Few things make smittenkitchen.com more fun for us than the lively comment sections on each post. We love to hear from you, love the conversation and are flattered daily that you’d share even a snippet of your cooking life with us. That said, the larger these comment sections grow, the more “weeding” we find unfortunately necessary to keep the comment section on-topic and, we hope, as good of a read for you as it is for us. Thus, rather than leaving anyone perplexed as to where their comment disappeared to, here’s a loose outline of what will fly or flop in smitten kitchen discussions:
Please come back more often:
- Join the conversation. Share a story that the post reminded you of. Be part of smitten kitchen. You may not believe it, but a great comment (or a thousand of them) can really make our day. Plus? This site without a comment section would be like me talking to myself all day long, and lord knows there’s already too much of that.
- Recipe feedback. Have you tried it? Did the recipe work for you? What changes did you make? Have any suggestions for others who want to try the recipe but might need that last push? Confession: I jump right to the end of most comment sections when I’m curious about a recipe, because I know that the further down you go, the more likely it is that respondents will have made it, and reported back with their results. I never make a recipe without reading available reviews of it first so needless to say, comments such as these are invaluable to me, and I hope others.
- Recipe questions. Is an instruction confusing? Have you never heard of an ingredient and Google was no help in giving you a lead on it? Want to know how it compares to another recipe on the site? Should I have a good answer, or heck, even a good-enough one, I respond to these as quickly as possible.
We still love you, but your comment? Not so much:
- Not skimming previous comments. Yes, we know that comment sections can get very long, especially when people are especially excited about a new recipe. We love this enthusiasm. But before you ask a question, we politely request that you check previous comments to see if it has been previously asked and/or answered, either by skimming or doing a word search, usually “Find” under your browser’s Edit menu or Cntrl/Command+F on most keyboards. And please, please don’t say things like “I don’t have time to read all these comments, but…” which often happens when a comment section hits a certain number; we know that your time is valuable but it shows a disrespect to the time of other readers.
- Off-topic requests or notes. We know this should go without saying, but a comment needs to relate, even tangentially, to the post. It particularly exasperates us when the comment section is used to ask permission to use a photo, use an excerpt from the post or conduct any sort of business with us. You should be sending an email instead, as this is a personal matter. Likewise, did you nominate smittenkitchen.com for an award on your blog or site? Why thank you! But tell us in an email, not in an off-topic and of little-use-to-other-readers comment.
- Leaving full recipes in the comments. Due to space limitations, we cannot allow this, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to hear about another version of a recipe we’ve shared. Instead, first, tell us what’s different about a recipe you like or prefer (i.e. “my favorite pudding recipe has no eggs, but gelatin instead”) so we know why it is worth checking out. Then, tell us where we can find it (i.e. “in the Joy of Cooking, page 218″ or “on my site”). The thing is, the internet is full of recipes; what it’s short of is explanations of why one may stand apart from the crowd. A comment where you can add this missing insight, commentary and comparison is infinitely more valuable to the conversation than just another recipe.
- Plugging a product or company. We steer very clear of product recommendations on this site, intentionally — we are about cooking, not shopping. We would never tell you that you need to use This Brand or That Farm to make a smitten kitchen because that would stand in stark contrast to what we feel cooking should be about: accessibility and flexibility. “Buy cheap vanilla beans here”, “the best bread flour is from…” and like comments will be quickly marked as spam.
- Shamelessly plugging your own site or project. Trying to draw an audience to your site? Say something interesting. Add something unique the conversation and people will want to know where to hear more from you. “OMG love this.” takes up space but adds nothing to the conversation. “I’ve got more recipes like this on my site, come visit” is self-promotion, not a comment on a post. We’d much rather hear what you really have to say.
- Your url in the comment body. The correct place to leave your site’s url is clearly marked in the comment form. It will appear as a link to your name. Unfortunately, anywhere else resembles the above a little too much for its own good, and will end up in Comment Purgatory (yes, an actual folder).
- Slander, bile, insults, blah blah: Fortunately, you’re all such fine folks that this happens almost never, but it should go without saying that when you’re in the comment section, consider yourself a welcome guest in our home, and if your comment is rude, unpleasant or, frankly, makes it clear that you’re kind of an ass, we’re going to quickly usher you to the door before you cause a party-ruining fuss. How people can get so riled up by salad or cupcakes is beyond us, but seeing as it does happen… sigh… perhaps use this as a reminder that the smitten kitchen comment section is not the best place for one to work out their slaw rage.
- [New] Parenting advice. As excited as we have been to share our new addition with you, you wouldn’t believe the sheer volume of unsolicited and unwarranted parenting advice that gets left in comments these days [such as the time I asked for advice on choosing an undereye concealer and was informed I should be cosleeping, and then I wouldn't need it, no seriously]. Do know that any parenting advice left in the comments will be swiftly removed; it is out of place and uncalled for. It also breaks my cardinal rule on parenting advice, which is that nobody gets to dole it out unless they’re volunteering to take a 3 a.m. feeding.
[Last updated 12/4/09]