Pillowfort: If you were one of the Tumblr users impacted by the Tumblr porn ban, then chances are you’ve heard of Pillowfort, an up-and-coming Tumblr alternative, at one point or another. The site itself is largely inspired by Tumblr, although it touts several new improvements that make the service stand out compared to Yahoo’s microblogging platform. These include an improved home feed layout, better filtering capabilities, and a lax policy on NSFW content. Pillowfort is a young, blog-centric social platform inspired by early LiveJournal communities and Tumblr fans.
People can post their photos, written text, illustrations, and GIFs, and share those creations with others. There are options for both public and private settings, but the site is designed to allow people to spread their work, connect with like-minded individuals, and create communities — including ones that appreciate sexual writing and imagery.
While Pillowfort is still in closed beta, certain users already have access to the site and can meet new friends, build followings, and join a wide range of communities dedicated to everything from Homestuck to BDSM. If you want to join in on the fun, here’s what you need to know.
Julia Baritz launched Pillowfort in February 2017, but she acknowledges that no one was really paying attention to what her team was doing. Only 700 people signed up for the site less than two years ago, and that was a small enough group for her team — herself and two other full-time developers — to focus on without much concern.
That changed following Tumblr’s announcement. Baritz tells The Verge that suddenly the company’s inbox was overflowing with requests from people looking to set up camp on a new platform. It came at the most inopportune time; Baritz had to take the site down for maintenance over the weekend to fix a security flaw pointed out by people using Pillowfort, and the sudden influx in people trying to access the site made every issue feel bigger.
Pillowfort wasn’t designed to be Tumblr. It was an alternative, based on years spent in fandom communities on sites like LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, a similar journaling and blogging tool. Now, however, Baritz realizes there’s an additional responsibility that comes with the explosion of attention Pillowfort is receiving. The team is putting together a plan to try and accommodate newcomers’ interest in the site, but they understand it’s going to take a bit of balancing.
“I’m definitely excited that so many people are interested in the site, but it’s true that we didn’t expect this much attention all at once,” Baritz says. The site’s infrastructure was designed for the smaller audience Pillowfort saw at launch, and Baritz says the team is rushing to catch up as Tumblr users flood in. “It’s going to take a little while for us to be ready and to be able to accommodate all this attention.”
Part of that balancing act includes keeping the number of people who are allowed on the site to a minimum. Those who have received beta invites in the past, or have had their registration approved will be allowed to start or continue posting, but there will be a limit to how many newcomers are granted site privileges. The current one-time $5 fee will remain in place, Baritz says. And although there’s a possibility it will disappear in the future, the fee also acts as a good way of keeping people at bay until development picks up and more support is available.
Pillowfort.io is a new blogging platform that aims to improve the current state of social media by providing better privacy and communication tools. We saw people on today’s major social media networks complaining about the limitations and flaws of these sites, yet lamenting that there was nowhere better to go. We aim to be that better place to go: a user-friendly space on the web for creativity, communication, and content-sharing. We’re creating Pillowfort.io because we are avid bloggers ourselves, and have long dreamed of a platform that would bring together all the best features of the various platforms we’ve used over the years, allowing each user to customize their own experience.
Pillowfort is currently in closed beta with over 10,000 users. Everyone who donates $5 or more will get a registration key (or keys) on September 1st to create an account on the site, so if you want to try out the site while it’s still in beta and even help us decide on how to continue developing it, now is your chance!
Is Pillowfort IO free?
The Short Term: Staff at Pillowfort is hoping that a crowdfunding campaign will allow us more time to ready the site before it exits beta. … Premium Account Features: Essential site features will remain free from a paywall, while users can pay for premium features.
What is the best alternative to Tumblr?
- WordPress. It’s impossible to talk about blogging platforms without mentioning WordPress. …
- Blogger. Owned by the tech giant Google, Blogger is one of the easiest blogging platforms out there. …
- Soup. …
- Medium. …
- Mastodon. …
- Posthaven. …
- Ghost. …
How much traffic did Tumblr lose?
- User Control & Privacy
A lot of the problems in other social media sites come from a lack of control over one’s own content– who can view it, share it, etc. Pillowfort aims to remedy these problems by giving users more control over how their content can be used by the community. Pillowfort’s users can choose whether or not a post can be reblogged by other users; whether it’s viewable to all users, or only users that are already following them; and more.
This way, Pillowfort users can be as social as they want when they’re feeling extroverted and want to share their ideas, but also restrict their more private thoughts and feelings to a closer circle of confidantes. We also give users total control over their content: deleting one of your posts will delete all reblogs, and edits made to your post will be reflected in all reblogs. You can also delete any unwanted comments from your posts.
On Pillowfort you can create, and join, user-moderated ‘communities’ so that you can easily find other people who enjoy the same things you do, all in one place. Post pictures of your proud baking exploits to a community of bakers, discuss the new spoilers for your favorite TV show in a community forum full of other fans– whatever you want! User moderation means that users can decide on custom rules for their community and enforce them (so long as they don’t contradict the general site Terms of Service).
- Nested comment threads for better dialogue between users
- A private messaging feature that lets you build friendships on one
- A built-in blacklisting feature, so you can hide posts containing certain keywords and tags
Julia Baritz is having quite a week. The Austin-based developer is the founder and lead architect of Pillowfort.io, a community-oriented social media platform that’s quietly amassed around 20,000 users in its first two and a half years. But since Monday, Baritz has been inundated with more than 8,000 requests from people clamoring to join her site. Traffic to Pillowfort’s homepage has been 10 times higher than average, she says.
Baritz has porn to thank for this. On Monday, Tumblr announced a ban on all “adult content”, and creators have been frantically searching for a new place to migrate their NSFW art and porn blogs ever since. Pillowfort emerged as a potential safe harbor via word of mouth on social media; the site allows NSFW content to be posted with few restrictions, as long as it doesn’t break any laws.
“It’s funny that adult and sexual content has become the linchpin and turning point of our popularity in a way, but I’m not surprised,” adds Baritz.
Sexual content has always been a part of fandom communities online, from LiveJournal to Tumblr. These communities have a history of abandoning platforms that don’t support the free expression of adult material. It was LiveJournal’s crackdown on NSFW material back in 2007 that broke many users’ trust in the site and initiated the mass migration to Tumblr, along with the creation of fandom sites like An Archive of Our Own. Now Tumblr’s facing its own porn-related exodus because NSFW content appears to be at odds with its business goals.
For Baritz, the experience has been head-spinning. Pillowfort is still in beta, and this situation has become a huge test for the site.
If anyone understands what Baritz has been going through, it’s Denise Paolucci. As the co-founder of Dreamwidth, a web 1.0-style blogging platform that shares Pillowfort’s user-first philosophy, she has seen a similar spike on her site this week. Dreamwidth is more established—it has existed since 2008 and has 53,595 active users (and 3,453,932 total accounts)—but traffic to the site also has surged by a factor of 10, she says. Many Tumblr users are tweeting about their plans to migrate to both Dreamwidth and Pillowfort.
Both sites adhere to an anti-advertising, anti-VC funding, anti-corporate model that is focused on user privacy, control, and freedom. That’s what makes them such appealing options to many disaffected Tumblr bloggers, but the challenges they face underscore why the dream of an independent web is so hard to achieve, even when there’s demand.
Like Tumblr, users largely interact with each other through their home feed, each account’s main homepage. Users can either follow individual blogs or join Communities. Posts will regularly populate their news feed. From there, Pillowfort posts offer three options: comment, reblog, or like.
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Unlike Tumblr, Pillowfort does away with long, threaded reblogs. Instead, discussions happen under a post’s comment section, keeping users’ home feeds tidy. Meanwhile, each post’s comment section features reply threads for an accessible and easy-to-use discussion system, mirroring those found on Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. Pillowfort Communities also host their very own forums, where users can get together and post threads independent from a given Community’s feed.
Otherwise, Pillowfort works very similarly to Tumblr. Users can follow each other, send mail, and make text, pictures, video, and audio posts. The site features a tagging system, blocking, and a page for each user’s blog. Oh, and there are plenty of fandoms already on the site, from Homestuck to Steven Universe. For many, it’s a home sweet home.
What Is Pillowfort
Dreamwidth began as a side project after Paolucci and her co-founder Mark Smith felt that LiveJournal, their former employer, had lost its way. Paolucci worked there as a community manager, and Smith as a developer. They built Dreamwidth on LiveJournal’s open-source code, which was already 10 years old at the time. A decade later, they still run the site. “The other day I realized I’ve been working on this codebase for about 20 years, and I had to go lie down for a minute,” she says.
The benefit of code that old is that it’s incredibly stable has been fully patched and security-audited, and it’s efficient. This week it has handled 10 times its normal traffic smoothly. “We have designed Dreamwidth to be very expandable,” according to Paolucci. “We did have a big increase in traffic when Tumblr made its announcement and no one noticed, because we set up the site so it can scale in an instant.”
But what it gains in stability, it lacks in new features. Dreamwidth can barely handle images, as some Tumblr exiles have noted on Twitter, and currently has no option to upload a video. GIFs should work, Paolucci says, but users get only 500 megabytes of image hosting on their accounts, at least for right now. “Unlimited image hosting is one of those features that people have gotten used to that are VC-subsidized on most websites. We can’t afford to offer that same kind of unlimited, endless image hosting.”