Guest post by my bride:
Short answer: Ravelry left me.
Slightly longer answer: Last week, Ravelry announced a new official policy banning all content in support of the current U.S. President (Donald Trump) and his administration, on the grounds that support for Trump = support for white supremacy. The Ravelry admins stated that this policy had been adapted from one used by a video game forum.
This policy apparently is being enforced, according to numerous comments responding to YouTube videos posted by knitters & crocheters announcing their withdrawal from Ravelry. Some individuals reported being suspended from Ravelry for 30 days as a result of fairly mild forum comments calling for moderation and even-handedness in honoring all sides in political issues, since President Trump was included as an example of a subject of political speech which should be tolerated. Another comment cited an entire Ravelry group of “Conservative Knitters” (not necessarily pro-Trump, but conservative in general) being “disappeared” from Ravelry, with all of that group’s forums and forum threads being removed.
The premise being cited as the rationale for excluding pro-Trump content on Ravelry is, of course, a gross mischaracterization and overgeneralization of Trump supporters. What seems especially unfair is the heavy-handed one-sidedness of the ban, as no other political speech or content is similarly censored on Ravelry. Anti-Trump content is still quite welcome, one example being a knitting pattern for an “F— Trump” hat (with the F-word spelled out in full as part of the colorwork to be done in the pattern).
One YouTuber announcing her withdrawal from Ravelry cited a non-political reason. She is a knitting pattern designer, and is very concerned that Ravelry is doing nothing to crack down on pattern piracy (the unethical collecting of what are supposed to be paid patterns in various Yahoo groups and then posting those patterns as free patterns on Ravelry). She feels (and I agree) that it would be a much wiser use of Ravelry’s resources to crack down on pattern piracy than to enact a policy banning content supportive of a politician the Ravelry admins do not like.
As for myself, I am far less political than Don is. I generally follow Don’s lead when it comes to politics, but I can usually get along with people with whom I disagree politically if we stick to subjects we share an interest in. As long as we can keep a discussion all about the yarn, I have been able to co-exist congenially both online and in-person with fellow crafters who I’d never see sitting in the next pew at church or waiting in line to fill out a Republican ballot on primary election days. I also have loved being able to create project pages for each crochet item I complete, and maintain a collection of all the crochet patterns I have found on Ravelry that I have either used or would like to use. And being able to look up information on yarns I’ve never heard of before has been most helpful, too.
However, although I have been able to deal with Ravelry adding an alternative-sexual-preference “rainbow pride” flag to their logo, and last year’s plethora of “pussy hat” project pages, from all the folks upset at Trump’s alleged skirt-chasing before he became President — “dealing with” generally meaning “skipping past quickly to get to what I really wanted to look at on Ravelry today” – I profoundly disagree with Ravelry’s singling out supporters of the Trump administration for banning.
Ideally, I would prefer to keep Ravelry totally apolitical, with all political discussion banned. Alternatively, I would be OK with political discussion being allowed, but moderated, with the goal being to “be excellent to each other.”
How much will I be giving up by deleting my Ravelry account, however? Ravelry has stated that people who are banned for supporting Trump will still have access to their data (which sounds like I should be able to download and save any paid patterns I’ve bought and any project pages I’ve created). I will be losing access to free patterns via Ravelry; however, in most cases that just means that I’ll have to do a little online sleuthing to find those patterns directly on a yarn company’s or crochet blogger’s website. (Plus, I have tons of crochet pattern books in the house, most of which I haven’t really used beyond browsing them yet.) I will miss yakking on the Ravelry forums; however, I hadn’t been doing nearly as much of that lately anyway, as I had stopped participating in yarn swaps about 1 ½ years ago (no room to store more yarn or time to make handmade gifts for swap partners). I have joined a few yarn & crochet-related Facebook groups, and follow several crochet and yarn-themed YouTube channels, so I still get some social interaction that way. And if I really want fancy yarn (although I don’t use it that often), I can support a yarn-themed Kickstarter project (like the one for yak, camel and cashmere yarn from Mongolia I’m currently backing).
So . . . so long, Ravelry! It’s been good to know you, and if in the future you either walk back that ban on support of the Trump administration or just eliminate all politics from Ravelry, I might come back, but for now, I just don’t feel welcome with you any more.
(Update: If any readers are Ravelry users who would also like to delete their accounts, here are instructions on how to do so. You’ll want to scroll down to paragraph 5, “Editing and Deleting Your Account Information”)
- Apparently, although being banned is not supposed to delete one’s data on Ravelry, deleting one’s account does; there is a warning message to that effect when one goes through the delete process.
- Some alternative groups for Ravelry refugees would include Knitting Paradise, AllFreeCrochet.com, AllFreeKnitting.com, and a newly-created group, ourunraveled.com, which I have just joined.