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Previously on: Tumblr as a Coffee Shop AU: the shape of tumblr community; Tumblr 101: Setting Up Your Blog, Tumblr 101: Content, Tumblr 101: Communication

A collection of questions that have come up along the way and that go beyond the basics. These are not things you *need* to know in order to use and enjoy tumblr, but things people have asked about and that others may want to know. Plus an updated list of bloggers, reccers, authors, and artists to check out!

Q1. How do I create dialogue?

Tumblr doesn't have threaded comments, so it looks pretty different there than it does on LJ, but it's still there! You can create dialogue by reblogging posts and adding your thoughts in the reblog or in the tags. You can also ask someone else a question or you can tag people in posts that you think they'd find interesting and solicit a response. You can follow certain tags and see the discussions that are happening in or around them, similar to twitter's model. And the act of reblogging posts is itself a form of tumblr dialogue - you're curating your own vision of what it's important to see and share, of how fandom looks, of what questions and ideas are interesting or pretty, of what generally catches your fancy.

If you do want that back and forth dialogue, there are a few ways to do it:
- Linking back to LJ (example)
- Going back and forth and just accepting that the thread's going to be long (or tagging it "long post" for people who don't want to see those) (example)
- Replying to posts, or to other replies (though the @ function doesn't work in replies)
- Linking posts back to previous conversations
- Moving it to private messaging

Generally, the conversations are more diffuse, and tend to branch out differently (and there's more of a branching, because of reblogs vs threaded comments) but that doesn't mean they're not happening!


Q2. How do I create community?

This is simultaneously simple and hard: talk to people. Talk to the same peoople over and over again, talk to the people those people talk to. Talk to them by reblogging from them, by liking their original posts, by messaging, by sending them asks. This is easier to do if you've got a shared interest, but if you're reading this you've probably got a fandom or a ship to connect around and that's perfect. Talk to fellow fans, people who are writing with you, reading the same things you are, all of that. Release the squee! It takes a little bit of persistence - starting a tumblr feels a little bit like the first day at a new school, ngl. But it does happen!

Q3. What are networks, squads, and promos?

I'm going to start this one with some blatant editorializing, because as I was typing this up it started feeling a little middle school, which, I'd nopetopus on outta there if it really was like that. These are things worth knowing about and will help you understand the tumblr landscape, but you do not have to be a part of any of them! Not to make friends, not to enjoy fandom, not to get followers, none of it. For me, personally, with my personal editorializing hat on, they feel exclusive and cliquish and therefore uncomfortable. I've never joined/done/been a part of any of them, and it hasn't negatively affected my tumblr experience at all. I've made friends, had great fannish experiences, gotten plenty of followers, and had awesome interactions, including with people who are part of networks and squads and who do all sorts of promo. They're great options if they sound great to you, and if they don't, please know that you can have a great time on tumblr without any of it. *editorializing hat off*

Networks and squads are groups of people who make formal or informal arrangements to reblog/talk to other members of that group.

Networks tend to be more formal. They're usually started by a person or group of people who create a post about the network they're starting, which is usually about a central theme/interest/ship, and solicit applications. Applicants may have to meet certain requirements - most frequently, they must be following the founder(s) of the network, agree to do a certain amount of reblogging/promoting of other network members' content, must have a certain number of followers, and/or must have blogs that meet certain content requirements - and may have to fill out an application form and reblog the post(s) advertising the network to be considered. The founder(s) make the final decisions, and then network members are notified and begin (or continue) to talk to, reblog, and promote each other. Different networks hold different amount of sway, and their influence tends to ebb and flow with their membership.

Squads are less formal and more inclusive in how people join them and how they work. There tends to be an informal social hierarchy and sense of in/out-ness, the relatively casualness of which seems to be harder for some people and easier for others. They involve a looser agreement to reblog and promote other squad members - it's smiled upon but is not required, there's no penalty for not doing it but not guarantee that others will do it for you, and some people will do it more than others. They also exist around shared interests/themes/ships, but do not have an application process.

Promos cover a range of activities used to increase visibility, influence, and follower counts. They include:
- follow trains, wherein people reblog a post and agree to follow the next n people who reblog
- blog rates, wherein a blogger with a big following will post an assessment of another blog, often to mark a high follower count
- blog awards, wherein a blogger or group of bloggers with big followings will give periodic, usually monthly awards
- follow forevers, wherein bloggers make tagged lists of their favorite blogs, often with a graphic as the header, often to mark a new follower count

At present in the H/D fandom the drarry squad is the biggest and most influential of these groups. It's informal and everyone is welcome to join. Some members are more influential than others, some are more pro-actively inclusive than others, some identify more strongly/vocally as part of the squad than others. The key shared thing is the use of the tag "drarry squad" - squad members follow that tag and see content posted to it, and users of the tag are considered part of the squad.

Q4. What are mutuals?

Mutuals are two people who follow each other. Your mututal's activity is marked differently (highlighted in blue) on your activity page, so it's easier to see it, like so:



and tumblr gives you options to distinguish between mutuals and non-mutuals in app notifications and sort of distinguishes between them in who is allowed to message you (in that you can choose to only be messaged by blogs that you follow).

Being mutuals with someone can have some social significance, in that it means that you see each other's content (at least inasmuch as you both check tumblr/check tumblr at certain times of day) and are therefore more likely to reblog from each other, and at a minimum that you are interested in/appreciate each other's blogs. Some people are more comfortable messaging mutuals (and again, some people set their messaging so that they can only recieve messages from blogs they follow), but sometimes mutual follower relationships only happen after one person reaches out to the other, because tumblr is so big, and sometimes people who like each other don't mutually follow because their blog content is different or their dashboard is too busy. Basically, a mutual follow is a good sign that you share interests with someone and would be welcome to talk to them, but not having a mutual follow doesn't signal a lack of shared ground or disinterest in talking.

Breaking a mututal follow also seems to have some social significance, moreso than unfollowing a non-mutual. Sometimes, like unfriending, it signals offense or disapproval or a desire to disengage. Sometimes it's a question of someone posting too much or of divergent tumblr interests, so not necessarily a statement.

Tumblr does not notify you when someone becomes your mutual (though you will get a follower notification and their activity will change color in your feed).

Tumblr does not notify you when someone - a mutual or anyone else - unfollows you.

Q5. What is the etiquette for talking to new people?

Be polite and friendly! Beyond that, there isn't a formal etiquette.

It can help to open with a post or question you think the other person might find interesting, or to comment on something they've reblogged, so there's an obvious jumping off point. Conversely, it can be difficult/put the conversational burden on the person you're trying to get to know if you just say "hi" or "I love your blog." Asking for their thoughts, headcanons, etc. - whatever is consistent with their blog - can be a great way to start talking, too. And if it's someone you want to talk to, hopefully it won't be a stretch to find something you want to talk to them about!

It also depends on how new they are to you - if they're someone who you've seen around on other platforms, someone you trade comments with, that sort of thing, you don't really need to go for the formalities, just jump on in with something to talk about!

Some people feel that messaging is more intimate and immediate than asks, and if you're cautious you could try sending an ask or two first, or replying to some of their posts, so you're more likely to be familiar to them. But responses to all of those things also vary by how busy the blogger is, how much time they're spending on tumblr, how they're using it (I'm 900% better at replying to things on desktop vs app), how many people are trying to get their attention, how many conversations they're in - all sorts of things that just are what they are, for better or worse, and don't have to do with you, or with how well you'd get along.

But most of all, it comes back to being friendly and consistent, and giving it some time!


Q6. How do I find the OP for a post?

There are a few ways!


1) Go back to the original post. Sometimes the name won't travel, in which case you can hover over the upper right corner of a post to get a little dog-ear:


to see it on the rebloggers blog, and depending on their theme, it will show you the original source:


So in this case it was reblogged by harryjvmes, from hermionee, but looking at it in harryjvmes' theme shows the original source, williamherxndale.

To be certain, you can click through to the source's blog and see if they reblogged it from anyone:


In this case, we see that williamhernxdale didn't reblog it from anyone and that they've marked it as their own edit in the tags.

This is the most reliable way to do it, but can be a bit time consuming.

It also isn't a guarantee that the OP isn't reposting someone else's content. I've talked a bit about how to tell if that's going on in Tumblr 101: Content, but basically if a text post looks like it's been screencapped, or an image post lists an external source that doesn't line up with the username, or the images don't list any source at all (especially if they're not on an artist's page where you can see whether that person has a consistent style and just doesn't add captions to their work), those are all signs that work might be reposted. You can also save the image and upload it to google image search if you want to be really thorough.

2) Sometimes the source will travel with the post.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 8.57.58 PM.png
Right in the lower left hand corner of the post. I'm not sure why some posts have this and some don't, and if you want to be sure it's worth clicking through to the source and making sure that's the original post, but it's a more efficient way to tell.

3) Sometimes the original author's name will travel with the post. Again, to be completley honest, I can't figure out what the key differences are between posts where this does vs does not happen, and it also occassionally gets messed up such that at some point in the reblog chain the original author's name seems to change, but most of the time it works, and looks like this:



So in the first one, ddraco reblogged it from luxiusmalfoy but accio-shitpost was the original author. In the second case, verily-i-say reblogged an answered question from larryappreciation, but saracha was the original question-answerer.

4) Look in the notes. First click on the number of notes in the bottom corner, then click on the number of notes and reblogs:



That will let you see them as a list, then scroll to the top:



This is much easier with posts that have fewer notes!

Between these methods, yo ushould be able to find your answer conclusively - hopefully with one of the quicker ones!

One thing - you won't be able to follow it all the way back to the original poster if they have deleted the original post, which people sometimes do if a post gets so many notes so quickly that it's clogging up their activity page, or if they've changed their username.

Q7: How do I find the original posting date for a post?

If you use tumblr without an extension, you won't see a time or date on posts on your dash.

If you use xkit, you'll see the time and date when the person you're following reblogged the post, like this:


If you cick on the original source, either by hovering over the upper right-hand corner of the post and then clicking the dog-ear that appears or by clicking "source" at the bottom of the post, the original post will show up in a sidebar which, depending on the OP's theme, will show the original posting time and date, like this:


You can also see it on the OP's blog, though its location will vary based on the blogger's theme, and can be on the bottom or top of a post or to the side, and with some themes it will only be visible once you click on a post.

Q8: How do I read notes efficiently?

The easiest way is by clicking on the number of notes in the bottom right corner of a post on your dash. It will show you both replies (with the blue speech bubbles) and the first few sentences of reblogged commentary (with the green reblog symbol):


It won't show you the entirety of a lengthy reblog, but it will show you who reblogged from who, so you have some sense of what things were said in response to, and it will show you enough of the commentary to help you decide whether you want to click on a reblog to view the rest of the comment.

Q9: When I like something, who gets the like?

The original poster and the person who reblogged it.

Original posters will stop getting notes about their posts if they delete them, which people sometimes do if a post has thousands and thousands of notes and is making it hard for them to follow other activity. If that's the case, they won't get the like (and you won't be able to trace it all the way back to the OP).

Q10: What is blacklisting and how does it work?

What is it?
Blacklisting something means that it will be blocked from your dash, at least as much as is possible. Blacklisting uses tags and text, so image-only and untagged posts can sneak through and it's an imperfect system as a result, but it can improve your experience and clean up your dash.

People do it for multiple reasons: because people they follow are reblogging content to do with an event or fandom they're not interested in, because there's content they could get in trouble for looking at in public or at work, because they want to avoid spoilers, because there's something they don't want to see, or because there's something that it would be squicking or upsetting or triggering for them to see.

Aside: this is one more reason why it's SO IMPORTANT to tag things, especially if you're reblogging content that could upset people or get people in trouble. There are sometimes arguments on tumblr about whether to tag nudity because hey, the human body is beautiful and natural, and I agree with the point but that's not the issue - the issue is that people can get in trouble for looking at pictures of naked people on their work computers. Similarly, there are arguments about what people should or shouldn't be upset by, very similar to arguments about what people should or shouldn't tag for. Again, tagging is not about the validity of the philosophical, but about being considerate of your followers.

What will do the blacklisting?
You need either xkit or tumblr savior to be able to blacklist. Whichever you're using needs to be installed on the computer or device you're using, so if, for instance, you want to blacklist nsfw content when you're at work, your work computer needs to have it.

What is whitelisting?
Both will also give you the option to whitelist terms. This means that posts with those terms will show up even if they also contain blacklisted terms. For example, if you're seeing too much about the olympics and only want to follow gymnastics, you could blacklist "olympics" but whitelist "gymnastics" "simone biles" "uneven bars" and so on, so you're only seeing the content you like.

What to be aware of when setting up lists of terms for blacklisting and whitelisting?
With both blacklisting and whitelisting you need to think carefully about which terms you use, and it will likely take a little bit of tweaking. Blacklisting a term like "harry potter" may not do much (when I tried it, it didn't actually blacklist anything for quite a while) because people are more likely to tag their content with "hp" or "harry james potter" or with specific character/place names. Though YMMV - in the past I've blacklisted fandoms that use acronyms almost exclusively (ouat) and not at all (supernatural) and both have worked well. Non-fandom blacklists come with their own set of complications; you may want to make sure you don't see sexist or racist content, but blacklisting "sexism" or "racism" is more likely to block posts critically analyzing those things than about them, and you would be better off inputting specific terms you didn't want to see for more effective blacklisting.

What happens to blacklisted items?
Both extensions give you options about how to handle blacklisted items. The default is to have them tell you when there's a blacklisted post and give you the option to click on it:


But you can have it remove all blacklisted posts completely, and I think there are other options in both extensions, as well.

How to do it with xkit:
xkit works on computers with firefox and chrome (but not safari) and on ios devices if you download and use the xkit app ($2), but there isn't an app for android phones. It stores your settings in a cloud, so you don't have to (and can't) set it up separately on different devices, but it will only work on devices that have xkit installed.

Once you have it in your browser, open it by clicking on the xkit icon, third from left, between activity and your account:



Then go to "Get Extensions" and scroll down to "Blacklist" and click install:

You don't need to restart your browser after installing.

Then go back to the tab with all your extensions and add the terms you want to blacklist:



How to do it with Tumblr Savior:

Tumblr savior works on computers, including safair and opera, but does not, as far as I know, have a mobile app. It stores your settings locally so you have to (but can, if you want different settings on your work vs home computers) set devices up individually.

As a browser extension, it will appear in the upper right-hand corner of your browser:


Clicking on it will open a window that lets you list the relevant terms:

Q11. How do I make a static web page?

Go to your blog's homepage (username.tumblr.com) and click "edit appearance" in the upper right hand corner. When the editing menu appears, as a left-hand sidebar, scroll all the way down to "add a page"




The sidebar will switch to this:

Select "standard layout" on the drop-down menu. You can also use the back arrow in the upper left hand corner to exit without saving changes.

You can edit the name and url, decide whether you want a link to the page to show on your homepage, and add whatever content you want:



You may want to do this to make an index/table of contents for your blog, to write up an FAQ or policy, to have something to link to if you get asked the same questions frequently, to make a masterlist of fic, or to use tumblr as a fannish (or professiona) home base. (example, example, example)

Q12. How do I make an automatically updating web page?

You can do this by using tumblr's tagging system, to create a page that will always have all of one type of content. In fact, tumblr does this by default - you can go to username.tumblr.com/tagged/term and see everything on that blog that's been tagged with that term - and fine-tuning it can give you a webpage that adds new content as you tag new posts with that tag. For instance, all of my recs are tagged "dcrecs" and then my "Fanfic Recs" tag points to dictacontrion.tumblr.com/tagged/dcrecs. Anyone who visits that tag will see all my recs in reverse chronological order, with the newest post showing up at the top every time I tag one "dcrecs." It helps to use a tag that you're not likely to accidentally apply to other content (thus "dcrecs" and not "fic recs"), but any tag will work.

Go to your blog's homepage (username.tumblr.com) and click "edit appearance" in the upper right hand corner. When the editing menu appears in the left-hand sidebar, scroll all the way down to "add a page"



The sidebar will switch to this:


Select "redirect" from the drop down menu. Then name the page, name the URL (which can be anything - I have it as tagged/representation as a matter of preference, but it could be dictacontrion.tumblr.com/representation, or dictacontrion.tumblr.com/humdinger or whatever) and in the "Redirect to" field put in yourusername.tumblr.com/tagged/tag.



Great for rec pages, art, ficlets - anything that updates over time and that you want people to be able to find in one place.

Q13. How do I redirect to an external web page?

Go to your blog's homepage (username.tumblr.com) and click "edit appearance" in the upper right hand corner. When the editing menu appears in the left-hand sidebar, scroll all the way down to "add a page"


The sidebar will switch to this:


Select "redirect" from the drop down menu.


Create a url for that page and fill in the url you want it to redirect to:


It won't (can't!) show you the redirect, but will work regardless. If you go to my blog and click on "Drarry Recs Masterlist," you can see it in action.

Great for linking to your AO3 pages/fic masterlists, other social media, and anything else you want to link to.

Q14. Where do I go for help?

There is a level of tumblr (there are several, tbh) that even I do not understand. For those moments, there is tumblr support.

Go to your account, and then to help:



It will take you to a menu with FAQs and a search bar:



As soon as you start typing, the option to contact support will appear:



You can fill in any relelvant details, add images - whatever you need to communicate the issue:



In my experience they answer in 2-4 days, and tend to be helpful. For specifics, they're the best place to go, at least because they understand the technical details.


And that brings us to the end of the series! If you've got more questions, you can ask them below!

Lastly, as promised, an updated list of blogs to check out, including HP and H/D bloggers, authors, artists, and recs, and blogs of general interest. If you've gotten a tumblr and you're not on the list, please let me know about it in the comments and I'll add you!!  The list is on tumblr because omg coding and also because hey, you're ready to use tumblr now! Here it is! Go check it out!!

Date: 2016-08-18 08:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] oceaxe.livejournal.com
After reading all of that (okay, tbh I skimmed a lot), I have come to the conclusion that I am simply too lazy to grok Tumblr, and I will fully own that this is my fault and no one else's. I accept that Tumblr has a lot of functionality and community-building potential that I could choose to avail myself of, and very likely won't for time/inclination/aforementioned laziness reasons.

But man! Whew! Thank you for the taking the considerable time out of your life to make this tutorial! You really deserve a fandom award for this.
Edited Date: 2016-08-18 08:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-08-18 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dicta-contrion.livejournal.com
The caveat that's so important I just added it to the top of the post is that you really and truly don't need to know all of this to use and enjoy tumblr. There's a reason this is 102 instead of 101 - it's all more advanced stuff that might come in handy, maybe, but mostly it's stuff people have asked about.

You're welcome!! Thanks for the thanks! <3

Date: 2016-08-18 09:11 pm (UTC)
capitu: (sultry)
From: [personal profile] capitu
This is amazing, Dicta. You can't imagine how incredibly helpful all this is. Thank you!

Date: 2016-08-18 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dicta-contrion.livejournal.com
<3<3<3!! Glad it's helpful! And glad you asked about blacklisting, too, so I remembered to put it on there!!! <333

Date: 2016-12-06 09:21 pm (UTC)
capitu: (default - christmas)
From: [personal profile] capitu
Random comment is random but I just wanted to remind you how useful these are! Every time I need to know or remember something I come to your guide and I always find what I need, every time. :)

Date: 2017-01-08 05:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dicta-contrion.livejournal.com
Random comment is lovely!! Thank you <3<3<3 I'm so glad it's helpful!!!

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