On the dogpile

It’s been a while since I posted about something Serious pertaining to the knitting industry, but I’m going to brave the waters and throw something out there for y’all to think about. You don’t have to agree with me, but I think this is a topic that would benefit all of us to consider. I want to be crystal clear that I am not intending this post as an attack on any specific person or incident, but rather as an observation from someone who has been trawling around the knitting-related web for a quite while now. I will ruthlessly delete any comments that make references to specific designers, yarn companies, patterns or incidents because this is not intended to re-litigate someone else’s battle here.

Are you ready?

Let’s talk about the dogpile.

You’ve seen it many times before, I’m sure. For some reason, it usually relates to someone’s intellectual property rights:  they think someone copied one of their designs, they feel they are unfairly accused of copying someone else’s work, they don’t like the name someone gives to their pattern or their Etsy shop or their yarn base. **And instead of directly communicating with the person they have a beef with, they post something confrontational on a place like Ravelry. Quickly friends and supporters of both people start weighing in. It always gets nasty — always. Names are called, insults are hurled, accusations and more accusations are slung. Invariably, someone ends up vowing NEVER TO BUY ANYTHING THAT X SELLS EVER AGAIN!1! or to boycott Y’s shop or their blog or their haircut or whatever.**

Sadly, dogpiles even start by proxy. Suppose X publishes a sock pattern and Y also publishes a sock pattern using similar motifs. Particularly vicious dogpiles are started when friends or fans of X go online to attack Y and her design. Repeat section above between ** and **.

All too quickly it turns into this.

In the words of my teenaged son, “Can we not?”

Can we stop using posts on Ravelry and other forms of social media as our go-to way to solve our differences?
Can we start by directly contacting the person with whom we have a grievance and discuss it privately with him or her first?
Can we stop reproducing private correspondence (such as emails) on our blogs and on Facebook and on Ravelry when someone is in good faith trying to resolve a dispute?
Can we refrain from fighting other people’s battles for them, and let the person who has the dog in the fight decide how and where to assert their position?
Can we stop weighing in on matters that have nothing to do with us personally when we don’t and can’t know all the facts?
Can we stop creating these nasty dogpiles that resolve nothing, but leave a patina of ugliness over everyone and everything involved?


49 Thoughts

  1. Rabbitch says:

    I love you. And yes, this needed to be said.

  2. Patty says:

    Well said, carefully and respectfully written. This is why you are so loved and respected in this industry!

  3. nimrodvern says:

    Excellent post. I will linky to this next time I see a dogpile coming on.

  4. Barb Brown says:

    Well written Carol! Exactly how I feel, but you always say it more clearly. And really? The whole thing hurts ALL parties involved and does nothing at all for the industry. It’s like the Mean Girls in the playground.

  5. Alison P says:

    Passive aggressive drama will always proliferate on social media. Its just the way some weirdos are wired. I do not approve or condone it, I just wish they’d grow the #%^ up. I loves you, Carol. bisouxxxxxxxx

  6. pixie says:

    There was a blogger who created a blog site and called it [a name similar to my website]. She was not a designer and didn’t have a lot of posts. I could have written her and asked her to change it etc etc but as she was not a designer I decided to leave it alone. A year later I happened to be searching for myself and found her blog and she had changed the name of it to something else. Sometimes things just work themselves out. Sometimes a new designer realized the name they chose may not be the best one or is to similar to another. Some people don’t care and will be hard and mean and even do it on purpose, but MOST people are not out to get one another, even if the internet makes it seem that way. I hit the back space many times myself. I have a rule if you are writing from an emotional place. Type it, save it as a daft. Sleep on it, if the next day you feel the same way then and only then, should you hit send. Even for making small comments this rule can apply!

  7. Well said, Carol. Do you have any advice for when someone posts a link to a website they’ve created with lots of links to illegal copies of copyrighted material? We’ve had that once or twice in the Knitters group on Facebook.

  8. Cynthia says:

    Thank you.

  9. Lesley says:

    Agree one million percent. It is staggering how involved other people can become in a matter that has less than nothing to do with them. You said it perfectly.

  10. Michelle says:

    I’ve always marveled at how some people will say anything from the comfort of their own computer but when it comes right down to it, they would never say such things face to face. This sort of behavior happens in many different types of situations. My sister’s entire family was slandered in the comments section of a news article pertaining to a car accident her son was in. It’s just terrible, immature, and passive agressive behavior and it doesn’t belong in any forum or situation. Thank you Carol for putting this out there…people need a lesson in minding their own business and using good manners!

  11. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and articulate take on this. Just because everyone is all linked up to everyone else via several different “tools” (twitter, fb, etc) does not mean all those “tools” need to be employed, always, in all ways.

    The internet is forever … and backbiting can come back and, well, bite back!

  12. Terri D. says:

    Thanks, Carol … I am so over nasty for nasty’s sake.

  13. Emily says:

    Preach it. I really hate hate hate the assumption that just because something looks alike, something illegal, immoral or unethical has happened, and that people feel free to make accusations of such public before considering the facts.

  14. Lara says:

    Thank you for addressing this issue. Apart from everything else (and I agree with all you have said here) the dogpile is counter-productive and unprofessional. I would go a step further, and say that if you have a legal problem in the course of business seek legal advice. That should be done before you approach the other party, and create a paper trail.

  15. Sue says:

    Well said. It’s the reason I stopped reading any of the Ravelry boards a couple of years ago.

  16. Kristi says:

    It’s hard not to judge a generation, because I’d like to think my 21 y. old daughter has more sense than to express herself in this manner and similar venue, but honestly…have we raised a generation of 20-somethings that don’t know how to communicate outside of social media? It’s rather frightening.

  17. Rozaroni says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  18. Jean says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  19. Jody says:

    AMEN! I’m so glad that you put my sentiments into such a mature and intelligent manner! Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet and the immaturity of some people sets one up to criticism and ridicule over such nonsense. GROW UP PEOPLE! GET A LIFE!

  20. Pam says:

    Well said!! It’s the need for drama and the abuse of social media that is damaging both our children and society at large. People forget that there is an actual person on the other end of their “comments”. I remind my own teens that if they would feel uncomfortable or plain wrong about saying something to someone’s face, then it is never okay to click “send” either. Thank you for the necessary and respectful reminder.

  21. Sandi says:

    Thank you, Carol. I cringe when I see a dogpile developing, or more likely, come across the aftermath, since they seem to blow up so quickly. Such a waste of energy and emotion.

  22. michele maks says:

    I was an editor. It always amazed me that 2 designers who didn’t know each other could send in almost identical designs. I always, if I bought one of them, explained to the one I didn’t how there was a very similar submission and when she saw it, please don’t think we’ve stolen your idea. It happens A LOT.
    I was a designer. I had the very strange experience of seeing a design in print in EXACTLY the same stitch, yarn, and color that I had put together, but never sent out. Not possible that it could have been stolen. (that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bit of a mind f#@k). The timing was such that we clearly had the same idea at the same time, I just didn’t get mine in the mail.
    Doris Lessing called it The Overmind. If you are in the stream of consciousness that begets designs, sometimes the same flotsam and jetsam that’s floating by Katie in Sri Lanka is going to float by you too.
    That’s what I think. It is not a humble opinion…..

    • Jane Marie says:

      It’s an actual thing, that Stream of Consciousness. For example, paper was independently invented in several places in the world, by people who did not even know the other country existed. It was simply an idea whose time had come.

  23. bakerina says:

    Love you so. freaking. much. Thank you.

    Also, Best Sound Clip Ever.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    But then there would be so much less drama to marvel at!

  25. Kat says:

    YES. THIS.

  26. Caroline says:

    Well said!!! I find it a strange new world these days… Somehow this has become more and more standard behaviour all over the Internet. For instance, I follow a lot of book websites and blogs and the same thing has become more and more common in the book reviewing world with authors and readers. For the life of me I don’t understand how anyone can write the hateful and vitriolic things people do, because surely one would never act like this in public! The thing is though I agree with another poster: “public” is the crux of the matter. If one cannot see the person one is writing about, and especially if one has the safety of an avatar, then all bets are off and that is a sad thing. Posts like this are so valuable as they remind people there IS a person on the other side of that keyboard.

    I should also note I don’t think it fair to categorize this as a mode of behaviour particular to a young person. Yes, young people can indulge in the sort of behaviour this post addresses. However, I see just as many mature and older people getting sucked into this sort of behaviour all the time. It is amazing to me how a lifetime of manners and modes of acting can be abandoned in no time flat when people are communicating (or not) in a new context. Technology has ramifications no science fiction ever proposed, and they are not all good. Thanks Carol for this post!

  27. knittinnurse says:

    Well said!!!!!

  28. Rhinogirl says:

    Well said. Thank you.

  29. ElsieB says:

    Avoiding communication with the person we have a problem with seems to be very common, for some reason. My former principal often had parents complain about a teacher, and he always asked them to contact the teacher to see if the problem could be solved, and to get back to him later if necessary. Thanks for this post.

  30. BettyH says:

    And right there, the reason I long since abandoned the Ravelry boards. Facebook drama is ridiculous and bad enough, but easier to avoid. If it’s a board you frequent on Ravelry, it’s next to impossible to avoid. Well said, but sad that it was necessary.

  31. Leslie Kolkmeier says:

    Carol rocks!

  32. Marianne says:

    Spot.On. !!
    Hates the dogpiles! oooooh, such drama (please use the “short a” sound on that drama), snort.

  33. Ron says:

    Someone else posted about this very problem, I think you should take it down and not give this kind of advice away for free when others have thought it first.

    Lets all boycott the black bunny and make her feel internet shame.

    Seriously, We love you and very well said…. now if people would just live it. :)

  34. Judith says:

    Here, here! Well said.

  35. Jane H says:

    Didn’t know the term “dogpile.” Never figured out how to use the boards on Ravelry. Ha! One more thing to check off on my list of “Things I DON’T have to do!” Thank you!

    Unfortunately, that list is the shortest one I have going.

  36. Another Amen! Happens all too frequently, and makes for annoying and dull blog posts and bulletin boards that make me feel like I am caught in some middle school mean kids convention.

    I’m always amazed when crafters go so wild about this topic. Haven’t they ever read a cookbook or a recipe in a magazine? There must be a million lemon meringue pies out there–it’ only sugar, eggs, butter, flour, lemons–like knitting patterns are knits and purls and most sweaters have two arms:)


  37. arlene says:

    Well said; you’re just asking that we behave as adults; which for many seems so hard to do!

  38. Gina says:

    So very well said Carol. I have been guilty of knee jerk reactions before and it never ended well for me. I have learned to step back, sleep on it, give it some time in my brain before I deal with a situation. Perhaps that is an ability that comes with age? I wish everyone could do that. The internet would be a much calmer place.

  39. Janine says:

    Amen . It saddens me to see these squabbles . No one benefits in the end.

  40. Bonnie says:

    Yes, we can and we should. No one in my real life is as crazy about knitting as I am. I go to the Internet for that–blogs and Ravelry, primarily. I want those places to be kind and gentle. Thank you for posting this.

  41. beth says:

    So well said.

    Let’s also remember that these are public forums. If someone is kind enough to suggest to you privately that your are disseminating inaccurate information, it’s not in good form to tell them that they are invading your privacy.

  42. SeattleSuze says:

    I have to respectfully disagree. Dogpiles can be hurtful and stupid; however, they also serve useful purposes. I think we have the opportunity to learn about ourselves and each other when we post in strong emotions. Sometimes this ends as a lesson in humility when we learn that we were wrong in assumptions made and that can be a good thing. It’s through mistakes like these that we come to wisdom. We need to be able to vent, to present strong opinions even if they’re refuted, to offer our support to friends and others we agree with. Closing down the conversation, I think, should happen naturally, when everybody has had their say and wisdom has been drawn from all the commenters. It can be very difficult for many people to confront someone directly, Why don’t we give them (ourselves) some slack? If they’re seeking clarity or support, we can be humane. There will always be bullies but most of us are kind and thoughtful and we outweigh the fools and cruel people. It’s a good thing to think before we speak…let that be each writer’s option. We’re big enough to handle dogpiles and work things out.

  43. Stitch Jones says:

    Very thoughtful, thank you for writing this. I once sent a private message to someone with whom I had this type of beef, I was polite and honest, but she still went psychobitch and threatened to do everything but kill my cat. I didn’t make her reaction public but jeez. It’s only yarn’for crying out loud!!!

  44. Linda Quick says:

    (sarcasm intended) Gee, I wonder which dogfight you’re talking about. It’s up to 121 comments so far. OMG. Can you imagine how much time lawyers would have racked up by now if both parties hired some? Sarcasm and kidding aside – isn’t it time we worked on something a tiny bit more important – world peace maybe?

  45. Carol says:

    Actually, this is a post that I have been tempted to publish for literally years now. There have been constant examples of this kind of thing over time and they always play out the same way, regardless of the precise nature of the grievance and regardless of the merits of either side’s claims. I am truly not intending to “pick” on any single person or incident.

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