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February 07, 2013

Tumblr Joins Real-Time Notification Bandwagon with Update to Dashboard

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

The problem with social media websites is that when one site hits upon a popular new feature, all the rest want to--and often do--copy it in some form or fashion. Today it’s happened again, this time with Tumblr.

Today on its staff blog, the minds behind Tumblr introduced a new real-time notification feature that will appear on users’ dashboards. Twitter (News - Alert) is entirely built on this feature, and Facebook recently added it last year with its “Ticker,” so the question on many people’s minds is: why did it take so long for Tumblr to catch on?

The site operates so that users run their own blog and post on it, tagging their posts with related words. Other users can search those words, and those posts will come up for them--a great way to discover new blogs they might like.

Tumblr has become popular because of the unique community feel the site has established among its users, so adding a real-time feature is an incredibly smart move, despite the fact that Tumblr isn’t the first to implement it.

This move should be seen less as “copying” and more as “finally adding this update.” Tumblr users follow blogs that focus on similar interest, so it makes sense for users to be able to see when those blogs are being used live. Many Tumblr-users send messages to one another, and this real-time feature will facilitate this process, bringing an already close online community even closer.

The blog post announced the feature in this way: “Check this out! We’re testing real-time notifications from people you follow. You should start to see them in the next few hours (and can toggle them on your Settings page). Enjoy!”

The demonstration currently offered by Tumblr isn’t that impressive, but within the next few hours the beta feature will go live, and its capabilities and functions will be clearer.

One reason this feature should work well for Tumblr, and in fact better than it already works for Facebook (News - Alert) (although there’s no telling how Facebook’s News Ticker is currently doing), is that Tumblr is filled with people you don’t know. Getting to know people based entirely on interests is what makes this site very different from Facebook or even Twitter, and will likely help the real-time notification system integrate into Tumblr rather well.

Of course, it should be noted the feature can be turned off in case it annoys you or doesn’t strike your fancy, just like with Facebook’s Ticker.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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