I am leaving Ravelry
I am leaving Ravelry
<<EDIT - now that I am being accused of insulting people and calling them racist I have decided to append my entire conversation thread to this post >>
There is a knitting website called Ravelry who have, knowingly, hosted a very hateful thread about me. The thread was started under a complete violation of Ravelry's community guidelines; it was started because a customer who found out about my miscarriage while pestering me for her yarn was cancelled and refunded by me. She got her money back, had her yarn canceled and no longer had a dog left in this fight. As retaliation and to hurt me she publicized my miscarriage everywhere, including on Ravelry. Ravelry permitted her to open a thread about me, DESPITE her having received her money back and DESPITE her clear violation of the community guidelines. The thread has been open for seven months now and has become so vitriolic that the moderators have written me confirming that a) they have never seen such hatred and b) they are now actively deleting posts that are too racial and/or violent to stand. I complied with the investigation to prove that I was not running a fraudulent company. I was thoroughly vetted and NOTHING,, NOT ONE TRACE of fraud was ever found. I have asked nicely, then pleaded and finally begged for the thread to be taken down. They refuse, citing my ongoing backlog as the reason.
Let’s be clear. Ravelry is a community knitting website with no jurisdiction or power. It’s not the BBB. It has no right to police me, to monitor my backlog or to decide when I am a “good” dyer again. I have never been fraudulent, I have never refused a refund, I have never failed to produce an order. My only culpability in this is the same thing that happens to many popular kickstarters; we released a Thing, made way more sales than anticipated, scaled to accommodate them, and were subsequently late with fulfillments. Things happened that pushed the timelines back and yes, that’s frustrating, but it’s not criminal. Everyone involved always had the right to get their money back and get out of the game.
Ravelry has no access to my sales or shipping records. Shipping my last order during Covid means that it could take weeks for the postal service to deliver. So let me clear, they are citing an arbitrary line in the sand they have NO WAY OF CONFIRMING before agreeing to magnanimously declare me an honest businesswoman.
Rav likes to think of themselves as seriously woke, but they have erred badly here with a small, WOC-owned business. And, worse, they know it, but are trying to save their butts now by changing their rhetoric at the 11th hour and saying “no wait, you ARE a problem”. It’s a shame. I believed in them. I lost thousands of dollars in refunds to defend them, passionately, last year. You can read thot blog post here.
My sense is this; they should never have permitted the thread to begin in the first place. The threads genesis was full of unwarranted hate from a customer scorned who chose to hurt me in a way that I cannot imagine one woman doing to another. While I was still hemorrhaging I was having to deal with this thread. Before my parents knew the world knew. I was treated as being fundamentally less worthy than the folks who were allowed to bash me with impunity.
Made a mistake? Cool. Then the thread should have been closed when it became clear that it was so vitriolic it was having to be heavily policed.
Still not there? Fine. It should have been closed when the wingspan debacle was over.
The backlog is a red herring. By closing the thread at my request rather than on their own recognizance they admit that it’s a thread that should have never been permitted. They share responsibility for hosting it and for allowing it to get as bad as it did.
Therefore effective immediately I am withdrawing from Ravelry. I do not support their virtue signalling, their performative activism and their total failure to protect a WOC from vitriolic attacks that should never have been permitted under their own community guidelines.
I gratefully ask those who will to support me during this time. Things will get ugly before they get better. I will be subjected to more abuse, and more racial gaslighting. People will tell me this is my fault and I am wrong and deserve to be publicly lambasted. People will say I’m exaggerating and it wasn’t that bad. People will say I should have let it time out on it’s own, no harm no foul right? It’s gonna hurt, but with the backing of those who believe in me I can do this. I know their preferred conclusion is that I go away like a good like model minority, but no. I will not be silenced. For my fellow BIPOC, for my WOC daughter, for everyone who tries to walk small and not rock the status quo.
If you are a customer that has been inconvenience by my taking my patterns down please let me know and I will ensure you have everything you need. I may temporarily set up an honour system page on my shop site where anyone can just go re-download, for free, patterns they no longer have access to. I know this will be rough in terms of updating Rav stats, libraries, yarns used etc. I know I will hurt my rep on the market. But I just can’t let this stand.
The initial email. I sent to Ravelry:
My name is Shireen, I’m the owner of the Blue Brick yarns and I’m writing in the hopes that you can assist with an issue that’s caused no small amount of distress.
The Blue Brick has faced an incredible amount of scrutiny following going viral last year, and despite regular outreach via emails and social links there were those who insisted that our wait time was unacceptable. I don’t dispute that at all, but I’ve done my level best to communicate and mitigate the problem.
One such is user <<REDACTED>>. Somewhere around Wednesday, November 27th, user <<REDACTED>> bullied me in an Instagram thread about our wait times, what I was up to with my private life and why her yarn wasn’t ready. I confessed (foolishly) to having recently miscarried from the stress of going viral, a fact I immediately thought better of and deleted from my thread. Not fast enough apparently, this user had taken screen grabs.
I chose to “fire” her as a customer. Her funds were fully returned to her and the order cancelled. I blocked her from my instagram site and Rav Group.
The user decided I had no right to such action and launched a thread on Demon Trolls against me, including a drop box link to all our communications in clear violation of Ravelry’s community guidelines.
Among other things she publicized my miscarriage. So while I was grieving my third, and what would be my final, loss of a child, I was having to deal with this thread, started because I had the gall to refund a customer.
The Mods acted quickly to remove the sensitive information but the thread thrived, and has gone on for seven months now. It has been ground zero for many unfounded accusations against me, including:
- Taking too long
- Not communicating enough
- Communicating too much
- Stealing people’s emails
- Sending out bleeding yarn
- Sending out damp yarn
- Sending out yarn that looks nothing like the photo
- Sending out underweight yarn
- Making tons of money and then sitting on it (there are several posts of folks just speculating about my supposed riches)
- Not issuing refunds
… And other demonstrably, categorically untrue things. The moderator has done thorough diligence on me and come up with nothing. Despite that the thread is still going. It’s basically little more now than a series of personal attacks and professional attacks that no one has been able to prove or substantiate.
I am therefore writing to request that the thread be officially taken down based on the following:
- There is no proof of actual fraudulent activity
- The cruel nature of the threads beginning
- What I believe are racially-motivated efforts to “out” me somehow
- The violation by OP of personal and painful, confidential medical information, against Ravelry’s community guidelines
- My personal emotional distress over these targeted comments
- And finally, the fact that the thread has existed long enough that I have given the mods every opportunity to prove that the customers are correct.
I am asking furthermore, that user <<REDACTED>> be banned from Ravelry for what I believe is unacceptable, entitled, and cruel behaviour. I firmly believe she had to see me as less-than-human to be able to weaponize another woman’s miscarriage, and to insist that I had no right to deny her service.
On January 25th I received this message from the mod:
“Why are some folks so eager to trash you guys? It’s truly bizarre. I usually don’t see this level of obsessive hatred unless people lost hundreds of dollars each. So far every person complaining has lost no money and only been mildly inconvenienced.”
On January 26th I received this message from the mod:
“I think that at this point racism is definitely in play but there is a lot of mental illness in the mix as well, unfortunately.”
I am so afraid of the backlash against me that, my last ask, is that it not be mentioned that I have made the request, so I can avoid the personal attacks that will no doubt accompany public knowledge of my “whining” about this thread.
For what it’s worth, the company timeline that caused all the trouble looks like this; the company fulfillments certainly took forever. I own that completely, and I did my best to keep customers apprised.
- Spring 2019: Surprising ramp up in sales due to BIPOC discussions
- April 2019: goes viral with Wingspan pattern
- May 2019: Moves company and hires new staff. Renovations/vetting/training/expansion etc. delay fulfillment, but not by much.
- May 5th we close the company to stem the tide.
- May-June-July - the company is closed and running with no revenue.
- The refund requests get out of hand, due to a combination of:
- my turning out to take too long
- my turning out to be brown
- and my proudly supporting Ravelry’s new policy
Accommodating those requests is beyond me, now that I’ve optimistically spent the funds on the expansion. I start selling my other crafts, prompting OP to begin her attack.
It goes on to take my company until December to complete Wingspan, and until now to complete the backlog that grew out of this mess.
I appreciate your taking the time to read all this. I hope that you’ll be able to help close the door on something that I feel I’ve tolerated as long, and as gracefully as I can.
Site looks amazing by the way :)
The response I received:
You do understand we will lock the thread once your backlog is cleared?
You having that backlog is the only reason that thread remains open.
The Reply I sent:
Permit me a personal appeal :heart:
You have gone to bat for fair treatment of the blue brick this past year. You’ve been wonderful, unbiased and completely fair to both us and the concerns that were brought forth. It meant the world to me. But it’s over. It needs to be over for me. And I can’t get on board with the idea that my backlog is what’s holding up the train because my backlog is not fraudulent.
If I wasn’t switching to an RTS model my backlog would never actually be done. What then? And my dyeing backlog is 4.5 days, but then it will take days to ship it and days more to receive it, what then? Is the threshold for cancelling this thread the receipt of yarn by every single person with a dog left in the fight, despite the absence of the complete absence, of fraud? How would Ravelry even know?
I gave DT ample time to do the job of making sure the customers were being heard, and assisted however I could with the investigation, but when it was over, it should have been over. It didn’t even need to exist beyond the fulfillment of wingspan itself.
There is a rhetoric in this world, which, if applied correctly is very powerful. It’s the idea that a person less deserving than you had obtained something that rightfully was yours. For example, “Mexicans are stealing our jobs”. In the absence of fraudulent behaviour on my part I think we can both agree that this same rhetoric is what drives the endless fascination and tendency to bash whatever I’m up to. It’s hurtful to me, Chupa. I don’t know how else to say that.
There is another rhetoric for the brown “model minority”; we get to enjoy honorary demi-whiteness as long as we toe the line, keep quiet and not rock the boat. It’s a frustrating place to be, and it’s where I live. It’s my truth.
I also know that had a “Karen’s” miscarriage been treated the way mine was there would have been hell to pay. It’s galling to me that customer zero has been able to harm me for so long. Her inability to obtain yarn from me was treated, by permitting it to have as much airplay as it did, as a higher ranking concern than the pain that I was in. Despite your quick and efficient put-down the persistence of the thread vindicates her.
The burden of proof was on me. I was guilty until proven innocent. Again, I don’t know how else to put this, it’s painful. It hurts. It’s patently unfair. I have born the brunt of the retaliation for effectively kicking her out of a restaurant for bad behavior. She has born the brunt of…. nothing. In fact the longer the thread prevails the more vindicated she is. The more hurt I am. And her goal was to harm, let’s be clear. No person could do this to another person at a time such as that unless she saw that person a s less-than-human. I have to believe that permitting and hosting this cannot be the goal of a company as socially conscious as Ravelry.
I’m asking, personally, to please do this one last thing for me and lock the thread. There is nothing to discuss. There hasn’t been for months. Wingspan is done. Refunds are gone. The company deserves a fresh start. Hinging it on my backlog is not reasonable; it’s not knowledge Ravelry has access to, and it’s a moving target depending on how I choose to move forward.
Please Chupa. I’ll be honest, (here’s some more medical TMI). I also suffer depression and medicate daily. I have anxiety. I have not yet emotionally recovered from the onslaught of vitriol, the racism, the personal health problems, the personal loss, the strain of growing my company and remaining graceful and understanding through it all. This one, small thing, which harms no one, would go a long way toward helping me heal. Please.
Thanks for all you have done for me.
The response I received:
You ran mega late on shipments, took people well outside of the PayPal claims window, technically took prepayment outside of PayPal's rules for preorders, and still have a backlog you're working through.
All that and you're doing clubs now. People have the right to know those things happened in order to have an educated position to decide on paying for a club. Which they are still buying spots in your clubs and saying so right there in the thread.
I have been extremely vocal about the BS you've been put through and have advocated on your behalf. A week does not go by that I don't get a PM marvelling at the examples of the bullshit that are right there in the thread exactly like I described and wondering how you're not insane dealing with it day in and day out and remaining professional.
Remove those examples we control after the deletions on social media and it turns into your word against a crowd who wants nothing more than to see you fail.
We said we would lock the thread once you clear the backlog and there is no longer any reason for an customers to seek assistance in trying to seek resolution for their outstanding orders.
We also scrubbed that thread clean of any mention of your miscarriage ages ago because your personal medical information is nobody's business. That was way over the line and we addressed it in the thread.
Our mod with an order in the backlog just got her October order. It is June. That was waaaaaaaay outside the PayPal claim window.
This is about nothing but the backlog. Clear the backlog and the thread locks.
Are you saying that the backlog is cleared, over, complete? I can post that and not get a peep within 48 hours that there are still open orders hanging out with no claim recourse except your ability to fund a refund since PayPal and credit cards will no longer accept a filed claim?
You can't because we even have a mod who still has open orders.
Clear the backlog. That is all that this is about.