What I Learned on My Summer Vacation: Five Things GOMI Taught Me About Blogging

by Rachel on October 4, 2011 · 69 comments

How do we start blogging after four months without blogging about blogging? I think it’s time for a good, old-fashioned “What I Learned on My Summer Vacation” essay!

If there’s one topic on a lot of bloggers’ minds right now, it’s Get Off My Internets, a site that isn’t new, but is new to many healthy living bloggers. I was aware of GOMI for a little while, but I had no reason to read it, as it mainly focused on bloggers I didn’t know or read. But suddenly, blogs I do know and read started popping up in the GOMI forums. And then, as we like to say here at Hollaback, shit got bananas.

Like many other bloggers, I found myself the subject of a thread in the GOMI forums. They called me a raging slut — and not as a bad thing; as in, “Does anyone else miss the raging slut Rachel Wilkerson?” The question was put out there and people agreed; yes, they missed the raging slut. They said that now I was boring. And hipster.

Call me a raging slut all you want, but I do not like being accused of being a fucking hipster.

As I dealt with what was being said about me, I read all the other healthy living blog threads on GOMI. Every. Single. One. And then I used the forums and the chat feature to get to know Alice and the community there. And my education was enlightening.

Here are five things GOMI taught me about blogging.

1. If you think something is wrong with your blog…something probably is. What hurt about what was said about me in the forums was that everything was things I had been concerned about. I’ve struggled for the past year with the transition from single girl to girl with a serious boyfriend, mainly because I’ve worried for months that I’m turning off a big portion of my readers. I talked to a lot of friends and other bloggers about this and all of them encouraged me to let my blog’s direction change, so I went with it. But even as my readers encouraged my living in sin posts through tons of enthusiastic comments, I couldn’t help but feel like the girl who got a boyfriend and ditched all her friends. Reading GOMI was just confirmation of that.

Not all bloggers are self-aware, and you may say or do something that you don’t realize is offensive or just plain dumb…but I do believe if you’re self-conscious or your gut is telling you something is wrong with your blog or a post you’ve written, you need to listen. Hint: this probably doesn’t mean asking on Twitter where you will be told what you want to hear by your 6,000 enablers.

2. There are a lot of lurkers out there who are afraid to tell you what you need to hear. I was frustrated that all this stuff was being said in a forum when I try to make it clear that discussion and criticism have a place on my blog. On the other hand, I’m not surprised no one wants to tell a blogger she’s sucking — most bloggers don’t want to hear it, and even if they can stand it, we all know their batshit-crazy fanatical readers cannot. And the fact remains that bloggers aren’t listening. I’m not entirely sure how to solve the problem of bloggers reacting to criticism like Detective Stabler reacts to pedophiles on “Law & Order: SVU,” but I can tell you that if we as a community handled criticism with a little more grace, or just stopped and thought for a few minutes about how the things we put on our blog might appear and that maybe the negative comments have a point…and perhaps if we quit being lazy and made some changes…then there would be a lot less need for snarking.

3. A lot of “haters” like you — and are more like you — than you might think. As I read all the healthy living blog threads, I realized that so many of the comments were posted by people who are very involved in the healthy living blog community. Say what you will to help you ignore negative comments at all costs, but the fact is, not everyone who talks badly about your blog is a bunch of fat jealous cat ladies (seriously, who are these people who keep throwing that out there? And furthermore, what is wrong with being fat or owning cats??) — many are bloggers or longtime readers who have no where else to go to say the things that everyone is thinking.

I also noticed that a lot of the commenters there talked about how they used to like a blog. That’s a really big deal — they used to like you! It’s not that they decided one day, after feeding their cats and masturbating to romance novels, Hmmm….I think I’m going to go find a new blog to hate-follow. I PICK…YOU! No. It’s entirely likely that they went for a 15-mile run, wrote a blog post of their own, ate some Greek yogurt, and then sat down to read you, their favorite blogger…and were disappointed by what you posted. Even though it hurts, their criticism does matter.

4. How you respond to negative comments is almost as important as how you blog. I always sort of knew that how a blogger responds to criticism tells you a lot about her, but it became even more apparent in the GOMI forums. When I watched one of my favorite bloggers respond to the comments there with defensive PR-ish bullshit, I was so disappointed. Well, I thought. Now I have to stop loving your delicious recipes because you clearly do not know how to behave. It says a lot about a blogger when she has a lawyer send a cease-and-desist letter over a little snark. There’s a good chance your readers are reading GOMI; at the very least, you now know that other bloggers are. I can’t say that I know the best way to respond to a GOMI post about you, but I can say that I’m really proud of the discussions I had in the forums after I responded to my thread.

5. GOMI justifies the existence of Hollaback Health for me. The truth? Is that Hollaback was formed out of very similar conversations to the ones in the GOMI forums. Eventually, I was just like, You know? Maybe if a few of us have these strong feelings about terrible grammar mistakes and unhealthy/dangerous behavior or feeling like the blog world is made up of mean girls and cliques, maybe we aren’t the only ones…maybe I can do something about it. Even though I wasn’t exactly shocked by anything I read on GOMI, I did learn some things — and I learned that there is a lot more going on in the healthy living blog community than I realized! I work on Hollaback to the best of my ability, based on how I see things and how the other Hollaback bloggers see things. But I’m more certain now than ever before that Hollaback would do well to have more voices contributing or even just commenting.

As a rule, I don’t hate-follow, and although posts worth hating often find their way to me, this was a good reminder that the Hollaback bloggers can’t see everything — good or bad. So as a blogger and as the editor of Hollaback, I’m glad GOMI exists, because as brutal as the healthy living blog forums are sometimes, they are generally discussing things we all need to know, think about, improve, and change. (Sometimes — don’t get me wrong, I think that there are some threads that aren’t exactly trying to change the world.) I’m sure the conversations taking place in the GOMI forums will be the source of inspiration for Hollaback posts over the coming months.

So when I’m hanging out in the GOMI forums, I’m not there because I’m lonely/fat/jealous/ugly/[insert some other meaningless insult here]…it’s because, like I said months ago when I started Hollaback, I’m passionate about blogging and, like it or not, I’m part of this community now. I love blogging — talking about it, learning more about it, and hearing what other people think about it. I care about my blog. And — surprise, surprise! — I care about your blog too, grammar mistakes and all. And on my summer vacation, GOMI was a reminder to me that there is a lot of work to be done on my blog, on Hollaback, and in the healthy living blog community.

UPDATE: In the months after I published this post, the number of legit conversations taking place on GOMI shrank and the number of absolutely toxic conversations increased dramatically. While I did initially learn some important lessons by reading what was being said about me there, continuing to read what was being said about me and other bloggers (and continuing to attempt to have rational conversations with the community there) became incredibly unhealthy and damaging and I quit cold turkey in January 2012. 

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{ 65 comments }

Alli October 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm

1. Yay HBH is back!

2. I love GOMI and Alice is awesome for putting herself out there – she gets a lot of shit but she also works damn hard to create a community where people feel “safe” being vocal about how they REALLY feel. I would love to see her guest blog (even though she’d probably laugh me out of the room for even thinking she would appear on a “healthy living” blog in the first place).

3. Seeing how you responded to your thread just reiterated what a good blogger you are and how much you appreciate and listen to your readers. Point #4 can’t be said enough, and it’s a shame that some bloggers who have found themselves with a huge platform to promote themselves on don’t realize that.
Alli´s last post ..What’s for Dinner? (9/25-10/1)

Dori October 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I meant to tell you that I saw that thread about you and was so impressed with how you handled it. I’m like anyone else, I don’t like hearing criticism — but I care about my blog and if I was annoying people or pissing people off, I’d like to be directly told so I could address it. I hope other bloggers read this and choose to be more mature because it doesn’t do a 20- or 30-something blogger any favors to be acting like she’s in high school.
Dori´s last post ..18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up Race Recap

Hannah October 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Exactly! Bloggers of that age just can’t act like they are in high school. It’s so sad.
Hannah´s last post ..One Year Later [Blogging]

Kristina @ spabettie October 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm

THIS – wow, just incredible. you’re pretty dang exceptional, that’s all I have to add!
Kristina @ spabettie´s last post ..meat ball subs

Cyndie October 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Yeah, I saw those forums and I just gotta say….You handled yourself very well. I think I would just tell people to fuck off if I saw them hating on my blog. haha.

I definitely think it’s important to listen to your audience and get feedback on what they would like to see on the blog, but you can’t please everyone. You also have to be true to your life now, even if it’s not being a raging slut…

Anyways, I’m kinda addicted to reading through the GOMI forums. Although I think it can be a little negative sometimes and really bring me down…
Cyndie´s last post ..vegas, baby.

Kaley [Y Mucho Más] October 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm

I say, if it brings you down – stop reading it! It’s not worth your time. I stopped reading all the blogs that made me feel bad about myself (even if I don’t blame them at all!). It was the right choice for my sanity.
Kaley [Y Mucho Más]´s last post ..Blogging

Suzanne October 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Thank you! I found GOMI a few months after I did a big clean of my google reader, and deleted all the blogs that I had started skimming through because I was annoyed or bored at all their posts. With the exception of a few really mean (mostly appearance-based comments), I could see where all of the commenters were coming from.

For me, I started reading healthy living blogs because I was really busy and was interested in how other busy, real women were able to lose weight. When a bunch of those bloggers got super popular and quit their jobs, but kept their day to day format the same, I couldn’t relate to them anymore. It was especially hard to read their advice when they weren’t actually licensed professionals in nutrition or fitness.

It also really bothers me when bloggers respond to negative comments so defensively. While some are just plain mean and should be ignored, others actually have substance to them. If you’ve monetized your blog, your readers are your customers. It’s their mouse clicks that pay your income, so at the very least, their complaints deserve an open mind. I don’t know of any other industry where unhappy consumers aren’t just ignored, but blatantly told to go fuck themselves, on such a regular basis.
Suzanne´s last post ..Optional vs. Mandatory

Alli October 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

“If you’ve monetized your blog, your readers are your customers. It’s their mouse clicks that pay your income, so at the very least, their complaints deserve an open mind. I don’t know of any other industry where unhappy consumers aren’t just ignored, but blatantly told to go fuck themselves, on such a regular basis.”

This this and this. If I could bold this comment, I would.
Alli´s last post ..Kale and Parmesan Salad (with Roasted Shrimp and Black Beans)

Rachel Wilkerson October 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Alli, you beat me to it — A-FREAKING-MEN, Suz! SO TRUE.
Rachel Wilkerson´s last post ..OMG, We’re Back Again!

MelissaNibbles October 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

This comment is everything. I want to hug it.

Di October 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

If I could “like” this, I totally would!

Jacki October 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

YES, amen especially to your last paragraph!!
Jacki´s last post ..apple picking & pie-ing

Dani October 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

I love Hollaback and I love GOMI! I think you made some really valid points here and I agree with everything you said.

I think the main thing that stands out to me is that people who write in the GOMI forum (myself included) didn’t, as you said, start out with the intention to hate-follow. I am guilty of hate-following now to a certain extent, but with some bloggers, even though I think they complain too much, their grammar is horrible, or their readers are batshit crazy…I *want* to like them. I *want* their blog posts to be good because I’m not hating just to hate, you know? But then they write something terrible about how their day of bodypump and yoga was super busy, and I just cringe. Or I comment on a blog and it’s deleted because I say something like “why do you do x, y, z?” in a non-confrontational manner. These “big” bloggers are so afraid of a little criticism because they have built this cushy world where everyone fawns over them (newsflash – 50% of these commenters are linking to their own blogs…they don’t give an eff about your oatmeal, they want traffic and they know they won’t get it if they insult a major blogger) and they become total narcissists.

These adult women should know that deleting comments, closing comments down or bitching on twitter is a really pathetic way to interact with the people who are essentially allowing you to quit your job and blog “for a living”. CaitlinHTPs admission of systematically cheating in college, responding rudely to commenters, editing her post to make it seem harmless, then closing her comment section down so she didn’t get any more criticism says FAR MORE about her character and sense of morality and ethics than the entire “operation beautiful” movement.

Anyway, you’re totally right. Bloggers could learn a lot if they just wanted to learn.

Jacki October 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Welcome back HBH! I’m not a healthy living blogger, but trying to live healthy is PART of my blog, so … whatever, I’m here. There have been articles here that I’ve been SO guilty of. I think maybe AJ posted about ending posts with questions, and I was like, “yeeeah…that’s me. Good point.” And I stopped doing it on every freakin’ post and I like my writing better without it.

I’m fascinated by GOMI, and am probably going to waste an inordinate amount of time reading it this week. You handled yourself very well, Rachel. I came on as a reader after you met Eric, so I don’t know that the transition you’ve been making has really affected me as much as older readers (though I’ve done a lot of reading your archives).

I definitely agree with your points here, and for me, #1 and #4 struck home most. Right now, I’m not big enough to have haters, but I know that if someday I do, handling criticism is something I’ll struggle with, because I struggle with it IRL. It really does say a lot about a person to be able to handle criticism gracefully and even turn it into a discussion, rather than a shitstorm.

Confession: I almost wished there was a thread about me on GOMI. That kind of feedback whether negative OR positive would be really helpful, even if it stung. Heh.
Jacki´s last post ..apple picking & pie-ing

Amanda October 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I love this post. A lot of the time i am reading blogs and thinking “what am i not seeing about their life”. Maybe i shouldn’t be looking up to some of these people. They seem healthy on the outside, but i get the feeling that some of them are not. And as well certain things start to bother me about the blogs and i stop following. It’s just nice to see that other people feel the same way.

Now the GOMI boards are a little catty sometimes for my liking, they say what needs to be said about some blogs.

cindylu October 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

The funny thing about GOMI (which I’ve been reading for a while now) is that it confirmed why certain blogs never appealed to me and why others did. I actually have added several new blogs to my reader thanks to GOMI and even re-added another because she was pretty cool when she responded to her critics. Some of those people have made noticeable changes.
cindylu´s last post ..Halloween on a budget: Luchadora

Bridget October 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

I had never seen GOMI until today.
I think some of the comments are very legit-especially the “New Rules” list. However, the “oh so and so is fat now!” chats need to end. That’s not helping anything.

Jess-The SemiAbnormal Gal October 5, 2011 at 3:26 am

I agree. I had never heard of GOMI until this post, but some of the comments make me really sad. They are just as mean as my high school students, and that my friends is really.damn.mean.

Lisa October 4, 2011 at 6:30 pm

I think it’s hurtful and hateful. Constructive feedback is one thing, negative hate just to hate isn’t productive. I think GOMI is childish and petty and has no space in my universe. Unfortunately I’ve been attacked by them as well.

My comment: if a reader doesn’t like a blog STOP READING IT. Spreading hate all over the internet is childish. What’s the point? Not everyone has to read my blog. If it doesn’t appeal to someone, don’t read it. I don’t read all of the blogs out there for a lot of reasons. I have about a dozen favorites that I remain loyal to and the others I pick and choose to read once in awhile. If it’s still not something I’m interested in? I stop reading.I don’t SPAM them with hateful comments.
Lisa´s last post ..A Tour of the Dude Ranch

Clare October 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Lisa-
I need to speak up and respectfully disagree with your comment that you have been “attacked” on GOMI. While there is a thread referencing one of your posts there, it was not an attack – and it was not childish or petty (in fact, the topic at hand was one that a legitimately intellectual discussion could have been had about) . One reader took issue with your usage of a word in one of your posts. She voiced this in your own comment section (not in a “hater” or “mean” or “petty” manner) and then you responded by commenting there and then password protecting your post. This is obviously well within your right to do – it’s your blog. But to claim you were being “attacked” because someone had the audacity to voice a differing opinion on your word choice is a bit extreme on your end. Plus, the entire resulting thread on GOMI was not offensive or hateful towards you. I guess I would sum it up with your own advice – if you don’t like GOMI, stop reading it. If it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t involve yourself. No one is forcing you to read it. You have chosen to have a blog and voice your opinions on the internet for anyone to read. If you don’t want people commenting and possibly disagreeing, stop doing it.

Becky October 4, 2011 at 9:12 pm

This is a problematic stance, Lisa. First of all, Rachel clearly pointed out that people who have critiques of your blog are not automatically your enemy. They might be thoughtful people who want you to succeed, but who see problems with what you’re doing. Why would you want them to stop reading, just because they offer their opinions?

Second of all, you’re buying into the non-logic of “positivity.” You’re essentially saying that if you ever have a criticism of anything, you shouldn’t voice it, but should immediately stop looking at/using/participating in whatever the thing is. This is not how change happens. If you want to talk about childish, picking up your toys and going home whenever you see something you don’t like–that’s childish. Voicing your criticism and dissent–that’s mature. That’s being part of a solution.

Kate October 5, 2011 at 12:20 am

Are you serious? You were not attacked; you were CORRECTED because you made an error. Is no one allowed to point out when bloggers make mistakes? Sorry, a community that does not allow for criticism has no space in my universe.

janetha October 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I am really excited HBH is back. I love the posts and even more, love the comments that are left and the conversation that goes on. Looking forward to learning more and more–HBH always sheds a new light on things for me. XO
janetha´s last post ..sunday sliders & menu monday.

nicole October 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

yes yes yes

Cynthia (It All Changes) October 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I have mixed feelings about GOMI but I have mixed feelings about many blogs too. I enjoy the constructive criticism or points things I may gloss over or do on my own blog just because it’s “the way it’s done.” At the same time some is just nasty and doesn’t sit well with me.

I think looking at criticism as helpful and not always hurtful is important instead of glossing over or trying to create some sort of image. Be who you are or other will think like many of the threads on GOMI suggest.

Like Jacki I kind of wish they had a thread about me…it would hurt at first but if if I could look at it constructively I would hope I can make changes if needed.

Erin October 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I love GOMI. There are a lot of constructive comments on there, but GOMI exists for whatever people want to discuss. So while I can understand getting upset if there’s some nasty comment about you on there, but that’s no reason to say it’s being misused (not that Rachel is, but I’ve certainly seen that argument). It’s just a place to engage in free speech.
There’s really just no way all these blogs can continue to delete comments and NOT expect something like this to come from it. Also, the bloggers who are barely mentioned on GOMI and then act like it’s a hate campaign about them are a huge turn off to me.
Rachel, you did an excellent job of addressing the forums, and are a great example of how to discuss negative criticism with intelligence and grace.

Julie @SavvyEats October 4, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I’m so glad that HBH is back for some of the very same reasons I see people talking about in the comments section.

Constructive criticism can be so helpful, and there are a lot of threads on GOMI that could help a blogger improve their sites if they keep open minds. However, the body snarking and misinformation that people seem to jump on in the forums negates a lot of the helpful things that are being said and completely turn the bloggers off. I understand that the forums of GOMI are open for whatever the users want to talk about and that they aren’t necessarily there to provide constructive criticism.

And that’s where I think Hollaback Health is GREAT. The posts on this site cover topics that every blogger can take something away from if they keep an open mind. By leaving out the irrelevant personal attacks, you make it easier for people to accept constructive criticism, in my opinion.
Julie @SavvyEats´s last post ..Friends of the Library

Dani October 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I have to say, body snarking isn’t exactly all that prevalent in the GOMI forums. Sure, there are a couple of less than flattering remarks and I think one or two threads about weight, but if you actually read them, people aren’t saying “Oh she’s a disgusting fatass!” but more things like “You know, she talked about her weight loss all the time, but now she’s gained noticeable weight and isn’t mentioning it. Isn’t a HLB about that sort of thing, too?”

If you read GOMI forums, you will see that any cruel body-snarking is usually not tolerated by most members.

And as far as leaving specific names/bloggers out of it – I don’t see why that is necessary! These big bloggers don’t think anything applies to them, and as you can see by other comments on this post, plenty of bloggers would LOVE to have a thread about them (I won’t even offer my opinion on that right now…)

Julie @SavvyEats October 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Oh, I agree that just because a blog is successful doesn’t mean they don’t need to consider the criticism they may receive and think critically about whether part (or all) of the comment is valid. And I believe that bloggers should address the negative/critical comments that they receive rather than deleting them altogether (unless they are truly personal attacks that hold no relevance to the topic at hand, in which case I say that’s the blogger’s call).

But I also think there are kind ways to give someone criticism. I didn’t say that names should be left out of it (though in some cases I believe they should be, for multiple reasons), I suggested that personal attacks should be left out of it, such as body snarking (which I have noticed has been less prevalent on GOMI lately) or spreading misinformation about a blogger’s personal life. I have a feeling a lot of bloggers aren’t going to consider the constructive criticism in a thread or comment if they feel attacked in other ways in the same thread. At least not right away.

D October 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Julie, I agree there are kind ways to give someone criticism. The thing is, many bloggers are not the least bit willing to hear criticism no matter how kindly it is put. When a blogger deletes a comment, which asks a question in a nice manner, that is just cowardly.

I have read through GOMI a great deal & while I have seen instances of body snarking, I don’t believe it is to the level you allude to. I think the reality of life is there will always be a few sour apples.

Chrissy (The New Me) October 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I was one of the folks who said they had a secret desire to have a GOMI thread, so maybe I should explain. I’ve been blogging for about 8 years and I feel a bit like Rachel does – I’m getting old, and boring, and stale, etc. My small group of readers are all very kind and nice, but it would be interesting to see what a group of objective, no-holds-barred people thought about my writing. Since I read GOMI regularly and (for the most part) respect their opinion, and since I have a good tolerance for criticism (I’m in a writing program currently – it’s part of the job) I don’t think anything they might say would be heart breaking. Some people welcome criticism and find it useful. I guess I’m one of those weirdos. :)
Chrissy (The New Me)´s last post ..The Vega Breakfast Challenge

Chrissy (The New Me) October 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Not to imply that Rachel is old, boring or stale. I actually like her living in sin series, as I am living in sin myself and fully support the lifestyle.
Chrissy (The New Me)´s last post ..The Vega Breakfast Challenge

Jacki October 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Chrissy, I was one too and my reasoning for it is a lot like yours. Also, since my blog hasn’t really taken off, it would be interesting to hear constructive criticism as to what might help it grow, or be hindering it currently.
Jacki´s last post ..an offering of peace

Chrissy (The New Me) October 4, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I love GOMI and I love HBH. I read the GOMI threads often and I find myself agreeing with a lot of the stuff there, even if some of it isn’t in a spirit that I always agree with. I do like the snark, though – especially on the posts that harp about bad writing/grammar/lazy blogging. Also, I have a secret desire to have a GOMI thread about me, for better or for worse. ;)

Bethany @ More Fruit Please October 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

THANK YOU for blogging about GOMI! Up until now, I feel like it was the elephant in the room that everyone has been ignoring and hoping would just go away. There are comments in the forum that I do believe cross the line, but there’s also a lot of helpful criticism there too. Whether you believe GOMI is good or just plain evil, the truth is that the HLB audience of it is growing and I don’t think bloggers can just ignore it anymore.
Bethany @ More Fruit Please´s last post ..Taking Over My Life

Beth @ Beth's Journey October 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

I only very recently discovered GOMI, and it was because I noticed I was getting a few hits from the site so I went over to check it out. I largely agree with the sentiment in this post – - I do think that sometimes you have readers who are faithful and don’t want to tell you what needs to be said. I’ve only been referenced there a few times, and mostly had positive comments except that my blog has been a little boring lately, and you know what? I look back, and it’s true. I have settled into somewhat of a routine, and if I want to continue to gain new readers and keep my current readers happy, I need to mix it up.

I do agree though that sometimes the threads can be a little nasty, picking on people’s clothing choices (which is fine if it’s a fashion blog, but not so much if it’s a healthy living blog in my opinion), or saying that so-and-so has gained weight.

I also find it comforting that some people on the forums do have blogs. I agree it’s super important to hear opinions from non-bloggers, but I do think when you’re not a blogger, it’s hard to understand just how much time goes into blogging. I only post once a day five days a week, but between that, engaging in the community, trying to respond to comments, emails, tweets, etc., it takes up probably about 20-25 hours a week on top of my regular job.

Anyways, I’m glad to have read this post, and honestly glad to have found GOMI. I think the things that sting the most are the things that are true, and sometimes they do need to be said.
Beth @ Beth’s Journey´s last post ..Final Answer

Kacy October 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I actually didn’t know that much about Hollaback Health until I read GOMI but now I’m really pumped to read more. I’m not a healthy living blogger anymore, but I still read a lot of blogs that are and I wish that some people would really take the sentiments voiced on GOMI more seriously. The parameters of blogging, like all things, will constantly change and in order for it to remain fun and relevant – bloggers should be open to changing as well.
Thanks Rachel!

Ida October 4, 2011 at 9:10 pm

I came to this post from the GOMI thread and I just have to say that I love it.
This line is pure genius: It’s entirely likely that they went for a 15-mile run, wrote a blog post of their own, ate some Greek yogurt, and then sat down to read you, their favorite blogger…and were disappointed by what you posted.
Can’t wait to come back and read more HBH can totally SOMI

MelissaNibbles October 4, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Yes, I love that line. I’m more concerned with the poor cat ladies in this situation. What did they ever do to anyone? I love cats and the ladies who love them!
MelissaNibbles´s last post ..liberalsarecool:

I like the sentiment. How could you not stand…

Hannah October 5, 2011 at 3:03 am

Yeah! Cats are awesome and cat ladies are underrated!
Hannah´s last post ..Trying to Figure Out The WHY

Eden October 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm

If you can’t beat em, join em.

To be honest, GOMI will change the way bloggers blog, I think. Maybe they’ll improve, who knows maybe they’ll get worse….but I think it will change the way people chose what they they write about. I was a little surprised I saw a thread about me there cause I’m in NO way a healthy living blogger. But I’m not scared of them. No one is loved by EVERYONE. Some people hate, and thats ok. It just makes them people.

Ok, I need to go eat some oatmeal….I mean jizz.
Eden´s last post ..Maple Iced Microwave Muffins and Celebrity Fragrances: Round Two

RoseRunner October 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm

I used to read your blog on the reg. Then I stopped, and I cannot remember why….no GOMI worthy complaints, that’s for sure. But I’m glad to have found you again. Whether you are still a slut or not, you sure are a thoughtful writer.

And while I’m nodding in agreement with all of the above, there is one aspect of a GOMI “discussion” that I think would be impossible to reasonably reply to: cuts against the blogger’s husband/boyfriend/kids. I’ve read a few things that are too personal — and it’s impossible not to get defensive about the people you love.

Zenlizzie October 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I will confess that I’ve read …. every single HLB threat on GOMI too. Because, some of those conversations were ones I’ve had with other bloggers in real life and snarkin is a habit. A lot of them I agreed with, but some were just kind of mean in a way that you only treat people you don’t know. If I had a friend who had a stupid smile, I probably wouldn’t notice.. but a celebrity? It would be easy to point out their constant shit-eating grin.
I really don’t understand why some of the bigger bloggers wouldn’t take some hints from these forums, except that their “target demo” isn’t really as critical/picky so they don’t feel like they need to.
Zenlizzie´s last post ..26 Challenge: October/November goals!

Ryan @NoMoreBacon October 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm

*Starts slow clap*
*Increases speed*
*Waits for group to join in so he doesn’t find himself awkwardly clapping alone*

Some of the real references you made in the post are so great. I’ve read that forum a few times and laughed hysterically over the brutal honesty that you can find there.

The words of a wise Homer Simpson come to mind, “It’s funny cause it’s true.

The problem is that most of the people being criticized aren’t listening to what you’re saying or what anyone else is saying. At the same time they’re having the EXACT SAME CONVERSATIONS about the people criticizing them behind the walls of email and GChat. Hypocrisy anyone?

I honestly don’t have time to make GOMI a destination. I’ve got enough of my own problems to be worrying about what someone else is or isn’t doing with their blog.

I think ultimately it all comes down to goals. We’re all going to do something that pisses somebody off at some point. If you have clear goals and you’re comfortable with the direction of your blog, then you’re going to be ok with it when a group of readers hangs up their Google Reader sneakers so to speak.

My guess would be that blogging three times a day about oatmeal and running is about increasing the amount you’re publishing which creates the end goal of increased traffic and ad revenue. And that’s fine, if that’s your goal. If your goal is more geared toward growing a community and creating connections with people, being cognizant of what you’re readers want or need from you becomes a bigger piece to the blogging puzzle.

I don’t read your blog, Rachel. It’s not personal, we’re just different people in different stages in our lives. I’m an old man with kids and all that jazz. That said, I’ve got mad respect for your writing skills and your ability to say things that need to be said in a non-threatening, non-holier-than-thou way.

Solid post.
Ryan @NoMoreBacon´s last post ..Beating Obesity with Social Media – Part 2

Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine October 4, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I both love and hate GOMI. I love that it actually allows people to share what they DON’T like about certain blogs, since, yeah, the comments section usually tends more towards praise and even constructive criticism is often shut down pretty quickly. I had a few things posted about me, and I realized that some of what they said was true and worked to improve those things. There were some mildly hurtful things written, but I forced myself to brush it off because I know that these people don’t actually know me beyond the blog, so the blog is the only thing I’ll listen to their opinions on. Overall, it’s created more responsibility and liability among bloggers- you know your shit might get called out, so it encourages you to create better content.

That being said, I’ve read some threads and been absolutely disgusted by what people have posted. Criticizing a blog or a blogger is one thing, but dragging people’s significant others, family or personal problems into it is uncalled for. I know snark is the intent of GOMI but…I think the site would be far more effective if the helpful or truthful criticisms weren’t written alongside stuff such as “Oh she’s an ugly bitch with a gay boyfriend.” I’m not saying people should censor themselves because the truth can certainly hurt, but in my opinion, comments like that only negate any productive conversation, because who wants to read stuff like that written about themselves or their friends?

Great post though, I’m glad someone addressed both sides of this!

AR October 5, 2011 at 4:20 am

Do you know what kills me?

A lot of the bloggers who ban negative comments or handle them poorly both 1. monetize their blogs 2. Are the types to use their influence to trash places of business. (The “I won’t be returning” type of restaurant review and the like included.) Yet they, who make THEMSELVES a product, can’t accept the fact that not everyone likes them.

Like it or not, people aren’t always going to phrase things in a nice “constructive” way. It is why restaurant managers find themselves buying drinks for a customer screaming about a crack in a glass. Or why if you work in an industry where you deal with clients, you might have to go out of your way to please them if you screwed something up and the client is important. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and say “yep, this sucks…but I should be aware of it.” You will never please everyone, but pretending that the displeasure doesn’t exist is a huge, huge, huge error and whining about it like someone fingerbanged your cat is just self-indulgent.

I’d also like to point out that your handling of the GOMI flack was spot on. No hurt feelings, no whining, no canned PR responses. And this is why you’re cool.

Abby October 5, 2011 at 11:49 am

I’ve been blogging for a couple years and am in no way a HLB, but I do have a healthy lifestyle and read a lot of those blogs. What I also have is snark and sarcasm, which is why I’m embarrassed to say that I just found GOMI a couple weeks ago (and consequently, your blog.)

Part of me wishes I WERE a HLB so that I could hear what other people thought about me via GOMI, as I think most people don’t have the balls to say it in my comments section. I’m very open about things, but like others have said, stuff gets stale. I write for a living so critiques are a regular thing, and if given in a respectful manner, are immensely helpful.

The thing with GOMI is that yes, a lot of the criticism comes in the form of a reader scorned or frustrated because a blogger they used to respect has suddenly turned into a weirdo. It’s frustrating when something you like changes. However, some of the criticism sounds more like a bitter high school bitch fest. Yes, KERF is annoying as hell and comes off as completely immature in the way she handles any criticism, but the fact that people are still going off about a stuffed bear is a big of overkill, no?

Anyway, rock on.
Abby´s last post ..Delete, Repeat and a Treat

Di October 5, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Welcome back!

Marie October 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I think anyone who says they don’t agonize a little over whether or not they’re relevant and interesting to their audience is a narcissistic asstwat, or lying.
Yeah, a few comments on the GOMI forum probably toe the line: the ones in the realm of “OMG I HATE THAT FAT FUCKING BITCH!” make it clear that not everyone is interested in helping to make the blog world a better place. But I think for the most part it’s a nice healthy place to share ideas and criticism. And it just proves that negative comments are like cockroaches: for every one you squash, there are a million more you don’t see beneath the woodwork.
Marie´s last post ..things that now count as “exercise”

partypants October 6, 2011 at 3:42 am

Hey Rachel and commenters! I don’t normally comment on other blogs because it feels so invasive and stalkery, but I LOVE HBH and think it’s awesome that Rachel took some good stuff from the site.

In response to the body snarking or personal attacks, especially in the forum, GOMI doesn’t moderate or censor. It is my belief that such remarks are well policed and not tolerated by most readers, and in my opinion it’s better to let people say whatever they want and let the community decide what is acceptable. This doesn’t mean I myself endorse or agree with that sort of thing; but the entire basis of GOMI is free speech so I let people say what they want whether I agree or not.

Some could say it is a reflection on me or GOMI that I allow such things to be said. I think it reflects my belief in free speech. Even I have been thoroughly insulted on my site, and I let it stand, because everyone has the right to say what they want on GOMI. I do have a comment policy, but considering the site it’s probably the least draconian comment policy on the internet.

And as far as there being nice ways to comment on sites and encourage change…well, that’s not really what GOMI is about. The other writers and I basically point out stupidity, vapidity, bad blogging, and other interesting things we find on the internet and comment on it. It’s not about changing the world, that’s up to the internet. It’s about bringing it to your attention so you can decide and comment on how you feel about it in a free space without censorship.

Anyway, tl;dr, I love this site and hope Rachel is back to blogging here on the regular because this is my source for figuring out wtf the HLB stuff is about.

Alice
partypants´s last post ..Stay On My Internets: Girl With Curves

Jay December 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm

*bow down* I wish all bloggers would read this.

Miriam @ Sometimes I Veg February 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I’ve recently started following GOMI to help me improve my own blog. I’m not a thread on there (although being on there says that you are popular enough that people care). Yes, some of the posters are mean and really nitpicky, but others are only mildly disappointed with the bloggers. Example, Chocolate Covered Katie’s using pinterest only for self promotion and over interlinking in her posts -> seen as bad form. Yes most of her thread is full of awful and rude comments, but there are some helpful pointers buried in there.

I’m glad that a blogger is standing up and saying “I found it useful”, instead of crying over the bad things being said about bloggers.
Miriam @ Sometimes I Veg´s last post ..Energy balls

nikki February 24, 2012 at 5:31 am

it’s funny that you should mentioned the chocolate covered Katie’s thread on GOMI because i actually read it yesterday while googling one of her recipes and honestly, i didn’t really see any kind of helpful criticism in that thread. the vast majority of comments written were just plain hateful and nasty! i mean really, i don’t know how calling someone a ”anorexic bitch” will help them improve their blog. if this is what you guys call ”constructive criticism ” then i must be a whiny little pussy because i found those comments extremely rude and pointless!

Lucienne September 1, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Chocolate-Covered Katie is an ‘anorexic bitch’, because she vehemently denies having an eating disorder while weaving pathetic excuses for pretending to have Anorexia Nervosa as a teenager, disingenuously misleading her devoted, albeit disordered, fan-base by doing so. Despite her ostensible indignation on this matter, however, she continues to make so-low-cal recipes, provide easily-accessed calorie counts, and gratuitously post emaciated self-portraits of herself. Not to mention, she really does act like a bitch – a passive-aggressive one at that – to fans and GOMI-ers alike. With that being said, I feel as if it’s an earned title, not arbitrarily given, for Katie.

nikki October 3, 2012 at 9:06 pm

ok, first of all, even if Katie did have an eating disorder…that’s none of your fucking business. and forcibly trying to ”out someone” for having an eating disorder just makes you look like a prick. and really, why the fuck does it matter that she makes low calorie recipe? there are PLENTY of people in the blogosphre universe that make low cal recipe blogs, i don’t see you attacking them or their fanbase. i mean if you REALLY want to see some dangerously low cal recipes, i’d suggest you visit some of the pro ana blogs. and iv seen some of her followers, and none of them strike me as the ”anorexic types”. im not saying that it’s impossible that any of her readers suffer from some kind of eating disorder, then again, other healthy eating bloggers might have fans that suffer from eating disorders as well. i mean hell, if that’s the case, why not accuse every single healthy eating blogger of promoting anorexia just because they might have a regular reader who has an eating disorder.

Lucienne, be gone troll bitch ;)

Lucienne October 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I’m getting a vibe that a.) you didn’t comprehend or at least read my post, or b.) you have a chromosome too many. Nevertheless, let me reiterate. The reason why CCK should be publicly reprehended for her eating disorder is simple: her fan base is comprised of impressionable teenagers and desperate mid-aged women, both of whom will go to any length to drop x amount of pounds. That entails eating CCK’s tasteless, nutritionally devoid, unremittingly rehashed ‘desserts’; her fan base eats up said minuscule, low calorie alternatives of the real dessert regardless. A few years back, when she actually, albeit halfheartedly, endeavored to gain weight, CCK would eat real vegan cake but, obviously, her disordered mind wouldn’t allow such a thing and would run 10 miles a day to compensate, restricting her caloric intake to 2500-3000 calories – which is, from firsthand experience, very low for someone trying to maintain much less gain! Bafflingly enough, CCK revealed in a post that she ‘gained weight’ while eating more vegetables and less of said dessert and included a picture in the aforementioned post, looking like her same anemic self. While, yes, it is true that some women who read different blogs also have eating disorders, you must keep in mind that these people are WOMEN, and not girls, who often have had previous ED history sporadically triggered. Katie knows damn well who she appeals to, but her love for money is greater than her concern for her readers – hence why she links back to her own posts religiously and pins her own recipes on Pinterest with descriptions of only the calorie count sans the actual taste.
I can keep going on, so go ahead and type a peripheral response; I’ll give you an essay in return.
And one more thing: instead of talking out of your arse, why don’t you head on over to GOMI and actually read the exchange CCK had with fellow anorexics when she conceded that she had an eating disorder? It helps you in life to actually harbor knowledge of a topic when debating or arguing, otherwise, you should hold your peace lest sound like an ignoramus.

Fiona October 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I think both of you are wrong. I think that ‘pretending’ to have an ED in her younger years is reprehensible, and equally reprehensible is pretending *not* to have one when it’s pretty obvious to your followers that you do. I think Katie does exploit the fact that people look to her for ways to lose weight – she is pretty much running a dietary tips and tricks website that in any other language would be called Pro-Ana.
I also find that it does not help other people struggling with an ED when someone so obviously in the spotlight denies it heavily – it makes it seem a bad thing to have because they can’t admit it. A personal failing rather than an ILLNESS. It’s none of my business whether Katie has an ED or not, but given it’s pretty darn obvious that she has one, she really needs to take a bit more responsibility for what information she puts out there. The message her blog seems to sell is “You too can be oh so thin and beautiful and successful like me if you eat this fake food.”

Nobody should EVER be vilified for having an eating disorder. Ever. Whether they are a good person or not otherwise. Just sayin.
Fiona´s last post ..Ghosts Of History

Trajayjay January 18, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I honestly don’t see how CCK is depriving herself of calories, as I frequent her blog. She says she eats two breakfasts. On many of her recipes, when it calls for oil, she makes a parenthetical comment saying something like, I like it better with the oil. She also says that her blog is not a “This is what I ate today blog” just a sample what she ate. And some of her recipes can be high in calories, for example her larabars, which usually include some kind of nut, and dates, two foods that are pretty high-cal. And she admits to enjoying peanut butter, chocolate, and coconut. If her recipes are really that low-cal, she can eat multiple servings or add any of said ingredients. Sure healthy desserts can be low-cal, but when you know a food is low-cal, wouldn’t you think you’d justify eating a larger amount, upping the caloric value to that of the butter and sugar laden version. So I just don’t see how people accuse Katie of being anorexic, when she eats so much. Yes she runs fanatically, but she likes to run, not torch calories she can’t afford to torch.

Trajayjay January 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm

As for her anorexic stunt she talked about, she said that she had no idea how many calories runners burn, and she didn’t up her calorie intake simply because she didn’t know she had to. I don’t understand why everybody is saying that she purposely deprived herself of those essential calories. Can they not read, or are they just looking for an excuse to call a small-framed girl anorexic?

Lea February 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Thank you SO much, Nikki! The comments directed at her are mean and just plain nasty. And when will people realize that not all ED people are unhealthily skinny and that being underweight or skinny does NOT indicate an ED? I was skinny and very much underweight in third grade and ate very healthily. Well that must mean I was suffering from an ED! I’m skinny now (I still have “skeletal” etc. comments directed at me), well I MUST be anorexic/bulimic etc.
And when will people learn that calling someone “gross” cause they are fat is just as bad as calling someone gross because they are skinny. Why don’t people realize that it hurts to have someone I don’t know criticize me without knowing my life? And it’s wrong!

Mark December 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Wow, talk about tail between the legs. GOMI is awful. Bloggers reveal their actual identity. All the GOMI snarks hide behind their fake forum names. An even playing field? I don’t think so.

Then they make personal insults! How brave! Let’s see these GOMI snarks reveal their name, occupation, and hometown, just like bloggers do, and then see what they have to say. Until then, it’s junior high trash.

Eloi December 21, 2012 at 5:58 am

Precisely Mark. There is a small amount of constructive criticism in there, but most of it is really angry and vicious. One can only guess at the reasons why a person would choose to make these sorts of comments. And no, nothing about me so this is not personal to me, except in the sense that vile behaviour affects us all personally and it is upsetting to read. I found the site simply because a tweet from someone I follow directed me to it. The furious ugliness of it all should not be ignored. It can teach us a lesson about the psychology of pack mentality and how gangs and lynch mobs are formed.

And of course, if you really have constructive criticism, as you see it, for a blog, the answer would be to comment on the blog itself and tell the blogger what you think they are doing wrong. This has nothing to do with anything constructive.

Your Junior High Trash comment made me think of the sort of teenagers who bully someone remorselessly, then act all surprised and defensive when called on it. It was just a bit of fun! I’m allowed my own opinion! They should just harden up! The stereotypical responses of the bully. There are a few such types in that forum, it would seem.

To say someone’s blog is boring – fine. I mean, why bother reading it then? But fine. To say they don’t answer comments and post too many videos of their kids – again, fine. Once again you wonder why they bother reading but, whatever floats your boat. But the genuinely vicious adjectives used, the personal attacks, which I won’t repeat, are well beyond any type of constructive criticism.

It started off slowly, then they egged each other on and it just got uglier and uglier. An internet lynch mob in the making if ever I saw one. And their reaction to anybody criticising them – well, the angry tantrums are kind of ironic really.

What’s sad is that on their own most of these women would probably be quite decent people most of the time, I think the majority just got caught up in it all without thinking properly. It would be great if they would just sit back for a moment and think about it, really read what that forum has devolved into. Then acknowledge they had done the wrong thing, got caught up in the pack mentality, the lynch mob fun of it all, learn a lesson from it and move on.

It seems though that some of them are heavily invested in defending their dreadful behaviour and instead of learning anything are going to ever more desperate lengths to prove they are in the right to behave so poorly.

It seems the more invested we are in something, the more effort we put into it the less chance there is of a person admitting they chose the wrong path this time and just stopping.

There is one very easy way for anyone who has commented on this forum to measure their behaviour. Would they say it in public to the person’s face? And not in a bullying crowd of people, just you and they, face to face. I think we can safely say the answer to that, in most of these cases, is no. It reveals, as the internet often does, a very ugly underbelly to human nature.

The truth is that some of them do know their behaviour is wrong, and are probably ashamed of it, but cannot bring themselves to admit this now and back down. As for those in denial, well on some deep level I would like to believe they also know they have done the wrong thing. But that’s probably just me being too optimistic.

I don’t have an answer to it. It’s just a very, very sad situation when grown women have degenerated to this. I know I won’t be reading the forum again, it’s just too awful. And I choose not to invest my time reading things that make me sad or angry.

Eloi December 21, 2012 at 6:05 am

I should point out that I was referring to the Aussie Mums Blog forum on GOMI. I have not read the other forums on GOMI and won’t be, it is clearly not my kind of place.

snarkinglikeMark December 21, 2012 at 2:10 am

good point Mark, snarking behind a fake name *winks*

Another blogger January 15, 2013 at 12:54 am

I really liked a lot of your points, and I have to admit, I’m a blogger who has followed the GOMI threads with, predominantly, a mix of angst and horror.

I’m all for constructive criticism – truly. I wouldn’t like to have people talk trash about my figure, my looks, my family members. Particularly if they weren’t part of my blog. And I have witnessed a lot of that.

Criticism is fine, but personal sleights and insults are unwarranted. If GOMI removed the outright nastiness that didn’t have a point to it beyond personal attacks, and simply left the legitimate criticisms in, I’d really enjoy it a whole lot more.

And that’s as a blogger who hasn’t been mentioned on there (thankfully), and only knows a few who have. I’ve been blogging for over 2 years, and I’m thrilled to have not made it onto any of the GOMI contributors radars. I’ve never been more happy to be small and insignificant/unknown!

Having said that, I’ve noticed the GOMI crew seem to watch these posts and comments vigilantly, so I’m going with “anonymous blogger x” identification, lest I come up on their radar for some personal-based nastiness in amongst a small degree of legitimate and constructive criticism.

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