Friday, April 13, 2012

Comments, Money & Grumps

Dear Readers,

Recently it has come to my attention that the infernal spam bots have taken a liking to FOTL. They're sneaky—they attach their junk to older posts. I spent hours the other day weeding them off the site. Too bad they have no nutritional value like true weeds. As a result of this hassle, I've switched the comments from unmoderated to moderated. The upside is that I'll intercept the spam at the gate; the downside is that you might need to wait a few days to see your comment if I'm in the field or traveling.

While slashing down the spam, I noticed that there were quite a few comments I'd never seen before. Because this blog is seasonal, certain topics tend to come up year after year (e.g. dandelions in March). I'll try to address unanswered questions/concerns in future weeks.

I also came across a few rather grumpy comments about "commercial" aspects of this blog. Perhaps you've noticed that there's no advertising here, unlike many blogs in the 'sphere. This is by choice. (And by the way, I don't begrudge any blogger who tries to monetize their site in a relevant manner.) I've chosen to not take ads in order to reduce clutter and because, frankly, I don't think advertising would earn me enough income to justify the effort. I know other bloggers who make a tidy sum in advertising each month because of their excellent and popular blogs.

That said, I need to make a living and this blog is part of my work. Many of my readers are grateful to know about upcoming workshops and lectures; if you're not among them, I ask for your patience. It's my opinion that the occasional post about such events hardly constitutes a mercenary backslide into crass commercialism, but we all have our own definitions. One reader told me such posts only belonged on web sites, not blogs. This seems to me to be slicing it awfully thin. In any event, I plan to take that reader's advice at some point in the future and start a site. Until then, relevant info about upcoming trips, workshops, lectures, readings, and so on, will appear on this blog from time to time.

Thanks to my faithful readers for your interest and support.

—The Management


Unknown said...

I know a lot of blogs promote workshops and books and whatever. That's just how it is. Personally, I would rather it be on the blog so I don't have to find the website. I don't have to read the posts if I am not interested.

Evalyn said...

I say it's your blog - publish what you want. The reader has a choice, they don't have to read this blog if they don't like it. I like the idea that you practice what you preach and offer to share it with others. Why should you not be able to do what you love for a living? I don't accept the starving artist ethic as a practical way to feed your family.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

There's also an option in blogger to moderate comments after X many days, if you want to keep your older posts gated but encourage more discussion (at the risk of spam) on the newer ones.

Post as you will; I'm not local enough to get to your workshops, but I enjoy hearing about them, and find it better than long silences between articles.

Marcus said...

Don't even think twice about posting YOUR events on YOUR blog. For that matter, posting other people's events on YOUR blog. It is YOUR blog after all! Keep up the good work. I live in Eastern Washington and one of these days, I'll have to do a little foraging on your side of the State!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate that you provide information about workshops/lectures/appearances on your blog. I may not have been informed about attending one of your workshops last year if I had to learn about it through a third party. Having a separate site would be fine as I would click the link, but in my opinion unnecessary when I can quickly skip a post about a workshop if I am not interested in it, busy that weekend, etc. without it proving to be a bother in the overall enjoyment of your blog.

Anonymous said...

I think info about workshops is completely valid blog content. I get excited about foraging reading your blog, and I want to know of opportunities to try it.

Anonymous said...

My goodness. Your blog is a wealth of excellent FREE information and entertainment- please post whatever you like! Only the worst curmudgeon would complain about you mentioning workshops and the like.

Mark said...

I'll have to jump on the bandwagon & echo everybody else's sentiments that this is YOUR blog, you write what you want. We can all read whatever we want or don't want to, it's our choice. When you do post an upcoming date/seminar or whatever, it's usually relevent to your blog content antway. BTW, keep up the great work

Rachel said...

You're a writer, with a career and books and a family to feed-- go on and post your stuff! Believe me, I much prefer your updates on your events and such to ads popping up all over the place.

I have your book, and it's great-- you shouldn't feel constrained about promoting it on your own website.

Anonymous said...

I strongly doubt many people object to the mentions about your relevant personal workshops, lectures, books, etc.

But things like your Sahale Snacks "post" are hugely disappointing and I know of at least a few other people who now refuse to visit your site as a result. Clearly identified ads are fine, but you lose both trust and credibility by (poorly) disguising an advertisement as content. Further, it's disingenuous to suggest the criticism about ads you've received is due to your event posts rather than this kind of blantant shilling.

I don't see anything other than positive comments to this post and hope you aren't moderating out criticism, but honestly I don't have much confidence that is the case. I hope the path you're taking is working out for your career, but it seems doubtful this blog will ever return to being a valuable resource for foragers.

Langdon Cook said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Let me take a moment to address the "hugely disappointed" anonymous poster above. First of all, I only started moderating comments this month, so I can say with assurance that the majority of critical comments (of which there aren't all that many) concern my commercial activities. If you suspect I've been eliminating other critical posts, then you're probably in the wrong place. The only things that will get you deleted here are spam, inappropriate language/behavior, or ad hominen attacks that don't further the conversation. My Sahale Snacks post did not receive a single critical response.

But let's talk about Sahale, since that seems to be the flashpoint for Anonymous. I wasn't shilling for them or disguising an ad as content. Because of this blog and my book, I am--for better or worse--a public figure (using my name, I should add). My experiences, should I or others decide to write about them, are part of the public record. I was under no obligation to blog about Sahale. I did so because I thought my readers would be inspired. The Sahale deal gave me an opportunity to work with some smart, creative folks--Eric Rivera, Jennifer Adler, and Scott Heimendinger, not to mention the founders of Sahale--at the top of their game. These are people my readers should know about. The final meal was extraordinary and should be of interest to my readers as well. Finally, in exchange for my participation, I got access to hours of professionally shot video and a small stipend.

I was up front about my participation in the blog post. I vetted Sahale first to see if it was a good fit. I liked the founders, my would-be colleagues for the shoot, and the company itself. It turned out that my wife and kids already loved Sahale Snacks to begin with. It wasn't hard to get behind a local company making an all-natural product. And the idea for the shoot--filming a few days of foraging and food preparation in a remote location--appealed to me. Bottom line: We had tons of fun, and it shows in the videos.

So, all that said, I'm having trouble seeing what the big deal is. I can appreciate that my readers, more than, say, People Magazine readers, are suspicious of anything that smacks of "late capitalist" over-reach, but this just ain't that. Also, I'm reminded of all those poorly thought-out college dormitory rag sessions about the latest indie band to sell out. I would point adherents of this popular critical vein to Dave Eggers' brilliant rebuttal to the notion of "selling out."

If someone wants to boycott my blog and all the free, hard-to-find information therein because of a post as innocuous as the Sahale Snacks post, be my guest.

Finally, I can't help but point out to Anonymous that throwing around high-minded ideas about trust, credibility, and the supposedly disingenuous qualities of others from a lofty perch is seriously compromised when you fail to print your own name.

Langdon Cook

jill said...

I ditto all the prior comments - it's your blog. Grumps are grumps. I blog about whatever I feel like, and sometimes that's raving about something I bought or somewhere I ate (free advertising). I'm not niche enough, so I don't get enough traffic or followers for anyone to apparently notice or care. Ha, the joys of blogging in obscurity - no critics! Anyway, I always enjoy my trips here.

edgar s. burks said...

right on, lang!!! boycott and be damned. i love your blog, your book, and the field events that you present.because of you, i just cooked up my first batch of stinging nettles. yes, i know lang and in my not so humble opinion, his integrity is above reproach.
edgar s. burks

zack said...

It is so bizarre that having 'clearly defined ads' would make you credible, but a post surrounding the honesty of a paying gig for a business you can get behind is untrustworthy?!

Your blog and your work is obviously a generous work from the heart. As a working artist, I can imagine that your payoff comes from doing what you love and sharing that with others. Keep up the good work and post whatever the hell inspires you!

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

illegitimi non carborundum.