Food Blog Comment Rage

I love reading food blogs. I rarely cook the recipes; I just like to ogle the beautifully-lit photos, fancy serving dishes and lush descriptions. I admire their patience in measuring each ingredient into a tiny spoon or Pyrex bowl, photographing them from above, then doing the washing up afterwards.

But it used to get a little messy when I scrolled down to the comments. There was no need to read the comments. I had better things to do than read the comments. Yet I could not resist.

Specifically, my eyes sought out the most inane, passive-aggressive or just plain annoying ones…

–  I HATE CILANTRO so I will not be making this.
–  Why no cilantro in this recipe? How can you not like cilantro?
–  How long would this take in my slow cooker?
–  What happens if you’re not lucky enough to own a slow cooker?
–  Well thanks. I’ve just been diagnosed with a dairy allergy so can’t even eat this.
–  My cake sank in the middle. What went WRONG?
–  Black eyed beans are NOT Paleo so what should I do?
–  How many Points is this six-layer cake?
–  This curry recipe was far too spicy.
–  This curry recipe was far too bland.
–  Nice photos, what camera do you use?
–  This recipe is not authentic. My mother makes this dish so much better and now I shall paste her 2,000 word recipe right here…

I’d scroll and scroll and scroll, making little pffffffftttt noises of outrage as the Food Blog Comment Rage grew…

OH GOD. That is so rude.
Who are these people?
If you saw Jamie Oliver or Delia Smith in the street would you use that tone?
You didn’t even say please!
Can you substitute ground almonds? Why not TRY IT and SEE!
How would he know what’s wrong with your oven? Do you want him to come over to your house and look?
She has a TODDLER and a FULL TIME JOB and she is DOING HER BEST!

Snort. Grumble. Eye roll.

It was becoming somewhat of a weekday ritual so I decide to think about what was going on there.

On a shallow level, it’s kinda delicious and irresistible to see the wild array of thoughts that humans posses. Even Gareth who’s not much of an internet person is prone to getting lost “below the line” on the Guardian website, oft yelling, “Come and have a look at these fuckwits!”.

But digging deeper, the Food Blog Comment Rage said far more about me than the commenters.

I realised I was still holding on to a fear of criticism and trolls that began when Dietgirl was published. The lovely emails and reviews have far, far outweighed the nasty ones… but the nasty ones cast a shadow that I wasn’t always conscious of. Looking back, I was writing quite tentatively and nervously, with a low background voice whispering you are shite! Fretting over sentences; trying to pre-empt negative responses. Hiding away or pulling back, curled up like a hedgehog.

So when I’d read these blogs, bristling defensively on the authors’ behalf, I reckon part of it was vicariously licking old wounds.

And the compulsion to read these beautiful blogs was not only because they are beautiful blogs, but because their authors wrote boldly, consistently and from the guts. Over and over they put themselves out there, staying classy and true whatever the feedback. It was easier to envy/admire their courage (and get hoity toity about their comment sections) than risk doing anything myself.

At new year I decided it was high time to let go of that and get back to having fun. I made a vow that in 2014 I will write once a week, no matter what. So if seven days go by silently around here, feel free to leave a nagging comment. I promise not to get my knickers in a twist about it!

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

Find out more about me and how we can work together – I’m now booking for January 2022.

42 thoughts on “Food Blog Comment Rage

  1. I find it incredibly fulfilling to ruthlessly delete any comment I don’t like. It’s not their website, it’s MINE. If they want to complain, they can do it on their own website. I love excising rude, sexist or mean commenters from history. That’s what we are creating here: history. If they are rude, they are not allowed a voice in it.

  2. This has always been a sore subject for me. Even in the delight of deleting someone’s comment, it’s still there nagging me. I had one the other day and I STILL think about it. What is wrong with me? I saw on instagram this graphic from a conference that said “Don’t Answer, Don’t Explain, Don’t Complain” in reference to trolls and I wrote it down to save to help me for the next bad comment. I always want to defend myself and then I come off as complaining and it hurts the blog. I don’t even know what the future is for blogs. With trolls beating them down with a big stick every chance they get. Remember when we wrote on our blogs every day with our complete heart and our complete soul. Now I’m scared to write hardly at all. I miss our honesty and openness so much. Once a week is a good goal. I don’t know about you guys but for me bad comments are so personal. They have to be about how I’m going to die or how my husband’s going to leave me. I just don’t understand that. I miss the days when I was just called self-centered.

    1. Sometimes I’ll write out a reply to a nasty comment in a text editor just for myself. I won’t post it, but writing out the reply helps me sort through my issues with it.

    2. I know what you mean comrade! You can delete the comment with dignity but the words don’t ever seem to get deleted from the brain.

    3. If there was an award for yuckiest trolls, you would have a shelf of them, Lori, and I can’t understand why that is. You have a beautiful blog, you write honestly and beautifully about your life (to the extent that any of us can do that any more), and you share photos of your gorgeous house and the cats – what more do they want? I’ve stopped writing because I feel that if I can’t write a “real” post – well thought out, with a clear purpose, pictures, and a call to action at the end – then I shouldn’t write at all. So I never write any more. I miss being able to get everything out of my head without worrying about what the readers that I no longer have will think of it. Maybe we need to participate in the releasing project, too?

      Love you guys!

      p.s. My days would be much happier and brighter with more writing from Shauna, Lori, and Jennette to look forward to, for what that’s worth.

  3. I generally have a rule about not reading comments (never, ever venture on the Edinburgh Evening news!) as it makes me doubt the future of humanity.
    So I promise that even if I am horrified by your take on my favourite single malts I’ll try to be contsructive about it 😉

    1. Oh my goodness Judy! I have read comments on the Dunfermline Press so can only imagine the joys of the EEN.

      Now which malts are your favourites!? 🙂

      1. Well, I’m looking forward to you testing all the Islay malts. My favourite is Lagavulin, I’m only safe from drinking too much because of the price 🙂

  4. I wish I had the vaguest clue how to drop things and let them go! Whether I delete a comment or not the criticism is going to stick. I have found it makes me more cautious about what I say and slower to get any blogs written.

    1. I feel you Cindy! I totally do. For me it’s only happened when I realised that the fear of yuck comments/emails etc was no longer as big as my grumpiness & frustration at not writing/creating/mucking around online. It’s just a silly ol blog here but one needs an outlet! 🙂

  5. My hubby loves to say it takes about 5 comments for them to degenerate into nastiness. That said, I read Dietgirl from the first entry. And, one of the things I liked about it-and this blog too-is how nice people are in the comments. Keep it up Shauna. We love you. <3

  6. There is something about cilantro that seems to bring out the holy warrior in people. If they don’t like a particular herb (or love it), can’t they realize that a recipe is a starting point and edit accordingly? There are no recipe police who come over to your home and arrest you if you get creative.

    On the larger issue, though, I have had a few nasty comments (I have a lot fewer readers) and they are impossible to let go sometimes. I don’t understand people who revel in reading and then tearing down bloggers they don’t like. It’s bizzaro to me. Why waste time and energy that way?

    I am going to do my best to leave adoring comments on all my favorite bloggers’ posts so they keep on writing — it bums me out that a few baddies spoil it for the rest of us.

    Love the idea of a letting go project. I have been trying to let go of a few things myself.

  7. As a perpetually sensitive person (tho’ occasionally brash, and usually 6′ tall), for the most part I have trained myself NOT to read comments, particularly at sites like national newspapers, sites w/huge distribution–blerg! AND, my blog is so obscure, I haven’t suffered much snark. I DO, however, cruise through the comments you get here, ’cause I think they’re interesting. Good peeps.

    AND, a great example of almost NEVER does one have the whole story (so why even snark-in-writing-via-comments), some people have a gene (or group of genes, don’t know details) that makes cilantro taste like soap, straight up. Bio-nerd in me had to share that. =) So arguing re: whether or not it tastes good is silly. Most of the time, “the” answer is, “It depends.”

    Finally: I’m SO GLAD you’re vowing for more fun & writing. I heart your writing, and the more you let loose the reins & fling words w/abandon, the more we get to peer at the patterns and colors that result. Jackson Pollock writing. Whee! =) xoxo

  8. I read your blog since around 2006 and I like it a lot. Keep writing!
    Mint may taste like a dill being enantiomers (same formula, different configuration which interacts with our receptors). Hmm.. It was interesting fact about cilantro above.

  9. Food blog comment rage – that’s an actual disorder you know. I feel your pain. 😉

    If it’s my blog, I’m happy to answer sane questions about possible substitutions or unusual ingredients that maybe not everyone has heard of. But I’m mystified by people who feel the need to leave a comment effectively saying “Yuk. This sounds disgusting”. Who even DOES that? If you don’t like it, Sunshine, don’t feckin’ cook it!

    Anyway, good for you for taking a stand and not allowing fear of idiots to stop you writing from the heart. You’re definitely not shite, either. xo

  10. Oh I have MANY thoughts about this. Allow me to add my tuppence! Because I am Commenter and I have Rights! Ahem.

    1. Cilantro is coriander yes? People are genetically predisposed to hate it or not, I believe. Not necessarily to start fights about it, but.

    2. People used to ask my mother in her cooking classes all KINDS of silly questions. Like in a Game class, “Can you substitute chicken instead?”

    3. One of my most shameful internet black holes is too much snark. I think Jezebel did a post about it:

    The upshot of which is – it always come back to you, and your insecurities. Wholly unfounded in your case, because you are a shiny ray of light. And a Writer with a capital W.

  11. One of the benefits of remaining pretty obscure all these years is that my blog only seems to attract people who don’t think it’s stupid. It’s not big enough to lure in the haters. I only recently discovered there is a whole website, GOMI, which seems to exist in order for people to read blogs they despise and make sarcastic remarks about the bloggers. Acck! Again, fortunately I’m too small for them to hate me.

    Great to see you posting more often again!

  12. Dietgirl was my fave website ever! Absolutely hilarious yet really touching. Sadly I can believe people could be negative about it because there are some complete maniacs out there, a scroll through any comments below a news story will tell you that (“the gvmt is withholding the cure for cancer” “9/11 was an I side job” etc!)
    Dave Gorman used to set the maddest comments he could find to music and read them as a poem on his tv show on watch – absolutely bloody hilarious!
    Keep up the awesome work

  13. My favorites are “Great recipe! Here is what I changed” (a list of 20 added ingredients follows and the recipe ends up pretty much being a completely different recipe) or “This recipe was really bland. I added (list of one or two spices) and cooked it for 20 more minutes and then it was edible. Would make it again but only with my changes”.
    I don’t really blog anymore but I cook a lot and make my own bread and sometimes post pictures of it on Instagram and Facebook. One time I posted a picture of my homemade sourdough bread with avocado and a little Sriracha and one of my friends posted “Yuck! I would never eat this!”. I mean, really? Was that necessary? I can only imagine what food bloggers have to go through.

  14. I am sitting in the beautiful and somewhat remote coastal forests of Oregon…cozy and warm in a small cabin…waiting to hear The State of the Union address. I spent the day making batches of banana granola and reading these comments. Who knows why people ever act snarky? I have just found the sites, have “just met” all of you through these comments, and my sincere thought is: thank goodness for all of your beauty, brilliance, and good will toward one another!!! And LOVELY writing. Please, please carry on. Setting good examples for others should they be receptive. Let your loviness shine. Dare to believe in yourself. If someone else has a need to be mean, sarcastic, etc., it is the state of THEiR personality, not yours! Xoxox

  15. I always go through the food porn comments if it’s a recipe I think I’ll try, because there’ll always be some weird ingredient no one ever heard of in Australia, and then I have to figure out a) what it is, and b) what I can substitute for it.

  16. Hear hear for your post and the comments – great reading and so much nicer than narky pants! I am quite lucky not to have many trolling sort of comments – though there are some pretty dumb ones occasionally – the one that hurt most was someone who was expression a reasonable opinion but it just was hurtful because I was feeling sensitive at the time.

    However what I really hate about negative comments is that every now and again I come across a blogger I have a lot of respect for and feel so sad to hear they have thought about not continuing their blog because of the vitriol – that is so no right – and I am sorry to hear you endured too much of it on dietgirl (because any of it is too much!) But v pleased to hear you will be posting once a week

  17. I get the same food blog comment rage!!! If you want to know how the recipe will turn out if you substitute X with X give it a try! Or, look for a similar recipe elsewhere that uses the substitute ingredient you’re wondering about! Some people are just dumb. And not resourceful. It might be un-PC to say that but it is true. But, hey – it takes all kinds to make the world go round… I guess… 😉

  18. Every year I make a resolution to not read comments (expect on personal blogs like this one). It’s SHOCKING how ugly and stupid comment sections have become (LOL “Come and have a look at these fuckwits!”). Any comment section brings out a troll ranting about “free speech” without the slightest bit of introspection that insulting, bullying, and threatening people with differing opinions might be just a bit of a deterrent to said free speech. I don’t always keep my resolve, but I know that days I don’t go “below the line” are better days over all. It’s not like I’ve missed anything important.

    For the people who get these ugly comments on their blogs, like Lori – I know that you know this, but it doesn’t hurt for one more person to say it – you did NOTHING to cause this. It’s not what you said, it’s not how you said it, it’s nothing to do with you. A person with some sort of problem (I don’t like to say mental illness because I’m not a doctor…) has happened along to your blog and looked for AN EXCUSE to be awful. Normal people who disagree with something you wrote will either disagree civilly and logically in the comments, or they will simply stop reading your blog. They don’t hang around to scream and threaten.

    I never had a big readership on my former blogs, so there weren’t many comments at all, but the one time that I had a bit of a jerk, it really surprised me that this person was SO INVESTED in some tiny thing I wrote – the life of a complete stranger, really just a tiny slice of that life! Who would CARE? It did freak me out a little, but it was so clear that this person had some kind of issue. I mean, my own MOTHER wouldn’t be that interested in what I ate for lunch, you know?

    At any rate, I hope none of you will ever stop writing because of it!

    1. I hardly ever read the comments, who cares what people think. Shauna’s a brilliant writer, I feel like I know her and Garrett (poor things, I’ll show up in Scotland one day going “hellllloo, long time no see” while they run down the street away from the crazy lady. I have to say I’m in love with “Come and a have a look at the fuckwits” as well. Made my day.

  19. Long time reader, finally resurfacing into the blogosphere 😀

    I too have been floored by the audacity of the comments on food blogs, the entitled attitudes and flat out rudeness. It stresses me out, and even though I’ve been working on recipes for my cake business (mmmmm, cake), I refuse to share them not because I don’t want to share them, but because I cannot be arsed dealing with the ‘what can I substitute’ bullshit.

    There was an amazing post I read about a food blogger who wrote a full blown article about how she was fed up with all of the substitution queries (which blows my brains out WHY NOT JUST TRY IT AND SEE??), can’t find it now for the life of me, the responses to THAT were “Oh it’s not that we don’t appreciate your work we just don’t get tapioca starch in this part of the city and {so forth}.”

    …. Not sure if there was any point to this comment, but I love that you wrote about this.

  20. I get super frustrated when I post about food esp on fb and someone says ‘what’s that, I’ve never heard of it’ – I seriously want to reply ‘and you’ve never heard of google either, obvs’.

    I’ve had a couple of comments that have made me pull back on what I say online. More nasty than creepy. Sometimes you forget that just anyone can read your stuff. the most recent was on a post I did about internet dating last year. Typical misogynist rant but the IP address was in Melbourne and it made me wonder if it was someone I knew and/or had dated! Hate that shit.

  21. Hooray. More posts from my favourite blogger. I do love the way you write. You have such natural rhythm (or maybe it’s not natural, but honed for hours. Anyway, you’re great!).

  22. The only time I mind a negative comment is where the commenter is ‘anonymous’. If they want to put their name on it, then that’s all good, but I’ve never had one do it and therefore, they just get deleted.

    People love to point out something wrong. They love to be right. Like when I did a raw cake and included maple syrup, I got a number of comments pointing out that maple syrup is not raw. That’s fine, and true, but the tone wasn’t nice. I’m for ‘polite’. I value etiquette.

  23. I think this ‘negativity’ arises because humans find it much easier to think negative things that positive things. It’s easy to pick-pick-pick at it than take a step back and say – I don’t agree with what you say, but you’re entitled to your opinion. I think the questions about “can I substitute X for Y” are pure laziness: people want instant gratification rather than delayed gratification (making it for themselves)

    There was an opinion piece in today’s paper on trolling, particularly on women’s blogs, and impact it has. One thing that resonated with me was the the quote that: “…what people don’t understand is the effect it can have on a person who’s experienced trauma. “. Prior to the troll comment, the blogger didn’t have a vision in her mind about the incident she’d blogged about. But *after* that comment, now she does. “And every time that incident is mentioned or mocked by these people, it’s the first image that springs to mind no matter how hard I try to shake it.”

    article here:

    1. Thank you so much for this comment… you are so so right. And the SMH article was great too. The second sentence you quoted sums up the feeling so very well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *