An Open Letter To MommyBloggers

Back in 2006, as the PR companies started circling and the world was just starting to catch on to this ‘Mommyblogging’ phenomenon, I very clumsily attempted to tell Heather Armstrong the A-listers were hurting my feelings.

Of course this was at BlogHer con, and I was tipsy, so it came out very awkward and bitchy. I had heard grumblings of the cool kids’ club. I had heard complaints that all these new Mombloggers were just copycats. I wanted to know if the community I shoved myself into was, in fact, real and supportive.

Heather was, of course, gracious and understanding. She didn’t feel that way at all, she loves this community, and so on and so forth.

I felt better.

Flash forward to 2008 and BlogHer con just around the corner. I’m watching some high profile names make some pretty hefty accusations and some new and eager bloggers scratch their heads, fight back, and even second guess this amazing community.

The good thing about us bloggers, is we talk. We comment, we discuss, we post. Communicate. Sometimes we over-communicate…but at least it’s out there.

With the rise of Mommyblogging has come growing pains, competition, traffic, ad money, the works. It’s exciting and it’s frustrating. There are no longer thousands of us, there are millions and we have influence and reach.

What we can not stand to lose, is the community.

It is what makes us. It is what drives us. It is the entire reason we are who we are. There will always be flamewars and snarking and back channel chatter about who did what to whom. Human nature. But what is new is the megaphone’s power.

I learned this the hard way. I am one of the megaphone’s biggest abusers.

Like it or not, you are now widely read and widely heard. Like it or not, it comes with responsibility. Trust me, I’m the last person to like the responsibility part of it all.

Not too long ago a few entrepreneurs I know bickered over some ventures. One thought the other was copying, the other thought he was making it his own. The analogy that came up: it was like McDonalds getting mad Burger King had come to town and set up shop across the street.

I think that is a fair analogy here. McDonalds is mad Burger King is making hamburgers. However, as we all know, no one has the monopoly on hamburgers.

No one has a monopoly on snarky parentblogging either. Or the name ‘Queen’ or even who gets to be loudest at any given moment. I may protect my ‘business’ but I certainly can’t hate that someone wants to be the Pepsi to my Coke.

What we DO have a monopoly on is community. We own this one, outright. All of us. Not one of us is more of a rockstar than the other, and we all take inspiration from each other. MORE importantly, we all RELY on each other. We all know why we are involved in this blogging/twitter/fill-in-the-blank-social-media-service-here: it’s the support, the advice, the friendship.

As I have watched other communities get into pissing matches, it strikes me how much we may be traveling down that road.

Fame and fortune bring trainwrecks I guess. I’d like to see us remain the ‘closest knit community online.’

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, the world is watching.


  1. you know, Erin, this strikes me as a result, somewhat, of your being infected by the nature of the adult, well-comported manner in which the Obama campaign is being conducted. (along with everyone else, I mean. i think everyone is catching on, slowly but surely.) (that isn’t to suggest you weren’t already getting there on your own. just – i think the clean-fighting behavior, the readjustment to the old-school rules of sportsmanship and etiquette of Obama’s style – it’s bound to affect all of us as he continues on.)

    plus, it’s natural. we’ve all been steeping for so fucking long in this vat of reality-show-jerry-springer-mud-slinging hell, and i think we’re all ready to push the pendulum back the other way for a while. (a good, long while, i hope.) don’t get me wrong; the honesty that’s come out of that whole business has been unbelievably healthy, but all therapy has to end sometime. iow, let’s scrap the ridiculous parts and keep the parts about being honest and forthright and shit, but not through sacrifice of any semblance of respect, either for ourselves or for our community members. we CAN push ourselves further; make room for the smallest voice; BE the bigger person by not disrespecting simply in order to get a laugh or just appear cool; etc.

    i say, it’s high fucking time to graduate from high-school values as a society.

  2. a-freaking-men.

  3. AMEN to that!! Preach it sistah!

  4. I whole heartedly agree. It seriously saddens me to be snapped out of the fantasy that we can all remain a huge support to each other as Moms, women, human beings… I can’t and won’t lose this community we all play a role in creating and weaving together.


  5. Since I have no idea what’s broiling out in the mommyblogosphere but have a clear idea of what’s happening in the other corners, I shout out to ya with a loud and clear AMEN.

    As you know, I’ve railed about the horrible personal attacks on Michelle Obama on the internet and elsewhere, and a couple of weeks ago was told to ‘ignore them’ by my friends on newsgang live because highlighting or pushing back on them wasn’t productive.

    I disagreed and went as far as to say that since it was MY blog I’d do whatever the hell I wanted and if that bothered folks, too fricking-falutin’ bad.

    This week we have the Shel/Loren blowout again, and one of my friends on NGL (the host, in fact) takes it personally. We spend a whole show about how meanness goes two ways, yada yada…and much of it I agree with. What interested me was that how different it felt when it got personal. Suddenly it wasn’t easy to ignore, shouldn’t be ignored, shouldn’t be overlooked.

    In my way-too-many years of being a part of communities online, the one thing I can say with certainty is that someone will get pissy and be mean, and communities have the power to nip it or amplify it. I vote for nipping it.

    I hope whoever it was who got snarky realizes they were just maybe wrong, and gets over it. Chalk it up to the heat or money stress, or political burnout or whatever, and move on. Because life really is too short to snark on someone for how they blog, what they blog, or whether they blog.

    Besides, Twitter is still borked and that’s something worth being REALLY pissy about. Blame Twitter.

  6. Excellent post, thank you. I didn’t start blogging just to go back to dealing with high school cliques.

  7. Beautifully said, Erin. Well done.

  8. Queen of Spain says:

    I like the idea of blaming twitter. Excellent Karoli. Oh, and blame Bush too.

  9. gee.

    whatever happened to blaming Canada?

    Blame Canada!

  10. I think one of my biggest peeves about sniping within the mommyblogosphere is that blogging is where I finally found the courage to leave my shell. I’d hate to know I was responsible for discouraging someone to try to put themselves out there.
    So what if I was a little late to the party. That’s OK and those who come later should be welcome, too. Heck, I’ll be thirty in a few weeks and I just figured out how to wear eyeliner and heels. I’m comfortable being a late bloomer and there are a lot of “bigger” mommy bloggers out there I have to thank for that.

  11. I’m not a mommyblogger, nor to I play one on TV (or elsewhere). And I don’t read parenting blogs much. But I do have a pretty universal aversion to infighting of all kinds. Collaboration is so much more fun than competitiveness, IMHO….

    – Amy Gahran

  12. Oh, no! Please don’t tell me we are no better than what goes on at Friendfeed re:puppets. The blogs of women are where I go to get away from some of the rudeness I see on the net in general.

  13. I so totally get this. I have been blogging for about 4 years, but mainly just as a way to stay in touch with family across the country. But recently I have started opening p my blog to the world and am getting into the whol blogosphere and dare I say Social Media of it all (though I don’t understand half of what everyone says). I don’t consider myself a mommyblogger since my kids are grown and theres a gbaby already. I thought about going to BlogHer and decided against it because I didn’t think I would fit in. Im not a mommyblogger, Im not a social media blogger, Im not a politico, who the hell am I? Your post made me see that it doesn’t matter who I am, it only matters that I am.

  14. Queen of Spain says:

    Absolutely Adrienne. And come on to SF and BlogHer- I”ll buy the first round

  15. Not being a mommybogger, I’m often clueless when it comes to flame wars and cliques. From my outsider point-of-view, I see lots of support that I often wish I had.

    As far as competition goes, I don’t see anything wrong with a little healthy competition. I think many women see it as all or nothing.

  16. i’m curious what’s been going on to prompt this, because clearly i’ve missed some fascinating immaturity running rampant somewhere in the blogosphere.

    i often feel insecure about the “cool kids table” phenomenon. hanging out with you and mocha helped quite a bit with that, although admittedly, alcohol also helped. πŸ˜› i’m looking forward to blogher so that i can meet a bunch of nice folks and not worry about who’s “cool” and who’s not.

  17. I keep finding myself labeled a “mommyblogger” and explaining to whomever has made that mistake why I’m not. The reason I *usually* tend to leave off is that I haven’t been a part of that community. It’s kind of like claiming to be a member of a club you’ve only visited once or twice.

    Community is a big thing… it’s what makes the solitary act of blogging something that is no longer solitary, but an act of solidarity.

    Hopefully, whatever ishiness is currently arising over there will be short-lived.

    Great post!!

  18. YEAH!
    Coming from one of the small time newbies, double yeah! What drew me to mommyblogging was the community and I truly never want to be made to feel as though I’m crashing the party.

  19. It’s the first mommyblogger flame war I’ve seen, and so far pretty damn tame.

    That said, I’ve fallen in love with the community going on and hate watching any in-feuding going on. Can’t we all just get along?

  20. I have to say that I’ve made some attempt to be friendly with the Mommyblogging community (I don’t know if this is synonymous with the BlogHer community) and I’ve encountered people who were jerks and people who were welcoming – sort of like real life.

    However, I do feel like there’s a divide and some unintended exclusion between MommyBlogging and Singles’ Blogging, and there’s not a lot of room there in the middle. Although again – sort of like real life. πŸ™‚

  21. Fussy Loves the Queen!

  22. It’s so interesting to watch this circuitous discussion especially coming from a place where we started talking about this 3 years ago (that long already?) and how it was a lot of very insecure women starting it then, too. I just stay in my corner and continue to do what I please because I have gotten out of high school and this is part of what growing up means:

    Figuring out who you are and sticking to it while those who still have issues with it deal with it themselves.

    I write. I blog. I have contests. I take pictures. Screw anybody who can’t hang.

    You can always hang with me, sister. You said it all right here.

  23. I blame France.

  24. I am a mom and a blogger but I am out of the whole mommy blogging mud slinging loop. Sign me up! I think I missed that chapter. I like the open communication, learning to be more even handed graduate from high school piece. Or peace. For our kids. Thanks for the post and thanks to l0ckergn0me for posting on Friend Feed, where I found you. πŸ™‚ Oh, and I think we should blame it on Scoble. πŸ˜‰ He’s a dad.

  25. Oh my lord — I saw this last night and stupidly responded too quickly before realizing I totally misunderstood the intent and who it was directed toward. I am an idjit. I was able to delete my comment 20 minutes later, but hopefully I don’t look like a ginormous ASS to fellow Twitter buds.

    Ugh. Stuff like this I try to STAY out of. Now I’m going to be more careful than ever.

  26. I recently blogged about this, too, about the whole Mean Girls thing popping up in the mommysphere. I truly adore this post, that YOU are writing it, and I hope people are listening.

    Do we really want to perpetuate the Mean Girl mentality, or do we want to perpetuate awesome, smart and fabulous women? Immaturity is so last year.

  27. Because I am a total unorganized slob, and was feeding my family a lot of garbage, I started a small (as in only a handful of people read it) “accountability” blog to help me get organized, and maybe share some of my journey, in case anyone else was going through something similar, and so that people who had ALREADY gone through it and figured it out might share with ME.

    Anyway, when I began posting recipes there, I did it with pictures. It was the best way I knew to explain the process. I’d say, “Start with this,” and show the ingredients. I’d say, “First, do this in this way,” and show a picture. And so on. It was picture-heavy, not at all sleek and fast, but it was the way I felt like doing it.

    And then, a few months ago, I saw Pioneer Woman’s blog for the first time, when someone linked to a recipe. Yes, I was the last person on earth to discover PW. And I saw how ENORMOUS her readership is. And I saw how she illustrates her recipes…and my first thought was, “Oh, no, people are going to think that I’m copying her…and BADLY!” Because my kitchen is dark and dingy, my photography skills are lacking, and my pics are nowhere near as good as hers. But the idea that I might be suspected of “copying” bothered me most of all.

    So I stopped doing my thing the way I was doing it, even though it felt right to me. And now, I’m not sure that was the right thing to do.

    My point is, I don’t know who might be “copying” who, but I do know that sometimes, it’s unintentional. There are millions of blogs and bloggers, and there is NO WAY that we’re all reading each other. There is NO WAY we’re all reading ALL of the “A-List” bloggers, either.

    That said, I still think Jessica Seinfeld totally ripped off Missy Lepine. πŸ˜‰

  28. Amen.

    Blogging is about doing what feels right for you. If you are blogging for other reasons, then you probably should rethink it. If someone thinks that I am a copycat…oh, well. (Unless I am BLATENTLY copying) There is too much information out there for there not to be some similarities, sometimes. Similarities however do not equal copies. Bashing people no matter how you do it (unless of course it is an in law) is wrong. No one should do it.

  29. Now I’m completely paranoid. Is copying the issue? What am I missing? I’ve probably totally messed up somewhere. Are pictures a bad thing?

    I haven’t read enough other blogs yet to copy anyone.

    Seriously, this is all a bit frightening to newbies like me. What exactly is the issue that women are getting so worked up about?

  30. Imagine moms talking, saying the same thing and realizing we are alot a like in our fears and our hatred for laundry. Finally we didn’t have to stand in the corner and just be happy to be at home or that we could work and be moms at the same time, we could have it all.
    I have been so welcomed into this community, I have felt nothing but love. Lets not let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch!

  31. I learned this the hard way. I am one of the megaphone’s biggest abusers.

    !!! awe !!!


  32. Perfect post!

  33. Huh? I clearly missed a memo. Anyone want to let me in on what the latest mommyblogging pissing match is about? Being a mommyblogger I figure I should probably find out.

  34. Well said. I’m not a mommy-blogger. Maybe, just maybe I’ll be a childless-stepmom-blogger, but that’s another story.

    Because I’m reading it, Seth Godin’s “The Dip” comes to mind here. (and again, I don’t know much – nay anything, about mommy-bloggers) But some of you are going to make it through the Dip and some of you arent — i.e., BK and MickeyD’s versus Peg’s Burgers…

    Teh key is the community is getting smaler — each and every day — and blogging is a great tool for that. But I suppose now we’re working to find the Superstars — there’s room for all of you.


  35. Color me confused as well…though I’m sure I agree, I haven’t a clue as to the impetus.

    I can see valid reasons for frustration for both the older and newer bloggers–and ain’t that always the way? Early adopters always have some sort of influence advantage and those who stick around for the long haul should have the benefits of their hard work coming to them.

    I’m a “new” mommy blogger, because I am a fairly new mommy, but I’ve been blogging for a while.

    The community is huge, which means it may be harder to get noticed, but it also means there is more fun to go around. And also more influence when there is substantial agreement about certain issues of importance.

    Anyway, I’ll be missing BlogHer, due as I am in August. But I wish all a fabulous time..

  36. Of course I know of which you speak.

    Burger King has the right to compete with McDonalds. But if it were part of a kindred, mostly loving community of fast food franchises, it might consider not referring to itself as McDonalds in a different typeface. If not for the legal issues then certainly for the goodwill.

    That said, the megaphone is often misused to call people out on their shit. I’m an offender too. Email works pretty well these days and might be a better first line of offense.

    Am I being obtuse enough here?

  37. I got no clue what’s going on, and that’s okay by me. I’ll be at BlogHer again this year – this time as a mommyblogger (last year I was just a preggoblogger). I’m really looking forward to it.

    This is a pointless comment. I just felt the need to join in and high five someone.

  38. I also know of what you speak, and I’m sorry, but I think the ‘offender’ needs to make a public apology to the ‘offendee’. WTF? Make those kinds of accusations on a very public forum and then just walk away thinking that you’ve done the ‘community’ a favor? Hardly.

    I find the whole claim that ‘mommybloggers’ are a community pretty damn funny, considering that there are now millions of us out there, and we don’t know 99.9% of the other people out there doing what we’re doing as well. I also feel that as long as there are people like the offender, who have an attitude of entitlement and being special and being unable to control her impulses (there is medication for that, you know), and there are people who find it amusing and chime in, Houston, we’ve got a BIG problem.

    That problem isn’t going to go away by obtuse prose either. What might work is not going to Ms Special and Entitled’s blog anymore, and letting her know that her behavior was inexcusable.

    For the rest of the people who don’t know what is being discussed, just remember that attacking someone behind their back in a very public forum is really sad behavior. It will not make you look more important, influential, or in-the-know. It makes you look like a mean asshat. Period.

  39. *tipping my hat to you* Excellent post.

  40. Margalit,

    I’m sure you didn’t mean anything by it, but as an ADHD blogger with an ADHD kid, the sideways rip on folks who are impulsive felt just a bit…icky.

    Just sayin’.

  41. This feels wrong of me, but I’m kind of relieved to see that the mommyblogging community goes through rows like the ones over which I essentially opted out of the feminist blogging community (all the while, of course, remaining both a feminist, and a blogger – and, hey, a mommy too). I just can’t deal with how heated things can get in the disembodied medium in which things can be so quickly misunderstood, and where many like-minded people may be writing about similar things (leading to variously outrageous claims of plagiarism, etc.)

    At this point, my purpose as a blogger is pretty much individual rather than community minded, which feels selfish on the one hand, but more honest on the other, because I know I’m not writing in anticipation of what anyone else is going to think or say about it. (To wit: I disabled Sitemeter.)

    I do miss aspects of the blogging community I had been a part of (for which reason I overcompensate somewhat in terms of participation on Twitter), but I just don’t have it in me to deal with the internecine warfare factor.

    You’re so good at this, Erin – bringing voices together the way you do, being a peacemaker and all that business. It’s a rare talent you have, which I wish I had, but likely never will. More power to you and to the many communities of which you are a part.

  42. Aw, Fuck it – I’m gonna copy all you awesome bitches as hard as I can and there’s nothing you can do about it!

    Erin… how does “Queen Sarcastic Mom” sound? I’m totally making a new header πŸ˜‰

    You rock, btw. Thanks for writing this.

  43. You ARE the QUEEN! Classy, articulate post Erin.
    Thank you for saying it better than I could have.
    Shelly Jo Renee

  44. Wow, this is scary.
    I’ve felt so isolated from everything after I had my kids and got pushed out of my job, and their and my crappy health kept me at home so much. And then I stumbled on these cool mothers putting themselves out there in the blogoverse and telling it like it is with tenacity and wit and the most fabulous silliness. So I hang around and read and read and read, and occasionally I get up the courage to throw in a comment or two.
    Then on the very day I finally feel up to resurrecting my really old blog and fixing it up in case any new friends drop by, and I’m just wondering which of the 50 things I’m thinking about I should post about first – and I find out all this is going on and I didn’t know??

    Thanks Universe – way to encourage and reassure me!

  45. Queen of Spain says:

    I think MOM101 and Sarcastic Mom do have points we need to address.
    And it all falls under “business”- if someone is violating your trademark or brand, I would suggest you handle it in a professional BUSINESS manner. Microblogging might not be professional. or um, business.

  46. I don’t know too much about the ins and out of blogging animosity, but I just know that it’d be nice to not see too much snarkiness out here in the web world. It’s nice to be nice, no?

  47. Hey, Erin – Looks like I’ve missed a lot by being unable to access Twitter when I’ve wanted to. It also looks like it was a blessing in disguise.

    I can only guess at what was said and who is upset with whom, but that doesn’t matter. I will never be one of the “cool kids,” but that’s OK, because the TRULY cool kids don’t care about stupid A- or B-list labels and are happy to let me sit with them (I’m talkin’ about you here…)

    Support for one another is key and why this community matters so much to me.

    The community IS huge now and it isn’t possible for everyone to know everyone, but just because someone doesn’t know who you are, it’s not the same as being snubbed. As others have pointed out, it’s like the “real world” — ya make friends with like minded people and sometimes you’ll just be acquaintances and sometimes you won’t… and sometimes, it’ll be the start of a really great friendship.

  48. The funny thing about making sniping comments in a community like this is that there is no real competition. Yes, Burger King can set up shop across the street from McDonalds and steal customers if those customers think Burger King is better, but online we are dealing with attention, not hunger. Hunger goes away after eating. It’s not as if someone can’t read two blogs instead of just one.

    All of this competition is created for the sake of competition, not because it really exists.

  49. Scared to post this, but here goes.

    As a total blogosphere Q-lister, stuff like this gives me a belly ache.

    99% of the blogosphere, Mommy or otherwise, is awesome – welcoming and easygoing and chatty. But there are a few bad apples. As I see it, there are a few people out of the many who have “made it” in the blogosphere, a small few who forget what it was like to be a nobody 3,4,5, whatever years ago. It’s as if they forget having to create something out of nothing, having to reach out, having to forge friendships. They are successful now; their circles are complete. They have their traffic and their friends, and new ones aren’t required. And there gets to be some kind of “elitist” attitude in there, a shitty, old-school vs. new-school attitude, one where people who aren’t in the circle are ignored at best; openly shunned or slammed at worst.

    Most bloggers aren’t like this, but there are a few who are. I’ve had unpleasant encounters myself. These encounters leave the rest of us doubting the community, doubting the very people who created it.

    The blogosphere is big. Huge. There’s room enough for everyone. What there isn’t room for, is people and attitudes that suck.


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