Aug 30, 2011

Food Blogging & Negativity: Do you post recipes that you hate on your blog?

Today I'm touching on a variety of topics dealing with food blogging, but the theme between them all is negativity.

First up, Bad recipes. They happen to the best of us. We make a recipe with the best intentions and it turns out to be a total flop. What is your next step?

  • Do you redo the recipe, hoping it will be better? 
  • Do you post the recipe on your blog with a negative review? Is it constructive criticism or an out right attack to the blogger?
  • Does it make any difference if the recipe came from a food blogger as opposed to a food celebrity, like Paula Deen or Bobby Flay? 
  • Is your first instinct to blame yourself or the recipe? 

Secondly, negative opinions. You don't like the quality or type of ingredients used in a recipe. What do you do?

  • Do you take inspiration from their recipe and tweak it to fit your dietary standards?
  • Do you immediately dismiss it and move on?
  • Do you leave a comment informing the food blogger that they are using the wrong ingredients and as a whole their recipes stink?
  • Do you get on your blog and write a long rant about how anyone who ever cooks with ------ ingredients is a terrible cook and should be ashamed of themselves?
I used a cake mix. I must be
a horrible person
These are all questions I wonder about frequently while I am browsing other blogs.  I try to keep my blog as uplifting and positive as possible. Even when I tell you all the things I hate about your blog, I try to do so in a hopefully light hearted way that is meant to be helpful and not snotty.

I don't come across very many hostile and mean spirited food bloggers, but they are for sure out there. Just like hostile and mean spirited comments, I don't get a ton but I know they are out there. The most frequent style of hostility that I personally come across is people who are food elitists.

Let me clarify one thing real quick. If you are not a fan of cake mixes or canned soups, that is just fine. There are from scratch alternatives for almost everything out there that is a convenience product. I am totally A-OK with the fact that you don't like them. What I am not A-OK with is when people rant on their blogs about how lazy, stupid and horrible people are who do use them. 

The food bloggers who say (I'm paraphrasing but this is what I read) that anyone who EVER uses a cake mix is a lazy, fat, horrible cook. That using a can of cream of chicken soup is literally poisoning their children and they should have their kids taken away.  I'm not exaggerating these remarks, I have run across quite a few of them the past few years. Does this kind of hostility and negativity bother anyone else?

Run for your life!
Ahhh, the horror!
I recently had a young woman who pinned one of my casserole recipes onto a Pinterest board that she had titled, "This is why you are fat." I was stunned, although I probably shouldn't have been. What is stunning to me is that someone has so much free time to be so negative and spiteful. (On Pinterest of all places, which is normally so fun and inspiring. She had literally created a board of all the things she hated. Hah!)

You and I don't eat the same? Hey, that is fine by me. I'll leave you alone, how about you leave me alone too? Keep on blog browsing and don't let the door hit your butt on the way out.  What I don't get is pinning a bunch of random food blogs on Pinterest and leaving comments of, "GROSS!" "THIS IS DISGUSTING!" and the like. How awful and mean spirited is that?

All I can think is that this is a girl who has a lot of hate in her heart and she feels the need to lash out at people on the internet. It is kind of sad, but frankly it riled me up because how snotty and judgmental her comments were. We are all young bloggers at one point, and to see something like this when you are new can be a real buzz kill.

Back to the recipes, do you take the time to write up a post, take pictures, and type up the recipe when it was a dud? Do you name names, calling out the blogger who provided the recipe? Or do you just skip posting it and move on?

I am absolutely a skip posting it and move on kind of person. I don't think most food bloggers would ever intentionally post a bad recipe. I tend to question if I really followed the recipes closely, if I misread an ingredient amount, and scrutinize if it was my mistake that a recipe turned out bad. What about you?

For some reason I will admit that I am far more lenient and forgiving to food bloggers and their recipes than I am of the celebrity cooks out there. I am more likely to post a negative review on a Food Network recipe than I am to visit a blog and leave a comment. I am not saying that is right, but it is just the way I feel. I connect with fellow food bloggers and I feel a sense of solidarity between us all. I want to uplift others, not tear them down.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topics above. Do you get negative comments on your blog from food elitists? Or do you get blamed for a dud recipe even when it is clear the cook didn't follow your recipe closely? Please share in the comments.

Also - Inspired by eRecipecards did a thoughtful review of one of my recipes and my blog as a whole today. He poked a bit of fun at me and the things I hate about blogs. Check it out. See, I can take a joke when it is a good natured jab. :)


  1. Girl, I love you. Let me just start there. You say the things so many of us think, and ask the questions so many of us are afraid to answer! I have a cake recipe sitting in my "edit posts" completely written and photographed. It's been there since July. I can't post it. My entire family loved this cake (hubby and 4 kids), but I didn't. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great. So for that reason it sits there.

    Normally if a recipe flops I don't ever write about it. I guess if someone tried something of mine and it sucked I don't want to hear it. Because everything I put on my blog I love. (which is why I'm not posting the cake I mentioned). I do take pictures of flops, only because food gets photographed before we eat, so I don't usually know it's a flop until then.

    As for the negative comments, well, you know my story about the emails I received telling me that I'm an awful mother for letting my children drink out of a hose. So, yeah, people need a life. A happy life!

  2. Oh and one more thought (as if I haven't shared enough already), as far as peoples reviews biggest pet peeve (okay one of them) is when people review one of my recipes and say it was a flop, or just okay, but they are CLEAR in their review that they changed nearly half the ingredient list (didn't use something, substituted another thing, blah blah blah). You are more than welcome to change a recipe how you want to, but then don't come and review mine, because that's not what you made. Period. Done. Stepping down... :) :) :)

  3. My mom always taught me if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything. I am so new to the blogging world that I haven't had any negative comments yet. I have seen reviews though on other blogs like Aimee mentioned. They say they changed several things and then gave a low rating. As a reader it didn't effect my view of the recipe knowing that the comment was irrelevant.

    I have photographed and written things only to delete when it's not as good as it could be. I can't imagine actually reviewing someone else's food unsolicited and give a negative review.

    On that note, thanks for your blog! I appreciate the link party you host each week.

  4. I side with Thumper and believe that, "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all." If someone really feels the need to comment they could say that they tried it and whatever part didn't turn out right. Maybe they did something wrong blogger has a solution (or a typo that they need to correct). I also try to remember that not every one's tastes are the same. There are some foods that I hate and other people think are awesome. Everyone is different.

    I don't get the pinterest thing. Pinterest is all about pinning things that you LIKE so that you can remember to try them later. Why on earth would someone create a board for things they hate? As for cake mixes and canned soup; not everyone has time to make the entire meal from scratch. It's still not as lazy as all of the people who eat nothing but fast food and tv dinners. Besides for some people it is just an occasional guilty pleasure.

    If you can improve a recipe or make it completely from scratch then that's great. Go ahead and post your modified recipe but there is no reason to be nasty about the original.

    Anyway, I love your blog and think all of your recipes look delicious....even the ones that use the evil cake mix. :)

  5. I almost always assume the recipe didn't turn out because of something I did. I know that can't always be true, but there are so many things that can ruin a recipe and it takes too much effort to actively bash someone else for it. I do try to be openly honest about whether or not I plan on making the recipe ever again though. And if something does go horrible wrong I plan on sharing it from now on.

    That girl on Pinterest is ridiculous and people who hate mixes are often a bit sanctimonious in my experience (not all of course!). Everything has its place and anyone who loses their cool over a can of cream of mushroom has bigger problems than artificial flavorings and colors.

  6. Speaking of typos: that was supposed to say "maybe they did something wrong *and the original* blogger has a solution." Hahaha!

  7. As a rule I never post negative reviews. I try a lot of new recipes and have had a few flops, but would NEVER post about it. I only post what I love! I don't believe in promoting bad attitudes. That pinterest chick needs to stuff it. So beyond rude, and so not worth your great energy!

  8. This post comes at a very relevant time for me. Just this morning I was checking my blogroll and the blogger who had my blog in this weeks Secret Recipe Club had posted a recipe of mine but it hadn't turned out the way it should have. I checked it out and although she was unhappy about it she certainly didn't maul me. I actually thought she wrote the post very well and I replied saying how sorry I was that it hadn't worked out for her. I also think it's cool that she still wanted to post it even if she wasn't happy with it.
    Thanks for the interesting post...

  9. @ Aimee - You crack me up. "I guess if someone tried something of mine and it sucked I don't want to hear it." Hahaha. I have a lot of recipes in my draft section that were decent but not really amazing, and I too hold off on posting them. It is hard as a food blogger to not post so-so recipes because we put so much work, time and money into each recipe that you hate to not post SOMETHING. Even then, I just cut my losses and move on. :)

    @ Heather - Your Momma taught you well :) I agree. I think the most that I would say is while a dish was perfectly good, it wasn't my taste, but my family loved it. I think that is fine, but each person should do whatever they feel is best. If that feels too negative, they should probably just skip a post about it.

    @ Megan - I think you bring up a good point. If a blogger is genuinely wanting to give feedback and ask questions as to why a recipe didn't turn out, there is a great opportunity there to consider your recipe and give them feedback. It creates a good community between yourself and your visitors in that they know you are listening to their concerns. That is a great example. If you felt awkward leaving a comment, an email is an option if you want to keep it private.

    @ Alana - I think that it is each bloggers preference if they want to post a review, be it negative or postive, but I know that you would be thoughtful in your review, and not like some people that launch an attack on an unsuspecting blogger. :) I do appreciate blogs that feature some funny kitchen mishaps or flops, just to show that it happens to us all. If you can offer a suggestion on what would make it better, even better.

    @ A Pretty Life - I'm with ya. Honestly I barely have time to blog about what I do love that I can't imagine taking a bunch of time to blog about what I hated. :) hehe.

    @ Foodness Gracious - While I do feel bad that your assigned blogger didn't pick another recipe to try (they do ask you to try up to 3 recipes before you call it), I applaud you for not taking it personally. I try to go absoultely the other direction for my Secret Recipe Club assignments. If I wasn't absoultely thrilled with how mine turned out for SRC, I'd pick another recipe. I think long and hard about what I love about the blogger and their recipe, no matter what. If you dig deep enough, you can find something positive to say. Good luck to you next month. :)

  10. Wow, some of that had me laughing out loud. You get fired up like I do about food issues. :o)

    I mentioned on a post not too long ago some of these same points. I've been making an effort to add some of the foods from my Pinterest boards to our weekly menus. I had said on one of the first posts from a Pinterest recipe that if I didn't care for it, or, if it just plain sucked, I just delete the pin. On things I like and would make again, I comment on the pin itself and post about it.

    I would NEVER tell a blogger that I made something of their's and hated it. NEVER. And I can only hope no one does it to me. Clearly we all have different taste buds and I would never expect everyone to drool over everything I like. How boring would that be!? Like yer mama taught ya, if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    I DO, however, appreciate when someone tells me how they've adapted a recipe to suit their family or diet needs. I do that a lot with recipes. And getting that type of feedback gives me ideas and brings up things I may have never thought of.

    As for the elitists, I say, get over yourself. Sure, I'd love to only shop at all local, organic grocery stores and spend my free time strolling farmer's markets year round, but who's got the money to do that when you've got a mortgage and kids?! Gimme a break. I make healthy choices that fit our family and our budget and outside of that, if you don't like it, don't eat it!

    Having said that, I am a judger when it comes to seeing what's in people's baskets at the store. Seriously, not a single item of fresh produce? TWO carts full of processed and frozen food? Now that, to me, is just nasty. Ya wanna whack em upside the head with a bag of fresh apples! lol

    This was a great post. Maybe one of the meanies out there will realize how it hurts people's feelings to leave negative feedback. Would you go to someone's house for dinner and push yourself away from the table telling them to their face how much their food sucked?

  11. @ Mindy - Hah, well I am glad I am not alone. I just think about these things a lot and like to get it off my mind by opening up the discussion.

    You mentioned a few great points. Feedback about changes that were made, like subbing an ingredient, and it turned out well. That is always helpful to know.

    On the flip side, if a blogger posted a review and say, "Hey I tried subbing the following ingredients and it totally flopped, please no one else make my mistake," it is equally helpful. I wouldn't be upset at all for a comment like that. It all depends on how the message is delivered.

    It does hurt to get negative feedback. Constructive criticism is one thing...mean comments are another. When we visit another persons blog it is the place they call *home*. I think we could all do to remember that. That is the place they feel comfortable and happy, and we really shouldn't charge in, bark at them, and leave in a huff. That is just bad manners. :)

  12. Ali, I should have added that my blogger made a diffrent recipe for the SRC and it she raved about it and done an awesome job. I think she made the one which had problems after the SRC as she just wanted to try it after seeing it at my place. I was very happy with how she wrote her post :)
    Thanks again..

  13. @ Foodness -- I'm so glad to hear that the post she reviewed was more positive. Slight misunderstanding there, and I'm so glad that for the feature she had such great things to say about your blog (cause they are all true) :) Thank you for coming back to clarify.

  14. I can't believe someone actually did that!! So crazy!! I live a strictly "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" blogging policy! (which actually can be hurtful sometimes too, so I usually try to say something nice!!)

    I figure we're all on here, for the most part, to have fun right? So why on earth be critical at all? So what if you don't like my stuff? I'm not force feeding you cookies and cake! You know? It's totally beyond my understanding why anyone ever bothers to say something critical about someone else's food blogging!

  15. If I don't like a recipe, I usually temper it with, "it's not my preference, but..." Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. It's only when people are leaving idiotic comments where I get upset.

  16. I love your post!
    I heard on some show...10 people could make the same recipe and have different outcomes. I have made the same recipe multiple times and had different outcomes. The ingredients and amounts were the same, yet the outcome different. So I dont think people intentionally post a bad recipe. Peoples taste vary too.
    I also totally agree with your comment about being more lenient towards food bloggers than celebrity cooks. I would hope that buy the time a celebrities recipe is on there website it has been tested many times and the outcome is consistently good.
    Nothing is wrong with a box mix...I just used one and blogged about it today...haha!
    I do post my most of my "adventures" mishaps and all, as long as they werent too bad. Sometimes something is good, but not perfect, or is the wrong consistency, but will put that in my post giving the adventurous reader a chance to either forget about it and dont make it or make it and figure out how to improve on it and let me know how they fixed it, so far no one has fixed my problems yet.
    One can be constructive without being hurtful.
    I like the comment you posted about a blog being a persons home. People dont go into a friends house and tell them their carpet stinks...even if it does.

  17. Talk about typos...I see one I just made!

  18. Wow, those are insane comments about the canned soup and cake mix. I mean, I love to make things from scratch, but I'm a mom, so I know a lot of my fellow mom readers don't have the time to make everything from scratch. Things that are easy to substitute, just substitute it, people! I think it's rediculous for someone to leave critical comments about ingredients. Of course that is the risk bloggers open themselves up to, but that doesn't make it right. Personally I would only leave a critical comments if I make someone's recipe and it didn't turn out because their recipe was off somehow. Even then, if I even took the time to mention it to the blogger, I would do it in a polite and discreet way. There are bullies on the internet just like in real life. And most of them do a good job of making the victim feel like they're just being oversensitive. As far as the pinterest thing goes, well food is subjective just like art is People have different opinions and different tastes, but if it is directed personally at the author, I think it's important to be polite.

  19. Great post, Ali! I have a category on my blog called "Kitchen Blunders" that I will post, but they are usually of things I created that went completely wrong or when I personally did something wrong with a recipe I used. I think it is worth a good laugh when things don't go as planned but it is never at the expense of the recipe itself or the person who created it. Blogging is supposed to be uplifting and fun - we are a community and most bloggers are in it simply to share their experiences.

    I have never received negative feedback or given it, bur I am sure if someone had a bad experience with a recipe I posted, they are just holding their tongue about it. I do the same. Some recipes are not for everyone.

    I also hate when I read a recipe on Food Network or Allrecipes and the reviewers have a paragraph of things they changed but "something wasn't quite right". Well YOU CHANGED EVERYTHING! The problem is that if people are familiar with a certain recipe (like apple pie or something), they change it to what they think it should be before trying the one that is posted. Go make the one you're familiar with and stop reviewing things that you didn't truly make!

    Lastly, as far as being critical of bloggers vs celebrity chefs, I do expect celebrity chef recipes to be foolproof - because I assume they have been through the test kitchen plenty of times to make it right! As for bloggers, some of us do experiment and sometimes the recipe comes out different every time. I have made a pizza dough that came out different 5 times with the same recipe! Anyways, all those elitists need to worry about themselves and all those negative nancys need to get a life. Food is supposed to be fun!

  20. I believe when someone doesn't have something nice to say it is just because they are jealous of you! Why people would wate their time trying to put you down? Because they envy you. I agree this girl might have a lot of hate in her heart... But just let it go... The reality too is that we can't please everyone. Everyone has their different taste. I am sure people will always try to tweek some things on my recipe to adjust to their diet. Some might use artificial sweetner instead of sugar, some might try using less fat or whatever. I just don't think it's fair when they try to disminish your work.

  21. Very thoughtful post. I completely agree with what you said. We all have different styles and ways of cooking and baking and using a box mix or canned soup doesn't mean we're a "bad" baker or cook. I haven't come across any negative comments yet, but my blog is young. Hold you head up high and remember that haters are going to hate.:D

  22. I only post recipes I love on my blog b/c I don't want to pass on a failed recipe. I don't give feedback if it doesn't turn out b/c I usually suppose it's my fault. My biggest disappointment was with a recipe a friend gave b/c I love giving positive feedback to my peeps but it was so gross that I threw it out. I didn't follow the recipe to a T so it was probably my fault. If I have something not turn out quite right, and I can tell there is potential, I will make it again with some tweaking. Sometimes, if it's my own original recipe, I will make it four times before getting it right and good enough to share. I'm not so patient with others' recipes. I never give bad feedback on a recipe b/c like I said, I don't post them if they don't turn out good for me. Thankfully I've only had one derogatory comment: "a recipe that starts with a cake mix is NOT a recipe." Whatever. I'm with you on that matter. I have no problem with convenience items and if you do, then don't use them in your own kitchen and leave me alone. :)

  23. I never post recipes that don't work out because I can't be bothered to take the time to write up the post. Though I do post recipes that I don't particularly care for if those around me love them because my tastes aren't always the same as everyone else. I never, ever leave negative posts and will try to find something positive to say and if I can't find anything, not even nice picture, well I move on.

    I do tend to change ingredients but I'd like to think that I'm experienced enough to know when and how to change an ingredient so I really haven't had failures on that end. Generally the recipe works out but like many things I make or try, it just doesn't thrill me enough to make it again.

    Thankfully I have found most of the food bloggers to be really kind in their comments and reviews which is different than what I have found on my family blog where people feel it okay to criticise the things I do and the choices I make for my daughter and family or tell me that my blog is only a "brag" blog and that's all I do...Like I force them to read it or something. I'm saddened when people find it necessary to be mean and hateful. Say something nice or nothing at all. Just my opinion...

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  25. I loved this post! Yes, I do post about my bad experiences too... but usually I say it is just my preference, or someone else could love it, or give it a try and let me know what you think, or ask for suggestions to make it better. I think it's rude to act the way you are talking about. And I agree, Pinterest is supposed to be a place that you pin things you like, not DISLIKE! smh! And I definitely agree... the food blogging community is supposed to be a place to lift others up, not break them down. Off to read that post by Inspired by eRecipecards :)

  26. Hi!

    I just wanted you to know that I just found your blog... via Pinterest. Someone re-pinned your casserole in positive light and I clicked on it because it looked AMAZING.

    Ignore the haters!

  27. I sometimes write about recipes I have tried that didn't work out. (Though not recipes from other bloggers; that would be rude.) But I think it's important to learn from mistakes, so when a recipe goes wrong I write about how I tried to fix it and what I would do differently next time.

  28. I agree with you. If I have tried something and it did not turn out so well, then I skip reposting the recipe or skip commenting, unless I am sure I did something wrong and am asking for help or clarification.
    On a side note, I just tried your Dorito Casserole and it was yummy! :)

  29. Does anyone else think many times food celebrity sites show recipes that are intentionally slightly off or just plain bad so as to entice users to log in and comment? In so doing, we experience the catharsis of letting the "chef" know what we think, while the site gets more clicks, thus exposing us to more advertising and collecting more marketable data about us.

  30. I'm a little late to the party but thought I would share my thoughts :)
    I don't usually blog about a recipe that didn't turn out unless it was a spectacular failure that was due to my mistake. I certainly never "blame the recipe".
    I like when people comment on changes they have made to a recipe to let me know how it turned out. I DO NOT like when people comment that a recipe was terrible/didn't work when they have changed 1/2 the ingredients. (I have a recipe that had only 3 ingredients - spinach, cheese, and egg - and the reviewer said they left the cheese out and it didn't work. "It was awful. I will not be making this again" was her comment. Sometimes you just have to shake your head)
    I find if I'm drawn to another blogger's recipe but the ingredients don't "do it for me" then I will use their recipe for inspiration and invent my own version. I, most often, give them credit for the inspiration by linking to their blog but will credit the recipe to myself. (Depending, of course, on how much I change) I would never dream of leaving them a comment saying something negative about their recipe - I would leave them a comment saying thank you for the idea.
    I agree that some people are jealous and have waaaaay too much time on their hands and like to hop from blog to blog leaving nasty comments. I feel sad for them. To waste so much energy spreading negativity trying to make themselves feel's just plain sad.