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If you were one of the Tumblr users impacted by the Tumblr porn ban, then chances are you’ve heard of Pillowfort, an up-and-coming Tumblr alternative, at one point or another. The site itself is largely inspired by Tumblr, although it touts several new improvements that make the service stand out compared to Yahoo’s microblogging platform. These include an improved home feed layout, better filtering capabilities, and a lax policy on NSFW content.
While Pillowfort is still in closed beta, certain users already have access to the site and can meet new friends, build followings, and join a wide range of communities dedicated to everything from Homestuck to BDSM. If you want to join in on the fun, here’s what you need to know.
What is Pillowfort?
Over on the service’s staff blog, Pillowfort calls itself “a hybrid of Tumblr, Twitter, and LiveJournal,” ideally “keeping the strengths of these sites while compensating for their weaknesses.” The site functions very similarly to Tumblr, complete with likes, replies, private mail, reblogs, and a bottomless home feed, making it the perfect home for Tumblr refugees.
That said, Pillowfort sports numerous improvements that give users more control over how they view, access, and hide content. For one, users can join a wide range of user-run Communities, where Pillowfort members can chat with each other through a Discussion board and reblog posts to a communal home feed. There’s also an accessible filter and blacklist section where users can customize whether NSFW appears in their news feed and blacklist certain tags or words.
In the future, Pillowfort plans to add a mobile app, post queueing, Tumblr and Dreamwidth blog imports, and custom user lists for privacy filtering, among other options. For now, Pillowfort’s closed beta is pretty functional, and it works just like Tumblr in design and approach.
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How does Pillowfort.io work?
Like Tumblr, users largely interact with each other through their home feed, each account’s main homepage. Users can either follow individual blogs or join Communities. Posts will regularly populate their news feed. From there, Pillowfort posts offer three options: comment, reblog, or like.
Unlike Tumblr, Pillowfort does away with long, threaded reblogs. Instead, discussions happen under a post’s comment section, keeping users’ home feeds tidy. Meanwhile, each post’s comment section features reply threads for an accessible and easy-to-use discussion system, mirroring those found on Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. Pillowfort Communities also host their very own forums, where users can get together and post threads independent from a given Community’s feed.
Otherwise, Pillowfort works very similarly to Tumblr. Users can follow each other, send mail, and make text, picture, video, and audio posts. The site features a tagging system, blocking, and a page for each user’s blog. Oh, and there are plenty of fandoms already on the site, from Homestuck to Steven Universe. For many, it’s home sweet home.
How to get a Pillowfort invite
For the time being, registrations are closed for Pillowfort. The last invite batch was sent out Dec. 14.
On Dec. 13, just days before Tumblr officially banned NSFW content, the site announced on Twitter that it acquired “over 10,000 users in the last two weeks.” The platform then closed registrations. This is because Pillowfort “isn’t ready to handle such a large community yet.” In the meantime, Pillowfort will be improving load balancing, moderation, and making sure the site’s infrastructure is prepared to host a bigger userbase.
Normally, Pillowfort users could donate $5 via PayPal for a registration key and receive access to the site’s closed beta in an email. It remains unclear if this same format will return once Pillowfort’s registrations reopen. In the meantime, Pillowfort says the registrations will be closed “for a little while,” although it remains unclear how long prospective users will have to wait to hop in and try out Pillowfort for themselves. In the meantime, Pillowfort hosts a waiting list that will email users once the site is ready to accept new registrations.
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Best Pillowfort Communities
Communities are one of the best ways to quickly populate your home feed, find new blogs, and get to know other Pillowfort users. While Pillowfort is still a relatively small platform, there’s an enormous number of Communities already available. The most popular Community, BetaUsers, sports over 6,000 members, followed by cats with nearly 2,000 users.
If you’re looking to meet up with queer folks on Pillowfort, LGBT sports over 1,700 members and features discussions on everything from TV series with LGBTQ representation to blog posts about growing up queer. Then there’s Transgender and AroAce for individual groups within the letters. For more specific interests, users can also check out ~Queers on TV~ and femslash, the latter of which dedicated entirely to “ships and fandoms” of queer women in love with each other.
Meanwhile, for geeks on Pillowfort, there’s already an enormous selection dedicated to video games, comics, and more. Popular choices include Marvel, Overwatch, dragon-age, DnD, and Star Trek. Then you’ll find Fanfiction and ArtistAlley for the more artistically-inclined fans out there.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for adult content, Pillowfort hosts a ton of NSFW blogs and communities. NSFW is one of the biggest communities around, and LewdDraws hosts illustrated adult content. For something a little kinkier, BDSM – Adults Only focuses specifically on fetish content, and Tumblr NSFW Art, BDSM, Kink and Sex-Work Refugees features 18-plus content of all kinds. While not all posts are NSFW, there’s also Teratophilia for monster-lovers, which lets users share 18-plus stories and pictures within the Community.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.