I tried to be super constructive. My theory is, the more emails they get about it, the more likely they are to listen; and they might not see the posts about it… I also pointed out that if lies leaves, a lot of us will be sad. He’s not just some ranting guy, but part of a community.
Dear Tumblr support,
I’m writing because I wanted to ask if there is any way to block ads for scary movies on my dash. I understand that the ads are how Tumblr makes money, but the system is not a good one if the ads do not target the right people. It’s not just that some of us aren’t interested in scary movies: it’s that many of us (among your users) will go to great lengths to *avoid* scary movies. I am sure that you would not show an ad with explicit sexual content; I do not see why there is no similar policy for gory, violent, or disturbing content.
We can control most aspects of our Tumblr use: who we follow, which tags we track. Therefore, the content of our dashboards is largely under our own control, and this is one of the great things about this platform—it allows us to practice good self-care, and allows us to build a supportive community. I wish that Tumblr would respect that by allowing us to opt out of disturbing images in ads.
Perhaps you are willing to provide a way for us to avoid those images, but have not figured out how. I have several suggestions for you, any of which would avoid scaring off your customers:
1. allow users a choice of the types of products they are willing to see ads for, so that we could express willingness to have ads on our dashboard for food, toys, books, children’s movies, pop music, sitcoms, and comedies, but not thrillers, horror movies, phone companies, or cars (for example). This would perhaps entail a complicated algorithm since the ad showing up on someone’s dash would have to be customised to fit into their choices. [There could be some limit to the number of product types that can be banned from one’s dash, to ensure you can still show enough ads to be profitable.]
2. allow users to opt out of ads by paying a modest fee monthly or annually to have an ad-free Tumblr dashboard—this is probably comparatively easy to implement.
3. don’t accept ads for scary movies. (easy to implement, but might not be feasible financially)
4. hide ads for scary movies behind a “click here for info on [scary movie]” with “trigger warnings: death, gore, …” or something so that those who will be frightened know not to click on it
5. tailor the ad to match the content on the person’s dash or their own posts. This could be done using tags, probably, or some smart system that recognises the movies and shows represented in the gifs. Does the person reblog lots of Disney gifs? Advertise toys! Does the person post a lot of wildlife pictures? Advertise an outdoor sporting goods store like REI! Does the person write a lot of texty analytical posts about books? Advertise online booksellers or e-readers! Does the person post a lot of British period costume adaptations? Advertise the newest movies in that genre!
I know that one of my favorite Tumblr users, John Callender (lies.tumblr.com), is seriously considering leaving Tumblr as a result of your failure to allow users to practice good self-care in avoiding the types of images that are psychologically distressing to them. My dash will be much less varied without his posts, and I think it’ll be a loss to the whole Tumblr community. I also doubt he will be the only one to go; certainly, if I see these ads too often I will have to consider leaving. I have also seen a number of other people posting their complaints about this on Tumblr, but I don’t know whether they have written emails directly.
We do not want to leave over this. We want Tumblr to do better, and we think you can. So please, have a conversation with us. Let our suggestions and complaints guide you in your efforts to maintain Tumblr as the friendliest place on the internet.