The full implications of Tumblr making adult-flagged porn Tumblr blogs non-searchable, and hiding their content from the search engines, are only just starting to sink in for people.
For instance: if you have an adult tumblr, now you can’t even search your own blog to find an old post.
I’m getting panicky emails from people with huge adult Tumblrs, thousands of posts. Apparently internal Tumblr search has never worked well (you can search for one tag, or for blog names, but not for post content and there are no multi-keyword searches) and it’s impractical to scroll back very far in your own Tumblr dashboard. So they were in the habit of typing [keyword] [their own tmblr url] into Google, and hey presto! There would be the post they were looking for.
Now their blogs have a non-consensual robots.txt file that excludes Google, and all of those search results are gone from Google.
Worse yet? Tumblr blogs flagged “adult” aren’t searchable even with Tumblr’s own internal search. You can test this yourself. Log into your Tumblr dashboard, go to your settings, and make sure you haven’t checked the “Browse tag pages in Safe Mode (Hide content from NSFW blogs)” setting:
Unlike the one that doesn’t actually “allow search engines to index your blog”, this checkbox appears to actually work in the narrow sense that if it is not checked, you can search for blogs flagged “NSWF” within the Tumblr tag search interface. But this checkbox lies by omission. You’ve got the option to search tag pages of NSFW blogs (or not) but opting to search them does not let you search blogs that have the deeper-level-of-perdition “adult” flag.
The post we will be looking for in the Tumblr dashboard tag search has a time stamp of 9:30pm yesterday, May 18, and is tagged “ziegfeld” which makes it a nice handy and recent thing to search for.
We already know that Google no longer has access to the posts on an adult-flagged Tumblr like this:
So, what happens in the Tumblr tag search interface? If you’re logged in, this is what you see when you search for tumblr posts with the “ziegfeld” tag. The posts returned are listed in date order (most recent first) and dates are visible as tooltips on the live page, so I’ve added them in the margin with red arrows and white text. You’ll see that the Wicked Knickers post is not returned by the Tumblr search:
Interestingly, that logged-in Tumblr dashboard search result is displayed at a URL ( http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/ziegfeld ) that returns something very different (but still no sign of our Wicked Knickers post) if you navigate to it as a not-logged-in person:
Try it yourself if you’ve got an adult-flagged Tumblr blog. Log in and try to search for your own posts in the search box on your own dashboard. You will, sadly, fail.
So, what is to be done? How can you search your own Tumblr blog?
The answer is, quite simply, you cannot — not while it’s on Tumblr’s server behind their robots.txt that you do not have the power to alter or remove.
But, all is not lost. Be ye not in despair. If you could only back up your adult Tumblr blog — make a complete copy of it, on your local hard drive — you could search it there with any file searching tool. Or, if you have a web server of your own, you could upload that copy (mirror it) onto your own web space, where it would once again be indexed and searched by Google.
That’s all I got. It’s the only way. It’s also a very good idea, because eventually The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All, and because Anything Worth Doing On The Internet Is Worth Doing At Your Own Domain That You Control.
Your next logical question is “But how do I do that? How do I back up a Tumblr blog?”
It’s not a simple question. The answer isn’t simple either. But, it can be done. So, that’s my next post.
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