Wordpress owners buy Tumblr (Update: for "less than $3m")

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/12/wordpress-owners-buy-tumblr-w.html


Good news, for once!


Seems like he bought it for the employees, and probably for peanuts. He’s making no apparent effort to stop the downward spiral, but got a bunch of people who can work on Wordpress.


Why use the word smut? Are you trying to suggest that human nudity and sexual behavior is distasteful and to be avoided?


Hallelujah!, can I get an AMEN, fellow mutants!


I was kind of hoping PornHub would be the one to seal the deal after they expressed interest, just because it would be slightly weirder than the usual corporate hot potato game for this kind of property.


I think smut best captures the ineffable essence of fan-driven sexual artwork and obsessively-curated sexual material, the sexual dimension of tumblr’s milieux.

It’s not erotica, because that implies affectation and good taste. But it’s not merely porn, which attaches to a more instrumental and formulaic search-engine/directory type site. Smut has a casual, personal quality to it, something tinged with the human, the cultural, but in an everday kind of way. You couldn’t put erotica or porn on tumblr without it becoming casual and tinged by its fannish culture. Smut.

Like the old postcards.


“Smut” as a term should be retired, it reeks of banned magazines with yellowing pages, and 1950’s courtroom melodrama.

For my part, in the time I spent hanging around on Tumblr, I encountered posts which could be considered erotic art, actual pornography, and even sexual educational material. Very little of it was “smut” in the naughty funny-papers way you’re suggesting. And it was not always consistently lampooned or built upon fanfic.

A number of art-minded folks lamented the changes when Yahoo took over, because Tumblr was a refuge of the exposed nipple in photography, among other generally-banned imagery. Yes, the site was plagued by porn-bots automatically posting looping GIFs of lewd behavior, but they could have cracked down on those without carpet-bombing legitimate artworks.

Just, nobody in charge seemed to care.


In my adolescence this guy was synonymous with smut:


Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for it.

Dan Primack reports it sold for “less than $3m”

But for one thing, the porn will not be back.

When it drops below $100, and put up for offer again, I pledge to restore the nudity.

ETA: Just for clarity, my Instagram feed contains a couple of carefully curated art/“erotic” posters who push the limits of photographic nudity. I also follow several painters like Rebecca Leveille Guay and Vanessa Garwood. So, in equal amounts to the male-gaze-centric stuff, (Buzz Lightyear voice) PENISES. PENISES EVERYWHERE.


You running for President?



3 million dollars?! The Tumblr community (what’s left of it I guess) could have run a kickstarter or indiegogo campaign to raise enough to buy itself!

Yahoo paid 1 billion for this outcome :rofl:


Okay good. I can hang this up again.

1 Like

Yeah, I think “smut” has a connotation of unironic disapproval; it is a disservice to lump the tumblr porn of yesterwank with the atomized, transactional, joyless world of tube sites, but I’d still just call it “porn” because, let’s not create needless linguistic hurdles.

And 99% of tumblr porn was porn, not erotica or political art on behalf of marginalised groups or whatever. Folx were still there to jerk off. But

  1. there was more farm-to-table content, and fewer videos that make you wonder if the performers are OK
  2. since you choose which tumbls to follow, it is a less hostile experience; on Pornhub you can search for gay porn, or latex, or hot lunch or whatever, but the clumsy ESL titles make it clear that content is posted by someone who sneers at your taste but will take your money
  3. it was much more sex-positive (especially, I think, for groups other than straight men (everything is sex-positive from a straight man PoV)); individual tumblrs are curated not just by topic, but by an actual person’s taste, so you might follow a tumblr because you like the pictures of handsome gentlemen they pick out, but they occasionally post pics of mid-century appliances that you also like, and this portrays sexuality as part of a balanced breakfast, not just a menu item you order from sex workers
  4. speaking of which, do you like porn where the men are good-looking / appear to be functional human beings etc.? This is not an option on tube sites, but Tumblr was good at it.

I don’t think Tumblr has an obligation to serve me porn; I didn’t complain, I just lost interest in their product (including for non-porn purposes). But everyone who acts like this is a moral stance is an asshole, because all it’s done is bulldoze people’s efforts to make the world of porn less toxic. It’s like expecting the Nobel prize for medicine because you turned a hospital full of sick people into a luxury hotel full of healthy people.


Eh - they only blew a billion dollars. Uber does that before breakfast.


Hasn’t Wordpress been a dumpster fire for the past few years? Unless something changed recently that i wasn’t aware of.

1 Like

What does the CEO think?


But for one thing, the porn will not be back.

So…three years until it’s closed down? I feel like that’s a generous guess.


Yup, you got him. That’s what he meant.

But seriously, I miss [insert acceptable word for pics of nekkid people] on Tumblr too. It’s just that not all of it was inherently worthy of nonjudgmental language.