Maybe I’m a sucker. Maybe I just like this place a lot.
Okay, so I know everyone’s having a whole lotta fun griping about Tumblr replies. First they didn’t work right. Now they’re gone. Now Messaging and Fan Mail and Asks are the only options, and they’re not exactly what everyone wants, and we’re all going down on a flaming ship SOMEBODYSCREAMFIRE, et cetera, et cetera.
Look, I get it. It’s frustrating not to be able to interact with people the way you’d like to on a platform that is ostensibly built for interaction. The best way I saw it put was from @allthingslinguistic:
“it’s like someone has reached into the conversations you’ve been having with people and altered how you’re having them…it’s like someone telling me I can’t whisper anymore. It’s not censorship – I can still express any thoughts I want, I just have to say them at a different volume.”
I feel that loss, too. But I also recognize that I don’t know how to build a social media platform, and I don’t know how difficult it would be to make something that hundreds of millions of people all over the world are going to like and find satisfying to use. And I also don’t know anything about the cost/benefit to Tumblr for having a reply system. Does it take a lot of maintenance? Does it break some other part of the site a lot? Was it used far less often than is worth it for something that costs several salaries and benefits and office space to keep going? I DON’T KNOW. But I’m betting there’s more to it than even that.
There’s another post going around about a survey of how users engaged with replies. The question that’s screen-capped is this: “Previously, how did Tumblr replies work? For example, were replies available on all posts or only certain ones?” Of course, the reblogs are very Tumblr-esque, very snarky, making fun of the wording, wondering if Tumblr staff even know how replies used to work.
Did you ever stop to think that they might be asking how you remember replies working? How you perceived them to work? Because if I remember my own experience with replies, they were only available on blogs that had enabled them, and on blogs I follow that followed me back; only on original posts and not reblogged posts. That severely limits the amount of time that reply bubble was even available for clicking.
And the outrage at losing replies – which, again, I understand and empathize with – seems to be misremembering what they were. From the posts I see, people seem to remember that replies were available on all posts all the time, or at least the level of their outrage is consistent with that false idea of them.
I don’t really have a good way to end this post, except to say that I’ve met much of the Tumblr staff, and they’re not crazy overlords or assholes just messing with us in some kind of weird social experiment. They’re people trying hard to make something, to build roads where there were none before, to make a dent in the universe a little bit. So I give them credit for that, and find patience for the rest of it.