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My thoughts on the reaction to the merger at The Mary Sue [rant/ponderation]

The editors over at The Mary Sue wrote up a post addressing some concerns readers have had about some of the recent changes to the site up to and including a recent merger. It’s long, it’s thoughtful and it’s getting a LOT of comments.

I’d like to share my thoughts on that post and the reaction, but I do feel it’s important to share this tweet so you know my take general take on this situation.

To the team @TheMarySue – I think you do a lot for the geek community & for women. People ask a hell of a lot. You get close. That’s HUGE.
— Geek Girl Diva (@geekgirldiva) July 1, 2014

Okay, so, there’s that part. The rest, well, I wanted to address certain comments and concerns and — since I have my own blog and it’s way easier than commenting to a bunch of posts on their site, I’m gonna do it here.

After the break. ::grin:: Cause I’m likely to be long winded.

Let me preface this by saying change sucks. But think about this — as much as you individually may hate certain changes, imagine how it must be for an entire blogging team to have to deal with the changes and then have to deal with a bajillion reactions to those changes.

If you think this is hard for you, imagine what it’s like for them?

Okay, so to address some of the points people have made.

1) The reaction to the design changes made by TMS and Geekosystem’s parent company Abrams media.

Companies make design changes all the time. For any number of reasons. Remember when io9 had the huge redesign and people flipped out? The content didn’t change, but people had to get used to the new layout. It was strange, it was foreign, but io9 is part of the Gawker network and the parent company did a redesign to bring it in line with the rest of their sites. This isn’t new. It may not be comfy, but it isn’t new.

The changes were made for reasons. Whatever they were, they’re not personal. It’s business. They’re also cosmetic in nature. If you have issues with the layout, add TMS to a feed reader and read the articles on something you feel is more user friendly. I like Feedly. I use it often because I read a lot of things.

In the end, if you’re looking at design over content, then you’re missing the point of TMS.

2) The Tagline.

Okay, so I get the value of a tagline. Heck, my whole name is a frickin’ tagline in the sense that it very clearly tells you who I am and what I’m about. However, it’s not WHO I am just like the tagline wasn’t what TMS is. Sure, it was nice and it was fun and it told geek girls quickly that they were in a likeminded zone, but it’s not the mission statement for TMS.

It got removed because of a design chose. Which I addressed above. Sucks but is it a deal breaker vs. the content?

3) TMS is a feminist site. Why did they change that?

There wasn’t a change. I’m pretty sure this is one of the first postings for the site in which Susana Polo broke it down. There’s no use of the word “feminist” in the post. There’s also no mention of a “no boys allowed” policy. In fact, Susana actually says “we want to play with the boys”.

Sure, when it started, it was all women writing it. But it seems to me the real point wasn’t about who was writing the content, but who they were writing it for. The female geek. Has that changed?

I mean, female geeks like science and movies and make up and technology and social media and cute dresses and I know you’re going to make a comment about the fleshlight post, but I’ll tell you a secret — as a woman, I’d totally buy that for my husband. TBH, I don’t think he’d use it, but I’d buy it for a number of reasons.

But if you don’t like it, skip the post.

4) Adding Geekosystem to the mix. aka Merger of DOOOOOOM.

In all seriousness, why does this bug you? First of all, TMS gained some kick ass new writers because of this merger with Geekosystem (I’m looking at you, Victoria McNally among others) and gained new male writers.

Is it the addition of men in general? Are men unable to exist in what you feel is a feminist space? Are men inherently non-feminist? Do men have cooties? Was it about having a safe space and now that men are here it’s not safe?

Honestly, why does it bug you?

As I said above, TMS is still aimed to geek women and continues to be one of the most geek girl friendly sites out there.

5) Let’s talk about Glen.

I know some people have taken Glen Tickle to task for his “non apology apology” (their quote, not mine) and that they feel like they don’t want to read TMS because he’s one of the managing editors.

Here’s my take on that.

Personally, I’ve always been a person who reads certain authors more than others on any number of sites. There are some authors who I avoid because I dislike their writing style or because their “voice” doesn’t grab me, or for a couple of other reasons. But I don’t stop reading the site unless that person becomes responsible for writing 100% of the content for that site.

You say there are may reasons you love TMS and many authors you enjoy. So, isn’t it possible to check the bylines and read the authors you like?

While someone may be a managing editor, it’s been my experience that the authors at TMS keep their interegity intact and say what they say in their own voice. Not someone else’s. In the end, one person’s comments at a time of stress isn’t a mission statement for the site as a whole.

Additionally, I think we’ve all said things we regret in a moment of upset. I know I’ve said some very shitty things when I felt like I was being attacked, especially when it was en masse and about something I care about greatly. In my mind, Glen DID apologize. It was a two paragraph apology in the middle of a larger written apology and, while it may not have included the words “I’m sorry”, those words could certainly be inferred.

If “I’m sorry” is what you need to hear to know that Glen’s sorry for what he said, then you’re likely going to be out of luck. Not because he can’t say it but because, even if he does say it now, people will then jump on him and say “You’re only saying that to appease people!”

6) The summary.

In the end, you have to look at what you want from The Mary Sue and then compare that to what you get. If you’re in the 75% range, then I’d say you’re doing pretty well. You’re never going to get 100% of what you want because, think about it, if you get 100% of what you want, then it’s pretty likely that most of the rest of the readership isn’t getting 100% of what they want.

The authors on TMS need to eat, and pay rent, and get to work, and have clothing and deserve to make a living. You being mad that it’s not 3 girls in a basement somewhere doing this 100% for love and “fuck the man” if he wants to make choices on a business level is kind of selfish on your part.

Look, the entire staff at TMS works hard and they give it their all and they care. They care enough to write long posts and take heat and listen to readers. But it seems like, no matter what they say, some people will respond “That’s not enough” and act like no one understands their pain.

But do you realize that you’re very likely crapping on people who are doing their best for you? How would you feel if someone did that to you?

It’s an entertainment website. Maybe it’s worth enjoying the good, ignoring the bad and letting people get into the groove with the new merger?

Because, in the end, geeks need to stick together. We’re better than this. We should be nicer to one another.

TweetFollow @geekgirldiva

One Comment

  1. You are absolutely within your rights to dislike and disagree. I can see where you read my tone as dismissive. It wasn’t, but I do know my way of speaking is…different sometimes.

    My saying we’re better than this really is more about my belief that we can actually find a way for women who are upset to have their voices heard and their concerns addressed without all of it turning into a bashfest. However, the entire situation is very emotionally charged and I do have friends at TMS, so I’m sure I came at it from a defensive mode.

    However, if you read anything I said as “Silly ‘ol illogical girls”, I’d say you misread me. I get people are mad. I totally believe they’re within their rights to get upset.

    This was just my way to process and think about this as well. In the end, geek on geek violence is something I fight again. I think there’s a way to make TMS a place that works for people. Like I said, maybe not 100%, but enough that people can be happy again.

    Thank you for your comment. Not sure you’ll ever see this, but I thank you just the same.

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