TLDR: Tumblr's been relevant since 2007, and is run by the same people who've kept Wordpress relevant since 2003. Tumblr is getting on ActivityPub (the same protocol Mastodon uses), along with Facebook, Medium, and others, which will extend it's longevity. If you're asking 'where should I move my Online Presence to', Tumblr is a great choice.

Update, 2023-Jul-12th: Cohost's finances are in order and Tumblr has hopped on the "enshittification" train. Don't I feel foolish! The post below has been preserved in its original form. I'm enjoying Cohost for now.

I've been on the internet for about 20 years. Dominant platforms and protocols have waxed on and waxed off. I'm used to moving from one platform to another.

IRC died because better software appeared. SomethingAwful died because it was something awful. InvisionFree and phpBB died because they couldn't keep up with the convenience of centralization. Skype, Digg, MySpace, and others died because of mismanagement.

Some bespoke forums like are still alive and thriving (thank you to the hackers 20 years ago who inspired me to learn how to hack them back), small social media is thriving among Postmills, some KBins (based on Postmill), phpBBs, and even Discourses. But I'm talking about the Big Things in this post.

Now we're seeing Reddit dying, Twitter is dying (except with the far-right), Facebook is dying with gen Z and younger (I know only one person in my life who uses it), and boy I'm happy we don't have a WeChat equivalent in the US.

Among the new choices, there's a lot of issues!

  • Cohost is having financial issues and my bet is that it'll go the way of Ello or Dreamwidth.
  • Hive is already dead.
  • Bluesky is a protocol and social media with the same flaws as ActivityPub and then some, run by Bitcoin-bro Musk-stanning Jack Dorsey, on an invite-only basis.
    • An appeal to my friends: Getting on Bluesky is like adopting NFTs. Don't give Dorsey power AGAIN lmao like come ON
  • Mastodon finally has general appeal outside fringe groups, but people are worried about their instance going down, which is fair given the protocol assumed way more people would selfhost.

For my friends asking "where should I move", the answer is Tumblr.

Tumblr will stay good for a long while

Tumblr is still alive and kicking. This is because they have been perpetually making Mostly Good Decisions, and more recently, because they were acquired by Automattic (more on that later.)

First, I want to go down a brief history of Tumblr's Good Decisions.

In the mid 2010s, they removed the ability to edit other peoples posts in reblogs after a high-profile incident of John Green having his posts vulgarly edited. (NSFW) "Editing other peoples posts" sounds CRAZY in retrospect, but at the time, we were all very angry at the removal of that feature.

Around 2018, with FOSTA/SESTA and removal from app stores, Tumblr had to ban porn. They explained this well in a recent blog post and they restored nipples around 2018.

*As a side note: Tumblr banning porn was horrible for sex workers, but Tumblr really did not have another choice. In addition to a very anti-porn ecosystem, Tumblr had a lot of people under 18 posting nude photos. That's a big problem, but because these were originals, they wouldn't be caught in a perceptual hash database such as Microsoft's PhotoDNA. Solving this would be a logistically difficult machine learning problem, both in terms of safely acquiring and handling the training data, and in training it to reasonable accuracy metrics.

In 2019, Tumblr was acquired by Automattic of Wordpress fame. Automattic and Wordpress have a long lineage of maintaining relevance as other technologies died out. Wordpress came out in 2013 and is still the dominant CMS for websites. In 2015, Wordpress switched from PHP to Node.js. This was a huge move, and though I prefer PHP, this is probably a big reason why Wordpress is still relevant today.

In November 2022, seeing Twitter start to burn, Tumblr started working on ActivityPub support, and in 2023, they acquired the ActivityPub for Wordpress plugin and its developer. ActivityPub is the protocol on which Mastodon is built, and the combined adoption from others like Facebook, Medium, and Mozilla makes me think ActivityPub is going to be the thing that lasts for the next 10 years.

The cool thing about Tumblr is that it still works well, it's spearheaded by folks who I have a lot of faith in, it has a huge already-invested community, and it's going to be on the fediverse.

The biggest hurdle for Tumblr will be overcoming technical limitations from being a huge ActivityPub instance, but I trust they have the funding and know-how to work around that.