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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. According to an article by The New York Observer 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.
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 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,  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 that for every creator of original content on Tumblr, there are nine “curators” whose main focus is reblogging 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.
Single Topic Blogs (Fuck Yeah X) : These tumeblogs focus on a specific topic, and often 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 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 , Ask Kyubey and Ask Dr. Whooves.
Confession Blogs: These typically involve confessions related to a fandom of some kind, such as Harry Potter and Yu-Gi-Oh. 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”, a similar style single topic blog.
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. By 2009, the “W” had been dropped as users were posting GPOYs any day of the week.
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)
GIFs: Animated GIFs are commonly found in various Tumblr pages. Notable GIF related pages include James Van Der Memes, GIF Party and Lul Internet. A style of animated GIF called “cinemagraphs” were popularized on the “From Me to You” Tumblr by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.
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”.
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 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, Tumblr ranks as the 10th largest social network site with 6.8 million weekly visits. The site has a US Quantcast rank of 28, an Alexa traffic rank of 46 and a Compete 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 article from June 15th, 2011, Tumblr accumulated 20,873,182 blogs, surpassing Word Press by 85,000.
Search queries for “Tumblr” remained relatively insignificant until the summer of 2010, when volume began to dramatically increase.