Blogging Ethics: Where I Stand

jennifer-fieldWhere do I stand? (and why it matters)

About three weeks ago this happened:  Someone with a fan page on facebook posted on my fan page wall saying something along the lines of Hey there.  Have your readers come see my page if they want great recipes for baking.  This hit me Wrong.  It seemed Spammy and kind of obnoxious.  So I walked away for a bit, and then I came back.  I responded to please not spam my page, and a few minutes later, the post was deleted.  And life went on.

Then, last week it happened again.  The same person left more or less the same post on my wall.  This time, I did not walk away. I posted an Annoyed post regarding her post, and then I wandered over to her page and posted that I'd love for her to participate on my page and engage with me and my fans and then we would want to come and see what she is doing. And then I said that otherwise, her post was Spammy and Obnoxious.

Then my fans all validated my grumpiness (thanks for being supportive guys) on my Annoyed Post, and then her fans thought I was petty and then she apologized and, well, it was just uncomfortable and unpleasant for all involved. I deleted my post on her page. And then I posted on my page that I had let my grumpiness bleed over onto my page. Not being a fan of negativity, I was--and still am--very sorry to have perpetuated it.  Most folks who commented said things like "You're only human," and "I'd worry about you if you were all sunshine all the time." And I appreciate that. None of us is perfect. I'm certainly not.

But I just couldn't stop thinking about this.  I'm not losing sleep, but I have been considering this in the background, kind of like a virus scan running on my computer while I continue to work.  And since I was thinking about the issue, I found Barbara's (@CreativCulinary's) post outlining her take on stealing recipes and giving credit where credit is due for words and photos. Or maybe it found me. Which got me thinking about some of my anthill-poking posts regarding the same issues and concerns.

And then I thought about All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

You saw all the posters from a few years ago, right? (And the book, too). "Everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten."  And then list a whole bunch of Rules and Directives that we probably all were taught, or at least exposed to, in kindergarten.  Rules like these:

  • Be nice.
  • Hold hands.
  • Apologize when you're icky.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Nap.
  • Play fair.
  • Clean up.
  • No hitting.
This partial list paraphrased from

I also thought about The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you (or Ye if you're Olde Schoole) would have others do unto you. Or put a different way: Do not do unto others what you would not have others do to you.  It's all about reciprocity. That we give what we want to get.  That we don't give what we don't want to get. And that concept is Everywhere. But don't take my word for it. Watch this. It is well worth the 7-ish minutes it will take. Trust me. (My favorite is the one from Jainism, "A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated." I say wander about a lot).

And if you don't like to read a bunch of stuff, you can listen to this TEDTalk. I did. Worth it.

So, what do things I learned in kindergarten and The Golden Rule have to do with grumpiness on my fan page? A lot. I have to remember that everyone I know online is filtered (filters themselves) through an avatar/avatars and by their self-curating what they share, what and how they say things and the randomness of whether I happen to see each post/tweet/update, etc.  I have to remember this because I'm the same way. Is my hair always this smashing shade of red? No. Is my hair sometimes all jacked up? Yes. Sometimes I work in my jammies or my stripe-y robe. Sometimes I feel pissy and grumpy, yet I still post "Good morning! Hope your day is smashing!" Why? Because it's more positive that posting, "Wow, what a crappy day."  If I'm looking for things to bring me down, I can just watch the news.

And on top of that, it is often very difficult to convey tone in the short bursts of conversation that we have. That's why most folks, including myself, go exclamation point and emoticon crazy out here. I don't do it on the blog because here I am only limited by my (and more importantly, your) endurance, but on twitter and facebook, I am the queen of the one-two !-🙂 punch.

Being out in The Hinternets can be a pretty schizophrenic experience.  If you have any web presence (kind of a pretentious term, but there you have it) at all, you probably know what I mean.  Sometimes what Jenni would say is very different that what Pastry Chef Online or @onlinepastrychf might say. Or vice versa. In all honesty, it's about marketing.  I'm selling my brand.  We all are, whether that's what we call it or not.  But it's also more than just that.  It has to be.  My real self needs to be The Boss of my online self.  And the real me really does believe that we attract that to which we attend. If we focus on the negative, we get the negative. If we focus on the positive, we get the positive.

So, after four-ish years of blogging and learning and doing some stuff right and some stuff wrong, here's where I stand right now, in this moment.

  • I will be nice.
  • I will treat others the way I want to be treated.
  • I will do my best to give credit where and when credit is due.
  • I will Fess Up if I screw up, and I will apologize sincerely when I do.
  • I will promote positivity; I will not perpetuate negativity.
  • I don't like to be called out in public, so I won't be calling anyone else out.  If someone has an Issue with me or with something I've done or said, I'd appreciate a private chat, so if I have an Issue with what someone else has done or said, I will message them privately.
  • I want people to be kind and welcoming to me, so I will be kind and welcoming to others.
  • I want to be given the benefit of the doubt, so I will give others the same.
  • I will share.
  • I'll hold your hand and help you if you need it, and I'll do it with a glad heart.
  • I like to feel valued, so if you contact me via twitter/facebook/blog comment/email/forum, etc, I will do my best to respond so you know your comments and questions have value.
  • If I don't have anything nice to say, I will not say anything at all.
  • I like to feel like I matter, so I will treat others with respect and let them know that they matter to me.
  • Before I say it, I'll think about how I'd feel if someone said it to me.
  • Before I do it, I'll think about how I'd feel if someone did it to me.

If you've gotten this far, thanks for sticking with me.  In a nutshell, this is where I stand right now regarding my responsibilities to myself and others in life in general and out here in particular. I'll end with a question.

Where do you stand?

I look forward to your input. Have a lovely day.





  1. says

    Great thoughts. I certainly agree with your overall philosophy. For the particular issue of people posting the occasional spammy thing on my facebook page, or in comments on my blog, I just unceremoniously delete them and move on. In the rare case that I think it is truly a sincere newbie who just doesn’t know netiquette I might send them a private note, but 99% of the time, delete and forget. It avoids all the nasty, pointless back and forth.

  2. says

    I saw that post and it struck me the same way as it did you. It amazes me how people act. That being said, I am happy to have such a solid group of blogging friends that are genuinely good people who add things to my life and who I respect. You really hit the nail on the head here.

  3. Mommydee says

    It’s a shame that you’ve had to endure the spam post, Jenni.  Some think because they have the same interest as you that they can post a “hey, come my way, too” comment, which I equate to inviting yourself to someone’s party without the host actually inviting you at all.  As far as posting the pictures and recipes found online, I always give credit to whomever posted it and the web address, though we never know if they are the actual perpetuator of the recipe and picture or not.  I don’t mind my friends reposting my pics and recipes as long as they give me credit for them–and I don’t post recipes I’m not willing to share (and yes, I do have some family favorites which will never be shared except with my daughters—I say this as I eye your no secret recipes logo directly to the right of this text box, LOL!).  You goofed up but we all do–as long as you won’t repeat it then it’s lesson learned.  If repeated, then you didn’t learn the lesson.  Even adults have to learn lessons, too.  🙂  {{{{{{{{{HUGS}}}}}}}}}}}}

  4. says

    you know jenni i’ve been nice in the past, patient, and helpful.  it literally only gets you so far.  am I saying to be mean no.  But I am saying don’t be too nice.  wait till you have your photos stolen, your recipes RSS direct feed onto another persons website.  You’ll be a lot more guarded and not so liberal shall we say?  (for lack of a better word).  You have to be mean sometimes and firm. and Most times don’t even question, just delete and/or block.  

    • says

       I truly don’t think I will ever go to outright mean. Delete and move on, yes, but I don’t want to put that much energy into outright negativity. Everyone has their own take on it, so it’s good to hear your thoughts. Thanks, Dawn!

      • says

        oh jenni i didn’t mean be outright mean. i look like the bad guy here.  i meant when your stuff gets stolen or your recipes copied word for word, or even if your photos get lifted you’ll be a bit firmer.  Did I want to put in this time and effort into it? no. but I didn’t have a choice but to react and threaten with lawsuit.  It’s a different story and attitude when it happens to you on a much higher theft level is probably how I should have worded it.

        • says

          No, Dawn–I didn’t take your comment to be mean, or think of you as the bad guy at all. Honestly!  I think everyone really does need to decide for themselves how they will handle it when/if the situation arises. It has happened to me, too–the whole RSS thing, so I do understand the frustration. As I said in the post, this is where I stand in this moment. We’ll see if I shuffle my feet any as time goes on, but please don’t think I think of you as anything but wonderful!

    • says

      I agree with you on the being firm part. If we don’t hold our content in high regard, no one else will. I know you get content stolen quite often, Dawn. It’s frustrating! Unfortunately, if someone is determined to steal, they’re going to keep doing it. 

      The thieves don’t know (or for that matter, care) how much time/energy/work and money goes into creating quality recipes, photos and posts. All they know is how simple it is to copy and paste whatever they like. I’ll never understand how someone can steal something that isn’t theirs and feel like they’re entitled to it. Never.

  5. says

    Nicely said. I pretty much stand in the same place. Whenever I post a recipe, I reword the instructions entirely but always say where I got the idea. It just seems polite.   Usually, there are changes in the ingredients list too (I’m pretty much incapable of following a recipe to the letter).

    I do find it quite disturbing when people simply type out a recipe word for word from a book without saying what book it came from OR that they have received permission to repost the recipe. Is plagiarism not talked about in school anymore?

    I LOVE your image of “No Secret Recipes” May I steal it? Or at least the idea?

  6. says

    Can I just say how much I appreciate you for sharing your experience? I haven’t come across anything like that yet, although it could be because my numbers aren’t like yours. lol. Overall it’s so great to see someone struggling with this sort of issue in such a positive way. I’d like to think faced with the same circumstances I’ll either learn from your experience and delete and move on, like Micheal Natkin commented, or try to call them out in a positive way like you did. 

    Overall it’s a great post and a very important conversation for us bloggers to contemplate. More importantly I love that I’ve met another blogger who chooses positive thoughts over everything else. It’s a different road we walk and it’s nice to know we’re not alone. 

    You’ve found a fan in me. 

    • says

      Thanks, Allison! I think that in the grand scheme of things that blogging is still so new that there aren’t a lot of standards that are truly set in stone.  I’m sure that my attitudes will continue to evolve, but I think it’s a good exercise to revisit these issues periodically.  And I really do endeavor to keep it as positive as possible. I can’t control others, but I can control myself. 🙂

  7. says

    Thank you for this post, Jenni. So frustrating when you find these kind of people that just don’t play fair and do things you could never do even if you tried… But oh well that’s life. You choose who to share your time with, and you gotta choose wisely. Lots of lovely guys and gals out there, no need to waste time with negative/unethical/fake people 🙂 

  8. Molly says

    I stand right beside you Jen! I have a poster of all that stuff we learned in Kindergarten. I love it!  Life doesn’t have to be so complicated ………Since I was much younger, the prayer of St. Francis has been something I’ve tried to live by. This Golden Rule, Humanity Healing video was a treat to watch. Stuff we know but it bears repeating, over and over and over and ov……Now I’m off to watych the TED talk. Thanks for an uplifting post!

    • says

       Molly, I found the Humanity Healing video to be so uplifting because it does underscore the importance of The Golden Rule as a foundation for almost every religion and philosophical movement out there.  With a foundation like that–all else is commentary–it saddens me that many religions tend to avoid our similarities and focus on our differences.

  9. says

    OK, I’ve never read your blog or FB, but I think you *are* the bomb!! Love everything you said and I wish others would behave the same way. Anytime I post, I read and re-read what I’ve written because I am so aware that “tone” can be misinterpreted. Especially when it’s by one’s own family! I digress… But guess what, you’ve got a new reader because I appreciate your candor and kindness. Thanks for really making my day with this post! Well said!!

    • says

       Wow, Margaret! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your encouraging words.  It’s a hard issue that I continue to struggle with.

      Sounds like you’ve had some online tone issues w/family members–we should discuss this over a glass of wine or something! 🙂

  10. says

    You are fantastic! I tend to just ignore spammy stuff on my site, it is easier.  I get people who will say, ” I am a new fan and come by my page now….”  I sometimes will follow, or sometimes will ignore, depends on my mood.  But most of the time, I just “let it be.”  I figure if I just ignore, they usually go away….Maybe not a great way to think, but I know there is always going to be annoying people….soooooo I will just have to learn to adjust to it.  Sending you lots of love and hugs, Terra

    • says

       Yes, Terra–I also get a lot of the “I’ve followed you now come follow me” posts. Mostly I ignore them, too.  But every once in awhile, I feel the need to examine my attitudes towards all of that and to say aloud where I stand, just so I’m clear.  I’m sure my attitude will continue to shift over time, but this is where I am right now. 🙂

  11. says

    Jenni, you’re right. It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Easy peasy, or so it seems. I’m constantly amazed how many people don’t follow that one simple rule. It boggles my mind! And I don’t know what’s worse. Treating someone badly and knowing it’s wrong, or doing it and really having *no clue* that what you’re doing is just not right. 

    I’m actually very patient about people using my content w/out permission. But I’ll only be patient for so long. I don’t try to track down every single copied photo or post, for sure–that would be a full time job. Scrapers in other countries? I don’t even waste my time trying to stop them. It’s like banging your head against the wall. But if someone is knowingly taking my stuff and calling it their own, I’m taking action. It may not get results 100% of the time, but I feel like I have to say something, at least. 

    As far as the spammy Facebook thing, I don’t blame you one bit for saying something. Just last week, I had someone I don’t even know post a very large photo of a cake on my page. She wanted me to “Like” it. I deleted it from my timeline. She posted it again about 10 minutes later. I basically told her “Why should I like your photo and leave it up on my page when it isn’t even my photo, and I don’t even know you? You’ve never “Liked” any of my posts and we haven’t even interacted here. If you want me to like your photo, post it on your page and when it comes up in my timeline, if I like it, I’ll give it a thumbs up.” She was sorry about it. Turns out it was for some contest she wanted votes for. Spammy. Period. I told her I’d like the photo for her, but I was hiding it in my timeline. She was ok with that, and we ended it on a pretty good note. I think that sometimes, you just need to tell someone that their behavior is weird or spammy, or whatever. They may not like it, but what good is a bunch of “yes people” following anyone around saying you’re doing a great thing when you’re not? Am I making sense? I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll stop.

    • says

       No, you’re not rambling. I get it, Elle.  I don’t know that I will always react the way that I did this time, and I’m pretty sure that I won’t be posting Very Long Posts about it every time it happens, but I just wanted to try and get my thoughts straight.  The value of these posts, I think, is that it makes us all evaluate where we stand and how we (would) act in certain situations. And the answer to that will be different for everyone. I’m just glad folks are talking about the issue. 🙂

  12. Amee Livingston says

    I couldn’t agree more with this post!!  We (bloggers) have to support each other, but it’s totally rude when someone pimps their page on your wall!!  I learn so much from other blogging friends and it’s just simple common courtesy to give credit where it is due.  I had a friend recently tell me that she thought bloggers were narcissistic.  It hit me right in the gut and that comment has troubled me greatly.  I do think that some bloggers are, but for the most part it comes down to sharing one’s passion and talent with others.  I am getting off subject here, but your post made me feel like venting.  🙂  We all have “those days”, so you shouldn’t apologize for expressing yourself.  Your blog is lovely and you’re not saying anything that others aren’t already feeling!!  

    • says

       Thanks, Amee! I can understand where folks who don’t blog could consider this a narcissistic undertaking, but most of the blogs I read are all about sharing what they know. And that’s not narcissistic at all; It’s being kind and give-y. 🙂

  13. rebeccastees says

    “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high
    intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution;
    it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”

    — Willa A. Fos


    “Leaders are problem solvers by talent and temperament, and by
    choice. For them, the new information environment—undermining old means
    of control, opening up old closets of secrecy, reducing the relevance of
    ownership, early arrival, and location—should seem less a litany of
    problems than an agenda for action.

    — Harlan Cleveland


    “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather
    the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs
    is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential
    meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
    — Viktor Frankl

  14. says

    Great post. I used to get lots of comments like that when I was on Foodbuzz. People openly asking me to check out and fan their pages, etc. It all seems so desperate and is just a turn-off. Like Michael says, I just delete them when I can and ignore them when (as with Foodbuzz) deleting is not an option. I think there is a perception of competition and people, especially newbies, just assume that this is how it’s done. They’ll learn.

  15. says

    Funny how I got here but also some irony that what happened to you JUST happened to me. Someone Friended me on Facebook; I looked at their profile; didn’t know them but saw it was food related and Friended them back. Within minutes they posted an almost exact duplicate of what you indicated on my page.

    I just deleted and let it go; maybe I was channeling your experience without knowing you had one. 🙂


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