Starting a new food project..but which medium is better: Tumblr or blog?
October 25, 2013 8:57 AM   Subscribe

I've been working on an exciting food project near and dear to me. But I'm unsure which platform would be better suited to its needs.

A lot of folks, including my spouse, think Tumblr--with its huge popularity and userbase--is the way to go. I tend to think of Tumblr as a place where it's mostly gifs, screengrabs of whatever you're into. There doesn't seem to be much there for reading. (Not insulting it, just my two cents.) But it may be easier to maintain than a WP blog.

What I'm aiming for will be about two pictures, maybe a few hundred words tops. So not too text-heavy, but maybe too light for a dedicated blog? I dunno.

Suggestions, pros & cons, plz?
posted by Kitteh to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Best answer: I think it depends what the project is.

If it's mostly photographs/images, tumblr could be a good idea. Especially if you don't want the ability for users to comment, and instead would expect them to engage with your content by sharing or liking it.

If it's a more traditional food blog type of project, with recipes, stories, and space for people to ask questions or share their experiences, a blog would probably be better.

FWIW a friend and I tried to start a food blog using tumblr a few years ago, and their interface was just not powerful enough for what we wanted to do. And that was in the early days, when it was really meant to be an alternative to blog platforms. Now it's evolved into its own thing, and I think a traditional blog style format would be especially out of place.
posted by Sara C. at 9:04 AM on October 25, 2013

I like blogs better, but there's really not much of a difference. Degrassi Panthers is on Tumbler, so it's totally doable.

But I like having the RSS option for my phone, and I don't want to install Tumbler just to read things.
posted by theichibun at 9:04 AM on October 25, 2013

In case it's useful, let me expand on that conversation we had on Twitter about this, since 140 characters isn't a great way to have this conversation...

Tumblr is a very fragmented place of subcultures. Some of them are definitely all-gifs, but there are other areas where original content and chunks of text are very common. I see a lot of food pictures and recipes floating around and have 'liked' some that I meant to come back to.

But the other thing about Tumblr as a platform is that it's very momentary. If I don't remember to come back and pull out that 'like' quickly to store the recipe somewhere more permanent, or if I don't reblog it myself and tag much more rigorously than is my wont, it's basically gone in the constant stream of content and I'll never find it again.

I have trouble finding things in my own Tumblr archive when I want them if I didn't tag well, because there's not an easy way to find old content. At least not one that works well for my not-so-visually-oriented mind.

So my big concern about Tumblr for you is not that it would be a bad place for your kind of content - I think that could go really well! It's that if you're ever going to want to go back through your material, link to an old post, whatever, you may find it doesn't work well for that.

Content wise, though, have you tried searching specifically for the tags you think you'd want to use? That might give you a good sense of whether there's a community out there already building and looking for the kind of content you want to provide, or whether there's a wasteland for people posting about your topic.
posted by Stacey at 9:10 AM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel like Tumblr is largely only for Tumblr users. Which I am not. And it's such a seething hotbed of unattributed material, I don't want to be and I have to be very very into one to RSS it.

Tumblr feels like really cheap content to me, but I guess it does have that whole reblogging/community thing. I don't know if it's an age thing, I haven't seem much good use of Tumblr except for porn and funny gifs about TV shows. (I know that makes me just as bad as people who go "I don't even get the point of Twitter, it's useless.")

I had always assumed food-blogging was very much a blogging thing, but since I'm not a Tumblr user maybe I just don't know that there's a huge food-Tumbling community out there.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:19 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: But I like having the RSS option for my phone, and I don't want to install Tumbler just to read things.

FYI: Tumblr has RSS feeds. I get several blogs hosted on Tumblr through my RSS feeds on Feedly. I would agree the community aspect is a thing about Tumblr, but you can host a blog on Tumblr as a blog without "doing" Tumblr. As a blog owner, you might have to push it harder, or point your own URL at your tumblr. For instance, Steampunk Tendencies has its own URL but is a tumblr (I follow it on Tumblr).

I would think the archiving issues that Stacey mentions and Sara C's concerns are a bigger issue for you than whether the Tumblr audience alone could carry the blog.
posted by immlass at 9:35 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

A problem that you will have with tumblr for a food blog that features photos and accompanying text is that people reblogging your stuff will randomly delete your accompanying text if they can and only post the photos.

If this is something that will drive you maaaad, you can do an all-image workaround where you screenshot the text separately and post it as the last image in a photoset.

The better option is to try not to care when people delete your text.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 AM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh! Yeah, that text-deleting thing, that may make you crazy. In a similar vein, you would probably want to watermark your photos, perhaps with your URL. That way if people do strip off the text and other people later want to try to figure out who posted that amazing vegan cupcake, they have a way to find you just from the pciture.
posted by Stacey at 10:24 AM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tumblr. Always Tumblr. Will you post the link once it's set up, please?
posted by mrsh at 10:35 AM on October 25, 2013

If the only thing stopping you from Tumblring is that you think it's just gifs and screengrabs, it's not. There are plenty of "proper" blogs that are on Tumblr too, it just depends on how you set it up. Some themes lend themselves to using it for blogging, while some are just meant for short-form blogging that Tumblr was originally intended for. I'd say if you prefer Tumblr, go for it. I have 2 blogs as well as a Tumblr.
I will say this, if you want people to comment, blogs are easier for this.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2013

I like Tumblr a lot. My big issue with it is that as far as I know, you can't export your content. I'm willing to try Tumblr for my blog but I want the option to move my content to another platform in the future.

Since Tumblr doesn't allow this yet, I've gone with for now.
posted by kdern at 12:00 PM on October 25, 2013

Response by poster: To clarify a little better: I'm planning on spending the next couple of years veganizing a series of cookbooks by a well-known omni chef. Hence, my need to figure out the best accessibility.
posted by Kitteh at 12:27 PM on October 25, 2013

Best answer: I would say have a blog, but set up a tumblr as well and have the tumblr posts (possibly just the main image and a link) link back to your blog. It will expand your audience.

If your blog takes off on Tumblr it can blow your audience wide. A very good example of this is Welcome to Night Vale - a podcast that saw a gigantic leap in their audience because they became "a thing" on Tumblr. This happened with them not even having an official Tumblr presence to ease the way.
posted by Julnyes at 1:00 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would definitely go with a blog, then.

With tumblr, what's going to happen is that people will share your photos, the text (which seems like the bulk of your actual work) will be lost, and there are no guarantee that the people you reach will actually be able to find more of the recipes they want.
posted by Sara C. at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have not found tumblr to be great at archiving. Your project (which sounds awesome) seems like it would benefit from an easily browseable archive. So, one point to Wordpress.
posted by feets at 3:05 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Blog would be my suggestion, for issues of permanence, archiveability, etc. IME, it's so much easier to find something I vaguely remember seeing if it's on a blog than on a Tumblr. "It was on 101 Cookbooks and had Brussels sprouts" or "It was on PPK and there was hoisin sauce involved" is much more searchable than pretty much anything on Tumblr.
posted by Lexica at 8:27 PM on October 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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