were thinking students and young people, but it’s much easier to target an adult who wants to express themselves online. Artists and producers have YouTube, and musicians are relegated to MySpace. They’re the worst platforms.” Tumblr, says Mr. Karp, is a natural fit.

10 Billionth Post

On September 9th, 2011, the 10 billionth Tumblr post was made. It was celebrated with a script raining confetti on a user’s dashboard.

Yahoo Acquisition

On May 16th, 2013, the tech news site AllThingsD reported that Yahoo! may be seeking to acquire Tumblr for as high as $1 billion, citing multiple anonymous sources that are close to the situation. By early afternoon on May 19th, AllThingsD, The Wall Street Journal[18] and many other tech-related news blogs reported that the boards of both companies had approved Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr for $1.1 billion, which was confirmed by the official announcement on May 20th.


  • Tumblr dashboard serves both as a publishing platform and an aggregate reader.
  • Posts can be reblogged and liked by followers directly from the dashboard menu.
  • Tumblr blogs can be linked with custom domain names.
  • The blogger can reply with a post on their blog for everyone to see.
  • “Ask” feature allows readers to directly ask bloggers questions.
  • “Submit” feature allows readers to submit content to other Tumblr blogs with the blogger’s approval.


As of January 2012, [22] Tumblr has 120 million users and 15 billion pageviews every month. Almost half of the visitors (45%) are from the United States. Additionally, Karp revealed[23] that for every creator of original content on Tumblr, there are nine “curators” whose main focus is reblogging content.

Adult Content

Shortly after Yahoo’s acquisition in May 2013, web analytics firm SimilarGroup released an analysis of adult-only content on Tumblr based on data collected from May 2012 to April 2013. According to TechCrunch’s summary of the report, porn blogs account for 11.4 percent of Tumblr’s 200,000 most-visited websites and 16.6 percent of Tumblr’s traffic. It also found that external porn sites generate 22.37 percent of inbound referral traffic to the network, in comparison to 8.02 percent of Tumblr’s outbound traffic attributed to adult websites.

Content Highlights

Inspirational Photo Quotes

Inspirational Photo Quotes are a type of image macros featuring snippets of lyrics and inspirational quote in block letter format, oftentimes on the topic of romance or relationship, set to various photographs of people or landscape that are thought-provoking or sentimental in nature. Due to its overwhelming presence on Tumblr, photo quotes have become a subject of criticism and parodies on internet humor sites.


GIFs: Animated GIFs are commonly found in various Tumblr pages. Notable GIF related pages include James Van Der Memes[16], GIF Party[17] and Lul Internet.[18] A style of animated GIF called “cinemagraphs” were popularized on the “From Me to You” Tumblr by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.


GPOY: An acronym for “Gratuitous Picture of Yourself,” gpoy dates back to 2008 when the tag “GPOYW” was used as a reason for Tumblrs to post a picture of themselves on Wednesdays.[20] By 2009, the “W” had been dropped[21] as users were posting GPOYs any day of the week.

Single Topic Blogs

Single Topic Blogs (Fuck Yeah X) : These Tumblr blogs focus on a specific topic and use the phrasal template “Fuck Yeah X” for a title. The trend was originated by writer Ned Hepburn with his “Fuck Yeah Sharks” blog started on October 25th, 2008. For an interview with Hepburn on the origins of the blog, click here.

Ask Blogs

Ask X Blogs : Ask X blogs are made to appear as if they are maintained by fictional characters, and other users ask questions for the characters to answer. A number of these blogs use illustrated cartoons to respond to queries. Some notable examples include Ask Gamzee [12], Ask Kyubey[13] and Ask Dr. Whooves.[14]

Confession Blogs

Confession Blogs: These typically involve confessions related to a fandom of some kind, such as Harry Potter[5] and Yu-Gi-Oh.[15] Posts typically include images where the confession is placed on a black bar that covers the eyes of a character from the fandom. A precursor to this may have been “Fuck Yeah Comic Secrets”[6], a similar style single topic blog.

“I Like Your Shoelaces”

“I like your shoelaces” is a code phrase Tumblr users will employ to find out if someone they’ve have just met and suspect uses Tumblr is really on the site. If the person responds, “Thanks, I stole them from the president,” they are a Tumblr user. The first Urban Dictionary entry for the phrase was added on November 16th, 2012 by user Whovian-classicrock-fandom.[25] It was defined as, “A phrase used by Tumblr users to detect another Tumblr user in the real world.”


5T4S : In early 2011, the television network MTV began broadcasting commercials for Tumblr that brought in a wave of new members to the site. Older members protested the influx by inserting “5t4s”, meaning “fight force”, into their posts to indicate that they had been on Tumblr prior to the MTV commercials. (See also: Oldfags)

Tumblr Day

Tumblr Day, also known as the International Tumblr Day, is an unofficial community holiday observed annually in early March ever year, during which Tumblr users are encouraged to wear the site’s lower-case “t” logo on their skin or clothes so they can be identified as a group offline.

The first Tumblr appreciation day was launched in March 2011 under the name “National Tumblr Day,” which was succeeded by the International Tumblr Day held in March 2012. The second annual event was organized by Tumblr user emily-loves-asgardians, who has since deleted her original post,[26] and in 2013, it evolved into a larger-scale event after Tumblr user Ms.VeronicaBreanne’s screenshot[27] of emily-loves-asgardians’ original post went viral.

What Is Air?

“*What is Air?*” is a catchphrase used by Tumblr users to identify each other outside of the website. Since being introduced in 2010, the phrase has evolved into a form of trolling on anonymous chat site Omegle, ultimately prompting the Anonymous raid on Tumblr known as Operation Overlord.


4chumblr refers to the fictionalized relationship between personified versions of 4chan and Tumblr. The anthropomorphized relationship stemmed from a trolling war between the sites known as Operation Overlord.

Fake Photo Sets

Fake Photosets are still images or animated GIFs that are sectioned into multiple frames with white margin space in order to give the appearance of a photo set post on Tumblr. The “photo set” feature was first introduced in July 2011 to allow single post compilations as opposed to a series of posts.


Dashboard Redesign

In early June 2011, Tumblr released a new format for the user’s dashboard. This caused quite a large amount of confusion among users, and many were not content with the changes at first. The original dashboard featured a follower count, message inbox, drafts, post count, queue, tracked tags, and a few other features on the first and only page besides a personal post feed. The new format changed this so that the follower count, drafts, post count, messages, and queue were on a separate page alongside one’s personal posts, while the tracked tags remained next to the main dashboard feed. A message inbox was added to the top of the main page.

Spamming and Phishing

As with almost any major social network, many people have tried to find ways to give users viruses or gain access to their account. When accounts are compromised, users sometimes unwillingly send messages to other bloggers or generate posts with links that will phish out more account information. In an attempt to stop the phishers and spammers, the Tumblr Staff has tried many different methods to try and prevent malicious activity. These measures have generated an endless source of frustration for innocent users, however, because they consist of a character limit on messages, a limit for how many messages can be sent in a period of time, and a limit on how many times a user can click the “follow” button in a 24-hour period. For an example of a phishing scheme, see the submeme, “lolsummer69”.

Special Reports

2013 Year in Review

On December 3rd, Yahoo released its 2013 Year in Review, offering a glimpse at the most searched keywords and news stories, as well as a top ten list of “most viral blogs” on its recently acquired microblogging platform (shown below).

On the following day, Tumblr launched its first-ever annual trend report[24] highlighting the most favorited and re-blogged content in 20 different categories (shown below), with plans to unveil one additional category per day until December 31st.


According to Business Insider[10], Tumblr ranks as the 10th largest social network site with 6.8 million weekly visits. The site has a US Quantcast[7] rank of 28, an Alexa[8] traffic rank of 46 and a Compete[9] rank of 67. According to Quantcast’s demographics, the user base is 51% male and 41% female with the majority in the 18-34 age bracket. According to a Mashable[19] article from June 15th, 2011, Tumblr accumulated 20,873,182 blogs, surpassing Word Press by 85,000.

Search Interest

Search queries for “Tumblr” remained relatively insignificant until the summer of 2010, when volume began to dramatically increase.

External References

[1]- Wikipedia – Tumblr

[2]- Tumblr – Fuck Yeah Sharks

[3]- Tumblr’s depicted – Ask Nepeta Leijom , Ask Pinkie Pie , Ask Toki Wartooth & Ask Prince Gumball

[4]UrbanDictionary – 5t4s

[5]Tumblr’s depicted – Harry Potter Confessions

[6]Tumblr – Fuck Yeah Comic Secrets

[7]Quantcast – www.tumblr.com

[8]Alexa – www.tumblr.com

[9]Compete – www.tumblr.com

[10]Business Insider – These 19 Social Networks Are Bigger Than Google+

[11]The Observer – Would You Take a Tumblr With This Man?

[12]Tumblr – Ask Gamzee

[13]Tumblr – Ask Kyubey

[14]Tumblr – Ask Dr. Whooves

[15]Tumblr – Yu-Gi-Oh Confessions

[16]James Van Der Memes – James Van Der Memes

[17]Tumbr – GIF Party

[18]LUL Internet – lulinternet

[19]Mashable – Tumblr Now Has More Blogs Than WordPress.com

[20]Urban Dictionary – GPOYW

[21]Urban Dictionayr – GPOY

[22]The Next Web – Tumblr now serving 120m people, 15 billion pageviews a month

[23]Reuters Opinion – How sharing disrupts media

[24]Tumblr – Year in Review

[25]Urban Dictionary- I like your shoelaces

[26]Tumblr- scandalpants

[27]Tumblr- mrsveronicabreanne

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