This is the thread I’d like to start on Mumsnet, but I don’t want it deleted. I want it out there, on the internet, for anyone who wants to know what’s happened to a place that was once the best place for advice, a laugh, friends and fun.
Some will say this is sour grapes. It may be. I don’t really care. I need to say it. It’s my blog. I’m going to say it.
The destruction of Mumsnet as a good place started last year. Three things happened in rapid succession: their Head Community Manager left, #PenisBeaker exploded across the ‘net, their best and most experienced Community Manager went on Maternity Leave.
When Head Community Manager (HCM, I’ll not use her name here, but if you were/are a Mumsnetter, you’ll know who I mean) left, Mumsnet did not appoint a replacement. Instead they split the job between two other sitting Community Managers. And things started slipping. Trolls and other horrors were allowed to stand much longer than they should have because they were, quite obviously, short staffed.
And then came #PenisBeaker. Some day, I swear, a PhD candidate with get their doctorate studying this incredible Social Media phenomenon. But what it meant specifically for Mumsnet was the boards were, literally, brought to their knees both via tech issues and trolls. Their servers, never too steady to begin with, crashed repeatedly as hundreds or even thousands of more people headed to Mumsnet to see what was going on. It spread like wildfire from Mumsnet to The Metro to Twitter to Facebook to who knows where next. And, naturally, Mumsnet rode the wave and even encouraged it. Views equals pounds and no one, I think, can begrudge them taking advantage of this organic chance to spread the word and up their revenue.
The problem was, though, that they didn’t care who they were bringing to the site or what they had to say. You see, Mumsnet has had minor #PenisBeakers before. Press coverage that has brought the trolls, the lookyloos and the new posters in droves. The difference in the past is that when it happened? They tightened up their Community Manager coverage and they allowed the boards to self moderate. They let their regular posters do what they’ve always done best, call a cunt a cunt and a dick a dick and keep the boards ticking.
When #PenisBeaker struck, it was like they were asleep at the switch. Between site outages and troll attacks, the few Managers they had around couldn’t keep up. And instead of hiring more or even shutting down registration, which they’ve done before (Mumsnet had a DDOS last year that shut registration down for about 2 days while they cleared it) they just let horrible posts stand.
Around this same time the site owner and members of the Community team had an open chat to talk about what had happened and what they could do better in the future. And then did none of it. So it was all lip service to shut people up.
And then, everyone’s favourite, most experienced and best Community Manager went to have her baby. And that was the end of Mumsnet as it had been.
Things could have been okay at this point if Mumsnet Staff had allowed the boards to really self moderate, they way they had in the past. They deny it now, but there was a time when you were allowed to say, on site, “I think you’re a lying cunt” and “No way did that happen, you dick”. Now anything like that is labelled a personal attack and troll hunting and deleted. No matter what it’s about or who.
Everything finally and completely came to an end on New Years Eve. Mumsnet, in their infinite wisdom (insert pause for laughter), decided to not only have only one Community Manager on duty, but have it be a new one. Someone who had barely been on the boards, never mind on the boards on a night when everyone was drinking. And then it started. Some regular posters decided to play Mumsnet Bingo, which they decided meant posting the often most controversial subjects as if they were serious. Everything from parking spaces (don’t ask if you don’t know) to using offensive language deliberately. And the Community Moderator actually turned off the boards for posting. Not just shut down registration, but shut down the entire site.
One of the Co-head Managers came along at some point, turned it back on, edited some posts and apologized. But the damage was done.
That was the last day I posted on Mumsnet. The day they left a newbie in charge who shut the boards down because she was overwhelmed. I get being overwhelmed, I do. And I get being new. We’ve all been new. But surely her first move should have been to call for back up? Call for someone else with more experience to decide how to handle a board gone mad? Or maybe she was told to not contact anyone no matter what. I’ll never know.
What I do know is that from then to now? Things have gotten worse. The Professionally Offended, the Goady Fuckers and the Out and Out Trolls have taken over. To the point that most of who have been regular posters for years? Refuse to post anything serious any more or post at all. I’m not the only one who left New Years and has never gone back.
I haven’t deregistered, it’s true. That’s for one reason only: I made a commitment last year to the Chocolate Panel as part of their Insight Panel. I will finish that and then I will close my Mumsnet account for good. I had already stepped down as Mumsnet Belfast late last year and I have stepped down from the Mumsnet Bloggers network.
I was asked, by the way, why I was leaving the BN. I told them it was because I no longer believed in Mumsnet or what it stood for. Their response? “Okay. Good luck in the future.” Alrighty then.
Mumsnet’s owners and, by default, their staff just don’t care any more. All they can see are the pounds stacking up and their own salaries and bonuses or what have you increasing.
It is no longer a place to go for true help or encouragement or even a good laugh.
And I can’t even believe or begin to tell you how sad that makes me.