No, you do not have ‘a Tumblr’

The 2012 Obama campaign is now on Tumblr, and I have a big problem with them:

HI, TUMBLR.

It’s nice to meet you.

There are lots of reasons we’re excited to be launching the Obama 2012 campaign’s new Tumblr today. But mostly it’s because we’re looking at this as an opportunity to create something that’s not just ours, but yours, too.

We’d like this Tumblr to be a huge collaborative storytelling effort—a place for people across the country to share what’s going on in our respective corners of it and how we’re getting involved in this campaign to keep making it better.

My problem is not political, it’s a grammar niggle.

The Obama campaign does not have ‘a Tumblr’. Tumblr is the company and the blogging platform they run. Tumblr is the sum total of all the Tumblr blogs. They have a tumblelog, or a Tumblr blog, or just a blog.

Likewise one doesn’t have ‘a Twitter’. You use Twitter, you are on Twitter, you have a Twitter page or a Twitter feed or a Twitter profile, but Twitter is the company and the service.

See also: The correct use of ‘blog’ and ‘blog post’, wherein I correct Mr. Stephen Fry.

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7 thoughts on “No, you do not have ‘a Tumblr’

  1. The Grammar of social media is a really interesting subject. I gave a talk on this for a group of journalists and radio presenters recently to make sure they mentioned Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc… accounts correctly.

    • Yeah, that sounds right to me too. If the person you’re talking to is coming from within the site, through an @ mention for example, you’d refer to your tweets or your feed; but from the outside world, if handing someone a business card, surely “my twitter” would be right?

  2. I’m with you all the way on this. I quite often have to correct colleagues who promote a blog post by saying “Read Dave’s blog on x subject”. Why is it so hard to know the difference between a blog and a blog post?

  3. “A tumblr” is actually pretty common usage over there. Tumblelog and tumblr blog are far too clumsy for regular users, I think.

    • I agree. Tumblelog is a cumbersome word and ‘Tumblr blog’ is worse. Luckily these words are entirely unnecessary – you can just use ‘my blog’ and ‘a post’.

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