Few things make smittenkitchen.com more fun for me than the lively comment sections on each post. I love to hear from you, enjoy our conversations and a, flattered daily that you’d share even a snippet of your cooking life with me. That said, the larger these comment sections grow, the more “weeding” I find unfortunately necessary to keep the comment section on-topic and, I hope, as good of a read for you as it is for me. 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. Be part of smitten kitchen. Corny as it sounds, a great comment (or a thousand of them) can really make my day. Plus? This site without a comment section would be like me talking to myself all day long, and, trust me, there’s already too much of that.
- Recipe feedback. Have you tried it? Did the recipe work for you? What changes did you make, or would you make next time? 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 comment sections on other cooking sites 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. As I never make a recipe without reading available reviews of it first, comments that help me answer the “should I bother making this?” question are invaluable to me, and I’d 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.
I still love you, but your comment? Not so much:
- Not skimming previous comments. Yes, I know that comment sections can get very long, especially when people are especially excited about a new recipe. I love this enthusiasm. But before you ask a question, can I poliltely 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 size; I know that your time is valuable but it sounds flippant to the value of other people’s time.
- Off-topic requests or notes. A comment needs to relate, even tangentially, to the post. Please don’t leave a comment that asks permission to use a photo, or requests that we work together — it’s not really a public conversation, so send an email instead. Likewise, did you nominate smittenkitchen.com for an award on your blog or site? Why thank you! But tell me 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, I cannot allow this, but this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear about another version of a recipe I’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, or why it deserves your attention. A comment that hones in on this — one that adds insight or contrast — is infinitely more valuable to the conversation than cluttering the web with yet another unsubstantiated recipe.
- Plugging a product or company. I steer very clear of product recommendations on this site, intentionally — this is about cooking, not shopping. I 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 I 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 the spam that they are.
- 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 little color to the conversation. “I’ve got more recipes like this on my site, come visit” sounds like self-promotion, not recipe commentary. I’d so 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 my 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.
[Last updated 6/7/13]