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Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:54 pm UTC
by emceng
http://www.zdnet.com/adult-tumblr-blogs ... 000018295/

Spoiler:
When Yahoo bought Tumblr, it suggested that its adult and porn blogs would be left alone.

Users found out this wasn't true when a new adult blog search policy went public on Thursday, capping Tumblr's quarantine on adult content, which now also includes excluding adult blogs from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.

The changes render an estimated 10% of Tumblr's userbase invisible and unfindable.

Now, around 12 million Tumblr blogs marked "adult" have been removed from Tumblr's internal search; this follows the revelation two months ago that adult blogs were no longer indexed by Google, and the pre-sale removal of Tumblr's "Erotica" category from its category index.

Tumblr's "Erotica" category had been launched in January 2010 with much sex-positive fanfare - it would appear that the days of Tumblr's tolerance are long gone.

The change to its content restrictions came two months after press heard Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer say in May that Tumblrs which aren't "brand safe" - alluding to porn and adult blogs - would be left alone.

Removal from search in every way possible is the closest thing Tumblr could do to deleting the blogs altogether, without actually removing 10% of its user base.

Under Tumblr’s new rules, adult-rated blogs and their posts will no longer show up in tags, period. Tags are the way blogs are searched, and found, on Tumblr.

The only way to find a post from a blog marked adult - or to find and discover adult blogs - is to receive the link directly, such as if another user reblogs a post, you are already following the blog, or you are sent a direct link.

Blogs removed from both Tumblr and Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search

To say that Tumblr users are angry would be the understatement of the year.

The removal from internal search cuts off the adult blog user from the rest of the Tumblr community; since Tumblr has enabled robots.txt and inserted the rule (Disallow: /) that tells search engines not to search pages on all Tumblr adult blogs, the adult blog user is now cut off from Google search as well.

In fact, that rule prohibits all standards-compliant search engines from indexing the blogs, a list that includes Google, Ask, AOL, Baidu, Bing and Yahoo.

Longtime sex blogger "Bacchus" of Eros Blog - who is not a Tumblr user - discovered two months ago that Tumblr had quietly made it so all blogs marked as "adult" are now omitted from Google search, cut off from the rest of the Internet.

Tumblr users were not made aware of the fact that adult blogs are not indexed by Google no matter what preference the user has expressed.

He wrote (link NSFW),


I’ve discovered that Tumblr uses robots.txt to bar all search engine access to blogs flagged as adult. If you’ve got an adult Tumblr, go look at your own settings.

Do you see that first checkbox, the one that says “allow search engines to index your blog”? It’s nicely checked, it’s not greyed out, but if your blog is flagged “adult” it’s a lie.

To answer the question “What happens to blogs that are flagged NSFW or Adult?” Tumblr offers this handy chart. The key piece of information is the white space indicated by my red superimposed arrow:

That’s right - where the “Blog indexed by Google” row intersects the “Adult Blogs” column, we find a ringing silence.

This means if a user runs a blog marked "adult" wants to publicize a fundraiser, get the word out about life changes, post about sex ed with non-illustrated images, share a favorite brownie recipe, or share news about their experiences at a protest, these posts will not show up on either Tumblr's search engine or Google.

Of course, Tumblr is able to flag a user's account as adult regardless of the user's consent.

This news all comes on the same day that Tumblr's iOS update for Apple rolled out changes that remove search results for #gay, #lesbian and #bisexual (though leave #bi, #lgbt and #queer intact).

This appears to be in conforming with Apple's anti-adult policy, though the unfairness of the characterization and effect on Tumblr's community is making its LGBT users see even more red.

There were already ways to block porn on Tumblr if users don’t want to see it, such as Tumblr's Safe Search and Tumblr Savior. The complete elimination from all forms of search is absolutely overkill.

Tumblr doesn't seem to care and this flies in the face of what Tumblr CEO David Karp told The Colbert Report Wednesday night.

As reported in The Tumblr Porn Crackdown Is Here (The Atlantic), Karp told Stephen Colbert:


We've taken a pretty hard line on freedom of speech, supporting our users, creation, whatever that looks like, it's just not something we want to police.

When you have somebody like Terry Richardson, or any number of talented photographers, posting tasteful photography, I don't want to have to go in there and draw the line between this photo and this behind the scenes photo of Lady Gaga and her, uh, her nip.

Now Karp just looks like an idiot, and Yahoo looks like it's completely untrustworthy.

So basically, Facebook is having a good week.

Let's just hope that Yahoo's new Tumblr isn't as free and easy with slapping on "adult" content flags as Yahoo's Flickr.

UPDATE: At approximately 9am PST Friday July 19, Tumblr's rep emailed me with a statement. Because it is the exact same statement (copy/pasted into its email to me) that Tumblr sent to The Daily Dot - seen in its article Tumblr Doesn't Care How You Feel About Its Porn Crusade - it answers questions specific to Daily Dot's article, and not this article. It does not make sense to reproduce Tumblr's statement here.


TL;DR - Yahoo made it very, very hard to find anything on tumblr that has 'adult' content, so if you did a drawing of a boob once, no one can find your blog. Artists with anything tagged adult will lose any networking potential. Supposedly even linking to an adult blog means your blog will basically not be indexed by google, tumblr, or anyone else. So the only way to get someone to visit is to give them the link.

Ok, they're not directly killing the site, but they are basically sabotaging Tumblr and I predict that it will die a slow death. The adult blogs will see a big dropoff in traffic. This means a big reduction in creation of new blogs, and probably an exodus to other sites. 10% of the site is 'adult'. How many viewers do they have? Probably more like 25%. And I doubt many people bookmarked all the sites they use - they just used links or chained links(like randomly browing on wikipedia or tvtropes) and wandered the site. And that's gone now.

I'd like to see tumblr's traffic details, especially as of the two policy changes(removing them from search engine indexing, and this one). Now I just need a reminder in 12 months to see how far traffic has plummeted.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:16 pm UTC
by charliepanayi
I'm not sure how this will kill off Tumblr (isnt Tumblr just a place to find random crap when all's said and done), but we'll see I guess.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:08 pm UTC
by aoeu
I doubt there are many porn tumblrs that don't ultimately derive most traffic from links on other porn sites, so this might not even slow the growth.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:23 pm UTC
by Tyndmyr
My caring is low...if they want to more clearly seperate out adult content from non-adult content, go nuts. If tumbler dies, it certainly will not put a dent in adult content on the internets. Or the other kind in any way I care about. However, this probably isn't death...just clamping down on the adult content a bit.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:34 am UTC
by Iulus Cofield
aoeu wrote:I doubt there are many porn tumblrs that don't ultimately derive most traffic from links on other porn sites, so this might not even slow the growth.


This. Tumblr isn't even a particularly great place to find porn.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 1:50 pm UTC
by Woopate
This news all comes on the same day that Tumblr's iOS update for Apple rolled out changes that remove search results for #gay, #lesbian and #bisexual (though leave #bi, #lgbt and #queer intact).



Ugh.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:07 am UTC
by emceng
Iulus Cofield wrote:
aoeu wrote:I doubt there are many porn tumblrs that don't ultimately derive most traffic from links on other porn sites, so this might not even slow the growth.


This. Tumblr isn't even a particularly great place to find porn.


But that's the thing. The tumblrs that I looked at the had porn mostly were kind of a big circle jerk. They all linked to other tumblrs to use their content. What this means is that those tumblrs will no longer be able to find new content. They'll lose viewers as they have decreased content. I suspect most visitors to the porn tumblrs weren't going to tumblr just for the porn either. They stop going to one part, they might leave the other. Plus, adult != porn. Some adult things they are filtering are not porn, and are thus hurting the people whose blogs contain even the mention of 'adult' themes, thereby either forcing them to self censor, or go elsewhere.

Some new site will come along, become tumblr 2, do blogs better(because really tumblr kinda sucks at it) and tumblr will turn into myspace.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:00 am UTC
by KnightExemplar
I've been on the net for over a decade. I remember the ancient platforms upon which Geocities and Homestead were built, and the constant migration from service to service, to service. Along the way, people have made the same mistake over and over. Newbies, new to the internet, don't realize how much it costs to run a website. They _expect_ webspace to be given to them for free. But ask any site administrator (or even the Mods around here), web pages are not free. Servers cost money, bandwidth costs money, and manning and moderating web content also requires money. So the nomads of the internet learn to drift from site to site, seeking free services without paying anything. They get angry with advertizements (especially when advertisers lay down requirements, such as "no adult content"). But when the new sites start monetizing, they are required to try and make money somehow, either by directly charging their "customers" (ie: Homestead), or by adding advertizements (ie: Geocities, and now Tumblr).

Time and time again, the advertizing approach has shown to be limiting. On the other hand, customers actually buying webspace (ie: Homestead, GoDaddy, or other paid web hosts) has shown to be a stable business model. However, newbies to the internet typically can't afford to buy sites, so that approach (while stable), alienates a good portion of the internet.

That said, the next service experiment beyond Tumblr has already begun. My bet? Neocities will grow to be the next Tumblr. IE: Tumbler users will fade away, migrate towards Neocities, and then Neocities will have their growing problems once again. The difference is, Neocities is donation based, and by its very design (static webpages), it is extremely scalable. Hopefully the free donation-based nature of Neocities will remain. People care about internet culture, the problem is finding the people who are willing to put up with giving away free services.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:52 am UTC
by Steax
I've read many a discussion that seems to point that tumblr is basically a "porn discovery" service (in regards to porn). I've never been a big fan of it myself (from the beginning it just screamed "dumbed-down blogging", and I'm not a fan of that). The world of adult content is highly chaotic, with minimal inter-linking, copious amounts of duplicate content and missing references. And since each site wants to hold eyeballs (and other body parts) on their own domain, for advertising revenue, they don't have much motivation to establish links with other sites. It's also a place where individual members curate their own, well, porn, and other people can explore this.

And yes, there's a huge amount of non-porn adult content, and as usual the line will be hard to draw.

Also, tumblr's community already gave a massive knee-jerk reaction when Yahoo bought it, which was quickly put down by "tumblr will remain independent and we won't change anything".

Pass the popcorn?

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:15 pm UTC
by Tyndmyr
KnightExemplar wrote:I've been on the net for over a decade. I remember the ancient platforms upon which Geocities and Homestead were built, and the constant migration from service to service, to service. Along the way, people have made the same mistake over and over. Newbies, new to the internet, don't realize how much it costs to run a website. They _expect_ webspace to be given to them for free. But ask any site administrator (or even the Mods around here), web pages are not free. Servers cost money, bandwidth costs money, and manning and moderating web content also requires money. So the nomads of the internet learn to drift from site to site, seeking free services without paying anything. They get angry with advertizements (especially when advertisers lay down requirements, such as "no adult content"). But when the new sites start monetizing, they are required to try and make money somehow, either by directly charging their "customers" (ie: Homestead), or by adding advertizements (ie: Geocities, and now Tumblr).

Time and time again, the advertizing approach has shown to be limiting. On the other hand, customers actually buying webspace (ie: Homestead, GoDaddy, or other paid web hosts) has shown to be a stable business model. However, newbies to the internet typically can't afford to buy sites, so that approach (while stable), alienates a good portion of the internet.

That said, the next service experiment beyond Tumblr has already begun. My bet? Neocities will grow to be the next Tumblr. IE: Tumbler users will fade away, migrate towards Neocities, and then Neocities will have their growing problems once again. The difference is, Neocities is donation based, and by its very design (static webpages), it is extremely scalable. Hopefully the free donation-based nature of Neocities will remain. People care about internet culture, the problem is finding the people who are willing to put up with giving away free services.


This is all entirely true. I dabbled in freebie stuff when I was new(anyone remember angelfire?) but now, if I'm building a site or what not, I use paid hosting. It isn't that expensive. It works. It's fast, and I'm not nearly so tied to someone else's policies. Everything has a cost, and if you hate ads, well, you best be prepared to pay it in some way.

Honestly, when buying advertising, I don't particularly want adult content to be shown with my ads...not because of any moral ideas about porn, but because porn sites sort of occupy the sleazy underbelly of the web, often with strong associations to piracy, malware, and god knows what else. Who wants that association?

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:46 pm UTC
by wumpus
Except that the wholesale costs (that tumblr pays) is so low that that they might as well be nothing.

Isn't it tumblr that switched to 1G of free storage or something? About $0.10 of storage, once you create the basic data array and replicate it enough, but some mom and pop system would have to charge you real money for. While I admit that even at tumblr sizes there is a certain cost/page (and since it is high volume, it certainly adds up), but the thing is that the brands aren't valuable enough that somebody isn't going to decide to eat your lunch and the only way is to hand out bandwidth for free.

So, if you want cheap, you have to be prepared to migrate (and a DNS entry and a forwarding address could go a long way). But there will always be some place that understands that free isn't too expensive to get into the business.

[I'll see your geocities and raise you USENET. Back in my day when you wanted to do the "80s-early 90s forum post", you got a message that informed you that your message will be replicated and sent to every major computer on the planet. This will be very expensive and cost plenty of people some money. Are you sure you want to do this? I think it may have been still true when I joined (I saw some people with bangpath emails), but it was growing less true by the day].

Serious example: do you really think any blog is going to have 1% of the bandwidth of a 15second utube clip? Think about what utube is and how much they have to send and what they charge for bandwidth. It isn't going to prove your point.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:05 pm UTC
by KnightExemplar
wumpus wrote:Except that the wholesale costs (that tumblr pays) is so low that that they might as well be nothing.

Isn't it tumblr that switched to 1G of free storage or something? About $0.10 of storage, once you create the basic data array and replicate it enough, but some mom and pop system would have to charge you real money for. While I admit that even at tumblr sizes there is a certain cost/page (and since it is high volume, it certainly adds up), but the thing is that the brands aren't valuable enough that somebody isn't going to decide to eat your lunch and the only way is to hand out bandwidth for free.


Tumblr has been running a charity for the last few years. They haven't made any money at all. That is right, it is a company that has made ZERO profit. They have some limited ad revenue, but they've been in the negative for their whole existence.

So, if you want cheap, you have to be prepared to migrate (and a DNS entry and a forwarding address could go a long way). But there will always be some place that understands that free isn't too expensive to get into the business.


There are always charities (or charitable companies) that respects the "freedom" of the net. But you have to realize what parts of the internet are free and what the costs are. If you aren't paying for the service, either advertisers are (and you have no right to complain about their demands), or you are in a charitable company (ie: Neocities or Wikipedia).

[I'll see your geocities and raise you USENET. Back in my day when you wanted to do the "80s-early 90s forum post", you got a message that informed you that your message will be replicated and sent to every major computer on the planet. This will be very expensive and cost plenty of people some money. Are you sure you want to do this? I think it may have been still true when I joined (I saw some people with bangpath emails), but it was growing less true by the day].


I've been on Usenet, and you know that Usenet services cost money. When they were on ISPs, it was a "free" service included with your internet. But paid services (ie: Giganews) were always the way to go with Usenet. Otherwise, they were ad-supported (ie: Google Groups, which grew out of Deja News). As expected... ad-supported Usenet portals are heavily moderated, and don't include pornographic material or copyright infringing materials. The provider has to bow to the demands of its supporters.

Serious example: do you really think any blog is going to have 1% of the bandwidth of a 15second utube clip? Think about what utube is and how much they have to send and what they charge for bandwidth. It isn't going to prove your point.


Youtube is heavily moderated and advertizement supported. It appears that Tumblr is moving in that direction, which means that Tumblr needs to learn how to play nice with advertisers. The users who don't understand this will find another charity to host their web pages for free... they always pop up somewhere.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:24 pm UTC
by Lucrece
It's not about hardcore porn.

It's the fact that artists, particularly in fandoms which may draw sexy or softcore suddenly find themselves blacklisted.

When you start introducing censors, it all becomes too subjective and you have to keep an eye on who is making a decision and how your blog could be harmed if, say, you had a blog with two guys spooning in slash fiction suddenly getting targeted because some jackass stumbled on it and it offended his tastes.

Sort of how the Super Bowl bills itself as this family friendly environment yet they had no issue putting Beyonce to prance in all kinds of sexually suggestive wear and poses, because apparently anything that caters to a straight male audience is family friendly and less prone to suffer scrutiny (accompanied by labeling people oversensitive if they call some attention to said content).

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 8:58 pm UTC
by charliepanayi
Lucrece wrote:
Sort of how the Super Bowl bills itself as this family friendly environment yet they had no issue putting Beyonce to prance in all kinds of sexually suggestive wear and poses, because apparently anything that caters to a straight male audience is family friendly and less prone to suffer scrutiny (accompanied by labeling people oversensitive if they call some attention to said content).


The Super Bowl is less prone to suffer scrutiny? Whaa?

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:28 am UTC
by Lucrece
charliepanayi wrote:
Lucrece wrote:
Sort of how the Super Bowl bills itself as this family friendly environment yet they had no issue putting Beyonce to prance in all kinds of sexually suggestive wear and poses, because apparently anything that caters to a straight male audience is family friendly and less prone to suffer scrutiny (accompanied by labeling people oversensitive if they call some attention to said content).


The Super Bowl is less prone to suffer scrutiny? Whaa?


Beyonce goes on a stage during family hours scantily clothed and touches on topics that are themed adult. No big controversy that ever threatened to have her disinvited.

Are you going to sit here and pretend that if it had been something akin to some skimpily dressed Usher doing the same for a female audience, that it would not have drawn the censors? And how many acts that don't cater to straight men have been booked?

The point is when it comes to controlling content, those not in power are always on the losing side when expression is stymied. You can rest assured that more chainmail bikini material will make it through the new Tumblr standards than will any material that's not as popular, even if it's much less salacious.

These new standards suck because the likelihood is that those that get put in charge of enforcing these things will do a pretty lopsided job of it.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:49 am UTC
by Steax
Some clarification has been provided.

First, apparently there was a bug that prevented NSFW content from appearing in Tumblr search results even if a user had disabled "Safe Mode." Karp says this bug has been fixed.


Second, Karp says that some tags were being blocked in some apps, mainly because "they are still frequently returning adult content" even though the tag itself is theoretically something innocuous, like "#gay." Karp implies the restrictions are necessary to keep Tumblr's apps from being blocked by app stores. Eventually the company hopes to enable smarter filtering and, in the meantime, Tumbr is curating the "#lgbtq" tag to ensure it's safe for work.


I'm half annoyed at the app store thing, and half accepting that there needs to be a line between keywords as a topic and in the adult context. Though, on second thought, given point #3 below, they could really just disable the adult search results for people with safe mode on.

Karp admits that Tumblr is de-listing some sites from third-party search engines. Karp characterized them as a "tiny subset of blogs" that were primarily spammy porn sites. Users can now check a new, clearer option called "Flag this blog as NSFW" which will keep it from being seen by Safe Mode users but not de-list it from third party search engines.


My question: why not just have "Flag this blog as spam" instead?

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:18 am UTC
by Carlington
The user who owns the blog has to check the "Flag this blog as NSFW" box in their own settings - it isn't a community-moderated setup. There is a note beneath the checkbox, though, which explains that Tumblr staff can flag a blog as NSFW, and this will prevent the user from un-checking that box. It also outlines the steps a user should take, if they believe their blog has been mistakenly flagged.
Also, all Tumblr blogs have a /robots.txt, and most of them contain lines that disallow /private, /random and /day. The robots.txt files cannot be modified by users. Some users have reported that a line reading "Disallow: /" has been added to their robots.txt, i.e., any standards-compliant web-crawler, like the ones used to index sites for search engines, will not index any part of their blog. I'm not sure if that's included in the bugs that the Tumblr staff talked about.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 12:42 pm UTC
by charliepanayi
Lucrece wrote:
charliepanayi wrote:
Lucrece wrote:
Sort of how the Super Bowl bills itself as this family friendly environment yet they had no issue putting Beyonce to prance in all kinds of sexually suggestive wear and poses, because apparently anything that caters to a straight male audience is family friendly and less prone to suffer scrutiny (accompanied by labeling people oversensitive if they call some attention to said content).


The Super Bowl is less prone to suffer scrutiny? Whaa?


Beyonce goes on a stage during family hours scantily clothed and touches on topics that are themed adult. No big controversy that ever threatened to have her disinvited.

Are you going to sit here and pretend that if it had been something akin to some skimpily dressed Usher doing the same for a female audience, that it would not have drawn the censors? And how many acts that don't cater to straight men have been booked?


I just find it odd that anyone can say the Super Bowl HT show doesn't have scrutiny considering the whole Janet Jackson furore a few years ago. As for that acts that don't cater to straight men - they had Madonna all of two years ago. And though the likes of The Who, Springsteen and Tom Petty are very much in the 'white male' field of music, they're not exactly like Beyonce. Beyonce is probably the first 'sex symbol' act they've booked in years.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:15 pm UTC
by Lucrece
Madonna brought in M.I.A and Nicki Minaj. All 3 of them pretty much skimpily dressed as well, doing a sexy girl act. They were hardly outside the target audience. It's always been either sexy girl act, or cheerleader subs, or rock bands.

The ads that run during the super bowl also tend to reflect this.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:32 pm UTC
by MisterCheif
Lucrece wrote:Madonna brought in M.I.A and Nicki Minaj. All 3 of them pretty much skimpily dressed as well, doing a sexy girl act. They were hardly outside the target audience. It's always been either sexy girl act, or cheerleader subs, or rock bands.

The ads that run during the super bowl also tend to reflect this.


Well, at least since 1990, the last year they had a marching band perform there. [/19 year old who doesn't like this new-fangled music the kids theses days listen to.]

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:37 am UTC
by LastFast
Seeing how well Geocities panned out...

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:10 pm UTC
by gmalivuk
KnightExemplar wrote:I've been on the net for over a decade. I remember the ancient platforms upon which Geocities and Homestead were built
People still used geocities in 2003?

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:14 pm UTC
by TheGrammarBolshevik
I'm fairly certain I used Geocities in 2003, if only for hosting a couple school projects.

Re: Yahoo killing off Tumblr

Posted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:41 am UTC
by KnightExemplar
gmalivuk wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:I've been on the net for over a decade. I remember the ancient platforms upon which Geocities and Homestead were built
People still used geocities in 2003?


Uggghhh. Stop making me feel old.

When did SegaSages turn into IGN?