Slow Burn: a rant about perfume blogging, Part I of II

The Grudge, no. This isn't my car.

IRL, y’all, I am a touchy person.  A rude driver can ruin my morning.  If I call  The CEO’s cell phone to ascertain whether he picked Gaze up from track practice at the middle school, and he answers all my questions truthfully yet not completely, Bill Clinton style, obfuscating the situation and making me think ma blue-eyed bebe with his long eyelashes is standing on the school steps all alone instead of riding safely home with his sister, I am livid for twenty minutes.

Also, I can hold a grudge like nobody’s business.  I am the Repeat World Champion of Grudge-Holding.  I can cradle up my grudges like an armful of fluffy kittens and not let them go even when they are scratching me to ribbons. 

I am working on changing this behavior.  It is not easy.  Today I have failed, miserably.

Sometimes it takes me awhile to get my mad on.   I’ll hear or read some comment and be vaguely annoyed, and tell myself to just “let it go.”  So I’ll have, I thought, let it go, and six weeks later I wake up mad, and it takes me some time to figure out why.  And then I will need to address my feelings about whatever-it-was that annoyed me, and get the feelings all out in the open before I can really release the issue’s emotional hold on me.

So.  Here goes.  And I warn you now, toes will be stepped upon.  I have my big girl boots on today.  Names will be named.  I am prepared for the consequences.

I read this post by Dane on Pere de Pierre, which talked about “crap bloggers” and chastised new perfume bloggers for being unlearned and spreading misinformation.  It annoyed me, and I considered commenting, but then I realized that Dane has never once responded to any comment I’ve made on his blog, and that there was very little point in my saying anything to him.

Besides which, I get the feeling that he’d consider this blog a “crap” one.

I’ve been blogging regularly since 2009, but I don’t have any industry expertise at all. I’m not an expert.  I’ve not done an internship with IFF or learned my way around a perfumer’s organ. I’m not a sales associate. I don’t make my own aromatherapy products.  I’m not a lifelong sniffer who wore No. 19 when it was new and asphyxiated my dorm-mates in the 80s with Poison.  I wasn’t even part of that original cast of MakeUp Alley that spawned so many influential writers-about-perfume: Robin of Now Smell This, Patty and her Perfume Posse, Tania Sanchez, among others.

As a result of posting reviews on fragrance forums and finding that I enjoyed it but always seemed to have more to say than the space warranted, I started my blog.  I intended from the beginning to write not just about perfume, but about anything else that struck my fancy.  I wrote a few posts in April of 2009, got busy, let it slide.  I picked it up again in September of that year and haven’t stopped since, posting at least one article a week, and usually more frequently.  And although most of my posts concern fragrance, that isn’t the only thing I write about.  You’ll still find the occasional book review, movie review, rant, celebration, or collection of random thoughts here.

I have been open, from the beginning, about my firmly amateur status.  I wrote this post in 2010 explaining why I don’t consider myself a “perfume critic,” and I still hold this stance: I’m not an expert.  I have at this point smelled a ton o’ stuff, including a number of raw materials/perfume ingredients (I highly recommend this, if you can manage it), as well as a plethora of classic and modern fragrances. 

However, I’m not the “history of the brand” buff, and I’m not usually a student of individual perfumer styles, either.  I can only tell you what I think or feel when I smell something, and I could be either ignorant or just plain wrong or unduly biased by my personal experiences, so please keep that in mind when you read anything I write.  Think of this blog as an extended form of, say, Basenotes – but minus the testosterone overdose and the flaming Creed wars.  Add a hefty dose of cows and storytelling, and you’ve got me. 

I do not agree with the idea that anybody who blogs has to be something of an expert.  I take issue with the concept that blogs must of necessity be informational.  I think there is room for people writing about perfume and making mistakes while doing it. 

So what, in my humble “crap” opinion, characterizes a good blog?

I say, a blog is the blog owner’s intellectual property, his castle, her baby, the blogger’s very own playroom in the big house of the internet.  The blogger gets to decide what the blog will look like, what its content and policies will be, who gets to come in and play.

The reader, on the other hand, gets to decide whether she will read the blog.  I will argue that the very fact of opening up one’s blog to the public creates an informal contract between blogger and reader, in which the blogger offers content and the reader consumes it, and the two engage in some form of conversation.  Bloggers can expect that readers will conduct themselves in an acceptable fashion, and readers can expect that bloggers will produce a blog that falls within a range of expected norms based on the historical “shape” of the blog. 

For example: if three years ago your blog was full of lyrical perfume reviews and descriptions of delightful vacations and the adorable things your dog did last week, and suddenly the posts become repeated three-sentence “I’m really busy right now but I had an amazing yoga class last night, here’s a giveaway, y’all talk amongst yourselves,” snippets – well, that’s an example of the blogger-reader contract lapsing.  Readers will be disappointed.

Look, if you started a blog merely as a way to have conversations with yourself, to get out of your head what’s in it, and you truly do not care if anyone reads your blog, and your topics skip around from your recent pedicure to your cat’s tuna breath and your trip to Disney World, that is fine.  If you’re posting whenever you feel like it, with long stretches between posts, and your readers are accustomed to that schedule, that is fine.  If you are a self-aggrandizing kind of person who thrives on attention and your blog is even a kind of ego stroke, that is fine too.  It is your blog.  You can do whatever you want with it.

It’s my personal feeling that if you have a regular posting schedule and regular posting topics, and you change either one of those characteristics, it would be both wise and appreciated to give your readers a heads-up.  One blog I’ve enjoyed has recently gone from mostly-perfume reviews to mostly-not, following some changing interests on the blogger’s part.  But the blogger said straight out that she’d be posting less frequently, and on different subjects, so I didn’t feel cheated.  Another of my favorite blogs has been silent for over a year now, while the blogger is out of the country – but she said ahead of time that she would be winding things down and didn’t know when or if she’d be back.  (I’m disappointed, but I don’t feel cheated.) 

One blog that I’ve followed for some time has stopped replying to comments, and that did make me feel cheated.  I visit much less frequently these days. As I say, the blog belongs to the blogger – and the blogger does not have to rely on readers’ opinions or respond to every comment or continue blogging about something that no longer interests the blogger or even make a statement that things are going to change – but if the blog has readers, the blogger has to consider them in some fashion or face losing readership.

Not too long ago, I was all depressed about not having a meaningful income-producing job, and The CEO, bless his heart, was being all supportive and reminding me that I blog.  I had to explain this to him: Any idiot with a laptop and an internet connection can blog.  It’s true – it’s easy to start, when you have something to say and the means to say it.  The hard part is keeping on.  The kids are sick, or work got crazy, or you’re moving across the country, or you get bored with writing reviews, and you can’t find anything to say, or you’re clinically depressed – and the blog falls several notches in your priority list.  I cannot suggest that a blog is more important than career, or family, or personal matters, but in my opinion, a failure to put up a post saying that you’re taking hiatus for awhile is just bad blog maintenance.  How long does that take? Five minutes or less.  Ten minutes, if you type really slowly.  If your internet connection suddenly fails and you don’t have it back within a week or two, can’t you go by the public library and put up the “hiatus” post, or get a friend to do it?  It’s just laziness and disregard for readers.

It’s my estimation that any lazy or incompetent bloggers will either improve, or drop out of the game.  And honestly, I don’t know of very many lazy or incompetent bloggers. 

I have occasionally run across a blogger who seems to have no knowledge of proper written English, and I find the output lacking in content and extremely difficult  to follow.  I’m not talking here about someone such as Elena of Perfume Shrine, whose first language is Greek and whose English spelling or phrase construction is sometimes quirky. That’s not a detraction from a blog where the content is full of both hard knowledge and beautifully-expressed experience.  I’m talking about a review that goes something like, “I so relly luv this prfume! The rosedosnt smell like roses in my flower garden but thats ok i love it anyway and it smellssooooo good. And my boifrend luvs it 2. U shold tri it.”  And I’m not kidding, I did actually find a blog where all the writing looks like that, when searching for a review of a particular perfume.  I clicked away ASAP after making sure it wasn’t a joke post.  (No, don’t ask me for the link.)

Maybe that really is the kind of “crap blog” that Dane’s talking about in his cranky post, but it’s my impression that it’s not the only kind of perfume blog he finds to be fertilizer material, given that a few weeks ago he referred to Victoria of Bois de Jasmin as “a real perfume blogger.”  (Victoria is indeed “a real perfume blogger,” combining industry experience, a basic knowledge of perfumery that she’s happy to share with her readers, good blog maintenance, and truly lyrical writing – but that’s not my point.)  My beef is that if he considers himself a “real perfume blogger,” he’s got some strange standards.

It has particularly galled me that the person complaining about crap blogs is not and has never been, in my lowly humble inexpert crap opinion, a good blogger.  As far as I can find out (because there is no “About me” page on his blog, though I have the impression that he’s well-known on the Basenotes forum), he is a perfume enthusiast like most of the rest of us, without industry experience,  training himself by sniffing stuff. I don’t consider this background a bar to blogging, but if we are discussing what blog features I find important, his blog fails on several counts.  The blog is updated irregularly, the reviews are often short and too flippant for me to take seriously, and responses to comments are inconsistent at best. 

Look, I understand about having bad days, when everything seems like crap.  I told you: I am the Queen of Pique.  I get it.  I’m well aware that I may have taken offense where none was intended.  If I thought it would do any good, I’d contact the guy and demand to know exactly what he meant.  He’s free to comment here and call me an irrational pique-y witch.

What I’d like to talk about now isn’t the issue of whether it is okay to write comments in a fit of pique, or even whether there are too many perfume blogs (the “too many” issue will be addressed next Wednesday, so save those comments for then, please).  I want to know whether you have guidelines for “good blogs” versus “crap blogs,” and if you have ever stopped visiting certain blogs because of something you’ve read there, or a policy/format change. 

The other thing I’d like to mention is that I’m going to be moving to a different blogroll format.  The blogs I check regularly or find most informative will be listed in sidebar on the main page, with a separate page for “Other blogs I enjoy.”  Some of the blogs in my blogroll today will disappear in the format change – for various reasons.  Some of them are no longer regularly updated; some of them are focused on masculine fragrances (and this is fine – but I am not really interested in masculine fragrances, so I’m going to remove these links); some of them are not geared toward the blogger-reader interaction I like best; some are newer blogs that began promisingly but have fizzled like New Year’s resolutions in March.  Am I justified in pruning my blogroll? I think so, but I’d love to hear what you think.


89 thoughts on “Slow Burn: a rant about perfume blogging, Part I of II”

  1. You’ve reminded me, with the grudge-holding, of one of my favourite bits of “Tam O’Shanter”, the roving, tippling husband of Kate: “… our sulky sullen dame.
    Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
    Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.”

    I love reading perfume blogs, the more the merrier.

    The only one I’ve stopped reading is one where the typeface is reversed out (white on black) and, even when I enlarge it a couple of times, it’s physically uncomfortable to read. See, only eyestrain stops me!

    Prune away and rave on:-)

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

    1. Anna, that is exactly why we say “nursing a grudge,” isn’t it? I have to learn how to drop-kick the little darlings.

      There is one blog I just LOVE, but it takes on average from 4 to 9 minutes to load on my computer, so I don’t visit it very often. Eyestrain seems like too much trouble to me as well.

  2. When I was five years old, an Irish friend and I were at the YMCA. An older man was very rude to us and tried to get us to leave. My Irish friend turned to me and said, “I’m Catholic, so I have to forgive him.” I retorted, “I’m Jewish, so I don’t have to!”

    I hold grudges, too.

    Thank you for your rant, Mals. I really like what you had to say about the blogger-reader contract. And I honestly cannot imagine a literate person who would consider this a “crap” perfume blog.

    1. HA! Told him.

      Thing is, I know grudges are bad for me. I KNOW they are. Rants, on the other hand, are not poisonous the way grudges are.

      I may have totally gotten the wrong end of the stick, but I do have certain knowledge that at least a couple of other readers took that comment to heart as well, and it burns my shorts that someone, particularly a newbie, would feel unwelcome in the ‘fume blog community because of it. Like I say, I’ve only run across one blog I’d call crap, and it’s the one I sort-of-quoted in purple up there. There are a number of blogs that are less valuable to me than others, but even I would not call them crap. They’re not “good,” maybe, but they’re not crap either.

  3. Love rants! And you are totally justified for griping. I just started blogging about a month and a half ago, and I have found the perfume blogging community to be among the nicest, most generous, and above all, intelligent group I’ve encountered in a long time.

    However unpleasant, the negative and bad blogs have their place in the discussion as well, if anything to teach us what not to do. I posted a link to Pere de Pierre as well in my own rant about blogging, and I realized later that his post was the catalyst to dozens of fascinating conversations among us perfume enthusiasts about what we do and why we do it. These are fruitful exchanges that bring those of us who really care about our writing closer, through winning each other’s respect for our labors of love.

    The blogs I like to read are ones that are updated regularly, are upbeat in tone and enthusiasm, are formatted well so they are easy to read. I also like to follow bloggers who regularly post on Twitter and Facebook, because the conversation doesn’t have to end with the blog post. Good pictures that accompany the subject of the post attract me, and I appreciate it when the blogger replies to my comments because that shows me that they care about what their readers think.

    1. Oh, very good point: if he hadn’t said it, we wouldn’t be discussing it.

      I’m still not sure I’m grateful. No blogs have changed the way they do things as a result of the discussion, as far as I have been able to tell – for all that we’ve now said something about *why* we blog the way we blog. And who knows how many people who had wanted to start blogging but didn’t think they had the experience have now decided not to blog?

      Grrrr. But now I want to read your rant…

      Images, that’s interesting – I’m probably not as visually-oriented as many people are. (My art-historian sister despairs of me.) I can usually find an image or two to go along with a post, but it’s not a focus for me. I love the images Robin finds on NST.

  4. Great rant, Mals. I too was irritated by Dane’s comment (for at least a full day), and I don’t even consider myself a perfume blogger.

    I too think responding to comments is an important part of maintaining a good blog. It’s not *required* to keep me reading, but it is required to make me feel comfortable and welcome. I do understand that it’s harder to respond to every comment when your comment threads get into the hundreds. Though there have been times when I’ve left a comment at NST and mine was the only one that didn’t get a response, which left me wondering if I was somehow non grata there.

    Looking forward to the rest of the rant!

    P.S. I stopped reading Octavian’s blog long ago because his attitude and writing both annoy me. I think his is the only “big one” that I don’t read.

    1. Comments is a biggie for me. I do understand that with the really big blogs, comments in the hundreds, it’s hard to make sure that everything gets a response. Comments numbering a half-dozen? That’s inexplicable to me. Sure, you need not respond to comments on your review of eyeliner, but you post a very personal review of a fragrance that meant a lot to you, and people comment, and you say nothing? And later mention in another venue that it’s all you can do to take pictures and try beauty items so your readers don’t have to, you don’t have time for comments? Well, I’m no longer so interested in your blog. I don’t mind if other people read it, I’m just saying I’m not gonna.

      I hardly ever go by Octavian’s blog anymore unless I am looking for very specific information – for example, some details on a very old Coty. Because those details are likely to be on his blog, and that’s valuable to me. I don’t comment, though.

      1. Octavian has had comments turned off for some time now, anyway. I actually very much enjoy his blog, but I don’t take it 100% seriously. The historical stuff is invaluable. I skip the intense super-long philosophical examinations of perfume, though. His reviews of contemporary perfume annoy some people I think, but I love how cranky and full of bile they are – I love imagining him as this cranky old man ranting about perfume. I also find it really interesting that he often seems to disagree with the blogosphere’s consensus about a perfume; I think contrarian perspectives are interesting.

        That said I totally get why his tone/style would be bothersome for many.

        1. It’s not the contrarian-ness that irritates me. I love I Smell Therefore I Am for that very reason — their opinions often run contrary to consensus. Maybe it’s that he comes across as both cranky and humorless. I guess I like my snark to be funnier.

          1. I get that, definitely. I don’t think I could handle 1000 Fragrances without my mental image of Octavian raging.

            And thanks for adding me to your reader… hope I’ll live up to expectations and not be a crap blogger. 😉

          2. I already know you’re not a crap blogger! By the way I liked Diane too. Not FBW for me but I thought it was pretty and a nice change for the mainstream.

        2. I don’t feel very welcome at his blog. But yes, the historical stuff is priceless. (Also, I was unaware that he’d turned comments off – that’s how long it’s been since I even attempted a comment.)

    2. Elisa, I apologize that that has ever happened to you! I used to reply to every comment but just can’t do it anymore unless I cut back on actual posts. Our “rule” is that we try to answer comments in order, then stop when we can’t answer more — that way, it’s clear that we didn’t “select” certain comments to be answered. But I know we’re not 100% successful.

      1. Robin, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad! I still love NST and will keep reading and commenting away. (I think it’s human/blogger nature to be slightly paranoid and wonder if you’re really part of the community. So it’s easy to read a comment like Dane’s, for example, and wonder if he’s talking about you.) Anyway, completely understand about it being difficult to keep up with comments given how many your site gets.

        1. Don’t worry — I just ALSO am paranoid, that is the reason for the whole policy, and in fact, it’s why I started out answering all comments to begin with!

  5. Mals, I think we’re gonna have to have a smackdown to determine who is the World Champion of Grudge-Holding. I am the QUEEN of the Grudge-Holders! Betcha I can hold one longer than you can (LOL)!

    But seriously, I don’t see where one blogger gets off saying that others’ blogs are crap. There is certainly room on the interwebs for anyone who wants to start a blog. Not everyone will be a skilled blogger. People will read the blog and decide if they like the content and if the blogger’s “voice” resonates with them. Whether the blog is good or not is for the readers to decide, not other bloggers. Readers will vote on the quality of a blog by becoming regulars, or by staying away in droves. Many blogs will eventually disappear, I’m sure, due to lack of interest on the part of the blogger and the readers.

    There are several blogs I read regularly (yours being one) because I enjoy the “voice” and the personality that comes through in the writing. I have checked out many others but dropped them from the “regulars” list. And for the record, Pere de Pierre is one of the discards, because it is a bore.

    I enjoy the knowledge and experience of the world of perfume that Victoria and Elena bring to their blogs. However, I also enjoy the blogs of ordinary people (like me) who love perfume and just want to discuss it. I value their opinions as well as those of “professional” reviewers. There is room for all.

    1. OH DEAR. A grudge match? No thanks… 🙂

      Thanks for reading. Really. I write for myself, primarily, but also because I like writing for others to read.

      And like you, there are some blogs that I enjoy because of the personality of the writer and the freshness of the expression, whether I agree with the opinion or not. It’s fun to find a new blog flowering up, too, and sometimes with unusual premises. I’ve recently run across blogs largely composed of tweets about perfume; that’s not a format that appeals to me very much because I prefer the nuanced review (though I don’t mind a bit of snark here and there). But it’s exciting to see how people are expressing themselves.

      And yes, I think there’s room for everybody who’s motivated by joy in scent. I can see how the sudden explosion of blogs is disconcerting to people who’ve been blogging for some time, and I believe it’s *true* that the discussion has splintered – but I’m not sure it’s a matter for real concern. Most of us cross-comment and link and discuss and tweet, and I feel that if something big comes up in Fumeworld, it’ll spread pretty quickly.

  6. Apparently the blogger whose post evoked your rant is not the only one who has been complaining about “too many perfume blogs” and “crap blogs”. Thank you for venting on this topic.

    The world of blogging is big enough for everybody. One does not need to be a trained perfumer, perfume historian, professional perfume marketing expert or self-appointed perfume snob to write intelligently about perfume. In fact, people who smell with less baggage are likely to have more accurate and interesting opinions than those who approach each perfume with preconceived notions about it. In any case, perfume (and olfaction in general) is such a subjective experience that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to perceive anything. Your perception is what it is, and the diversity of opinion is what’s fascinating, not pompous writers expounding on a dogma that everyone is supposed to subscribe to or be “crap”.

    The blogosphere is like the jungle – the fittest (most persistent and articulate) bloggers will survive and the unfit will eventually go extinct. Keep on with honest blogging!

    1. I think that your rant has served you as an exercise in values clarification. “This matters to me. This doesn’t.” You may hold grudges, Mals, but you are also clearly kind. The blogger whose comments angered you was not kind. Those are MY values clarification.

      Whose blog would I rather read based on that criteria alone? Yours, hands down.

      1. You know, I think you’re quite right: my pique did force me to admit out loud that I have certain ideas about what a blog should be, and which blogs I’ll read. I need regular (not necessarily frequent) updating, comments replies, and fresh content. I don’t mind snark and sarcasm as long as that isn’t the usual focus, and I don’t have to have expertise though there are places I seek that out.

        Thanks for reading. REally, thanks.

    2. The idea of “too many” or “crap” blogs is, yes, snaking its way about the blogosphere. I tried for some time to not write this thing, thinking that it was being well discussed elsewhere, but… I just… woke up cranky and stompy and I knew I had to get it out or bust.

      I too find it fascinating that people can have so many varying opinions on a single fragrance (much less the staggering array that the market holds now) – and I like to read new voices. I know that a blogger that I’ve usually enjoyed reading recently posted the opinion that one *cannot* judge a fragrance outside its era of creation – while I’m of the firm opinion that one certainly *can.* One’s opinions may be adversely affected by the change in general tastes, but they may not. Case in point: Chamade. Chamade was first released when I was a year old, and apparently I shouldn’t have bothered to sniff it or analyze it without having read the book which inspired it, because I can’t possibly hope to understand it at all. But I LOVE it. Now, how did that happen? Can there be understanding without love, or vice versa?

      Me, I love the stories… tell me a story about how this smell affected you, and you have hooked me completely.

      But I agree: a blogger must decide to keep the blog going, or decide to let it die. Only the persistent will keep going with legitimate fresh content, and I’d like to be one of the persistent.

  7. The funny thing is I’d never heard of this Dane guy or his blog before this whole furor. I find it hilarious that he’s classing himself as one of the “in” or “respected” blogs when he’s certainly not among the top 5-6 blogs you always see cited. I started my blog very recently and wasn’t at all threatened by his words.

    Ironically, I feel that some of the traditionally “respected” blogs have gone down in quality and I find some of the somewhat newer voices with perhaps less “training” (whatever that means) or experience but more storytelling (ex: You, Undina, Dee, Birgit, Ari) to be far more interesting. In fact I’m sure I know which blog you’re citing as reverting to repeated three-sentences posts. It IS disappointing, and I found it confusing when I really began consuming perfume blogs around a year ago and added it to my reader. I still appreciate the giveaways, I don’t really think it’s a poor blog in any way, but they’re no longer really selling what they advertise. 🙁

    In fact, one thing I’m taking away from this discussion is perhaps I need to put a disclaimer on my blog’s “About” page that I don’t intend to be a super-regular blogger- definitely not daily or weekdaily, aiming for at least once a week, but may not even hit that at busy times.

    As far as the outcomes of this discussion, one of the things I think this whole situation has exposed is the growing tensions within our community. In a way, I think that’s good. I want the community to be happy, but I also want it to be real. I think I may be a loner in that view. I don’t know.

    The thing that HAS truly troubled me about this whole discussion is I’ve seen many references in comments about perfume bloggers who have become totally hit-driven – that their aim in blogging now is just to make money and not write truthful reviews. I can’t even think who those supposed bloggers are, and it makes me uncomfortable that someone could possibly be doing that and I don’t realize it. Like I’m not a good blog reader. Maybe the claim is BS though. I will say I have noticed certain posts on certain blogs that seem to be promotional but it doesn’t *seem* like it’s the entire aim of the blog.

    1. I was a little ticked when I read the “cranky post,” but what really got to me was the realization that such a comment was making people other than myself feel bad about blogging. And I got to thinking, “Well, who died and made YOU Arbiter of Perfume Blogger Taste?” And dang it, my pique really got up and started stomping around.

      I will say that at least two of the Old Guard (old, ha – they’re just a few years older than everybody else, but yes, older and respected) perfume blogs have had some slippage in terms of content in my opinion. However, I’ll also say that there are multiple contributors to those blogs, and the situation is more one of uneven content. One day the posts will be hilarious or delightful, the next you have a different writer and it’s… dry. I suspect that personal lives are intruding to some degree.

      My feeling is that it’s okay to be an infrequent poster as long as people are expecting that. You post four times a week, really wonderful posts, for several months and then you just disappear for the next four months? Bad idea. Regularly infrequent posts = no big deal. Especially if you say they’ll be irregular.

      I have, come to think of it, seen a couple of blogs that seemed very driven by interest in increasing traffic, one in particular. However, it didn’t start out being that traffic-driven, and the primary blogger does indeed have legitimate interest in perfume and clearly loves it personally. I was put off by the hard sell COME BY MY BLOG messages I saw in another area, although there are multiple contributors and at least one of them I like very much. I did not feel that the reviews there were fake or designed to push sales of a particular product, but that there was a huge effort to increase hits.

      You know, I don’t know about exposing tensions… before all the hoopla blow-up, I think the newer bloggers were all happy, “I’m just so glad to be here,” and the more experienced were starting to think, “Wait, I can’t keep up with all these blogs, I can’t get to them all.” And now it’s STILL, “I can’t get to everything,” but newer bloggers are now feeling less wanted. I was so excited to be writing regularly when I started my blog, I almost didn’t care if anybody ever read it, and I was thrilled when Robin offered me a thumbs-up and a link on NST. Now I do care (though as I say, I’m not expecting to make any money), and I want to put out a reliable blog.

  8. Three disjointed thoughts:

    From the sound of it, I am not quite as touchy as you, but I am pretty darned good at holding a grudge.

    And just in case, I want to go on record, now, as saying I never thought there were too many perfume blogs. There are too many for me to read, which I find bothersome in a purely nostalgic kind of way (in other words, I used to like having the feeling that I knew what was going on in the community) — that’s all.

    I do think we all need a little sidebar button that says “I am not an expert” or “Just another consumer opinion”.

    1. Oh, I have my touchy days… and calm ones, too (though today is NOT one of those).

      I had planned to address the “too many blogs” issue next week, but I’ll say now that first, I didn’t think it was an unfair thing for Denyse to say. It stung a bit, maybe, but I felt it was a legitimate concern. Now there’s so MUCH going on, and in places other than the ones where it used to go on, that the change is disconcerting. And also for the record: a) you were so welcoming to me, I really appreciated it and b) I never felt any indignant sort of “How dare these upstarts!” attitude coming from you at all, merely concern that there was no way to keep on top of everything.

      Most of the newer blogs I see have an “About me” section that states, “not an expert here.” But perhaps you’re right and it needs to be more visible than that.

      1. I was not even meaning to bring up Denyse’s statement again, but things I have said, and which Vanessa of Bonkers said on a guest post at NST, which I think have been misinterpreted and which I feel bad about, since I think her statements were misinterpreted because of my editing.

        On a side note, looks like Dane of Pierre de Pierre has decided perfume is boring anyway:

        1. I did read some comments on a blog recently that harked back directly to Vanessa’s “5 Things I’ve Learned” post, and I was surprised, because in the Too Many Perfume Blogs hydra-headed issue, I wouldn’t have said that post had anything to do with it at all. Perhaps that’s because I’ve been reading Bonkers for some time; perhaps that’s because her post made a lot of sense to me.

          And perhaps I’ve completely misinterpreted what Dane meant by “crap.” It’s possible.

          I just went over and read the Perfume Is Boring post. I think he may be doing the right thing by stepping back – it shows when a writer’s interest is not engaged. I hope, first, that he’ll continue to enjoy fragrance, and second, that if this blog gets to be a drag and I hate writing reviews, I will put it out of its misery or shoot it in another direction entirely.

  9. Mals I agree with your comments. I would rather read the impressions of an enthusiastic newbe, who’s brave enough to put their thoughts out in public, then the sometimes, oh so palatable boredom and dismissiveness of many “experts”.

    I so agree that if you don’t like a blog, don’t read it, I no longer read Octavian, who seems to hate most everything, or another blog i will not name, who manages fairly regularly interject politics into her blog. Honestly, no matter what your politics are, probably 50 % of the country doesn’t agree with you. I don’t read perfume blogs to get stirred up by politics. Typically they are a uniting rather then dividing field of interest. Readers and bloggers may not agree on x,y or y, but our common ground is we love perfume, That said, I fully realize and embrace that anyone who writes a blog is the owner and entitled to write about whatever. I just don’t have to read them and I don’t.

    I don’t know if its just me, but it seems that the criticism of other bloggers I have read come from male bloggers, Last year Brian of I Smell Therefore I Am was upset about the pompousness of the writings of some who consider themselves in the inner circles of perfume reviewing. Anyway, just and observation.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Denise. I was just noticing a few weeks ago that about half the blogs in my blogroll, I don’t visit often, and some of those I no longer visit at all. At one point I was adding every perfume blog that I knew of (NST’s list is pretty exhaustive, and I remember how thrilled I was when Robin added my little blog), but my feeling on that has changed. Now I’m feeling that I only want to sidebar link the ones I visit most frequently, and pare down the full list. I don’t want to shut any new blogs out – in fact, I think I may use a “new and noteworthy” section, because new blogs often need a little push before they get any readership at all. But to stay on the list, the new blogs will have to be consistent.

      Next week I’m talking about that satirical post of Brian’s. It made quite the impression on me, partly because I had to read it and mull over it about four times before I developed an idea of which blogs he was talking about.

    2. I actually thought Brian’s post was deeply satirical, hilarious, and not really mean-spirited at all. I don’t know; I love a good satire and feel that it’s a genre in bad need of a revival in our society. I think the questions he raises (particularly if you read through the comments section) about ego and writing go to the very core of art, the position of the critic, and human nature.

      I’ll be very interested to read Mals’s take on that post next week! 🙂

      1. I seem to remember Denyse of Grain de Musc filing a “too many blogs” complaint at one point (I think that’s partly what Brian was reacting to)

  10. It’s healthy to vent. I’m glad you’ve clarified your contract with your readers, but it was clear before.

    I love your blog. It’s a fun mix of things; perfume, literature, food, family and your life. Thank you for sharing it with me. I can’t sit down daily or even three times a week to journal, so I cannot imagine running a blog. I read many blogs, mostly perfume, but the list is diverse, and changes. If a blog takes a turn I don’t like, I navigate away. It’s telling when I delete the bookmark.

    I’ve done that, and honestly Pere de Pierre never even made it to bookmark status! I’ve read it, from time to time, but Dane’s blog and the community there didn’t resonate with me and make me want to visit daily. I’m *not* saying his is a crap blog. I’m saying communities like this one, like the ‘Posse, NST, PST, Grain de Musc, Bois de Jasmin and Olfactoria’s Travels are people and places I want to check in on daily. There are others that I pop in to read once a week or rarely.

    I most often lurk, and simply enjoy the discussion. It took over a year of reading before I ever commented on NST. There are blogs where I tried to post, and my comments were simply deleted. Ouch! Truly, I try never to post mean spirited comments. I’ve emailed blog administrators when I thought posters or comments were being abusive or negative, and if I don’t like the response, I point my browser elsewhere.

    BTW, I don’t expect you to reply personally to every comment. If you do, great, but please remove that self pressure. I hope your community here will grow, so that we all babble amongst ourselves about things that delight us. Best wishes to you.

    1. Venting was sort of… necessary to my mental health. And thank you, thank you for reading! I feel privileged to be a bookmarked site.

      I love comments. I love hearing what people have to say, and I love talking with them, and I want to make readers feel welcome. The conversation really matters to me – whether I’m in on it myself or it happens between commenters, I love it when people are chatting away. It’s one of the best parts of hosting a blog, honestly.

  11. I really appreciate this post – thank you! I do think, in the end, the reader chooses what blogs to read, and I don’t really have any patience for extreme elitism and snobbery. Niche perfumes are nice and all, but sometimes we read blogs simply to find reviews and opinions on what we find and what is available to us. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and if they want to blog about it, they are free to do so. Anyone is also free not to read it. Cheers!

    1. Very sensible!

      As I just replied to someone else, at least my bad mood made me sit down and think about elements of someone else’s blog I find important, and to make the decision to not try anymore when I feel that a certain blog does not really suit my personal needs. I knew what I wanted in *my* blog, but hadn’t put into words what I wanted as a reader. Now I know.

  12. I have been reading your blog for some time and always find it amusing and thought provoking (with excellent spelling and grammar!!

    It is interesting to think of the interaction between blogger and reader as a contract. Perhaps Miss Manners might usefully publish a short guide to blog etiquette and internet conversations.

    1. Thanks very much for stopping by! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      Miss Manners has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter, doesn’t she?

  13. Nobody would ever mistake you for anything else other than a passionate blogger with diverse and fun content. I’m sorry that PdP’s post upset you, and I admit that although it mentioned me as some example, it made me cringe for several reasons. Whatever training I’ve had, I don’t like being called an expert. Michael Edwards–that’s an expert in my book!

    Plus, I love the vibrancy of our community, and it bothers me to see any discussions denigrating the way someone blogs and the rifts in the community. Blogging isn’t a zero sum game, and it makes me glad that there is more awareness of perfume. The more people are talking about it, the less of a niche topic it becomes. As someone perfume obsessed, I only welcome this.

    All of us started out just as passionate perfume lovers, and I still think that passion is the best qualification for any endeavor. I’m inspired by a friend, who decided to learn to take up modern dance at the age of 40 (when most students start when they are 7-10). And she applied herself enough to even join the local dance company to dance small parts. Every one said that she couldn’t do it, but there she is–dancing her heart out!

    1. Well, he was right about you, V. I admire your blog – it is one of the highest examples of quality blogging that I can think of. And I’m so excited to see all the new blogs popping up here and there, written by passionate amateurs.

      It’s distressing that there’s been all this turmoil recently. I feel bad that here I am, criticizing another blogger for criticizing some other blogger, the way that academics seem prone to criticize each other’s work all the time. (But not bad enough, apparently, for me to have restrained myself. I’m still working on that whole grudge thing.)

      1. Thank you for your kind words! Someone mentioned it already, but I think that speaking out against something specific that upsets you can be useful and constructive. It was interesting to see in your post how you formulate a blogger-reader relationship and what you want out of a blog.

  14. Re: Pere de Pierre – today’s post about how perfume is boring is perhaps the greatest insight into Brian’s post about bloggers. It’s clear he’s lost his passion for the art, though of course he’s felt the need to passive-aggressively deflect that onto the perfumers. Even if one is of the opinion that current releases are “not worthy”, certainly there are plenty of worthy fragrances from the past that he has not discussed? Or perhaps he could take the tack that by challenging the new releases he can help encourage the perfumers to keep stretching? (Arrogant, right? But I found both of his other posts arrogant, so this theory might fit in nicely).

    Re: Octavian – I stopped reading HIS blog when he went off on a rant awhile ago about how the people reading his blog weren’t of the correct caliber and that he had hoped conversations on his blog would be of more intelligent nature. I basically told him he was a condescending jerk and he may want to look into that to find out why he didn’t build the community of his dreams.

    Re: you, Mals – You are a fabulous writer and an interesting person to boot. You’re also quite attentive to your readers and to others in the community. Kudos for all of that! I’m sorry these turkeys got you down, but as we all know, the good news is that we can just decline to engage with them. Blogs are written for a variety of reasons. The ones who want fame or money or fans will eventually find their audiences or just simply burn out. The ones who write with passion will find their own audiences, too, and friends as well. You, of course, are in the latter group. Write on!


    1. I do understand his frustration with the industry, though I think it’s not touching me as much because I have never been all that focused on The Next New Scent. If it comes my way, great, I’d love to smell it. More often (probably because of where I live), it doesn’t, and I’m still mucking around on ebay finding classic vintage stuff – or at TPC, grabbing samples of stuff that was hot-off-the-presses four years ago. And I remember commenting to Patty at PP a few years ago when she was similarly frustrated – “Well, look – I don’t have to read about another new release. Why not take another shot at reviewing something you’ve already reviewed: have your feelings changed? has your love grown deeper? Just tell me a story about something that happened when you were wearing, I dunno, Mitsouko.” There is PLENTY to talk about, even if it’s not new.

      Is it wrong of me to say that Octavian’s prickliness is below my interest? I do admire his technical knowledge, but I have never admired his blog, in terms of an offering to the public. Is he an intelligent, well-versed, accomplished person? I think so. Is he a good *blogger*? Not in my book.

      And thank you for the kind words. I started writing the blog just for me, but I really enjoy conversations with people through its medium.

  15. Mals, I love your blog. I can’t imagine anyone thinking it’s crap. Your comments about the blogger-reader contract resonated with me. I pretty much hope for the same things you hope for. One of the hardest things for me about the blogging world lately has been accepting that I can’t keep up 100% (in terms of reading and commenting daily or a few times a week) with all the blogs I like to read. At the moment, it’s weekly and twice a week for the blogs I like the most.

    1. Thank you, N. I too have recognized in the past month or so that I’m not keeping up with everybody, or even the blogs I enjoy most, on the frequency with which I used to read/comment – let alone really explore new ones. I’ll continue to try, though.

      I’ve felt pretty strongly that if a blogger is truly just keeping a personal journal online, it might be wise to keep it a private blog. Once there is regular readership, that changes everything. If you don’t want to please readers – well, don’t have readers. If you don’t want to reply to comments, don’t leave up a comment box.

  16. Ahhh, I love a good rant. Mals, I’m similar to you in the holding-a-grudge thing. Not one of my greatest attributes, that’s for sure.

    I’ve said this in a couple of places as a comment and I guess I’m saying it again here: the proliferation of blogs is because MORE people are becoming passionate about perfume. How could this ever be a bad thing?

    And we’re not the only corner of the blogosphere that’s having discussions about formal critics vs. people-who-blog-about-what-they-love. There are definitely rumblings in the larger sections of the internet that deal with fashion and literature. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that no matter what the area of expertise or interest, the voice of the regular ol’ person is gaining a lot more traction.

    1. I think you are absolutely right about the proliferation of personal-interest blogs – first, that they are becoming more common, no matter the interest (sports, politics, cooking, parenting, fashion, beauty, film, writing), and second, that it is not such a bad thing for people to find self-expression, particularly when they are passionate about the things we love.

      I sometimes wonder how Chandler Burr, who gets paid to write his reviews for the NYT, feels about the fact that there are so many amateur reviewers out there. I mean, I don’t think of him as being an expert – just a guy who gets a paycheck for doing on deadline, with responsibility to his employer, for what we do out of love. Thing is, he’d probably be writing about some other topic for a paycheck, should this job fall through for him.

      (Ah, holding a grudge… still working on it. Will probably be working on it when I die.)

  17. The Rules of Blogging as I Sees ‘Em (and yes somebody died and made me Queen of Sheba, so there!):

    Anybody, anywhere, gets to blog about anything.
    Anybody, anywhere, has the choice of reading or not reading it.
    You like it? Keep reading it. Perhaps thank the blogger for providing you with interesting reading matter.
    You don’t like it? Stop reading it. Move on to something else you enjoy reading.

    I won’t read the Pere de Pierre post – it sounds like snobbery, and that sort of thing just raises my blood pressure. I actually stopped reading ISTIA after Brian’s post. It really turned me off.

    There’s a blog I follow (written by a woman who lives in East Africa – it’s about wildlife, not perfume!) that is updated very, very infrequently. She doesn’t let her readers know when she’ll post, and that’s fine with me. Her posts are simply so wonderful (lots of spectactular photos and lyrical writing) that when they appear it’s a wonderful treat. So a schedule isn’t terribly important to me. But I do expect honesty, and I hope for some level of maturity from a blogger.

    And let me follow my own rule and thank you for your blog, which I very much enjoy reading.

    1. Those are very reasonable rules. I agree with you.

      I still love ISTIA, though satire is not a comfortable genre for me. I think I’m too earnest a person to be entirely happy with it. However, since that was a rare style for that blog I still visit it.

      On schedules – well, I don’t think it’s *necessary* to post frequently. But if your readers are expecting daily, or thrice-weekly, posts and you suddenly stop posting for six weeks without saying anything, THAT is laziness. It’s the big change that bothers me. If the pattern is infrequent posts at irregular intervals, that’s the pattern readers expect.

      And thank you very much for reading!

  18. I recognized a lot of myself in your description of touchiness combined with a major grudge-holding ability. 🙂 I never forget and have a very hard time forgiving, and Dane’s post had a very high grudge inducing potential.

    I agree with what many of the commenters already said: Everybody finds his/her audience. If you write, someone will read, namely a someone who is interested in what you do.
    I read blogs not only for information, but chiefly for the voice behind it, for the connection I have to this person, even if it sometimes only in my mind.
    I love your blog, because I love the way you tell your stories. Even if our lives are very different in many respects, even if our tastes in perfume are not on the same page most of the time, I love to read every post you write.
    I always manage to end a grudge (after venting loudly and clearly for days, of course) by just seeing how much it damages me and how little the guilty party cares for my feelings. (I daresay – Dane doesn’t care about our feelings.) So I just walk away.
    I hope you feel better after this.

    1. Oh, I do feel better! Writing it down always seems to help, even more than verbal venting. I am consciously trying to let those scratching, clawing grudge-kittens out of my arms these days – because they do only hurt me.

      As I was just saying to Natalie, I seem to have less and less time to go around commenting on the blogs I really enjoy, of which yours is one. I often read without having opportunity to comment. I love that I feel I’ve gotten to know so many lovely perfume people through their blogs, and I do enjoy blogs best when there is that writer-reader connection, with personality showing through.

  19. I seldom get angry, and never hold a grudge, which is odd because a) I’m a Scorpio and b) my mama is a Word Class Grudge Holder and her entire side of the family are surely in the Guinness Book of Grudge Holding Records. I hasten to add she is very fair-minded, and her grudges are never without merit.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as a crap blog, per se, because regardless of content, it is merely someone doing their thing. If I don’t like it, I don’t read it.

    The main problem I have with professional reviewers is that I do not have a professional nose. Their insight on the 20 different notes they’re getting are meaningless to me. Even you so-called amateur reviewers smell notes that I rarely if ever get. So what draws me to a blog is definitely more its unique voice. I do like that NST keeps me updated on the new releases, but I go there because I like the folks who post there. Ditto the Posse and PST. Ditto ISTIA and Nathan Branch and of course here!!! I really like the chick who runs this blog! 🙂

    Politics put me right off one blog, but I celebrate the right we all have to express our opinions wherever we want to. I enjoy varying topics as a rule, though. Again, I guess what I enjoy most is the unique voice each blog brings to the conversation.

    Thanks for what you do here, and for being so honest and human!

    1. (Hm. Wonder if you *don’t* hold grudges because your mom *does.*)

      I may be objecting to the term “crap blog,” too. I mean, it turns out that I have standards for what kind of blogs I want to read… but for me those standards make the difference between Just-a-blog and Really-Good-blog.

      As far as notes and identifiable raw materials go, I like reading about those things. I’m geeky like that. But what matters more, and it matters a LOT more, is Story. Gimme a good story, and I am hooked. Community with readership – like NST and Posse – goes along with that.

      Thanks to you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  20. Land Alive, what a comment pile up! I’ve seen less action on Route 78 during rush hour!
    Re: Dane and Pere de Pierre – I did catch his blogging-less-post and the original post that upset the perfume blogosphere. Well, I tried to say so long and happy trails, because I had been following his blog for a couple of years and liked the concise reviews and his taste, but I was sorry he felt obliged to get all proprietary about perfume writing and reviewing. Me, I’m an amateur since I could stick my nose in a bottle, and that’s a long time, but I know I’m an amateur. However, I’m married to one of the world’s best finder-outers, and he’s passed some of that skill on to me, so I share what I can find out, or what I’ve learned from experience. I’m also an ex-free-lance journalist (rag picking division)- and so hack writing comes natural.

    I say, the more the merrier, and Mals has never been anything but cordial.

    1. (Interesting to see what causes the traffic jam, huh? Rants, I guess.)

      It occurs to me to mention that I don’t mind a dry, factual review, particularly if all I’m looking for is a “what’s it like?” review of something specific. I just think that if that’s the usual modus operandi, why not simply review on Basenotes? Eh. Anybody can blog whatever they want, and if I like it I’ll come back. Unless the writer starts insulting other people, apparently.

      I enjoy the way you intertwine history, music, and other disciplines with your perfume reviews, and I will certainly be back to your blog to read and comment. Kudos on the research skills – that’s something I do, but probably not as thoroughly as I might…

  21. I enjoy how perfume bloggers eventually find each other, even if it’s through a post that may come across as angry, or a “rant,” if you will. I liked this post.

    About Pere de Pierre – I expected this would happen to Dane. It was built into the DNA of his blog from day one. Creed is an example: he considers most Creeds to be “just bad.” Some Creeds are bad. But most are not. At worst, most are simply “safe” and not in any way challenging to the wearer, or those around the wearer. Creed is successful and continues to generate new scents. But if Creed is “Bad,” and Dane is not interested in Creed, and finds no reason to explore further, then this ends his review of all Creed scents (he has reviewed a mere 10% of Creed’s output, and most of those are “blah, this isn’t really all that good” reviews). Extrapolate this sort of thinking to the majority of niche and designer firms, and suddenly, nothing is really worth exploring anymore. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about. Pere de Pierre seems to be a blog motivated solely by the desire to explore that which the blogger is a fan of to begin with. This makes for a very finite experience for the reader, and the blogger. And the notion that everyone’s output sucks lately, at perpetuated by Pere de Pierre . . . meh. Really, this is not possible. There has not been a change in the perfume industry to the degree that everything sucks now. This kind of attitude suggests that the change has taken place solely in the holder of this opinion. In this case, the change is disappointing, and certainly to no one’s benefit.

    1. Thanks for the kind words.

      I wonder sometimes if the reason I’m not jaded is that I am not terribly focused on reviewing new scents. If everything new smells like everything else new to him, that would a) explain a lot of the “I’m bored” attitude and b) probably really suck. But, you know, suckiness is where you find it… just as beauty is where you find it.

      It has also never bothered me that certain bloggers review what interests them and avoid what doesn’t. I don’t do well with Estee Lauders, and unless I’m reviewing for a certain purpose (as in the recent “Top 10 Bestselling Fragrances for Women in the US in 2011” reviews), I tend to avoid them. Of course I’m going to review most of the new reviews from the houses I like, when I can manage that. Along a similar line, I’m not going to go out of the way to review JAR scents or Clive Christian, because their market positioning annoys me. And I really feel that I have the right to be annoyed by those brands and not highlight their fragrances.

      Of course I also feel it necessary to say why I’m annoyed by those lines. I am allowed to have my personal biases, and I’m open about having them. Nobody’s paying me to be fair and impartial. Should I complain to you about your not reviewing, say, the entire line of Chanel feminines? No, and I wouldn’t dream of it. You review what you want to review, whether it’s Creed or Tom Ford. It’s your blog. As far as that goes, I would call your blog a good one by the standards that matter to me as a blog reader: you post regularly, your reviews are interesting, you engage in conversation with commenters. And yet you review a lot of masculine fragrances, which is entirely normal and yet not very congruent to my taste, so I don’t pop by and read it often.

      But I agree with you – it just isn’t possible that everything sucks now. It doesn’t. If that day should come, I will stockpile Silences parfum de toilette and Le Temps d’une Fete and vintage No. 5 parfum, and blog about something else that interests me…

  22. Thank you for writing this post, Mals.

    I’m often put off by the snobbery of the perfume blogging community. I started writing my blog because I got perfumes every Christmas, and since I’d amassed a pretty impressive collection I decided to do something about it. I like blogging as a writing exercise, and I like bouncing ideas off of other perfume bloggers. And now that I’m getting a Master’s in journalism, we are looked at as being more media-savvy students if we keep blogs. (I got an assistantship because of mine.)

    Your blog is one of my favorites. Your reviews are well thought out, you are incredibly in touch with your readers, and you’re funny to boot.

    I never intended anyone to think that I thought I was an expert. I don’t have to be the most popular or the most prolific. I don’t have time to be. I have a lot of fun doing it and I wish other bloggers weren’t bleating about how people like me are sullying the blog pool.

    When I can, I’ll keep writing. See you in the blogosphere.

    1. Well, there ya go. You like writing, and your blog is mostly for you, you write what you want and you post when you feel like it, on an irregularly regular basis. You reply to comments. That’s doing a blog right in my book. And I’m really, really glad you pop by here!

      (I’m sick of people dissing other people’s blogs, and I suppose I feel that if you put that kind of criticism out there you ought to have a leg or two to stand on. Which I don’t think Dane does, in terms of throwing criticism around. If he’d never said it, I would definitely not be here saying that his blog doesn’t meet my standards because his disdain for readers shows so absolutely. Grrrrr.)

  23. I have just caught up with this tour de force of a post, and the fascinating discussion it has prompted in the comments. I agree with every word you say – which you articulate much better than I did in my own recent post on the subject! – and we are most definitely on the same page. : – )

    I particularly loved this statement, for it is the special blend of beautifully crafted perfume reviews with the rhythm of family life that first drew me to your blog, and led me to cite you as an example of one that stands out in the crowd:

    “Think of this blog as an extended form of, say, Basenotes – but minus the testosterone overdose and the flaming Creed wars. Add a hefty dose of cows and storytelling, and you’ve got me.”

    Now for the record, I have no problem with there being a crowd, but I do believe that anyone who actively wishes to get their blog noticed might find it easier to do so if there is something distinctive about it, which could be so many things from style to content to authorial voice and bedside manner.

    Oh, and a side note on grudge bearing: a fellow blogger, who I don’t think knows me or my blog particularly, but who took umbrage with my NST post, ended up quite fortuitiously “buying” a weighty bottle of perfume from me in Ari’s recent charity sale, which I wrapped with my usual care and triple layers of bubble wrap. Let sleeping hatchets lie, I say – when and if they do finally doze off. : – )

    1. Thanks for commenting, Vanessa. I vaguely remember that I was unable to post on your BaP portion of the “10 Things,” but I did read it and found it full of your usual mixture of good sense and whimsy. I appreciate your obvious sense of having fun when you blog; it shows, and your readers love it.

      I too think there’s room for everyone because blogs are as personal as their owners wish them to be – but if you’re going to blog, and put all the effort into starting one up, and open it to the public, why not make a good job of it? That’s just sensible. Be who you are and let it show on the screen, and readers will find you.

      I was a little puzzled at the hurt feelings ensuing from that post on NST, because as I just said, I feel a creative effort needs care and feeding. It hardly needs worth saying that there’s very little need for another blog that announces every new launch, or one with reviews that all sound as if the blogger is reviewing the same perfume every time. I did not get the impression that you (or most perfume bloggers) feel that there are plenty of blogs in existence and no need for more, and I was sorry that the misunderstanding occurred.

      (Oh, those cows… sigh. You are aware of that old advice to write what you know, of course.)

      1. Thanks for your kind comments. Your vote of confidence in me and in BaP means a lot, for I went through a bit of a dark night of the soul at the time! : – )

        Also, I do agree with your latest thoughts on the need to feed and tend a blog. As I see it, anyone who writes in the public domain must de facto wish to be found and read, and care to some degree about issues like audience reaction. For if, in the act of blogging, some people are simply “thinking aloud”, they might as well write longhand in notebooks and stick them in a drawer, never to see the light of day…

        1. PS LOL re the cows – too true! And of course I also see you as my go-to expert on rural road surfaces and tomato processing (I think it was tomatoes, and not jam… : – ) ). I love a bit of quirk, I do.

        2. Re my thoughts on the care and feeding of blogs: Indeed, it’s so easy to start a blog and use it as a personal journal, that I think some people do it that way. However, if it’s a personal journal, I would recommend keeping the blog private. It just makes sense. (I used to journal, but I kept stopping because it took so much time. I type far, far faster than I hand-write.)

          Here’s to the continued health and growth of Bonkers About Perfume!

  24. Hi Mals, I’m sure the last thing you need is another comment on this topic but I just wanted to thank you for speaking up. I think it’s important that this kind of thing gets challenged and you’ve done that really well. I especially resented the “Sally-come-lately” jibe. Apologies if I’m mistaken but this appeared to me to snipe at the new crop of female bloggers, in particular.

    Better knowledge does not necessarily make for a “better” blog that’s for sure. Like you, I hate the thought of people being put off blogging by comments like this.

    1. Aw, c’mon! The more the merrier – comments as well as blogs, in my opinion.

      I agree – there really was a hint of not only snobbishness but also of misogyny in the statement. There’s this “How dare these unlearned wimminz play around with our sacred smells?” feeling to it. I didn’t address it specifically, but when it comes to perfume blogs, the ones I enjoy most are all written by women. (Okay, okay: exception Brian at ISTIA, but I suppose I think of it as Abigail’s blog for which Brian writes.)

      That was the part that incensed me most, the idea that people would be put off writing about what they like because of some jaded dude’s snarked-off comment. DANG IT. I admit that I don’t *think* he was talking specifically about me (I’ve never referred to perfumery iris as floral), but the thing is, if he’d merely said that he’d noticed inaccuracies in blogs recently and it would certainly be a good idea to learn more before confusing readers, I’d never have said anything at all. To go calling people “crap” – well, I have a lot to say about THAT.

  25. Hello you!! Your blog was one of the first I started reading; and I still love it, even though we’re somewhat evil scent twins!

    I saw a documentary today from Sweden called “Women with Cows.” It was very cool.

    Not much else to say that hasn’t been said, but wanted to pop in to cheer you on (and btw, I totally missed when you moved blogs and trying desperately to catch up on your posts)

    1. I did find that I was still visiting blogs that had started to disappoint me repeatedly, or that were focused on things that don’t really interest me. (Can I be honest? I don’t find beauty products interesting at all. Other people like them, but not me.)

  26. My apologies for causing a stink and, more so, for not responding to any comments you had made on my blog, which I’m first to admit that I suck at.

    I wrote that rant not because I disrespect the other perfume bloggers, or because there are too many (although it probably sounded that way now that I’ve re-read it), but because of the misinformed sharing inaccurate information.

    Peredepierre has never had a huge following…or at least not that I know of, I don’t care to track that sort of thing. When I posted snarky rants, I honestly didn’t think more than a handful of people would even read them anyway, but my sincere apologies if my innate miserableness offended.

    1. Ohhhhhh dear.

      You know, there were all kinds of “how dare they diss my blog” and “no, I didn’t mean THAT” and “too many blogs/newbie whippersnappers” posts and comments going on over a period of a few months, and yours wasn’t the only one. It just happened to be the one that touched flame to the match cord (you know, that really long fuse stuff that Blackbeard stuck in his beard to ignite his flintlock pistols, and yes, I really should not be dealing in emotional match cord at all, because obviously I cannot be trusted with the stuff). And why? It stung me. It stung me for myself, and for other, newer bloggers who had said that they were feeling insecure about blogging when they didn’t know much about fragrance compared to all those other bloggers.

      I am aware of the irony in criticizing a blogger for criticizing a blogger. I’m also aware of the possibility (and mentioned it above) that I might have been wrong about your motives. I have Those Days too, when everything sucks and I just want to make everything stop sucking and annoying the pants off me. (YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!) I sympathize, and I especially sympathize with your disappointment in something that it’s quite clear you used to love.

      I was a little surprised myself to find recent comments on this month-old post, which I don’t really think has much to do with the post on From Pyrgos linking to it. I respect your decision to put your blog on hiatus unless/until you have something you want to write about, and I firmly believe that if blogging isn’t fun anymore, one shouldn’t force oneself to do so. The bright spot in the rant is that I now have a much firmer grasp on what I’m really looking for in a blog, and consequently what I want this blog to be – so thanks, sincerely, for making me figure that out. I wish you an immediate and drastic reduction in your misery level, and joy in whatever you choose to pursue now.

      1. Much of what has been commented here is unfair and misinformed. I prefaced the post with the statement that I’m “cranky”… with the intention that nothing in the post itself was to be taken as matter-of-fact. I do realize that some may not know my style of writing, so this is understandable…but last time I checked, blogs were about voicing opinion, just as you decided to do here.

        I did not intend say that every new blog is crap…I was referring to one particular blog I happened to have crossed paths with that day. My frustration was referring to the blogger misinforming his or her readers. Before writing the post, I did contact this individual and received a snide response. I only wish you had done the same to me so that I could have explained myself at that time.

        I find it ironic that several commenters have done exactly what you’re ranting about and belittle Octavian’s blog. I also find it ironic to accuse anyone of being a misogynist when the end of their post clearly links to a woman’s blog. What I see here is a bullying mentality…so out of vogue right now…I’m just glad it was with me and not someone who would take all this to heart.

        I ceased posting on my blog because of exactly what you said – it wasn’t fun anymore. Another reason I didn’t mention is because of the petty nature of this community. I too hope you find joy in your writing, and I hope you learn to ask questions before you judge.

        1. It would have been helpful to have gotten an explanation… but please consider honestly: Would you, really, have responded to my inquiry? At the time? Or even within a week? I do not believe so, based on my comments on your blog over some weeks (to my memory, and I did not go back to check, four or possibly five comments over about three months). It’s easy to look back at the past and say, “Heck, yes, I’d have responded to someone questioning my intentions,” even if your normal MO was to not respond.

          That said, I should have asked anyway. And if I’d gotten no response? Would it have still been judgmental of me to say that the term “crap bloggers” incenses me? I’m sure that you see my fury with your use of the term as very petty. You’ve made that clear. And perhaps you’re right about the petty nature of the community – which you expected, after all, to absorb your cranky post without remarking on its pettiness.

          I grant that I was wrong to agree with a commenter on the “Sally-come-lately” being possibly misogynistic. I apologize.

  27. I guess the issue here is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I know that Dane is feeling disenchanted with the perfume world in general & was not enjoying writing about it anymore. As for the crap bloggers, well, we all have blogs we like or don’t like. That said, Dane would never name names or purposely hurt anyone. And, I know for a fact he was NOT referring to you, yet you decide to name him. He sure was surprised to read this post. Who cares what his opinion is anyways, or who he considers a “real blogger”? Full disclosure: he is one of my best friends & even I don’t care about which blogs he likes or doesn’t like. God forbid I ask his opinion on mine. Plenty of room on the internet for everyone! Btw, I’d commented here and had you listed on my blogroll yet we didn’t become blogger BFFs either. Should I take that personally?

    1. True, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Which is sort of the point of having a blog, right? We get to say what we want, and the risk we run is that people will disagree with us and possibly stop reading what we have to say. I may have lost some readership myself as a result of my own little hurt-feelings post here. I know that you and I, for example, differ on the issue of posting negative reviews – but I think it’s perfectly fine that you stick to reviewing only what you love, while I have a policy of reviewing what I find interesting, even if I don’t like it.

      The reason I named names and linked to the post that so distressed me is that it felt that I’d had a rock, or at the very least a really nasty slushball, thrown at me AND my seventeen little sisters by someone living in a glass house. I also felt that it wasn’t even possible for me to go up and knock on the door to ask if the person living there had thrown it at me on purpose, because I didn’t think anyone would even answer the door. In addition, I think that Dane’s choice to not name names actually led to MORE consternation and hurt feelings, in that several people wondered if he meant them.

      (I don’t, in fact, know who has linked to this site on their blogroll. Probably I’m overlooking something in WordPress, but I don’t even know where to find that.)

  28. You do realize that YOU are the one putting him in the glass house. And for grouping yourself with other bloggers, against him. You chose to take it personally. And to post his name so there could be a pile up here. Obviously your readers will defend you.

    By saying he was actually in the wrong for NOT naming names & you are in the right for doing so confuses me. I can see you feel completely right in this post, and that getting everyone together to throw slush balls at one person who is accused of being “misogynistic” by people who don’t even know him is ok.

    Btw- I mentioned how much I liked your blog and that I would encourage my readers to visit it by linking to it to you on FB.

    1. Yes. I am indeed the one saying that he’s in the glass house. I feel very strongly that if one is going to throw around a pejorative term like “crap” in terms of discussing other people, one had darn well better meet some high standards. And yes. I am indeed the one who has set my standards in terms of what “a good blog” looks like, which not everyone will accept as their personal standards for a good blog.

      I’m saying that several people (not all of whom commented here but said something in another forum, whether email or other blog posts) felt blamed and hurt by that post, thinking that they were in the “crap blogger” pile, because they didn’t know who WAS meant. Including me (there are four paragraphs up at the top discussing my irrational yet painful emotional reaction). I’m also saying that I am here, answering comments on my blog and replying to people about what I think, which I think is the responsible thing to do if you maintain a blog that allows comments.

      Whether or not anyone really knows Dane is not the point. He may not BE a misogynistic curmurmudgeon – and if he’s buddies with you, he’s probably really really nice in person. But my point is that blog readers are allowed to react to the ideas presented on a public blog, to the way that the ideas come across to them.

      It’s very kind of you to add a link. I’m all for discussing the issue, and I know not everyone is going to agree with me.

  29. A crap blogger writes:

    Give over!! (That’s UK English for enough, already !!) Or you will both be grounded….

    Mals – you are very close to being – if not already – a Grande Dame of the perfume blogosphere. Your writing is witty and evocative.
    Dane – I miss your succinct reviews. Obviously you are moving on.
    I can only second Aparatchick above – there is room for us all, and each and every viewpoint.

  30. Oh, I did enjoy this! Justified in cutting your blogroll? Absolutely. I culled mine months ago. Offloaded those that don’t update, the “I’m really busy right now, but had a great yoga class (insert,vacation and/or plastic surgery etc) and the ones who respond to all the comments around me and leave me there ‘with my bare arse hanging out’ blogs. I can keep a good grudge going for yonks, as well 🙂

    1. I felt better after paring it down. There are a few other blogs that I love to pop by and visit every couple of weeks or so, but these are the ones I visit most frequently.

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