Remembering Tumblr’s wildest community drama

Tumblr’s new guidelines on NSFW content loom overhead for its users, and the internet is unsure of how to process all of it. Whether these new policies will spell the decline of the website and a mass migration to other sites, or if they’ll be another blip on Tumblr’s vast resume, has still yet to be determined. But one thing’s for certain: Everyone’s talking about Tumblr on main.

There’s just an inherent weirdness so deeply set inside of Tumblr that no other website really quite matches — a weirdness that births absolutely wild stories on the regular. Wild Twitter exposes and threads? Yeah, that’s nothing compared to Constable Frozen, Dashcon and the Mishapocalypse.

In celebration of our favorite wacky website, we’ve decided to archive some very specific Tumblr stories that you just can’t get on the ol’ Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or Instagram.


Bone-stealing:

Let us preface this with the fact that, for some inane reason, there’s not just one single instance of bone-stealing drama on Tumblr, but at least three that are widely well-known. In the most widely publicized incident, a Tumblr user was accused of stealing bones from cemeteries in Louisiana in 2016. That user, a self-described witch named Ender Darling, posted about how they would visit the ‘poor man’s graveyard’ near their house and collect the bones that washed up during heavy rains. Darling offered to send the bones to users if they would cover shipping.

Some Tumblr users defended Darling as a queer POC who was simply practicing traditional African religions. Buzzfeed covered the controversy, now known as “Boneghazi,” and authorities raided Darling’s home to find a collection of bones on an altar. While Darling criticized the raid as a “waste of time” in an interview with a local paper, Darling was arrested and jailed in 2016. — Cass Marshall

John Green and the “reason” we don’t have editable reblogs anymore:

Both Hank and John Green — YouTube personalities and authors of young-adult fiction — were pretty active on Tumblr in the early 2010s, but because of the fickle nature of social media, and the certain hive-mind tendencies of particular subsections of Tumblr, a lot of users eventually turned on them around 2015.

This was back when Tumblr allowed us to edit other people’s posts when you reblogged them. Yes, the potential for mayhem and misinformation was high! The feature was regularly used on roleplay blogs in order to trim down posts, but most people just used it to get rid of unnecessary additions (there’s always the one person who adds “Lol this is funny” for no real reason). Editing also allowed users to get rid of artist’s captions and, even worse, alter people’s words.

So someone took a post by John Green and edited it to be very sexually explicit. The original John Green reblog is now deleted, but there’s a copy on Tyler Oakley’s blog (be warned, it’s very, very NSFW).

It was around this time that Tumblr got rid of editing reblogs (though extensions by third-parties can implement it — useful for its innocent purposes!), and though it’s definitely not confirmed that this edited John Green post contributed to the feature’s removal, there’s a persistent and pretty harmful rumor that this was the case.

John Green doesn’t use his Tumblr much anymore. — Petrana Radulovic

Woody’s Roundup:

In a way, Woody’s Roundup is a foreshadow of the current Tumblr drama: an expression of the user base’s frustration with the poor quality of moderation.

Starting in the spring of 2017, the Woody Collective targeted blogs that feature white supremacist, pedophile, homophobic or TERF content. The blogs were flagged or harassed until the users deactivated their accounts, leaving them open to be claimed. Users snatched up the accounts, changing their avatars to Woody from Toy Story and the blog titles to Howdy, Pardner.

Thus another member would be added to the Woody Collective, a hivemind of once-toxic blogs. Any post formally made by the claimed user would now feature Woody’s eerie grin like a scarlet letter; keen-eyed readers will spot a Woody elsewhere in this very article.

documenting-woodys-roundup/Tumblr

It was an act in defiance aimed at a company that refused to accept responsibility — and liability — for its platform.

At the peek of its popularity, updates could be found at woodysroundup (warning: now very NSFW), including guidelines on how to become a “sheriff” in the roundup. But inevitably, as the phenomenon grew, rogue elements became involved. The Collective was watered-down by users who simply wanted to participate, with no real activist intent. They took any deactivated username and gathered at woodys-roundup. Other users turned blogs into Woodys in an attempt to slander the original owner, weaponizing the meaning of the original Collective.

In response, many of the original Woodys were given a SpongeBob avatar and the title Orgasm. That said, if you’re very lucky, you can still sometimes find a thread of Woodys sharing “howdy pardner”s until the cows come home. — Jenna Stoeber

The Once-ler:

We wrote about this one already, which you can read at full-length, but the TL;DR is that in 2012 everyone collectively became horny for the Once-ler (from Illumination’s The Lorax movie) and started shipping the character with alternate versions of himself. Yay! — PR

Superwholock and DashCon:

In the early 2010s, a formidable fandom trio emerged, dubbing themselves as “Superwholock.” A fusion of the CW’s Supernatural, BBC’s Doctor Who and Sherlock communities, these fans were passionate, fierce and absolutely everywhere. Everyone had some sort of URL pertaining to at least one — ideally all — of these shows (for instance, tardis-221b-impala — not an actual url, but just an example). It wasn’t even a crossover of the shows that grabbed everyone’s attention; it was just the fact that they all attracted the same type of audience (many of whom were attracted to the same type of brooding white man).

Superwholock absolutely dominated Tumblr in the early 2010s, and everyone went gaga over the Winchester boys, Matt Smith’s Doctor, and “Johnlock” (the pairing of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman’s John Watson). It was rampant, it was everywhere, and even if you weren’t a fan of any of those shows, you somehow knew absolutely everything about them.

More super-fandoms followed in the image of Superwholock. These included the parody “Bee Shrek Test in the House” — a conglomeration of Bee Movie, Shrek, Johnny Test and Cory in the House — and the more earnest and serious follow-up “Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons,” the more crossover-heavy combination of animated films Brave, Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon and Rise of the Guardians.

Superwholock still reigned supreme, with a far larger influence and spread than the mega-communities inspired by it. Until, suddenly … it didn’t.

This can be attributed somewhat to DashCon, Tumblr fandom’s unofficial attempt at a real-life convention, which happened in July 2014. Plans for DashCon circulated as early as 2013, crafted mostly by avid Superwholock bloggers, and people were pumped up to attend this Tumblr-themed live event. It wasn’t just Superwholock fans involved, but they were certainly among the most vocal about the event.

But due to poor planning and a misallocation of funds, a marquee panel centered around popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale was canceled, and the convention imploded. The most notorious thing to come out of the DashCon disaster is the “ball pit,” a very pathetic-looking inflatable pool of balls that attendees were given a extra hour to play in, to make up for the panels being canceled.

KnowYourMeme

After DashCon, the Superwholock conglomerate lost some steam, having promoted such a failure of an event. Now, the fandom is but a whispered memory across the Tumblr-sphere. — PR

The Mishapocalypse:

Oh, but we can’t talk about Superwholock without talking about the Mishapocalypse.

As we said before, Supernatural was a very popular show on Tumblr (and continues to be, even without the Sherlock and Doctor Who association), and actor Misha Collins was particularly popular for playing the angel Castiel.

In 2013, Tumblr user lokisleathersuit suggested that, on April Fool’s Day, everyone should change their icon to a particular picture of Misha Collins. Below is the actual, original post, a relic of our time.

And it caught on — so much so that not only was all of Tumblr regaled with this icon, but it even spread to Twitter and Facebook. Those not involved called the event the “Mishapocalypse.”

Misha Collins himself noticed and tweeted about the incident.

All in all, one of the more light-hearted and purely fun things to come out of Tumblr. — PR

Cole Sprouse’s “social experiment” blog:

Unlike Twitter, which is rampant with direct access to nearly anyone, Tumblr tends to scare off most celebrities (for good reason, as evidenced by the John Green incident above). Sure Neil Gaiman’s blog has lovely writing advice, and Mark Ruffalo posts a bit, but for the most part, it’s pretty bereft of famous people.

Sometime in September 2012, though, it came to everyone’s attention that childhood superstar Cole Sprouse had a Tumblr called Coulture Concept. This was before his Riverdale-hunk status, so most users knew him from the Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its sequel, The Suite Life on Deck. He’d made an announcement on Twitter about his blog asking people to “discuss issues that matter” with him, and people started interacting with him.

Though it initially just featured his photography, Sprouse’s Tumblr soon became monopolized by fan questions and interactions. People pestered him with questions and he was generally obnoxious about his philosophical and anthropological theories, coming off very Guy in Your MFA-esque. (Note: These posts are all from the archive of Sprouse’s original blog, which has been deleted.)

All of this seeming pretension was confirmed when, just two months later, Sprouse posted a picture on his blog, with text explaining that this entire experience had been part of a social experiment through micro-blogging.

Yeah. That happened.

He explained some more about this “experiment” and its “results” on Twitter, before deleting the Twitter thread. Luckily, screenshots are a thing:

KnowYourMeme
KnowYourMeme

There is a Tumblr blog dedicated to archiving this “social experiment,” which is now gone itself. — PR

HIV-positive, catfishing fanfic authors, real people fanfic, and cannibal Hamilton mermaids:

This one involves a high-profile blog exposed as a faker. It touches on a lot of Tumblr-specific terms as well: Essentially, there were two HIV-positive, queer writers, known as Israa and Naj, whose shared blog hivliving gained popularity. But they were exposed in October 2017 as “catfish.” Instead of two discrete individuals, they were puppet identities of the same user, who was just some regular person running the hivliving blog. The account centered around living with hiv, with posts split between the “Israa” and “Naj” identities, but they also used it to promote their fan fics. Tumblr user digoxin-purpurpea exposed this user, after “Naj” posted a cash.me fundraiser to help with medical bills; digoxin-purpurpea realized that, while “Naj” claimed to live in India, the cash.me was US-based.

This sort of “making up dramatic backstories” thing happens on the internet a lot — it’s the whole thrust of the catfish concept, movie, and TV show. But with this drama specifically, the whole reason digoxin-purpurpea exposed the hivliving blog in the first place was because its creator was using these dramatic fake identities for something mundane. Their intention was to get people to read their Real People Fanfiction (yet another hot topic amongst Tumblr users!) about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s version Hamilton, portrayed as a high school student in the 1980s living with HIV.

The plot thickens.

Turns out the digoxin-purpurpea may or may not have had a reason to drag the hivliving blog into the spotlight. Rumors spread that they’d written their own real-person fic about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, with him as a — wait for it (ha) — cannibalistic mermaid! This was an accusation made in a whole thread of discourse by various users in the Hamilton fandom, which then linked to ANOTHER cannibal mermaid fic. It’s just generally a mess — so no one really knows if it’s true, but my goodness! — PR

Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles, the Arkh Project, and every other crowd-funding scam:

There are many popular crowd-funding efforts across Tumblr that gained traction, then turned into fire and ash. The two most infamous ones: Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles, and the Arkh Project.

Spawned from a cute photo shared to the platform, of a police officer gently scolding a bear cub, users adopted Miss Officer and Mr. Truffles as their new favorite cartoon duo sometime in 2014. The original fan artist — Ami Guillen, who was 18 at the time — launched a Kickstarter to help back the costs of creating an animated show — but soon came under fire from users who believed this all to be a scam, since the $80,000 goal seemed a gross overestimate of the necessary funds. The project reached about 10-percent of its goals, before the project was canceled.

It might be something about the fact that it was headlined by an 18-year-old totally out of her scope. She apologized to fans and the project’s been pretty infamous since.

The Daily Dot wrote a piece about the whole ordeal back in 2014. You can check out a cute clip of the two characters below: — PR

In 2012, The Arkh Project was led by a group of creatives trying to create a diverse RPG filled with queer protagonists of color. It was promoted on Tumblr and its message of inclusion and diversity resonated with users and gained the attention of outlets. The Arkh Project raised over $6,500 after its creators claimed that the game would offer an incredible story with nuanced characters and fashion-oriented social mechanics.

While the initial hype was positive, things quickly soured. A bit later, in February 2012, fans asked about how much progress had been made; the project’s lead, Riley, later clarified that the original amount was meant to create concept art and was just one stage of fundraising. The only subsequent progress revealed was a very short clip of a character’s animation cycle.

The amount of money taken, combined with progress short of fan expectation — and Tumblr users collecting and cataloguing Riley’s online history of personal attacks — anti-Arkh sentiment soon ran rampant. Users began several callout blogs targeting Riley and Arkh, and the controversy consumed video game discourse on Tumblr for some time. In many ways, the Arkh Project was a blueprint for many modern game development dramas that would play out over Kickstarter and Patreon in the years to come. — CM

Daddy blogs hijack Disney posts and tags:

At this point we all know that, yes, there is a subsection on Tumblr dedicated to all things adult. And as such, there is a very strong Daddy Dom/Little Girl community around. Now, we’re not going to get into the politics of this, nor are we going to delve into whether or not it’s OK to be kinky in the privacy of your own home. That’s a whole other piece to tackle, and it would probably be a full-time project.

What we can share is the fact that these adult blogs ended up hijacking lots of Disney posts and tags, and turning originally innocent posts into, “What did I just read?”

Take this random GIF-set from a moment early on in Monsters University, on which a bizarre exchange occurred. Someone with the url daddys-rainbow-princess commented on this simple post, which prompted mister-daddy to describe something about his “little girl.” Cue the “little girl” — babygirl-in-daddys-world — jumping in to reply to her “daddy.”

This post garnered a lot of eyeballs from people who just stumbled upon it, prompting the reflection you see added by user scenicroutues. It’s hard to date this one, since most blogs directly involved have been deactivated, but we can pinpoint it to sometime after 2013.

Conversely, tagging kink posts with popular Disney movies made for some interesting moments!

We’ll also point out that the user who initially commented is named jigsawagainstddlg, which gives away the fact that this user has a whole blog using the serial killer from Saw as a mascot in order to eradicate these Daddy blogs. How fascinating.

These Daddy blogs sprinkling on totally innocent posts and tags is not so much a singular event, but an ongoing Tumblr experience. — PR

Constable Frozen:

Constable-Frozen is the url of a Tumblr user who started photoshopping scenes from Frozen back in 2014. They’re still going strong, incorporating newer Disney movies and shows, and not shying away from incorporating Marvel and Star Wars characters into them. Users regularly make fan edits of animated movies, but what made Constable-Frozen stand out is that their edits were so uncannily good — and also completely and utterly ridiculous.

Constable-Frozen did their own thing, creating increasingly ridiculous and wonderful edits, but certain posts, like those involving the Frozen sisters eating ice cream dispersed out of Olaf’s body and some characters from the animated Tangled television show in particularly, uh, distinct outfits, have caused people to wonder if Constable-Frozen is actually a fetish blog.

Who really knows! Constable-Frozen has denied these claims, and certainly enough, for every fetish-y post, there’s a ton more that are just regular ol’ absurdity. Make of that what you will. — PR


And this, friends, is just a microcosm of the sheer absurdity of this blasted blue hellsite. My goodness, Tumblr. No matter what happens after Dec. 17, there will never be anything quite like you.

Article credit: https://www.polygon.com/2018/12/5/18127351/tumblr-ban-content-memes-community