I am a Mumsnet blogger, part of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.

 I have worked on various projects with Mumsnet, including a trip to Kenya to blog about reproductive rights, the miscarriage campaign and the We Believe You rape awareness campaign. I was invited to speak at the Blogfest last year, where I met some of the wonderful women I have ‘known’ online for so long. Mumsnet have been supportive of Jump! Mag and have even promoted my book via their Bookclub.

It is fair to say that I am not an neutral observer, and I make no attempts to appear to be. I have spent hours on the site, chatting with those who have become friends, discussing politics, feminism, childcare and also being very silly and having a good laugh. The site is incredibly diverse, even more so now than when I joined.

 

“Mumsnet is an internet phenomenon” – The Sunday Telegraph

 
Over 50 million page views and 4.2 unique visitors a month, and 35,000 posts a day – it is easy to understand the attraction of being a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. Many join after seeing these, or similar stats, but have never actually visited the site. Then they bounce onto the site, post a link to their blog and are amazed that they are not greeted with open arms.
 
You don’t burst into a pub and start handing out your business cards, and asking people to buy something from you, so why should  a parenting website being any different.

If you join the network, take the time first to have a look around and see if it is the place for you. If you are offended by swearing, or by strong women presenting their opinion, then you might want to think again.
This inevitably causes conflict on the boards, as the Mumsnetters response to someone advertising their blog is likely to be short and to the point. Perhaps sometimes even rude. I am not defending them, it isn’t nice for bloggers to hear comments like

 

Blogs are boring
Why would anyone want to blog? Why do bloggers think that strangers would be interested in their lives
Only the most self-absorbed person would want to share their entire life online
Bloggers who share photos of themselves online – well that is their prerogative, but they shouldn’t share pics of their kids. It is an invasion of the kids’ privacy

 

 

Please note thought, that although these comments are directed bloggers in general, they are not directed at a specific person. If a blogger takes offence at this, then really she should get out of blogging.

If a Mumsnetter steps over the line and launches a personal attack, then their post may be reported to MumsnetHQ and deleted. Note that MN is not moderated, and the site relies on self-policing.

These threads generally go the same way. Someone posts their blog, MNetters respond – some reasonably, some less reasonably. Often fellow bloggers will jump in – we Mumsnet Bloggers do tend to take note if a thread is posted about a blog, and will defend the reputation of our fellow blogger. Or at least try to explain the differing points of view.

We remind the MNetters that not all blogs are the same, and that there are plenty of interesting blogs. We often compare to magazines. Just because I find the Fly Fishing Monthly boring as sin, doesn’t mean ALL magazines are boring. More and more blogs are becoming proper eZines, and are far from the traditional ‘online diary’ that they once were.

Inevitably, the Blogger will express her distress on Twitter, and her pals will turn up to defend her honour, and the honour of blogging. There follows a long bunfight, with ever more reports and deletions, till MNHQ are reaching for the gin, and we MN Bloggers are left holding the pieces.

We are then caught in the middle between the blogging community, who retreat back to their blogs to write scathing accounts of the hatred and bullying that went on, and the Mumsnetters who crow about seeing off that silly blogger.

Things calm down after a few days, until the next time someone in the press mentions bullying Mumsnet, and all of a sudden the bitter recriminations start again, and another lot of blogs are published, recounting the terrible time that the blogger was bullied on Mumsnet.

 
In the past week we have seen Amanda Holden attack Mumsnet, saying that we are a bunch of bullies, referring to a YEAR OLD thread. Back when she decided to go back to work shortly after the birth of her baby, it was a hot topic. Stay at Home Mum vs Working Mum is a topic guaranteed to bring out the most militant Mumsnetters, and although I don’t think I posted on that thread, I was aware of it. As with any other thread, there were posters berating Holden for returning to work so early, but just as many posters who supported her choice. As MN co-founder Justine Roberts said on BBC Radio 2, we don’t share an opinion – there are millions of us. We cannot even agree on our favourite biscuit.
 
Why did Amanda Holden decide to talk about being upset over a year ago, about something that she read online? If I were cynical, I would suggest that it was good publicity for the upcoming start of Britains Got Talent. Or that the Daily Mail just doesn’t like women expressing their opinions. 
 
This seems to have opened the floodgates to a host of ‘Mumsnet are nasty bullies’ with both the press and bloggers jumping on the bandwagon. It saddens me, because they are only showing one side of MN. The feisty side, the angry side. 
 
The other side of Mumsnet is rarely written about in the press.
 
Ask Mumsnetters why they continue to use the site. You don’t really think that almost 2.7 million posters with masochistic tendencies are on there day in day out, hoping that someone will be nasty to them?
 
I asked on Mumsnet this week for bloggers to share their reasons for being part of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network. I will ask them to link up to this blog post, so you can see the big picture.  Here are mine.
 
 
I have friends there. Some are now real life friends. And the Mumsnet Twitter crossovers, who keep me amused in 140 characters or less
 
I have asked and received advice on everything from personal issues, household tips, technical problems, child raising, moving house and much much more.
 
I have taken part in above mentioned campaigns, and helped other women who don’t have a ‘voice’ to find theirs – particularly the We Believe You campaign, where many women told stories of rape and abuse for the first time
I have taken part in the amazing Blogfest last year and saw the immense amount of work and care that went into pulling it off 
 
The amazing women on Mumsnet who will sit till the early hours of the morning, supporting the despairing, the bereaved, the desperate
 
The Woolly Hugs crew, who started knitting and crocheting to make a blanket for a bereaved Mumsnetter, and forgot to stop. They have now made 250 blankets, which have gone to comfort bereaved families, children with terminal illnesses, and children in Malawi.
 
Mumsnet Classics – where the very best of Mumsnet is saved for eternity. The wit and intelligence of threads such as The White Knuckle Ride of a Thread about PEARL BARLEY, the hilarity of Thickos of Trip Advisor, the eeeeuuuuw factor of Memorable Poos in Inappropriate Places and of course I AM CANADIAN (which despite repeated pleas, has not been moved to Classics). Don’t start reading these threads if you have some place to go in the next four hours. Or in the case of Random Acts of Kindness, without readying a box of Kleenex.
 

This and so much more is why I am a member of Mumsnet. Yes, they can be very direct. If you ask if you are being unreasonable, you will get a straight answer. If you just want to rant, don’t post on Am I Being Unreasonable. In fact, if you are a bit tender hearted don’t post on AIBU at all till you get used to the site.

Many of the Mumsnet Bloggers started out as Mumsnetters, who became bloggers and when the Blogger Network was formed, joined up. We want to share our blogs on Mumsnet, because we feel part of the community and we wish that our community were more welcoming – or at least less critical – of our work. This blog post is a plea to both sides of the divide, to think before you post.

Together, we would be an incredible force – to help promote womens’ rights, to protect our children, to have a voice. Not a shouty, ranty voice, but a strong and reasonable voice. 

.

 
To the bloggers, I would say – Mumsnet is not a place to relentlessly plug a blog, despite the very best efforts of the Bloggers Network Team to make it more blog friendly. It is getting better, and we are being accepted, but don’t pop links to your blog everywhere without even the slightest effort to chat to the users first. If we get the impression that you are using Mumsnet to boost your blog stats, then you might not get quite as friendly a reception as you had hoped.
 
If I read a post where I feel that I can offer some advice, and have written a blog post about that, I sometimes offer to PM the post to the poster. (although I realise that this only works if you are a regular and known poster. Please don’t take this as an invitation to search for threads on topics which you have blogged about!).
If they are not interested, I don’t take offence. Not everyone likes blogs, not everyone wants to read the ramblings of a stranger on the internet. Although a wise person said this week that Blogging is simply a Mumsnet post in long form.
 
If you do have a run in with Mumsnet, stop and think before you go rushing off to get support from your friends. Were you being rude or unreasonable? Have you reported posts that you find to be mean or nasty? Have you given Mumsnet HQ time to respond? And most importantly – have you acknowledged that there are perhaps some people on the thread supporting you? Dpn’t mistake a bunfight for bullying. 
 
You can’t complain about them all ganging up on you, if you go and get your buddies to pile in. Doing this escalates the situation, and ends in a terrible argument. It would be great if the blogging community could get on with Mumsnet, or could at least learn to tolerate each other.
 
And to the Mumsnetters – we need to accept that blogs are here to stay, and while you may not like blogs generally, making remarks such as ‘Blogs are boring’ or ‘Bloggers are self absorbed’ is just plain silly.
With the amazing range of blogs out there, how could anyone say that ALL blogs are boring, or ALL bloggers are self-absorbed?
 
That would be as ridiculous as to say that Mumsnetters are all bullies.
** EDIT ** 
It seems there is another hatchet job in the Daily Mail today. They really don’t like Mumsnet it seems.
A whole website full of opinionated, intelligent women is too much for them to cope with, and they resort to name calling and bullying, which is kind of ironic really.
It will all blow over, till the next time Mumsnet upsets the Daily Mail. (Not a DM link, and you really really ought to read it).  



 

5 Comments

 

  1. April 13, 2013  11:56 am by Suzanne Reply

    Wow, I honestly had no idea of these opinions -all very interesting though. I have only really been involved with the Mumsnet Bloggers Network and have therefore posted in threads over there. Before I blogged, I did indulge a little in conversations with other mumsnetters but once my blog took off, it seemed that Mumsnet created a niche just for the bloggers to share their posts and discuss bloggy matters. Is that not so? I wouldnt' promote my blog on the main Mumsnet forums, if people wanted to explore and read blogs they would research and find you of their own accord. Nowt as queer as folk!

  2. April 15, 2013  11:49 am by sally (@RecipeJunkie27) Reply

    Well said. And I loved that piece in the Daily Shame about the NHS thing - thought that was brilliant.

  3. June 16, 2013  11:51 pm by Jane Reply

    I remember seeing a newspaper editor on the TV news a while back roaring with misogynist hatred for a caricature of mumsnet users as though they were all curtain twitching busy body housewives who had no role in society. (when the news of the screws closed). I have never had a chance to use mumsnet much, but on that recommendation alone I was delighted to add my blog to their network. Male-stream forums are also regularly argumentative, but presumably that's normal and healthy and they are entitled to it. Opinionated woman? KNOW YOUR PLACE!! ;-)

    • June 19, 2013  8:04 am by Lynn C Schreiber Reply

      Glad to know that our strident and argumentative voices are bringing bloggers to the network.

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