Here I am back posting again after a couple of months off. As regular readers/visitors will remember, we moved home in February and whilst, following a mega declutter and clear out, it took only 3 days to get everything unpacked and sorted out in our new place, it's taking me time to get back into creativity. I guess I'm finding my new living/dining/workroom a bit cramped and cluttered at times and I've managed to be ill with 3 colds and 1 of my usual nondescript viruses in the two months we've been here! More on my new workspace and current projects in later posts.
Today's topic is not an actual stitching one, but does touch on matters within the needlework world and has been motivated by a few things I've read and experienced recently (and over the years too, of course): Showing good manners in the needlework community.
There are three main areas that come to mind: 1) Respect of copyright, 2) Blog comments, and 3) Interacting with needlework professionals at shows etc.
This is a minefield and the internet, with all it's benefits and pluses, has made the whole issue far more difficult to enforce. Some people mistakenly think that everything's fair game when it's posted on-line, whilst others mistake 'public domain' for 'copyright free'. To clarify, if something is in the public domain, it is easy and free of charge to access, such as most blogs and websites. However, this does not necessarily mean that the person who created the content has allowed just anyone to re-use and re-publish their material, which would mean it was copyright free. Countless sites exist in the public domain, but that have clear assertions of copyright. This blog is one of them.
It's true that most people don't violate anyone's copyright. They enjoy on-line material and may even post a link to it somewhere at some time, and there's nothing wrong with that. The problems begin when, often in an attempt to increase their own site traffic (and which blogger or web writer doesn't want to do that?), or to sell something, someone will post others' material in a way that doesn't respect the original owners' rights, or they give credit in such a way as it appears that the creator gave permission, when they were, in fact, never approached. I was a bit shocked last week to find that a blogger's photos had been used in a newsletter without her permission. OK, they were properly credited with a functional link, but despite a 'courtesy of' line, no permission was sought to use the pictures, which were actually copyright! To be honest, this is rather discourteous. Most things are down to thoughtlessness, but even so, they aren't polite.
This sort of thing is sometimes further complicated by the fact that there are certain blogs and sites that republish others' material regularly after having first inserted their own URL on the photos. (See this page, for instance, by a notorious sinner in this regard! A little note here for Marrietta: Эти фотографии мои и авторские права. Как ты посмел украсть их, поставить свой собственный URL на них, а затем опубликовать их, как если бы они были ваша собственная работа !? Пожалуйста, удалите эту страницу сразу! ЭТО НЕЗАКОННО! As, of course, I can't leave a comment on her site unless I have a username etc and I can't do that unless I can decipher the Russian, which I can't. I used Google Translate for the above rant! Boycott her site for any and all content as she is a brazen copyright thief!) Along comes a curation site staff member and thinks, 'Oh, I'll have that for the site', but is unable to contact the genuine copyright owner.
So, please, please, PLEASE if you are planning to use someone else's photo on your blog, site, forum, social network etc, check thoroughly first for any copyright notices on their site. Many sites have a special page dedicated to explaining their copyright policy as well as an 'all rights reserved' notice at the bottom of the site and, when it comes to blogs, often at the end of each posting too. If there is the least doubt, contact the person first. True, they may never know - I usually find out by sudden increases in traffic from facebook or somewhere showing on traffic counting feeds, or a pin I happen across, but that doesn't make it ok. Good manners require that someone's rights be respected at any and all times - even when posting on-line or creating a newsletter.
2) Blog comments and e-mails to bloggers
This is something I personally have had little trouble with, but I know that others have and so it's worth covering whilst on the subject of manners. As also applies to many situations, do think first before adding a blog comment whether it could cause offence or hurt feelings.
The only comment I really objected publicly to was one telling me they didn't like part of my piece. Now, I don't think that's necessary - and it's hurtful. Mary Corbet also once posted about how she'd had one or two e-mails telling her that the current long-term project was boring them and that 'everyone was fed up of it'. Nice that this incredibly rude person felt qualified to speak for all Mary's multi-thousands of readers and insult her, isn't it? Or not! If there's a part, or even a whole, of a project that one doesn't like, or is a bit bored with, there really isn't any need at all to say so! Just skip the posts, ignore the finish, whatever. Or maybe just say 'I really love the rose part' or something, instead of 'it was better without the bird' unless opinions are actively sought. That's a different matter, of course!
Incidentally, the reader who left the hurtful remark left another comment on the post in which I'd objected to it and apologised. I deleted both comments, not because she's no longer welcome to comment (she certainly is!), but because I wanted to protect her privacy and help her save face. Someone might have seen her apology and then looked back to see what the original remark was etc and that wouldn't have been nice, so I zapped the lot, including my objection - although I confess to having re-posted the nice part of her original comment.... =)
Personal remarks and criticisms etc on someone's blog are also well out of line. If one doesn't like someone's material or the person themselves, again, there's no need to say so. Just don't read their blog!
I know I've fallen short of the grade and gave someone what for in a blog comment (making sure it was an old one for relative privacy) once in the past, but I learned from that and now make it a strict policy to stay out of things when there's some sort of contentious thing going on (esp. as you never get all the facts or a fully objective view), and to pass up on any and all opportunities to make a negative remark. Unless someone's stolen my stuff - then I let rip!!!!
I read a very upsetting post by Jessica Grimm on her blog the other day. It was genuinely shocking to read all the horrible, rude things that she had had to listen to whilst exhibiting and teaching at needlework shows. I don't know if this sort of thing happens in the UK too, I expect it does although I hope on a smaller scale, but I was saddened. Read it and see what I mean.
So, how could that translate to things one might thoughtlessly say or do to long-suffering stand holders at retail shows? One might bluntly say one doesn't like a design or start to criticise it, maybe saying one wouldn't want to waste one's time stitching it. One might say it's too expensive and not worth the money. Especially if the stand-holder is more or less a one man band and is trying to make a living, this is a particularly low kick. I know that I don't buy kits as I have so much stash already and I may request that the designer could also offer instructions only if something really took my fancy, but to insult their time, skills and work is really unkind. As a related subject, it may be better to avoid voicing negative thoughts when at exhibitions etc as well. We never know who is listening and who could be hurt!
At workshops it would be good manners to ask permission to watch if we're not a paying member of the group and only take photos, read instructions etc if given specific permission to do so. If one is in the class, it's nice for all concerned if no-one monopolises the teacher, talks all the time, shows off or tries to assist in teaching without being invited to do so, and if everyone treats the teacher with dignity and respect.
Again, I realised from reading Jessica's post that there were some things I may have been less than thoughtful in saying, but I was also relieved that I'd never come close to the level of sheer rudeness that some of those women had done. To be fair, I know from personal experience that at least one of the cultures she has exhibited in is very brusque and can be downright confrontational as an everyday communication mode, but there's never any excuse for such poor behaviour.
I simply can't afford most kits I see at shows and some I do honestly wonder at the pricing of. I remember seeing some counted thread sampler kits at a major needlework kit retailer's stand (so not an individual designer's booth), which were almost £30 for a chart, piece of fabric and a few different types of easily available thread - 2 or 3 gauges of white thread, (stranded and pearl cottons) and a few lengths of an Anchor multi-coloured thread. I have plenty of all of these and so I wasn't willing to pay something like £28 for yet more of the same, although I may have considered a fiver for a chart or two. I made comments on the price to my friend when away from the stand, not even to the shop staff! Even if I've had to tell a designer I can't afford their kits or to book them for a workshop when they suggest that I do (or I'm feeling a little pressured to buy something), I try to do so in an apologetic manner and accompanied by many compliments on their lovely work.
So, that's my rant on the subject over. Any thoughts from your end? Any relevant experiences to share?
Accompanying photos all chosen from my own work, just 'cos I liked them.=)
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016