Private messages between users (PMs) are ubiquitous in social-media networks, spanning platforms as old as LiveJournal, as new as Twitter, and on nearly everything in between.

While known for its minimalism and simplicity of use, Tumblr, however, has never offered that feature. Until today.

The Tumblr staff blog has just announced a new feature called Fan Mail, which will allow users to send stylish messages to other users they are following. Messages will not only be private, but users will be able to customize their appearance with a variety of templates.

“Hey Tumblr, I’m very pleased to introduce Fan Mail, a beautiful new way to share those sweet, inspiring, or otherwise thoughtful notes with your favorite bloggers,” Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp wrote in his own example piece of Fan Mail.

Karp wrote that Fan Mail should be pushed out to all Tumblr users over the next few days. Here at the Daily Dot, we have yet to gain access.

Based on a Tumblr search for posts tagged “Fan Mail,” users were mainly confused by Karp’s short announcement. Many weren’t sure how Fan Mail was different from the Ask Box feature.

“I don’t really know what this feature does. That’s the big problem,” wrote socratescloset.

“When you’re releasing something that you claim is BIG, you want to fill in your users about it. You want to let them know what you’re releasing so that they can use it right out of the box with minimal questions or issues. That’s basic marketing strategy.”

“What is the purpose of fan mail? What does it do that regular messages don’t? Apart from condescend, I mean,” added iamlennymaybe. “I surely can’t be the only person who felt like they were being treated like a five year old when they read the staff announcement.”

“Ohhh! I get it now!!” wrote deadbrownie. “The askbox was only for hate mail! we were using it wrong all along... so stupid! But now that we have the fan mail ..."

The post trails off with an animated GIF of a noncommittal, sideways head nod.

Photo by donovanbeeson