KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Food Blogging: Good Manners Cost Nothing
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Monday, January 14, 2008
Food Blogging: Good Manners Cost Nothing
Frankly, my natural politeness and desire to help my fellow foodist is wearing mighty thin these days. My website, The Grub Report, turned five this past August, and I realized that I am still answering unsolicited requests for recipes, San Francisco restaurant and accommodation recommendations, culinary school advice, and general food information. Honestly, I have no problem answering such requests, I really don't, but I rarely get any sort of response. Do I require flowers, chocolates, wine, or proposals of marriage? Of course not. While I do happen to get a few of the latter in response to my rants and recaps at Television Without Pity, I don't tend to get them at Grub Report.

When Sam -- possibly the most generous and non-egotistical food blogger I know -- touched upon the idea of bad manners across emails, I knew it was okay for me to feel the way I had been feeling for well over a year.

Am I grateful that people read and think highly enough of me to ask for recipes, restaurant and accomodation recommendations, advice that could affect their life, and general information? Of course, but would it kill them to hit "reply" on their email and simply type: "T-h-a-n-k-s"?

What has happened -- and this is something I've been wondering about for years now -- to manners on the Internet? Where are the polite, the kind, and the thoughtful? I know there are some out there because when I was dealing with my fairly disturbing vertigo, my inbox filled with sympathy, shared experiences, and general inquiries for my well-being. When I had my travails with pies this summer, I got a similar (and very welcome) deluge of helpful, considerate emails. I know these people exist, so why do extensively answered queries go unthanked and unrecognized?

Frankly, it's not even just about getting thanked (that's the least they can do, actually), because I'm genuinely interested to know if my cooking tips helped, if the local restaurant was enjoyed or hated (really, I like to know both sides), or what was thought of the suggested brunches.

I know the Internet has made it easier for people to demonstrate their rudeness, their ignorance, and their hate. I also know it's more likely that someone will take the time to write something mean than to write something nice. Just...why? Why not err on politeness and kindness? Why keep filling the world with hate and incivility?

The Internet never forgets. Why not make it remember the nice, rather than the nasty? Before you hit "send" on your email, comment, or response, double check your manners, people.


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Blogger Thy Tran said...

When I worked at the Chronicle, we still received wonderful hand-written letters in response to columns and articles in the food section. As more readers transitioned to email, we received the occasional kooky note, but in general, I've found the anonymity and instant gratification of email and websites, especially in blog comments, to be much more flip, sarcastic or plain snarky.

I don't think it's anything new though. Emails and posts from the "old days" of the early 90s -- remember alt.foodsoc.culture? -- reveal even more extreme rudeness.

Apparently, the price of a first-class stamp is enough to filter out the haters.

1/14/2008 10:52 AM

Anonymous jen maiser said...

Well said. The thing that's always gotten to me is the sense of entitlement that some emailers feel -- like we (bloggers) are there purely to answer their random queries.

1/14/2008 1:11 PM

Blogger shuna fish lydon said...

Here here, sister!

I have erased more emails this year than ever before because of this very issue. Oftentimes I think it has a lot do with people's ignorance about how blogging and bloggers work. And that we do work, and that most of us do not make a living from blogging and answering their questions.

Sometimes I play a little trick-- I answer their inquiry with a question instead of an answer to see if they're real people interested in having an exchange, if I have time.

Because, truth be said, some of those inquiries have turned into friendships.

1/14/2008 4:57 PM

Anonymous The Dude said...

I'd like to thank you for actually blogging about food! Some bloggers think this is a good place to test their chops at satire.

I'm a writer and I've found myself viewed like a free utility, particularly when people get a hold of my e-mail. I try to be cordial; after all, I believe in building audience and a community of readers, but I often have to draw the line.

1/17/2008 8:59 PM

Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

I get those questions all the time. I am happy to share info and most of the time people are appreciative but every once in a while there is one that just gets me... I received a request a few weeks ago from someone who'd gone to my high school and was going to Paris for 2 weeks in April and could I tell them where to go, where to stay, where to eat, what to do, best chocolate, etc... I was happy to oblige, sending a 2 page list of my favorites and I have not heard a word. Not a thank you, thanks, thx, text, IM, or even a blank reply. Nada. Makes you wonder....

2/02/2008 12:34 AM


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