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Tumblr Enables Readers To Actually Read Blogs Through Reblogs Changed

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tumb logoTumblr is a social networking website and blogging platform where users share multimedia and other kinds of content to a short-form blog. Furthermore, users can follow blogs of others and also have an option to keep their blogs private. Features of the site are accessed through the dashboard interface which provides the option to post content and where the followed blogs of others appear. This social media platform is used by more than 400 million people. Tumblr was founded by David Karp in the year 2007 and the company’s headquarter is in New York. In 2013, Tumblr was bought by Yahoo.

Changed Reblog Feature

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Last year, Tumblr’s flagship features called ‘reblog’, that allows reposting another user’s content on your own site, got a significant makeover. The company introduced a change in the way these reblogs appear on dashboards of users, making them easier to read than they previously were. A change in this feature was long due to fix what the company termed a “crazy-long, indecipherable reblog chain” problem. Now, the blogging site chronologically orders reblogs below a post and shows comments in the form of a streamlined list but only on your dashboard. With the old format, as Tumblr posts became popular, the back and forth of reblogs and comments led to a confusing tree of block quote indents, which made it hard to read comments or figure out where a post originated from. This was especially true when viewing the site on a smaller smartphone screen. The new reblogs will simply list each comment one after the other. This makes the comments easier to read, but also makes the Tumblr post much longer than when the older-style reblogs were in effect Compare the designs below — the old version is on the left, and you can see the new version on the right.

Tumblr has also modified the reblog function to facilitate either reblogging by keeping all captions intact or removing all captions. According to the company, this shall add integrity to the process of reblogging and ensure that your comment remains as you’d typed it in the reblog chain always. This is because nobody should be allowed to put words in your mouth! This laid the groundwork for the newest design, which reinforces the fact that users can no longer edit other users’ text(s).

Why the Change?

This may appear like a small feature tweak but it is actually a big change for those who use Tumblr. Similar to many social media portals, a lot of content on Tumblr gets reposted. In addition to the content itself, often a web link, image, video or text – the rebloggers, quite often, add their own comments to the item they repost. As these posts get popular, the ‘reblog chains’ become more difficult to parse. It’s hard to figure out which user said what or even read the comment in the first place as the captions have less space before they have to move to the next line.

The reblog chains of posts that go viral can end up looking like this:

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Therefore, a lot of scrolling is required to get to the comments!

This problem is worse on mobile devices simply because their relatively small screen sizes make long reblogs very difficult to read. Tumblr seeks to improve it product’s usability on the mobiles to benefit both its users and advertisers. While the original user interface design may have been a flaw, the reblog function became one of the company’s defining features i.e., a feature that differentiated Tumblr from other similar websites. Though the redesign made the reblogs look cleaner, the old format had a certain nostalgic charm that the users will miss. Comment trees, like the one shown above, reflected the random and chaotic nature of Tumblr. By cleaning up and organizing comments, Tumblr is doing away with the property of a feature that many users had come to love. Tumblr’s younger users had the ability to decipher the reblog but older or more infrequent users faced a lot of trouble.

Reaction and Response of Users

https://twitter.com/katninetails/status/639221519089070080?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

Tumblr users’ reactions to the updated feature were divided. While there are people who fight against any change on a website just because it’s different and new, other users with genuine concerns put forth some valid arguments. For example, even though it is easier to read on mobile, the new reblogs involve more scrolling. This could be resolved by removing user icons from the new design, which lengthen the posts. Moreover, the change makes it more difficult for people who use the service for the purpose of role-playing. Some said that the new style is an improvement from the original and welcomed it on their mobiles. An advantage of the new style, apart from being more readable, is that it will no longer allow misattributions. It had been a problem in the past as some users edited the content that they reblogged so as to make it seem that people had said something they actually did not. Also, they cannot delete selected captions while reblogging. Original posters will now get credited as the source regardless of how many times they are reblogged, as their username will remain intact at the bottom of the posts. The company also faced criticism from users who liked the original feature and associated it with the website. All in all, the verdict for the new design was a toss- up.

Image Credits:

Logo: tumblr

Other Images: techcrunch.com

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