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November 19, 2015

Tumblr: Goodbye Replies and Hello Messaging.

I have long been a fan of Tumblr. While it’s hard to describe, it’s a very visual way of communicating. And it’s fun, most of the time.

Now that Tumblr has been acquired by Yahoo, they’ve slowly been migrating towards a more homogenous social media experience. Which means what? It’s acting a lot more like Facebook, and less like it used to be.

Goodbye replies.

Tumblr used to have a little chat bubble at the bottom of text posts, where users could reply to posts. They would show up in the notification stream. And with handy plugins like xkit, they were things you could reply to!

It’s been two weeks since replies went away, and in that time… it feels more like posts are just out in the wind. You meet a lot of people who feel fine leaving a one line reply on a post, but who aren’t comfortable sending a personal message. Or who don’t want to reblog a post just to tack on a comment – since it means all their followers could see it. So they just don’t say anything.

There’s a rumor that replies are returning, but I haven’t seen any announcements from Tumblr.  xkit has an extension to add replies back.

Hello messaging.

Tumblr recently rolled out a messaging feature, that acts a lot like Facebook’s messaging system – minus the inbox, that is. It pops up on the bottom of your screen if you’re on your computer, and a separate tab if you’re on the app. You can have one to one conversations, which is nice. It’s linear, unlike the fan mails it’s going to eventually replace.

But there are a few problems. There is no opt out for messaging. The most you can limit it is by only allowing people you follow to message you. And you can only message 50 people a day, so for popular Tumblr users, this could become a problem very rapidly.

My two cents? Messaging was supposed to take over the functionality of replies, and it hasn’t. I regularly message with three of my close friends on Tumblr and that’s it. Few others have reached out and I find I’m uncomfortable reaching out to most people (I’ve messaged a few people privately when they said they were having a bad day), because it seems invasive to just start up a conversation.

Want to try out messaging?  It’s being deployed sitewide, but if you have a friend who has messaging enabled, just ask them to send you one.  (Or you can send an ask to wingedkiare – I’d be happy to set you up.  Just tell me that you read this post and want to try messenger.)

So what are your thoughts?  I’d post this on Tumblr to ask – but nobody would be able to comment there!

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