I'm going to pull back the curtain and reveal to you the dangerous life of a fledgling blogger. You may think this is all fun and games for me, but it’s not... especially not after I stirred the hornets’ nest known as The Knot.com.
For those of you who don't know, The Knot is a wedding website where future brides can share ideas, find vendors, get advice, learn about weddings, etc. Sounds pretty terrifying, right? Well, it is. Apparently, it's a pretty popular website, although I had no idea just HOW popular until last week.
I'd like to thank my loyal readers of this little blog. I admit I enjoy writing it, but I don't make any money from it or anything - I just do it for fun. But, it wouldn't be any fun unless I knew people were actually reading it, so thank you for that. The Minister of Common Sense blog received its 1,500th hit a couple of weeks ago (after being open for just 4 months and only posting once a week), so I was feeling pretty good about myself. Of course, I always need to get more readers, so every so often I try creative ways to get the word out. And sometimes, people put the word out for me.
A few months ago, some random girl put a link to my blog on one of The Knot.com message boards. The link connected to my August 21 post entitled, “Hosting Weddings Sucks". Check it out - it's basically about how one of my friends received no gifts (no card, no nothing) from certain friends and family who attended their wedding. Additionally, people didn't RSVP to the wedding or guests brought people who weren't invited. Basically, I complained about the shocking shit that wedding guests do, and I said that I thought it was wrong. Of course, it was written in my typical acidic, sarcastic, I-hate-people style (but that is what this blog is known for).
It was nice that the person posted a link to my blog on The Knot. In fact, I got nearly 100 hits from it, which was great. So one night last week, I decided that I would register for The Knot and post another link to that wedding blog I wrote about before (The Knot has a different message board for each city). I would just post something and write, “Hey, check this out, it's an interesting post about weddings." Basically to try to get the word out about The Minister of Common Sense and maybe pick up a new regular reader – and of course to share some interesting stuff about my friend’s wedding.
After putting the message up, I immediately got 15 hits. I thought to myself, "Oh, wow, that's good. Maybe I’ll put a post up on ALL the city message boards on The Knot. Perhaps if I did that, maybe I would get a total of 50 hits from it or something – that’d be great!” So I spent the next half hour repeating my note in various (constructive) forms on all the city message boards.
Well, I woke up the next morning (12 hours later), and I had 2,500 hits from The Knot.com. You have to figure that people must have been sleeping for SOME of the night (maybe 5 hours?), so I was basically getting one new hit on my blog every 12 seconds. That's not on par with Google or anything, but it's hell of a lot for a non-commercial site. Remember, I had a total of 1,500 hits for 4 months, and now I just got 2,500 in 12 hours. I felt like I was in Office Space... I just wanted to steal a couple of pennies, but when I checked the ATM receipt, I had $300,000 after one day.
So my first reaction to all this is, WOW, girls are REALLY into their wedding and are very interactive about it all! I mean, you'd never get me to randomly click on a link to some stupid blog, yet it was like these women couldn't NOT click on it! Don't get me wrong, I am super pleased that 2,500 new people got exposed to my blog. And if only 1% of them ever came back again, that would be a big win for me, as far as I am concerned. And if you are one of those people who came back today, I want to thank and welcome you! I was just absolutely stunned that I was getting that kind of traffic in that amount of time. It really demonstrated the power of The Knot.
I told a good friend of mine (a bride-to-be, in fact) what I had done, and I showed her all the hits I was getting... minute after minute after minute. She looked at me with a mix of fear and concern and quietly cautioned, "Oh my god. You put this on The Knot?? Tell me you didn’t. You don't fuck with The Knot.com." Oh how right she was... because not everyone was happy with me.
Twelve hours after this all began (i.e. almost as soon as I woke up), The Knot personally contacted me, banned me for life, pulled down all my postings on all the message boards, and mentioned something about castration (or forcing me to get married – I can’t remember which – it was all a threatening blur). The hits to my blog were pouring in, and The Knot pulled the plug on me. God knows how many hits I would have gotten if the day was able to roll on uninterrupted, but the moment they shut me down, it stopped.
I tried to argue with The Knot “Gods” (as they are known). They didn't want me posting on ALL of their message boards, even though: (1) the material was relevant to weddings; (2) I was adding quality third-party content for free; and (3) I wasn't trying to sell, trick or spam anyone. In fact, some of the postings I started on The Knot message boards got very active (with people either liking or hating my post). In some situations, postings were getting 30+ comments on them after a few hours and The Knot was awarding them a star for "highest popularity".
In fact, some of The Knot readers resurrected my postings after the website deleted them. As in here and here (so feel free to repost it, if you want!). They allege a “dirty delete” or "DD", which I guess is Knot talk for removing something without a cause. I’m not sure if they are accusing me of doing it or The Knot Gods.
I guess it's not surprising that The Knot shut me down. But what was really surprising was the absolute venom that some women were exhibiting toward this one post I wrote about on weddings. There were a few comments posted on the actual blog (which you can see here), but the majority were posted on The Knot message boards. In some situations, people would say that they liked it, that they thought it was funny, and thanks for sharing - stuff like that. But then there were others who were frighteningly evil.
I got a shitload of hate e-mail (which I've gotten before for some of my other posts, so that's fine – I have thick skin, and I will acknowledge that I’m probably not the most likeable guy to begin with). (By the way, aside from the wedding post, the post that generated the most amount of hate e-mail was my recent one about the Photo Christmas Cards. Weird. Go figure. People REALLY WANT to put their kids on their Christmas cards!) But some of the comments written about the wedding post by The Knot readers really surprised and shocked me.
Since The Knot.com postings no longer exist (and since I'm serving a lifetime ban), I'll have to reference some of the comments that were posted on my own blog. Basically, some of the readers were mad at me and my friend because we both assumed that gifts would be given by at least the majority of guests who attended their wedding – and some readers felt that this was wrong and greedy of us. Really?? What’s next?... that it’s wrong to expect you will get gifts on Christmas, or candy on Halloween? It was odd – the original comments received on my blog were basically supportive of my position that my friend got ripped off (some people didn’t even give him a card), but the majority of the posted comments by the future brides-to-be from The Knot were attacking and unsupportive, which totally confused me. You would think that future brides would be concerned about the possibility of guests not properly RSVPing, not bringing gifts, bringing people who weren’t invited, etc... but this group (at least those who commented and were most vocal in e-mail and on the message boards) seemed to act as if they were above it all, and that they don’t care about gifts at all – they just want people to “be a part of their special day”, which is nice... but I find it hard to fully believe.
Here are some random comments posted to me:
“according to wedding etiquette, gifts are NEVER to be expected by the bride and groom”
“you are a piece of sh*t and so are your married friends. You do not EVER expect a gift from anyone...ever”
“No, they shouldn't expect gifts and no, it's not rude for guests to not bring one.”
“That is unbelievably rude of the bride and groom and not to mention yourself to count up the value of the gifts and judge people on their gift or lack of. There is no "rule" that you have to give a couple a gift.”
OK, do I live on another planet than these people?!?! I’m not saying that the bride and groom should be all “gimme gimme gimme”, but I think that it is perfectly reasonable to expect a gift from a guest that attends your wedding... at least a freaking card! Since when are gifts “NEVER to be expected by the bride and groom”? If that is the case, then why the fuck are all of you REGISTERING at Bed, Bath & Beyond?! Why is there a gift table set up AT THE WEDDING? So I’m the “piece of shit” because no one should “EVER expect a gift from anyone... ever”??? What the fuck? YOU’RE the fucking lying hypocrite! Why can’t we be honest with ourselves and admit that it is appropriate (and expected) to bring a gift or AT LEAST A CARD to a wedding?
I’m totally struggling with why some of these brides-to-be were so attacking when I was actually trying to defend them in saying that I think guests should bring gifts. One guess is that in the process of planning a wedding, they are trying to be altruistic and really focus on the ceremony and not get sucked into the materialistic side of things. Because if you admit you are looking forward to getting some gifts (or that you expect some), then you are a “bad person”. If you don’t expect any gifts, then you can’t be disappointed if you don’t get them. But anyone who tells me that they would not be disappointed if their close friend or family member didn’t even bring a card, let alone a gift, is out and out lying. Just about everyone who wrote me saying that gifts should NEVER be expected at a wedding also told me that they ALWAYS bring a gift to a wedding themselves. How can you really have a double standard like that? If everyone is bringing gifts, it’s because it’s the right and decent thing to do – and then it becomes an expected tradition. There is nothing wrong with "expecting" people to act decently.
Another possible reason why some of these brides were so attacking in their comments may be because some of them may be the very people who aren’t giving gifts at the weddings that they attend themselves! After all, SOMEONE out there isn’t giving gifts or cards, right? About half of my friend’s guests came empty handed, so who are these people? Perhaps it’s the people who are calling me a “piece of shit” for suggesting that gifts should be given.
I will acknowledge that this blog is sarcastic, snarky, bitter and mean. If you didn’t know that coming in, then maybe you may overreact to something I write. Also, the people who agree with me are probably less likely to write a comment than people who disagree, which may also account for some of the comments on the blog and The Knot. I have to believe that there are more people out there who agree with me than disagree with me on this topic.
I should warn The Knot that I have already written another wedding post called "Weddings: The Money Pit of All Money Pits". I can't wait to put that one up on The Knot and see how many new engaged women I can get to hate me!
Oh, on a separate note, I also received my first cease and desist letter from a lawyer over an alleged copyright infringement, so that was fun, too. Legal action, hate e-mail, getting banned from websites... it’s all in a day’s work as a freelance blogger.
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