Notes on Tumblr

The most popular thing I’ve ever written is my site for finding untagged Tumblr posts. I have a few small changes, a new way to filter posts, and some other thoughts on using Tumblr.

I’ll start with the small stuff:

Then there’s a new filter tool, under “Do you have lots of posts?”. You can choose whether to include reblogs, or just show posts that you wrote. This wasn’t my idea; it came from a tweet:

@alexwlchan Find Untagged Tumblr Posts is great! Is it possible to develop a tool that finds original Tumblr posts? (Everything but reblogs)

and after initially misunderstanding what they meant, I put something together pretty quickly. I’m not particularly keen on adding more options like this, because I don’t want it to be too complicated: if you want really granular control, just play around with the API yourself.

But Ash’s tweet got me thinking about something else: at the bottom of a Tumblr post, there are three kinds of note: likes, reblogs, and reblogs with commentary. The latter are the most interesting to me, but they’re also buried under everything else. Is there a good way to find all the commentary?

My first thought was the API, but that doesn’t work: the API will only return the first 50 notes on a post, and there’s no way to get any more. Inspecting the “Show more notes” button at the bottom of a page reveals a private notes API, but it has a seemingly random key that I don’t have. Also, I feel a little hesitant to start using undocumented APIs.

Maybe I could use a page scraper, and just automate pressing “Show more notes”? Nope, because that’s forbidden by the Tumblr Terms of Service (under “Limitations on Automated Use”):

You may not, without express prior written permission, do any of the following while accessing or using the Services: […] scrape the Services, and particularly scrape Content (as defined below) from the Services.

So in the end, I settled for a simpler solution: in the notes section at the bottom of a post, just hide anything which isn’t a reblog with commentary. This comes down to a single line of CSS:

ol.notes li.without_commentary { display: none !important; }

I have that in my custom CSS file, and now I only see the commentary on a post. It’s only a small tweak, but I like it.