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Time Lord cats, drones: Tumblr's newly updated policies entertain

Amusingly updated Tumblr legal guidelines remind bloggers to play nice, and not to mislead readers by using "Doctor Who" cat hashtags or posing as "Sherlock" actor Benedict Cumberbatch on the site.

Tumblr warns bloggers not to mislead readers with tags about Doctor Who and cats unless it is indeed both, perhaps like this Doctor Mew art by Jenny Parks.
Tumblr warns bloggers not to mislead readers with tags about Doctor Who and cats unless a post indeed relates to both, perhaps like this Doctor Mew art by Jenny Parks.
Jenny Parks

Blogging communities are often full of trolls and ruiners-of-fun, so legal documents like terms of service, community guidelines, and privacy policies are standard not only to protect users, but also to protect companies from an army of lawyers descending on their doorsteps.

Popular blogging site Tumblr is no different in that it posts these documents and updates them regularly, just as any community-driven site would. However, they also reflect the personalities of their users in the most entertaining way possible.

Tumblr's privacy policy, terms of service, and community guidelines, modified on January 27, are not only informative but also full of funny advice and positive affirmation for Tumblr users.

The humor begins in Tumblr's terms of service document, which hilariously reminds users that they actually do have to be a certain age to use the site. Under "eligibility" the site says: "You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We're serious: it's a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation. 'But I'm, like, 12.9 years old!' you plead. Nope, sorry. If you're younger than 13, don't use Tumblr. Ask your parents for a PlayStation 4, or try books."

Tumblr's updated community guidelines contain a warning, under "spam," not to mislead readers into reading a blog about cats by luring them in with "Doctor Who" hashtags.

"Don't spam people. Don't make spammy posts, don't post spammy replies, don't send people spammy messages. Be a regular human. Don't put tags on your posts that will mislead or deceive searchers. For example, don't tag a photo of your cat with 'doctor who' unless the name of your cat is actually Doctor Who, and don't overload your posts with #barely #relevant #tags."

Even drones get an ominous mention in the Tumblr privacy policy under "location information": "Tumblr may determine your location by using drone technology and live video feeds. Ha ha, no, we just check out your IP address or any location data you attach to a post. Normal stuff."

Most notably in Tumblr's community guidelines, there's a funny shout-out to British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, whose fans often dominate Tumblr with blogs dedicated to everything from Cumberbatch and otters to Cumberbatch running away from laser cats -- (the latter of which, full disclosure, I actually run.)

Here's what it says on Tumblr's community guidelines under "confusion or impersonation": "Don't do things that would cause confusion between you or your blog and a person or company, like registering a deliberately confusing URL. Don't impersonate anyone. While you're free to ridicule, parody, or marvel at the alien beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch, you can't pretend to actually be Benedict Cumberbatch."

Blog all you want about "Sherlock" actor Benedict Cumberbatch all your want on Tumblr, just don't pretend to be him.
Blog about "Sherlock" actor Benedict Cumberbatch all you want on Tumblr, just don't pretend to be him. BBC One

But it's not all about geeky references to Time Lords, cats, Cumberbatch, and drones. Tumblr wants to suggest we all be better people and proudly show off our interests, no matter how nerdy.

Under "native actions" in its privacy policy, Tumblr writes: "Reblogs, Likes, and Replies are a matter of public record, so if you're truly ashamed of your desires it's best to keep them to yourself. But why? Be proud of who you are. You're beautiful. We're looking you in the eyes and telling you how beautiful you are."

Lastly, under "Non-Genuine Social Gesture Schemes" in its community guidelines, Tumblr even offers some advice we should all remember.

"Don't participate in schemes to drive up non-genuine Follows, Likes, Reblogs, etc. Don't orchestrate or engage in 'follow trains,' where users are encouraged to follow lists of other users to gain more followers for themselves. Don't make bulk or indiscriminate use of messaging features, like Fan Mail or Asks, to, for example, bait Reblogs/Follows or drive traffic to your blog or website. If you want people to like you, just play it cool and be yourself."

(Via Whoviam-i-kidding Tumblr Blog)