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12.02.19

Goodbye Tumblr (NSFW)

Posted 12th February 2019

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A shade over six years ago, I launched a companion Dirty Feed Tumblr. It was really meant as a scratchpad; a place to post various odd things, with the idea that some of the ideas over there might turn into proper articles over here on the main site.

And for a fair while, I kept it updated with all kinds of stuff. A glance through the archives is like a peek into a cross-section of my brain, albeit slightly more pleasant than that sounds. Endless pictures of my obsessions.

But slowly, I drifted away from Tumblr. I never managed to find much of a community over there like I did on Twitter, and I never figured out why that was. Were there less people into the stuff I’m into over there? Are they actually there, but I just didn’t find them? Did I not make enough of an effort to hunt like-minded people down and reblog their stuff? I still don’t really know the answer: all I know is that Twitter clicked with me, and Tumblr never quite did.

In October last year, I quietly said goodbye to the site, and that was the end of it. Well, nearly. Tumblr then announced their ridiculous ban on porn1, so I passive-aggressively updated my last post to make it clear I really was never coming back.

Not that anybody really cared. Which was kinda the problem in the first place.

*   *   *

The other day, I got an email from Tumblr.

“Hello dirtyfeed,

You’re receiving this email because we’ve detected new content on your Tumblr, dirtyfeed, that has been flagged as adult under our Community Guidelines.

You can review the flagged post(s) in a timeline view here.”

Oh. This should be good. I mean, it took them nearly two months after the porn ban before they got round to sending it, which is brilliant for a start.

For your amusement, then, here’s what Tumblr objected to on my blog. Firstly:

Various alternate Dirty Feed logos

Basil Fawlty, Mike Smash, Gordon Brittas, and Peggy Ollerenshaw are clearly the very definition of adult content.

Secondly:

Sergeant Major from It Ain't Half Hot Mum

I do admit that Windsor Davies sitting on a block of ice and pulling a face might be considered adult content by some, but seeing as it was broadcast in primetime on BBC1 in 1974 I think we can let it off.

Thirdly:

A load of books on bestiality

OK, OK, fair enough, that counts. Incidentally, at 419 notes, that piece was by far the most popular thing I ever posted on Tumblr.

And finally2:

Two BBC Micro loading screens

I presume Tumblr thought a pixellated 8-bit skull looked a little like a titty.

*   *   *

In short, in pursuit of its ridiculous goal, Tumblr took three entirely innocuous posts of mine off the public web, along with the single most popular post I’d ever made on the service.

Tumblr can do whatever it likes, of course. Their house, their rules. But let’s just say I’m glad that the stuff I really care about has been published over here, on a domain I control, where nobody can decide that stuff I post about can be arbitrarily removed from the web.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t post things on services owned by others. By all means, post on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Medium, Instagram, and a hundred other services I’ve probably never heard of because I’m getting old. I totally get the benefit of the social interaction which is difficult to achieve on your own site. I’m not a purist in that regard. And just because I left Facebook nine years ago, I’m not going to lecture that everybody should.

But I would urge you to consider keeping control of the bits of your online presence that are really important to you. You never know when a company might change its policies… or disappear entirely. That photo you took that you love, that post which ended up turning out really well, that drawing which is special to you.

Don’t risk your best stuff purely in the hands of a company which confuses Gordon Brittas for pornography.


  1. I’m not interested in having the debate here as to why Tumblr banning porn is ridiculous; there are plenty of other places where you can do that. I will say though, that the thing which annoys me most is that the ban disproportionately affects women, as Tumblr had become one of the few places online where women routinely went for porn. 

  2. Presented as a grab of my Tumblr blog itself rather than from the backend with the warning message, because when I republished it while mucking around, it removed itself from the list of violated posts. Brilliant Tumblr, well done again. 

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