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WordPress warns of mass Tumblr defections after Yahoo! deal

Hipster smut is safe for now, says Mayer

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News of Tumblr's purchase by Yahoo! has prompted a flood of established users to flee that social-media site, according to WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg.

In a blog post, Mullenweg said that around 400 to 600 Tumblr users typically import their content into WordPress every hour, with 67 exports per hour exiting the blogging site. But when news hit of Yahoo!'s acquisition of Tumblr, that defection rate jumped to over 72,000 in one hour.

Mullenweg did stress, however, that in the greater scheme of things there's no need for the site to panic.

"For most folks habits overcome internet-outrage," he wrote. "Even if a million people left, that's just about a week's worth of signups."

Tumblr users have been going to their blogging service to express both support and displeasure about the deal. Letting Tumblr remain as a separate company is widely seen as a good move, and the extra investment has some users excited about what enhancements will be added to the site.

But some are concerned that the service will get spammed with advertising, worried about how intrusive the promised new personalization features might be, or anxious that Yahoo! might introduce a fee system to recoup some of the $1.1bn it spent on the loss-making blogging site.

Some of the most vocal opponents of the deal are those that publish blogs of a more "erotic" nature – and some that are downright filthy. The family-friendly image Yahoo! isn't really compatible with such truly NSFW blogs (click at your own peril) as "Cum whore", and "For the love of cock". Some fear that the firm hand of censorship will be applied.

It appears, so far, that those fears are ungrounded. In a conference call with investors, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer suggested that those with an interest in such content have nothing to fear. While not mentioning the topic explicitly, she said that the range of content on the site was "exciting," including material she euphemistically called not "brand safe" for Yahoo!

"I think the richness and breadth of content available on Tumblr – even though it may not be as brand safe as what's on our site – is what's really exciting and allows us to reach even more users," she said, Huffington Post reports.

"One of the ways to start measuring our growth story here is around traffic and users," she said, "and this obviously produces a lot of that. In terms of how to address advertisers' concerns around brand safety, we need to have good tools for targeting."

The racier Tumblr blogs are some of the most heavily-trafficked sections of the site (and are popular with advertisers), so Mayer is not likely to upset that particular apple cart, it seems. Certainly smut aficionados will have no refuge on WordPress – that site's Terms & Conditions outlaw porn, and WordPress is as strict as possible in banning that content genre. ®

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