I have hesitated to chime into this discussion, mainly because I was waiting to see where it was going to go, and how it would be handled by the management/moderator team. I am somewhat pleasantly surprised that it has not gone *poof* into the netherworld without a trace, as I had expected it would when it first appeared.
Some of you may have noticed (I hope…..!) that I have not posted a new topic, nor participated in an ongoing discussion for quite some time. This is due to a variety of reasons; some of them personal and private, and which I will not go into here. Those of you whom I have wanted to know the details already do. However, the overriding reasons that I have become inactive in this forum are largely due to the reasons already stated above by other participants in this discussion.
Like many others, I have had my share of run-ins with the moderators. These encounters have for the most part been rude, curt, inappropriate, ill-mannered, snarky, unpleasant, and uncalled for. Like Shelby, the final straw came during my food blog. The moderator, who shall remain unnamed, was so over-the-top rude in her admonitions that I was almost in tears. Frankly I was very close to stopping the blog, and letting the moderator/management team explain why I had gone silent. However, my parents raised me to be the bigger person, to not be overtly rude to people, especially those I don’t know and to fulfill my commitments. In addition, I had received many pm’s from other participants in the string that caused the nasty-gram, and they were all supportive. Those messages were so supportive; I decided to finish my week, although with a very different and tainted view of the eGullet universe.
In addition, I feel, as I think many others do, that the soul has been driven out of eGullet. I was frankly surprised to learn that the requirement for submission of a personal essay before acceptance into the realm of participants is still in place, since the quality of the writing has diminished so greatly. I believe, and again, I think I’m not alone, that the strict “talk about food and only food” policy has killed the spirit of the writing. Most of the current posts, as others have already stated are of the “and then I made this” or “wow, that looks good” variety. No descriptions, no discussion of technique or method, no context, no sense of who the cook was/is, no idea of the motivation behind the dish, often not even a description of the dish or of its ingredients. Just a proverbial dog-and-pony show of totally beautiful, totally heartless dishes. Thank GOD for the precious few posters that still put some of themselves into their postings….Kerry Beal, Anna N., C. Sapidus, gfweb, HeidiH and a few others come immediately to mind. I feel like I *know* who these people are, even though, with the exception of Heidi, I’ve never met them. If it weren’t for these folks, and few others of their ilk, I wouldn’t even bother lurking here any longer. The new posters, they give clue as to who they are, where they live, what they enjoy, nothing. Just “look at what I did”. I can’t help but think that’s the direct result of the Draconian “off-topic” policies. I think the “old-timers” might agree that one of the charms of the good old days was that sense of who the person behind the cooking was. That was one of the special joys of the food blogs…..you saw into the blogger’s life, likely very different from your own, and saw not only the differences, but the similarities we all have in our shared passion for food and cooking. Now, it’s like looking at the travel photos of someone you don’t know, of places you don’t recognize, with no description. Pretty, but boring and lifeless.
So many of the new crop of members are cut from the same cloth; highly opinionated, and damned sure that they are right in the absolute, and are the only one who knows anything at all about a given subject. And they are not afraid to tell other participants in the discussion that, over and over, ad nauseum. That these impolite (to put it mildly), redundant discussions are allowed to go on and on and on into endless loops of repetition and are not stopped by the moderators/management team is baffling to me. How is this any less “off-topic” than some of the things I’ve been chastised for is also baffling.
For me, and again, I think for those who have been active in the past, you can NOT separate my cooking from my personality and my life. What I cook is completely dependent upon my mood, my frame of mind, how I’m feeling, what the weather is, who I’m cooking for, what looks good in the market, what I’m craving, and my experiences and heritage. Trying to talk about my cooking life without trying to talk about these influences and others….my surroundings, my home, my equipment, my friends, even my animals and the music I’m listening to while I cook, is like asking Monet not to discuss water lilies in his work, or Dizzy Gillespie not to talk about syncopation. It’s all part of the creative whole. I imagine the moderators would tell Julia Child she couldn’t mention France, or Paul. You can’t separate out one’s life from one’s art, no matter what that art is or on whatever level it’s practiced.
As I said at the start, I am somewhat heartened by the at least apparently open discussion, and the airing of feelings that echo my own. I sincerely hope that the people who make policy are listening, and that they will take some of the criticism, which is only meant to be useful, to heart. eGullet is, frankly a sad ghost of itself. I hope it can be revived with some real redirection to an open, free, and sometimes slightly off-topic, discussion.
Edit to fix line breaks because I cut & pasted from Word.
Edited by Pierogi, 03 September 2013 - 11:39 PM.