Social practices and user stances: a study of tagging on Tumblr

Hurtig, Alyssa Joy (2016) Social practices and user stances: a study of tagging on Tumblr. (MA(R) thesis), Kingston University, .


This dissertation aims to introduce Tumblr as a research site, and is focused on the tag practices of Tumblr users. This study provides preliminary description of communicative goals associated with reading and writing practices on Tumblr. I present a quantitative analysis of how Tumblr users tag, and a qualitative analysis of what communicative goals users are attempting to achieve through these practices. I investigate how users evaluate their own tagging practices. I chose six Tumblr posts about tag practices. The corpus consists of tags written in response to these posts. Responses consisting of only one tag are the most common, as the higher the number of tags, the lower the frequency. I coded the corpus twice for features of interest, which resulted in three main codes: affective stance, epistemic stance, and classification. The coding process also revealed that tags are found to have both commentary and classificatory functions. I performed a content analysis to identify common themes within the posts, such as creativity and inclusion of various speech/writing metaphors. My findings include that users tag for their own benefit, using tags for self-directed talk and self-directed classificatory retrieval. Users write in the tag space as a politeness practice. Comments consisting of feelings, stories, and trivial thoughts are written in the tag space. Whether users are tagging for an audience or for themselves, they report enjoying reading and writing tags. These practices and goals provide insight into why users engage in the reading and writing of tags.

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