Tumblr made a big stir online this week, and not in a way that made anyone excited. On Monday, the Verizon-owned blogging/social media platform announced they planned to block or delete all adult content.
As of December 17, adult content will no longer be allowed on Tumblr. The only exceptions include nudity in artwork, health related issues, etc. Engadget notes the decision comes shortly after Tumblr’s app was removed from Apple’s app store over inappropriate underage content.
Normally, I don’t write about adult content on my blog. However, this change to Tumblr’s hard to ignore, as it’s a major change to a popular blogging/social media platform. It’s also been in the news over the past few days, including several articles and opinion pieces in the Washington Post.
The downsides of Tumblr’s changes
On one hand, there’s not exactly a shortage of adult content online, which is putting it mildly.
On the other hand, Tumblr’s handling of this is coming off as clumsy, particularly its reliance on automated bots to detect inappropriate content. My Twitter feed’s full of people complaining about things such as (non-adult) comics panels, random photographs of furniture, etc. being erroneously flagged.
Some also worry this move might adversely affect LGBTQ users, given how often LGBTQ content is flagged by automated filters as “adult,” even if innocuous. Additionally, Tumblr has been one of the more popular social networks for LGBTQ people online.
Tumblr’s also a mainstream website that also carries a large amount of non-adult material, and thus isn’t likely to get blocked by libraries, etc. Some have suggested pornography websites could serve as alternatives to the adult content hosting of Tumblr. However, those sites are more likely to run afoul of content filters, have less-than-repeatable names or negative perceptions (“your artwork’s hosted where?!“), etc.
Finally, Tumblr is a fairly unique service: a combination blogging and social media platform. While it’s possible to start a blog (like mine), such Tumblr alternatives usually don’t come with built-in social sharing/community aspects. Tumblr also offers a way to search for or discover similar Tumblr blogs via tags, search, etc. Meanwhile, it’s up to me to promote my own blog’s content, including through separate social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
Tumblr blogging alternatives
There’s no major blogging alternatives to Tumblr that exactly replicate all of its features. That said, I thought I’d offer some suggestions for those looking to move their blog off of Tumblr.
Own your own domain/site (and content)
If you’re making a living (or significant income) off of your content, and can afford to do so, it’s important to have your own website with its own custom domain. This applies whether it’s adult content or general content.
Not only will you have your own unique spot online, you’ll also own the content and URL. That means you won’t be subject to the whims of some corporation’s decisions, as is happening with Tumblr (or Facebook throttling page views for those not paying to “boost” a post, Twitter ignoring its troll problem, etc.). While social media and free services are convenient, if things change, you’ll be in a better position with your own site. Also, having a custom domain (such as “diversetechgeek.com”) looks better than just being a subdomain on Tumblr/Blogspot/etc.
Others have stated similar arguments to the above, including Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader.
Free hosting: WordPress.com, Blogspot
WordPress.com and Blogspot (the latter owned by Google, and also known as Blogger) have long been popular options for those wanting a free blog. Hobbyists and those with a lack of funds might be interested in these two options. WordPress offers a few of the more advanced self-hosting features for a fee, such as using a custom domain.
Non-free hosting: Dreamhost, Digital Ocean, SiteGround
Those willing and able to pay for hosting will find a lot more options available. Out of the hosts I’ve used or looked into, I’d suggest Dreamhost, SiteGround, and Digital Ocean as options.
- Dreamhost (www.dreamhost.com) offers inexpensive shared, VPS (virtual private server), and WordPress hosting options. They also offer monthly and annual paid plans, plus easy setup options for starting a website/blog.
- SiteGround (www.siteground.com) offers excellent support for WordPress-based sites, plus offers easy setup and management options. The only plans offered are annual ones, however.
- Digital Ocean (www.digitalocean.com) is inexpensive (starting at $5/month), and offers the power of a VPS. However, it’s also more complicated than the other two options to setup and manage. I’d only recommend Digital Ocean for those with some technical skills (such as Linux command line knowledge), or know someone who can help set it up.
For those with adult/mature content, Dreamhost and Digital Ocean both allow such material, but Siteground doesn’t.
I currently use Digital Ocean, and it’s working well for me. I’ve previously used SiteGround and found it excellent.
Tumblr doesn’t seem like it’ll be easy to replace. Various smaller or upstart sites (such as Pillowfort, Mastodon, and others) have been proposed. However, none of these alternatives seem to have the resources, ease of use, or popularity of Tumblr.
Many are saying Verizon’s changes to Tumblr will mark the end of its popularity as a service. That’d be ironic; about a decade ago, Tumblr benefited from a mass influx of users leaving LiveJournal, which made similar unpopular changes. These days, LiveJournal’s Russian owned and primarily caters to a Russian audience, but is pretty much a shadow of its former popularity. We’ll see if the same thing happens to Tumblr.