This is one of my biggest problems on Tumblr as well, as a rule. I’ve been lucky enough to meet some lovely people that I consider friends, but by and large it’s very difficult to do because at least for me, the primary way I made friends in previous incarnations of fandom were through comment threads and discussions that went on over long periods of time, sometimes spreading over different formats. I have a group of friends I met on message boards during my X File days, for instance, that I’d consider the equivalent of what most people would call their high school or college “squad:” roughly half of us are no longer anywhere near fandom, but I’ve known them for over half my life now and while our level of interaction may rise and fall with what’s going on in our lives, I don’t see myself ever fully losing track of/connection with this group of people – they’re that significant a part of my life, even when I go long periods without taking to them. And I have a few more friends, whom I met in various other LJ-based fandoms, who I would also place in that category. But the thing about both message board and LJ-fandom culture is that it allowed for long, in-depth conversations over extended periods of time. It wasn’t unusual in either format to have discussions that lasted days or even weeks, with participants sometimes unable to log in daily (due to access or real-life time constraints), and as a result I think while the speed of the discussions were often slower, the content tended to be more in-depth, as once you had the time available, you were responding to multiple points, and engaging with a greater awareness that there was a person on the other end of the line (so to speak). And of course, once a discussion slowed or went down to two people, it was much easier to transfer to email or a messaging service, since both message boards and LJ messaging tended to be a little less akin to tying a message to a chicken and throwing it in the direction of your intended target, hoping for the best.
I’ve seen discussion about how Tumblr is a superior platform because it’s better for lurkers – and I can see on some level how that is true. Tumblr is in many ways a great leveler: anyone can create a blog that’s “worth watching” in that the majority of any Tumblr blog consists of reblogs and rapid-fire images to be consumed quickly and pushed down on a dash just as fast. But the downside to this, I think, is the anonymity of it. We are actively discouraged from adding discourse: don’t add commentary, it clogs the images and ruins aesthetic. Don’t leave your opinion, no one wants that! Anything you want to say should be in the tags, where they disappear upon reblogs. Just reblog, baby, reblog; don’t speak, don’t think, don’t talk. I also believe this contributes to the often-antagonistic slant to much of Tumblr’s discourse: there’s so little in the way of “voice” on most blogs that it’s far easier to forget that blogs are comprised of individuals, with personalities, emotions and complex relationships to the texts they engage with. It’s far easier to reduce people to extremes.
The thing I wish Tumblr had more than anything else was a comments system worth using. I hate the extent to which any kind of discussion is reliant on opening new posts, or reblogging the same post repeatedly in a kind of unwieldy threading system, until it’s gotten big enough that there’s just no way to keep going. I’d love to see Tumblr embrace Dreamwidth as a simultaneous-use platform, i.e., someone writes meta and the “read more” sends you to Dreamwidth where openaccess posting allows for commentary and threading using your Tumblr name (or even anonymous posting, if it makes the commenter more comfortable). I’d also love to see this used as a way of keeping attention on fanfiction longer: perhaps Tumblr blogs devoted to reading and discussing lesser-recommended fic, with discussion taking place on Dreamwidth, but Tumblr used to tag the author, alerting them that – yes, people are reading your stories!, but without the immediate anxiety that comes with writing comments Directly On AO3. Similarly, it would be lovely to see more people, who feel that Tumblr has been better for them in terms of allowing for visibility they didn’t get on DW/LJ, be able to use Tumblr to introduce themselves to DW: perhaps use Tumblr as a primary location, but still comment on DW. Openaccess linking would draw hits to their Tumblrs, but regular commenting on DW would allow a space for their personalities to shine through in a way that (as you mention) isn’t really allowed for on Tumblr, where the best we can often hope for is that someone, somewhere will read our tags.
I do believe there’s a place for a platform like Tumblr in fandom. But it is absolutely not as our primary platform. At the end of the day, like it or not (unpopular? opinion forthcoming): fandom is a text-based culture. It needs to be generative. If it becomes primarily consumer-based it will die. And right now, the Tumblr-based model is not sustainable for the very reason that it is alienating so many of those who create the material that keeps fandom going. Gifsets are lovely, but they won’t sustain a fandom. Eventually we will all be discussing the maybe 5% of fanfiction written by authors who can survive in this climate, and reblogging moving images of the texts we watch on screen. That isn’t transformative fandom, and honestly it holds no appeal to me.
I agree very much with this post. I miss LJ comment threads so much, and Communities, and the tagging system, and the journal layouts, and all my user icons that could change depending on my mood. If DW/LJ could figure out a way to make uploading content as fast and easy as it is on tumblr, they would have the ultimate fandom platform.
man I miss ye olden LJ days. I find tumblr fandom profoundly alienating, to the point of not really knowing how to engage any more because it’s so difficult (and I’ve been on tumblr for four years at this point). like, it was fine when I was in a tiny fandom with few enough people that it was manageable to follow everyone and keep track of a conversation that way, but now unless you’re an OP it’s impossible to keep track of a reblog conversation even if you do go to the trouble of making an addition. and then the hassle of trying to have a conversation makes everything weirdly high stakes and feeds into tumblr fandom’s reluctance to say anything outside the tags.
I feel you on this, a-social-construct. I came over from LJ because most of my old communities are ghost towns nowadays, but I find it so much more difficult to feel like I’m contributing or engaging here. Adding commentary to an acquaintance’s reblog seems more weirdly invasive than jumping in on a comment thread,
Also, how much do I miss the days of making subtle commentary via icon choice! Or the joy of finding just the right icon to go with that fic posting. Ah yes, here is McCoy looking suitably chagrined: this conveys my mood perfectly.
I love fandom because, at its heart, it’s about transforming and responding to what we see and read, not simply consuming it. Wanting to make new things out of the worlds we saw on the screen was why we came to fandom in the first place, and I miss the ease of being able to respond in that way to the work you all generate.
I would be all over the fic discussion posts linzeestyle suggests. That way even if I don’t look at my dash for 48 hours, I will still feel like I could chime in.
Okay, first of all, I recognize the irony of trying to have a conversation about how difficult it is to have conversations on tumblr, on tumblr.
Secondly, YES OMG I HATE THE TUMBLR COMMENT SYSTEM. And how there’s the tag tier and the reblog comment tier and the reply tier and none of them is kind to threading. And in fact I feel like tumblr fandom wouldn’t be where it is today without the supplemental use of email, AO3, and chat systems, just because tumblr is so bad with comments.
That said, some thoughts:
1) Let us recognize the ways that tumblr *does* contribute to discussions, namely: discoverability and a lower cost of entry. Case in point: if this convo were happening on LJ/DW, I *would not* have found it, because it’d be buried on the original poster’s LJ, about 4 steps removed from anyone that I follow. Secondly, I probably would not have commented on it because (a) I wouldn’t have the time/energy to wade through the existing comments, and (b) the part that piqued my interest in this thread is several comments down. Sure, the way it works on tumblr means that I’m more likely to hit “like” and move on, or that I’m jumping into a conversation without knowing the full extent of the topics being discussed, but on LJ/DW I just… wouldn’t have discovered/commented at all.
2) I think it’s important to be more aware of what posts are best for what platforms, and to build social conventions around that. I love the idea of linking posts that were written to stimulate more in-depth conversation to a LJ/DW post that allows for that sort of conversation. Part of the problem right now is that there’s no good social media platform that fulfills a person’s need for twitter-like life fart updates *and* a person’s need for long in-depth articles and discussions. That’s a separate post that I’d like to make, but for the time being, I think recognizing the purpose of a post – is it an announcement that you’d like reblogged but not commented on? Or is it designed to be conversation fodder? or is it just a picture of a pretty boy that you want to in your friends’ consciousness for roughly 5 seconds?– can help us figure out what is the best platform for something. Then we can cross-link between platforms as it makes sense.
3) Can we also have more linkage between AO3 and LJ/DW? So this happens to me quite often: I read an awesome fanfic on AO3, and I want to follow the author. Right now, most authors have a “follow me on tumblr!” link. I go to their tumblr and it’s either a fanblog with the same gifset reblogs that are already on my dash 4 times over, or it’s a writing archive blog which was last updated when the fic updated. This means I generally have 2 choices: I can either follow the tumblr and get 8 more sad men reblogs on my dash each day in exchange for the 2 posts about writing or meta that I’m actually interested in, or I can subscribe on AO3 and get exclusively polished works. I’m not dissing gifset reblogs – that’s just the nature of how tumblr works, and I’m one of the worst offenders! But isn’t this a perfect opportunity to revitalize DW/LJ? Like “follow me on tumblr for the reblogs and shitposts, and follow me on DW/LJ for actual convos/thoughts about fandom!” I would follow the heck outta that! :D
4) The crux of the issue is revitalizing LJ/DW. So…. I’ve been on LJ since 2001, and moved to DW in 2008 when the LJ ad stuff got too horrible. But at this point, there’s 3 people who follow me on DW and 3 people who follow me on LJ, and there’s only 2 people I follow who are on active on LJ. This means that there’s really no incentive for me to check LJ – I’ve basically set up an email alert system for whenever these 2 people post an update, and that’s when I go read their LJ. This goes to the lack of discoverability on LJ. On tumblr I can come across a good piece ofmeta or some good fanart through reblogging and decide to follow that person (or not) in about 5 minute. But on LJ/DW you need a critical mass. I think this requires a few things: (1) the AO3 linkage mentioned above, (2) the tumblr linkage mentioned by the OP, (3) some sort of critical consensus on either DW or LJ. Like, the fact that half the stuff is on LJ and half is on DW right now is such a mess.
Okay, I know that last one is kind of a pipe dream, but still… worth saying, imho.
And as a fan artist (of sorts), I hope that fanfic authors still continue to use tumblr, since this is a far more natural format for visual stuff.
This “pipe dream” doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. We already have the platforms, and nothing is better at rapid-fire dissemination of an idea than Tumblr. Having a tumblr for sharing ideas, and a DW (or an LJ–if we’re finding each other through Tumblr I don’t think it matters which we use) for discussing them, is absolutely brilliant. So why don’t we just start doing it?
I’m gonna make a DW and link to it in my tumblr. It’ll be the wordy part of my fandom experience, the way tumblr is my visual/shitpost side. And when I post on AO3, I’ll link to both. Who’s with me?
This is interesting stuff. I would absolutely love to be able to follow conversations in a threaded format, instead of having to hunt for them in the comments of a post. That being said, I like the more ready exposure to new blogs etc. that tumblr brings, finding new shit through friends’ reblogs rather than trying my own luck at sorting through a whole bunch of related-but-different communities. (I sometimes have a steep learning curve when it comes to navigating large, feature-heavy websites, esp. when the irritation starts to edge out my sense of enjoyment. But hey, if it doesn’t do the pointless-update-with-cosmetic-changes that tumblr often does, I’ll get the hang of it easily enough.) I also appreciate the ‘like’ feature – sometimes I just want to do the quiet-acknowledgement fistbump for a personal post, or figuratively thumbs-up something cool that’s on my dash. I’d love for there to be more engagement options available, but not necessarily at the cost of losing this one.
Does DW have anything resembling tumblr’s reblog function? I more or less gave up on LJ and never made a DW account. Are they basically the same, except for ads?
I think the “dream” would be to use Dreamwidth for longer, text posts that would then be posted to Tumblr for the purposes of reblogging/liking (essentially instead of a READ MORE link going to an individual Tumblr, it might go to a Dreamwidth, let’s say) – that way Tumblr would function as a unified hub or RSS Feed-type system, but DW would allow the functionality necessary for commenting and long-term discussion. And since openaccess meas you can “log in” using your tumblr account information, you would be able to engage even if you didn’t want or need your own DW account!
There’s actually a Tumblr created to help make the platform a little less confusing: dreamwidth-help!
I don’t know if this idea would ever take, but it would certainly be interesting to try. As others have mentioned in other versions of this post (and it really is frustrating, not having a single, unified post) Tumblr already integrates other platforms to create mixtapes, link to fanfiction, and post video, among others. I think because LJ’s downfall was part of what gave rise to Tumblr, perhaps, there was never any consideration of cross-platform usage – but it couldn’t hurt to consider.
Come play with me! I’m https://shipwreck-light.dreamwidth.org/profile .
And have you seen: https://fan-flashworks.dreamwidth.org/profile
How about: https://last-arrival.dreamwidth.org/profile
We’ve got a Bucky!
This sounds like a great concept! The reason I haven’t done it yet is that almost everything I post on LJ/DW (I have both, they auto-crosspost) is friends-locked, and if there’s a way to grant friend access to specific openaccount logins I haven’t found it. Anybody?
I know a couple different OpenID versions of me have been on deird1′s DW access list over the years, so there must be a way. Since I’ve never been the one granting access, only the one receiving it, I don’t know what that way is.
And actually, that’s my main problem with LJ/DW: I’m never a blogger there, only a mere commenter. People who have as much trouble starting conversations as I do are on more or less equal footing with everyone else in a place as reblog-focused as Tumblr, but on Dreamwidth we’ll always be second-class. I don’t want to go back to only having that after experiencing full inclusion in a blogging community. That’s why it bothers me when people complain about how flawed Tumblr’s interface is: I’ll agree that it is probably more flawed than it needs to be, but often the “flaws” that people object to are things that enable the equality of comments and OPs that makes Tumblr great.
(And because there is so little distinction between comment and post, so little pressure on a Tumblr blogger to produce any OPs at all or to have them be of significant length when they do, on occasion I actually do manage an OP. On Livejournal, well…)
As suspicious as I am of attempts to fix Tumblr, it’s possible this might work out. I think my DW will remain as empty as it has always been, but I will be watching and commenting.
Aaand then I spent at least an hour reading Dreamwidth backend how-tos, trying to figure it out. Best I can tell, first the person who will be using the OpenID – I’m gonna use you as the example, Brin – first Brin creates their OpenID, which I’ve done exactly once in like 2007 and don’t remember a thing about. ^_^ Anyway, then Brin goes to Dreamwidth and does something there, e.g. comments on one of my posts (or somebody else’s, or subscribes to me or whatever), using their OpenID. Then I can click on Brin’s OpenID username to go to their profile on Dreamwidth (I think? I’m not sure I understand this bit), and from there I can grant them access. Then, if I understand all these hijinks correctly, Brin can be reading their tumblr dash in the ordinary way, can see that I’ve posted a crosspost link to Dwth, and can click through and read and comment on my post without having to re-log-in.
Except it would be terribly awkward for me to crosspost links to something that only a few of my non-Dwth Tumblr followers would have access to. (Actually – Sha, TPF, Shades, Max, Jade, Quark – if any of y’all have a Dwth or LJ you’d like me to friend/grant access to, just shout! Or, hell, do the OpenID thing, although idk if there’s some kind of new-post notifs feature with that.) Hmm. This is difficult to social. :S
#reply via reblog #long post #Tumblr: a User’s Guide #(I think it counts since it’s only *mostly* about Dreamwidth) #(the following category tag was added retroactively:) #Dreamwidth