After reading the smack blog, and even participating a little for a few months, I have mixed feelings about it. You can read the long version or skip to the bottom and read my summary.
First, I asked a previous owner of the smack blog what she thinks about it. She was disappointed in the negativity of the blog, but she saw it as a place for people to share reviews about digital products - quality issues, or perhaps a noteworthy customer service experience. There are no anonymous review venues for our digital scrapbooking industry, so the smack blog provides a place for that.
Second, people are naturally curious. In our digital scrapbooking industry, the design side of things is intricately woven in with the whole community. We have very direct access to designers. Many of us are on creative teams where we get to see more of the business aspects of this hobby. Many scrappers would like to become designers. I think it is natural for customers to be curious about what goes on behind the scenes. I think the smack blog offers an outlet for that curiosity. Of course, just because you are curious doesn't mean you have any right to know things. But I don't think there's anything wrong with being curious and asking questions.
Thirdly, I have the feeling that there is no safe place in our community where people CAN discuss their varying views without the fear of consequences. Topics like product prices, the politics of creative teams, freebies, designers switching stores - all of these are interesting. People want to talk about things, and people want to be able to talk in a safe environment. If the community doesn't offer that, then maybe an anonymous blog is a good alternative.
My own personal experiences with the smack blog have been mostly positive. When I was first lurking, I actually saw my name mentioned in a post. Someone had paid me a compliment (thank you!), but it made me worried that smacking would soon follow. When I told the scientist about this, he said, "That site is poison!"
I have mainly posted at the smack blog with my name because I do not like the idea of posting anonymously. And I posted at the time when I got eliminated from the Cropped competition. I was really bummed about being cropped. People on the smack blog responded to me frankly, but with constructive criticism. Yes, it stung this sensitive person, but in the end I felt better about being cropped. I felt it was fair.
One poster made a comment that suggested posting with my name could be considered attention seeking. That made me feel really uncomfortable, and since then I have made a couple posts anonymously. Sometimes interesting discussions come up on that blog, and it is enjoyable to join in the discussion. I would like to contribute using my name, but I sometimes feel embarrassed to do that.
Now the negative.
Here is the main thing: people say some mean things on there. Things people should be ashamed of saying. The single thing that bothered me the most about the smack blog was a post like this (these are my own words, paraphrasing the sentiment):
Any hurtful comments that appear on the smack blog should not be taken seriously. Anyone who is hurt by such comments has personal flaws making them overly sensitive.
I take issue with this idea because hurtful comments are intended to hurt people. There is no way around that. If you go around throwing weapons at people, you can't negate your responsibility by saying it is your victim's fault because they should have worn better armor. I'm the most sensitive person I know, and I get my feelings hurt all the time. Sometimes it sucks being sensitive, but I stand behind the merits of being a sensitive person.
I'm drawn to the smack blog because of the positives I noted above (customer reviews, curiosity about the business, the opportunity to discuss sensitive issues). But a lot of it just feels like gossip. I believe gossip is bad because it hurts people. It is a sin that tempts me tremendously, and I struggle with it constantly. I'm not really a gossip spreader, but hearing a piece of gossip lights me up inside. I'm not happy about it, but it's true. Hence, I've twice removed the smack blog from my bookmarks, only to re-bookmark it again later. I'm weak. Sometimes I wish I had never found the smack blog.
Here are my overall conclusions.
- The digi smack blog is read by all kinds of members of our community: designers, store owners, scrappers on creative teams, and scrappers not on creative teams.
- Different people see the smack blog as serving different functions. Some people think it is a place to be nasty without consequence and responsibility. Some people think it is a place to engage in discussions that cannot be held elsewhere in our community and to provide anonymous reviews of digi scrap products and customer service.
- Some people feel a strong connection to the blog and to their own view of the blog, to the extent that they try to dictate what other people should or should not say on the blog.
- Some people think negativity is the underlying purpose of the blog - that it is not a place to leave positive reviews or to praise designers, stores and members of the community.
- But I get the feeling that some people wish it was a more positive place.
- Thoughtful posts generate thoughtful posts in response. Nasty posts generate nastier posts in response.
- Some people think non-anonymous posting goes against the spirit of the blog - that anonymity is central to its purpose.
- There are people who believe that any association with the smack blog (even reading it) will get you blacklisted by some members of the community.
In light of that last bullet point above (the part about getting blacklisted), I'm a little apprehensive about publishing this post. But I suppose the damage was already done when I posted at the smack blog and signed my name. I really hope I don't get blacklisted. But the smack blog, and the human behavior around it, interests me. The scrapbooking community interests me. And what else should I write about on my blog but things that interest me?