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Tumblr Ask Blogs are interactive roleplay blogs that are run from the perspectives of fictional characters, similar to other novelty social networking accounts on various platforms. In these blogs, readers are encouraged to ask questions and the roleplayer behind each blog will respond with either text or artwork in the first-person narrative.
On January 6th, 2010, Tumblr implemented the ability to ask other users questions, which was designed to foster user-to-user communication and anonymous interaction without resorting to third-party commenting services like Disqus. The trend of character roleplay blogs on Tumblr began with the launch of Ask Homestuck blog on April 23rd, 2011, which allowed its readers to interact with any character from the webcomic Homestuck. The first post featured a drawing of Karkat answering an anonymous reader’s question about another character from the series.
In December 2008, the blog Ask Captain Jack was created, written from the perspective of Doctor Who character Captain Jack Harkness. After this, approximately 20 other question based roleplay LiveJournals were created for other characters, deemed the “Askverse,” including Ianto Jones from Torchwood and Martha Jones from Doctor Who. The blogs all stopped updating and interacting with each other by December 2009.
Tumblr’s ask blogs began gaining attention outside of the platform in July 2011 when Equestria Daily posted about two of the first My Little Pony character blogs, Ask Twilight Sparkle and now-defunct Ask Applebloom. In October 2011, a thread about League of Legends-themed ask blogs was posted on the official message board, linking to Ask Riven’s follow list as a source of 45 other blogs related to the game.
While there is no complete list of every ask blog, several sites have tried to compile lists of them based on fandom including Ask Characters Directory, and the (Unoffical) Masterlist of the “Ask” blogs. The My Little Pony fandom has their own directory, Ask a Pony Blog List, which has collected nearly 1000 different blogs. Tumblr tags like Ask the Character, Ask RP, and Ask Blogs have been used to indicate their posts are directed towards the Ask blogs. Some bloggers have also reposted their response artworks onto deviantArt, using the tags “tumblr ask” and “ask blog”.
The original format of the Ask Captain Jack blog was text-based roleplay with the occasional inclusion of images. This remains the most popular format on Tumblr. Other bloggers have drawn their answers in the form of fanart or cartoons, such as Usagi of Sailor Moon, reaction GIFs like the Eleventh Doctor from Doctor Who, or cosplay GIFs and photos like Francis Bonnefoy from Hetalia. Some of the most famous image-only blogs include Ask Gamzee, Ask Princess Trollestia, and Dan vs. FiM.
Search queries for “ask tumblr” have been steadily increasing since the ask feature was introduced in January of 2010.