A Report from Tumblr

So Tumblr remains the same trash fire it’s been for the last 5 years and several of the tf/mc writers I know there are looking for a new home. I’ve been encouraging them to make the jump to GSS, especially those whose writing style and story length have superseded what’s preferred by the tumblr community (the boys like a short, snappy story over there). However, many are telling me that the GSS mobile text editor is a barrier to entry, since they write almost exclusively on their mobile devices.

If these writers moved over here, they might bring a significant proportion of their audience over to this community, which I think would be a net benefit for everyone. Would it be helpful if I canvass them for specific notes on the mobile layout/editor and provide some specific feedback?

Of course, it would be helpful.

My guess is that it’s not the editor itself but the fact that they have to enter so much information to submit a text (title, series, tags, summary, and so on).

I was considering offering a Tumblr-like short-story interface, where it would have been way easier to enter a story, with a similar look (an image and a text in a tile-like display). But whenever I brought it up, I was met with quite a bit of resistance. So I dropped the idea.

Tumblr isn’t that easy to use on mobile either, unless they’ve made huge changes. I suspect that they want picture first. On Tumblr, you hit reblog of someone else’s photo, then write text.

I suggest that not only can we not please Tumblr writers until they’ve moved off it - they don’t know that what they want isn’t possible outside of Tumblr. Because it’s the photo reblogging ease that’s really what they’re talking about, and that’s exclusive to Tumblr. No other platform I know of makes it that easy to reblog someone else’s photo post and dump some text under it.

As someone who just migrated a few of my stories from tumblr (on desktop), I did feel a bit of this- I had to enter a title, description, category, plus four tags before I could hit save on a draft, and enter “reasons for revision” every time I edited the document, whereas on tumblr all I have to do is open and close a text box. I think relaxing some of those requirements for saving drafts would make it more approachable.

But (imo) I often feel people will complain about rules and regulations complicating things without considering why those rules and regulations exist, and what kind of environment when they’re trying to foster. GSS stories are supposed to be longer and higher effort than a tumblr post so the process of creating and submitting one requires a bit more effort as well- two different environments for two different types of content. This makes me sound like a bit of a bitch but users who want to jump from one site to the other should understand that and adapt rather than expecting that everything will be the exact same!

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Yeah, the “reason for editing” box is strangely intimidating, even for a long-time poster. I understand the purpose: so you can keep track of drafts, and I try to just type in the draft # in it, but then I get a weird paralysis where I can’t remember - “shit, is this 2nd draft or 3rd draft or what?” - And I know it doesn’t matter. It’s just a note to yourself.

Personally, I don’t save anything on this website until its in a nearly finished form. I use google docs and just copy/paste when I’m ready to see the formatting. Then I do another few editing passes (because I’m crazy) and then send the proofreader link anyone who volunteers to be my editor. But anything I put here from google docs is already on its 3rd or 4th draft and is near complete.

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The “reason for editing” was meant both as a hint for the author himself, especially if someone else does the edit (which can happen if you share the edit link or if you add a story to a community series), as well as a hint to the approver to quickly see what this change is for.

But yeah, I get that all these things are meant to be useful but can be intimidating.

It would be possible to move at least some of the requirements to the “publishing” step.

Yeah, I’m trying to encourage my friends to use external text editors (Tumblr’s is shitty anyway, as monstermash said). Personally I use Scrivener and copy/paste from there to any other platform I’m posting on.

This may be a stupid question, but is there a rich text editor option for GSS? One intimidating factor for me when I first posted here was the hybrid formatting the text editor currently has, where you have plaintext alongside the rich text preview at the same time. Yes, the options are on the bar to do things like Italicise or Bold, but the appearance of them in the editor is not familiar to basically any other platform I’ve used (Archive of Our Own has wholly plaintext and wholly rich text options, which obviously would be a ton of work to implement for much less benefit on a smaller site like this).

There’s no option for full on rich text, as far as I know. I haven’t looked for about ten years but last time I looked, getting a proper full rich text editor incorporated into a site cost a lot of money (as in, non-zero dollars). It also isn’t fully supported on Gay Kinky. There’s only a subset of formatting options available.

… although I might be wrong about all of that :joy:

The idea of Markdown (which is what we’re using to format texts, and which is also used in most other text based applications on the net, like this forum or Discord) is to use simple format tokens, like enclosing a word with *stars* to make it bold. Or to prepend a line with # (hashmarks) to denote it as a headline.

There are several editors which try to bridge the “What you see is what you get” approach (which is what you expect when saying “rich text editor”) with Markdown, but the result isn’t all that good. The preview window is the best compromise.

I get that it’s a bit unwieldy for many people, but it’s still the best solution and also the de-facto standard on the internet these days.

Also, replacing the site’s editor a third time is out of the question for now, I’m afraid.

People don’t have to use Markdown, it’s fine to just paste in the stories as simple text - they just have to make sure to use empty lines to separate the paragraphs.

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I just looked at the internet again (fascinating how Copilot gave me the best answer in just a second)… There is one editor which would combine the best of both worlds:

Live demo | MDXEditor

It could probably be integrated into the site, as it’s based on Typescript/Javascript, but as with any other bigger change, it’s not something likely going to happen any time soon. After all these years, my motivation to spend considerable work on the site’s code is at an all-time low. This might change at some point, but it’s just the way it is right now.

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I’ve used Markdown so long now that even when writing in Google Docs (with Markdown disabled, but I think you can turn it on in Google Docs) I see the text surrounded by * as italics in my head, and the ones with ** as bold. My brain auto-formats them for me now.

A few of the other formatting things I have to look up now and then, like > as quote block text, or how to insert a link, but I use those so rarely it’s not an issue. Italics and Bold are like 95% of my formatting things.

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Makes sense, thank you for looking into it! Having gotten used to it, I also think that the current format is a good balance and not in need of huge changes. I’m starting to think that, in terms of the text editor, my friends may just have Tumblr-Induced Learned Helplessness. They’re so used to New Internet style editors that the increased control and clarity of other formats is “too much” for them to want to learn.

Regarding people’s comments on the different posting culture here vs. Tumblr, I’m specifically asking friends of mine whose writing style (and kink interests) have thoroughly outgrown Tumblr. They’re frustrated by a lack of engagement on their work because they’re writing 4k stories with 2-3 pictures instead of 100 word captions with multiple images. I know for a fact that their work would do well here, they just need to find an in to the community and format.

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Yeah–if we change this system I will be very confused while writing, at least for a little bit.

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This might seem counterintuitive (and it also might not work :sweat_smile: ) but I wonder if one way to persuade them to post to GKS is to just share some extremely stellar stories from the site with them?

And to also be like, “hey, not only is this story hot… but check out its comments section. Check out the tagging system for finding similar stories and kinks. Check out how readers are really engaged with stories posted to this site!”

I suspect that reader engagement is one major draw to the site, honestly. You get way better engagement with long-form stories here than you do with tumblr.

I feel like the one thing that’s persuaded me to jump to a new platform for erotica (and to learn that new platform’s quirks for posting) is finding really hot stories on the platform which I end up liking a lot—and seeing other people engaging with those stories, too. That sort of thing tends to help me get motivated with pushing through the learning curve.

I don’t know if that’ll hold true for everyone, of course. But I wonder if it might persuade one or two…

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I have already written a story completely on mobile, I didn’t find many difficulties. All the indications are already there.

It is quite likely that the issue is not that the text editor is objectively “difficult”, but rather that it is different, and people are not willing to adapt. This is a common problem; users are very resistant to change.

A lot of the content I’ve seen on tf/mc tumblrs lately seems to include themes which I feel would be better kept away from this site imo.

What kind of themes if I may ask?

Lampshade15 is probably referring to several writers who’ve gotten really really into gay-to-straight/republican mental changes in the last few months. It used to be an occasional thing on a few blogs, but right now there are a handful of major blogs who write nothing else and several writers who are following their lead. Between them all, probably 1/3 or more of the Tumblr tf/mc writing by word count since March has been on this theme?

There are ways to write straight tfs that I don’t mind, since kink can be a way to sublimate the things you don’t want to happen in your real life. But a lot of the rhetoric has been getting openly homophobic and the writers running these blogs never “break character” to clarify whether or not they genuinely want to be converted. Something something parody without self-awareness is indistinguishable from what you are parodying.

Rest assured the writers I would want to move over here aren’t that type of trend-follower.

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Wow. This anti-woke, neohomophobia and neofascism seems to be everywhere.

I don’t have any saying on these servers, but I hope that the admins will never allow anything like that!