First up, Tumblr is bringing back replies and making them much more conversational; the company had killed them off in November after people were upset about a September redesign. Removing replies altogether made some users even more upset, but Tumblr said they’d make a return soon.
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Now that they’re back, authors can reply to their own post. That’s a big difference from before, when replies were essentially a comments section where the author had no agency as a conversation unfolded under it. The author can join in and provide perspective on a particular post, fend off negative comments, or join in on a silly thread.
There’s more too: Users can also now reply to a post multiple times, and replies now work on reblogs instead of just original posts. That said, if you’d rather a conversation not evolve on a reblog instead of your original post, you can now adjust that in your settings.
You can also adjust privacy with three options:
- Everyone can reply
- Users you follow and Users following you for a week can reply
- Only Tumblrs you follow can reply
Notes are also getting a new look to emphasize the new reply feature. In particular, a new Simplified Notes view filters conversation so that only those with added commentary show up, instead of making users sift through a mass of empty reblogs and Likes to view interesting conversations. That said, you can still see who’s reblogged a post or liked it by expanding a summary section at the top of the list.
All these features should help make Tumblr feel a bit more like a traditional social network, where commenting and replying to posts are an expected part of the interaction process. Perhaps it could even help onboard some new users.
The update won’t quite make everyone happy though – people will still miss the old threaded comment system that was replaced in September – but at least this time around there’s a functional addition to the comments instead of just a visual overhaul.
Tumblr says more new features are on their way, but in the meantime, these changes are rolling out to users today.