Tumblr founder slams drive-by nastiness on YouTube

David Karp

“We had to keep the jerks out.”

The man who invented Tumblr made a sideswipe at YouTube today for allowing negative comments to be made beneath videos that can damage the confidence of content creators.

David Karp, the 26 year-old now worth $200m following the $1.1bn sale of the microblogging platform to Yahoo! last month, said that as Tumblr does not allow comments to be posted immediately, there is less opportunity for the “drive-by nastiness” that is seen on YouTube.

“We had to keep the jerks out,” said Karp, talking about the creation of Tumblr at the Cannes Lions festival today. “The last thing a content creator wants is to be hit with ugly comments about their work.”

Tumblr users can communicate with one another, but initially only in the form of a question. “It’s a little harder to be a jerk when you ask a question. Asking a question forces you to be more open minded.”

Karp had advice for brands using Tumblr and other similar platforms, saying that brands needed to be authentic and produce content that people care about.

“If you’re not authentic, then your output tends to be worse,” he said, after pointing out that there is no advertising on Tumblr.

“Creative agencies are squeezed in their approach to the web. They are still too traditional, and using the old approach is not going to build a billion-dollar brand,” he said. “Brands need to find out what people love, and give it to them.”

Karp pointed to American car brand Lincoln as the best example of how a brand uses Tumblr. Lincoln post images and videos of vintage cars to tie in with its brand positioning around heritage.

“They dove into the community, found out what they loved and cared about, and came up with a Tumbler account that is truly amazing,” he said.


  1. Brent
    21 Jun 13
    9:20 am

  2. While I understand his comments, I disagree with the sentiment that content creators need to be protected. Youtube have followed a crowd-sourced method of votes. The top votes get seen the most, and spam or particularly negative comments are down-voted and often hidden.

    Then again he sold his company for $200 million so what the hell do I know!

  3. Richard@MogulMedia
    21 Jun 13
    12:27 pm

  4. ‘Create content that people care about’. Check.
    ‘Find out what people love and give it to them’. Check.
    It’s the difference between interrupting… and entertaining.
    What would encourage someone to ‘opt in’ to your communications.
    Get that right… and you’ve got something of real value.

  5. Mark S
    21 Jun 13
    1:31 pm

  6. As somebody who fears for our race everytime I read Youtube comments, I think his position is fantastic.

    It’s not just content creators that need to be protected from the insanely toxic ‘drive-bys’. it’s everybody…the readers of the comments, even the writers who clearly need something to protect them from themselves.

    I’d like to see Youtube develop stronger policy and response around toxic trolling…ultimately I think this is in the interest of the platform itself.

  7. Peter Miller
    21 Jun 13
    2:54 pm

  8. I’m with this Karp fellow. There is inadequate sobriety in this world of real time opinionation. Even the idiots probably re-read their vile outpourings becuase they have fantastic egos and habour regrets. I know I do.

  9. Richard Moss
    22 Jun 13
    8:42 am

  10. Surely we must all strive to keep out the “Jerks,” but who draws the line between security and censorship? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    There is a case for allowing the jerks to be jerks; after all, if one’s work is worthwhile, surely the jerks can do it no harm. Those who know actually do know, and not only can quality withstand a beating, the chorus of approval also has a right and a platform upon which to retaliate.