Regina Cannot Explain It All

I'm Regina Small. I'm a writer and editor in NYC. Interests include: sci-fi/fantasy, summertime daydrinking, trying to be a better person, fancy manicures, cooking, absurd humor, philosophy and the role of irony in the modern world.

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While I love Tumblr and think it’s the best blogging platform I’ve ever used, I’m sometimes concerned about its readability to my friends who navigate here from my Facebook or Twitter, or from a link I send them.

So, to explain: Tumblr is a community. Similar to Twitter, you can “follow” people whom you find interesting and their entries will appear on your homepage or “dashboard.” In the upper righthand corner of each post that appears on your dashboard are two buttons — one in the shape of a heart, which you can click to indicate you “like” that post, and one that says “reblog,” which allows you to post that entry to your blog, while giving credit to the original blogger.

To give an example, here’s a screenshot of my dashboard:

The top bar shows all of my blogging options — Tumblr has a lot of pre-formatted blog post “types.” I can blog with just text (but can embed images, too); a photo with caption (and captions can be blog-length if you want), a quote (auto-formatted so that they appear in big bold letters), a link, a chat, audio or video

Reblog Wha?

Reblogging can be a bit hard to explain, but this post is an example of a reblog. The screennames of the Tumblrer who I reblogged the post from is hyperlinked (“clickable” for the uninitiated) and her comments are kept separate from my addition by the vertical lines. Reblogging is a huge thing in Tumblr-land — you can add a comment, as I did in the last post, or you can just leave the post as is. It’s a way of sharing something you found on your dashboard that was interesting or fun or worthwhile and it’s part of what makes Tumblr unique (and very low pressure in terms of producing content). No one on Tumblr blogs in a vacuum; instead, we are each responding to an entire community of users. So when you see those various screennames and lines, it means I saw a post on my dash and wanted to be part of that conversation. It’s difficult for non-Tumblr users who visit Tumblr blogs because it feels like inside baseball (and it is) but I hope this helps a bit.

(Before I updated this post, I had a long section on an old feature Tumblr used to call Tumblarity. If you’re interested in that relic of Ye Olde Blogging Days, you can read about that here.)

"Ask Me Anything"

The “askbox” or “askhole,” as it is informally called, is partly a way to submit (either anonymously or under your own username) a question to another Tumblrer. You can enable your own “ask me anything” button by going to your settings and checking the box that reads “Let people ask questions.” You can elect to allow anonymous questions through, but be mindful this often is a gateway for spammers and…well, assholes who might be mean to you. This hasn’t ever been an issue for me but it’s something you might want to keep in mind if you’re sensitive to criticism. I think sometimes people like to allow anonymous questions/messages because they hope someone (if you are under 21, we’ll call this person “your crush”) will write a long, flowery love note. This is not a thing that happens, really. More often than not people use anonymity to vent their anger and frustration, not their more delicate feelings.

Equally, if someone whom you dislike allows anonymous questions on her blog, don’t be an asshole and say cruel shit. Life is already very hard for most people. Play nice.

Enjoy Tumblr; Have Fun; Make Friends

When I started my Tumblr in 2009, I didn’t know what the fuck it was. At all. I learned a lot by doing and I produced some good content. But most significantly: I met a ton of awesome people. I’ve gone drinking with my Tumblr friends, texted them while I watched reruns of Buffy on Netflix, and attended their Christmas and birthday parties. One of my Tumblr pals, whom I met in early 2010, was actually a bridesmaid at my wedding! If you make the effort, you can develop real friendships here and take those friendships into offline life (if you want). Explore, join in conversations and don’t be afraid to express yourself. It’s the Internet and we all get to have opinions! Have fun.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, consider following me for other nerdy goodness. If you’re a sci-fi or fantasy fan, I also have a pretty cool blog called Small Galaxies.