Moving to WordPress

WordPress was a thing, ten years ago when I started my blog. But I chose Tumblr because it was easy and I liked the built-in community that came with it, a context for my content as I posted it.

I also was more prone to post just a photo, or to share some content I liked – song, video, site or someone else’s media. In more recent times though, I’ve preferred to post my own content and most of it written. I’ve disengaged with the community there as my dashboard became too busy to keep up with – in a very Twitter-like fashion.

Since the change in my content posting habits, WordPress became the more obvious platform for my blog, but I just didn’t want to go through the motions of moving. I also felt quite loyal to Tumblr through “thick and thin” shall we say, as it’s been a tumultuous time for the site since their acquisition.

I made friends through Tumblr, we had an Auckland meet-up (which arguably was just a bunch of us web-industry folk plus a few), I discovered some really great creators and bought their stuff. People even read my stuff, and talked to me about it!

Clearly, my content isn’t porn. But Tumblr’s announcement yesterday that they plan to become a “better, more positive Tumblr” basically through censorship just doesn’t ring true for me. This article from EFF, “Dear Tumblr: Banning “Adult Content” Won’t Make Your Site Better But It Will Harm Sex-Positive Communities” does an excellent job of explaining why.

Even though I no longer engage with the community on Tumblr anyway, and my own content won’t be affected, I’m particularly concerned by the erasure of positive content and particularly of Queer content. It’s early days for the policy and it’s algorithm, but the fact that rainbow content is flagged at all is sufficient to have made me uncomfortable enough to want to stand by my values and move house.

So things in my new home are ugly.

I’ve gone with hosted WordPress, torn some hair out over DNS reconfiguration, and my content import is inelegant AF (photos are within body content as opposed to “main image” content, so previews look pants, and many posts don’t have titles).

But I believe in a free, open, representative internet and a few hours of work to migrate away from a platform that doesn’t share these values is worth it.

So my domain is the same, and I’ll be posting henceforth into the void at RIP Tumblr.

Image of this blog's homepage while it lived on the tumblr platform.
Screenshot before the move.


To me, an Archive stores things that have been created or received in the past, that are no longer necessary to keep close at hand. Items in an archive don’t need to be referenced quickly, but have value enough that they might be useful again in the future.

I’ve noticed Frank Chimero having a few thoughts about all this content we’re constantly churning out, creating, documenting and sharing online. Particularly, the way our archives gather dust – there are minimal mechanisms available to resurface hidden archival gems1.

Tonight, I’ve taken a tour through the archives of my Tumblr blog. And I’ve learned a few things in that little journey.

In just shy of three years, my posts have gone through “phases”. Periods of many frenzied posts, quiet periods, image-heavy periods, music leaden months.

Early content contained such strange contributions as my favorite lipgloss and what Lily Allen had been wearing. Posts at that time reflect what I had been reading – screeds of posts from Refinery29.

As more people started to follow and interact with my blog, the content started to change. I became more aware of who was watching, and of how my posts created a picture of me as a person. The lipgloss and handbag posts dribbled to a stop.

Genuinely, posts have always been for me first, but I can’t help but consider who might see them and how they might be perceived.

On Tumblr, it’s perplexing to watch users scramble for “blue candies” – those little nuggets of validation when someone likes or reblogs your post. Those things can be addictive, and give an inflated sense of influence or self worth, it’s like the other kids in the playground laughing at your joke. Perplexing, because I hate it – the empowering of others to influence your behaviour, but also because I’m guilty of enjoying the attention too.

I know I’m not alone – the term “blue candies” isn’t my own, and came from a fellow tumblr-using friend of mine. My eyebrow was firmly raised when another friend described “Buchanan Bait” (!) – content posted specifically with a particular user’s tastes in mind (Hi Matt!), in the hopes that they might reblog it and share your post with their larger following.

Such a playground.

My blog archive shows that there came a time, within the last year, where reposting or reblogging content became far less attractive. There has been more value to me in capturing things I have been personally creating or appreciating, rather than regurgitating the sentiments of someone else.

Also, I think that within a community as fast moving as this one, I’m not the first to see anything I haven’t created myself. There are others sitting with their mouths open constantly waiting for the next spoonful of content, just to be the first to swallow it into their blog and be the “winner”. And so rather than reblog to show my appreciation, I dish out likes.

The browsing of my blog archive was less soul crushing than I expected. In my experience leafing through old diaries and reading letters from years past usually makes my toes curl in embarrassment at my younger self, but with my blog I was pleasantly surprised.

Some diamonds re-emerged, like the post about “How to be Alone”, and the crowd-favorite water pistol fight video, Hecq Vs Exillion – Spheres Of Fury. But overall, scrolling through what’s come before I’m surprisingly proud of what’s here – it’s the kind of content I want to read, that makes me happy and inspired and curious and passionate and comfortable.

If only we were to take the time a little more often to look back at what’s been done rather than what is next to come.

There is actually a wonderful Photojojo service called Timecapsule which emails you once a month, photos from your Flickr account from that month one year ago. It’s surprising and delightful and I would love to have something like that for my blog.

A new coat of paint.

So, I’ve “finished” my tumblr theme.

I even made it easier on myself by bothering to add proper colour tags and such exciting things tumblr lets you do. It’s quite a novelty to be able to change the colours of everything on the page with a colour picker, after I spent so long picking out my palette in Photoshop.

Overall, a very painless process. I didn’t even have to exhaust Google.

There are a few more tweaks I see need to be made now that I’ve applied it to my main tumblelog (first to-do, sort out these misbehaving paragraph tags!), but I need me some zzz’s.

And besides, I’m already dreaming up the next one 🙂