I FUCKING KNEW IT.
SO. IF YOU KNOW YOUR FANDOM HISTORY, YOU CAN SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL RIGHT NOW.
AND IN CASE YOU DON’T, I will tell you a story.
I don’t know if Yahoo as a corporate entity hates fandom, or if it LOVES fandom in the way a flame longs to wrap its embrace around a forest. Or maybe it’s just that fandom is an enticingly big and active userbase; but just by the nature of our enterprise, we are extremely difficult to monetize.
It doesn’t matter.
Once upon a time – in the era before anyone had heard of google – if you wanted to post fandom (or really, ANY) content, you made your own webpage out of nested frames and midi files. And you hosted it on GeoCities.
GeoCities was free and… there. If the internet of today is facebook and tumblr and twitter, the internet of the late 90s WAS GeoCities.
And then Yahoo bought GeoCities for way too much money and immediately made some, let’s say, User Outreach Errors. And anyway, the internet was getting more varied all the time, fandom mostly moved on – it wasn’t painful. GeoCities was free hosting, not a community space – but the 90s/early 00s internet was still there, preserved as if in amber, at GeoCities.com.
Until 2009, when Yahoo killed it. 15 years of early-internet history – a monument to humanity’s masses first testing the potential of the internet, and realizing they could build anything they wanted… And what they wanted to build was shines to Angel from BtVS with 20 pages of pictures that were too big to wait for on a 56k modem, interspersed with MS Word clipart and paragraphs of REALLY BIG flashing fushia letters that scrolled L to R across the page. And also your cursor would become a different MS Word clipart, with sparkles.
(So basically nothing has changed, except you don’t have to personally hardcode every entry in your tumblr anymore. Progress!)
And it was all wiped out, just like that. Gone. (except on the wayback machine, an important project, but they didn’t get everything) The weight of that loss still hurts. The sheer magnitude…
Imagine a library stocked with hundreds of thousands of personal journals, letters, family photographs, eulogies, novels, etc. dated from a revolutionary period in history, and each one its only copy. And then one day, its librarians become tired of maintaining it, so they set the library and all its contents on fire.
And watch as the flames take everything.
Brush the ash from their hands.
Once upon a time – in the era after everyone had heard of google, but still mostly believed them about “Don’t be evil” – fandom had a pretty great collective memory. If someone posted a good fic, or meta, or art, or conversation relevant to your interests? Anywhere? (This was before the AO3, after all.) You could know p much as soon – or as many years late – as you wanted to.
Because there was a tagging site – del.icio.us – that fandom-as-a-whole used; it was simple, functional, free, and there. Yahoo bought it in 2005. Yahoo announced they were closing it in 2010.
They ended up selling it instead, but not all the data went with it – many users didn’t opt to the migration. And even then, the new version was busted. Basically unusable for fannish searching or tagging purposes. This is the lure and the danger of centralization, I guess.
It is like fandom suffered – collectively – a brain injury. Memories are irrevocably lost, or else they are not retrievable without struggle. New ones aren’t getting formed. There is no consensus replacement.
We have never yet recovered.
Once upon a time… Yahoo bought tumblr.
I don’t know how you celebrated the event, but I spent it backing up as much as I could, because Yahoo’s hobby is collecting the platforms that fandom relies on and destroying them.
I do not think Yahoo is “bad” – I am criticizing them on their own site, after all, and I don’t expect any retribution. I genuinely hope they sort out their difficulties.
But they are, historically, bad for US.
And right now is a good time to look at what you’ve accumulated during your career on this platform, and start deciding what you want to pack and what can be left behind to become ruins. And ash.
…On a cheerier note, wherever we settle next will probably be much better! This was never a good place to build a city.
i forgot that yahoo was the one that destroyed both de.li.cious and geocities too, dang. But yes – tumblr is a loss and the writing is on the wall. Yahoo won’t run this site purely for charity reasons, so unless something wildly changes, tumblr’s days are numbered.
(Maybe now is a good time to check out pillowfort.io …)
This post has a couple of back-up options for importing your Tumblr posts:
Also! Pillowfort is shaping up to be Tumblr’s replacement!