Tumblr: Goldilocks Blogging

June 12, 2008 By: erik Category: Geeky, Internet, Reviews, Stuff I Found 1,282 views

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During the recent Twitter outages, I checked the Twitter Status Blog a few times. I noticed that it was running on a platform called Tumblr, so I investigated a little further. Here, I plan to explain what Tumblr is, why its creators think it’s useful, what you can do with it, and what I’ve decided to use it for.

The Point of Tumblr

The creators of Tumblr think that there is a niche between Blogging and Twitter. Blog posts, according to them, are supposed to be long-winded multi-paragraph monstrosities. They obviously don’t know my friends. And Twitter posts are, often frustratingly, limited to a maximum of 140 characters. Tumblr is for all the stuff you want to say that is too much for Twitter and not big enough to justify a blog post.

What can I post on Tumblr?

There are seven types of posts.

post types

Those icons are pretty self explanitory. Quotes are for posting quotations, single phrases from someone else you heard or read. Chats are to post conversations you’ve had or heard. The rest are just what they say they are. The text posts are really the equivalent of a full blog post on any other blogging platform. You can embed images and do anything any other blog can do.

Tumblr as a personal feed aggregator

First of all, let me explain what a feed aggregator is. RSS feeds are small, compact files available from websites, like this one, that allow your computer to check if there is new content. A feed aggregator will take RSS feeds from various sites and merge them together into just one feed. So if you wanted just one feed of all new blog posts from several bloggers in Spain, you could give all the feeds for those blogs to a feed aggregator, and it would combine them.

Most bloggers use several online services that provide feeds for content that they product. I, for instance, have my blog feed, my Flickr feed, my Twitter feed, my Revver feed, and countless other video sharing websites that I’ve started using lately through TubeMogul.

Tumblr will check your various feeds for new content, and then post that content on your Tumblr page automatically!

I have lots of content on my Tumblog, and I have yet to make a direct post on Tumblr. All of it has been read from my various other feeds.

This is how I have been using Tumblr. My tumblog is an aggregation of all my feeds:


Tumblr also allows for group blogging. You can define a group, either public or private, and then invite other members (Tumblrs?) to allow them posting to the group blog. The same feed aggregation features apply. As an experiment, I have created iwus.tumblr.com that will pull the photos from the Flickr group of the same name.


Although Tumblr does not allow comments natively, there are 3rd party plugins, like Disqus, that will allow plugins. In 2 minutes, before starting this paragraph, I have enabled comments on iwus.tumblr.com using Disqus.


One niche I can see Tumblr filling in my internet life is as an extention of what a Flickr group is. On Flickr, you can post photos to a group and people interesting in that type of photo (e.g. dachshund puppies) can join and follow the group. With Tumblr, that group could spill over to allowing posting of video, web links, stories, etc., while at the same time sucking in all the content from the preexisting Flickr group.

I often send and receive url-sharing emails to and from fellow IWUS members about websites that are particularly, well, “IWUS“. If any of you IWUSers feel up to trying to use a Tumblr group for that, let me know and I’ll invite you to the one I’ve already created.

  • Hmmmmm, okay. I’ve signed up. Now what? I’m only interested in the IWUS group for the moment.

  • Beats me. Somehow you have to try and join that group. I sent you an invitation. Did signing up via that link not automatically make you a group member?

  • I don’t mean to be either a nay-sayer or obtuse, but when you say a Tumblr group

    …could spill over to allowing posting of video, web links, stories, etc., while at the same time sucking in all the content from the preexisting Flickr group

    I have trouble seeing how any of those things listed are not already possible within the Flickr group itself, with video enabled and creative use of comments. I can see how Tumblr could have some happy-medium uses, but replacing a Flickr group doesn’t seem to me to be one of them. I’ll happily keep an open mind about it, but I’m sort of skeptical.

  • You make good points, Mr. Obtuse Nay-sayer. It’s true that Flickr groups allow for forum discussions and now videos. Tumblr doesn’t really add anything to that specifically. It’s just a different format.

    Frankly, I’m not convinced either, but I find experimenting with new ways of online communication interesting.

  • Oh no, yet another thing to do. I’ve joined so many listings, sites, etc. that I can’t even remember them all. Tried twitter, but I’m usually too lazy to log on and add something. The automatic feed thing sounds good. I’ll wait and see your verdict on it before joining.

  • Theresa, don’t fret. Since I know you share my traffic whoring tendencies, here is my recommendation for you:

    1. Go sign up at Tumblr choosing your favorite username before Tumblr gets popular and someone else takes it.
    2. Set it up to fetch your blog’s feed.
    3. Add your location to your Tumblr profile so people searching for Spanish bloggers will find you.
    4. Set it to list you in the Tumblr directory.
    5. Forget about Tumblr forever.

    This will, at the very minimum, generate more links to your blog and can only increase your traffic.

  • I jumped on the twitter bandwagon, but I think this is one too far. A separate service just for short blog posts, when I already have a blog where I can write as much or as little as I please? No thanks.

  • dlysen

    I ignore tumblr… But now im using it now to make auto post, I like the way they import feeds and post to facebook. It minimize my effort on sharing new post.