Tumblr today has added a small, but notable, change to its service which could have a larger impact in terms of making the now Yahoo-owned blogging platform feel more like a social network: it has added support for user mention notifications. That means you’ll now be able to tag others by typing in the “@” symbol before someone’s username in order to trigger a notification.
The company says these notifications will now appear for others both in-stream on the main Dashboard as well as on the “Activity” page, where users today see things like follows, likes, reblogs, and more.
To date, Tumblr, if anything, has downplayed its social components, leading third parties like Missing E and XKit to fill in the blanks with more tools for connecting users through things like “post crushes,” automatic replies, faster replies, better user profiles and much more.
Though currently users can message others directly through the “Tumblr Ask” feature (if enabled), actually getting the attention of another user on the service generally involves either liking and/or reblogging their posts.
The ability to simply @ mention another user to reference something they may have said instead of fully reblogging from them could now potentially reduce the number of reblogs on Tumblr, assuming the feature is adopted by Tumblr users. While reblogging has helped define the service, a change there might not be a bad thing – as posts go viral and are reblogged again and again, it can become difficult to track who said what and when.
Tumblr is hardly the first social network to adopt the @ mention feature, orginally popularized by Twitter. Other networks, including Facebook and Instagram have done the same. And both LinkedIn and Facebook also support a variation of this, with the auto-complete. (Tumblr @ mentions auto-complete as well.) With this addition, the Tumblr Dashboard may start to feel more like a social “news feed” than one just suggesting posts to read. Meanwhile, Facebook’s social news feed is moving more in Tumblr’s direction, as the company is working to increase its focus on “real,” not just social, news.