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Our New, Happier Comment Policy…

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As I was on vacation last week I did a lot of brain thinking. We went up to Sacramento, dropped the kids off with grandparents, and spent 3 days (and nights!) just the two of us at the most relaxing hotel, The Ritz in Lake Tahoe. It was amazing and honestly I haven’t felt that clear-headed in a long time. I could feel a shift coming on about a lot of things, and some are SO good. But if I am to clearly look at my job and life and figure out what gives me unnecessary stress (kids, for instance are necessary stress), then there is one thing that was just all of a sudden so easy to eliminate. And I feel a huge relief.

After 8 years of not monitoring or deleting comments we will now delete anything that is written without regard or respect for the human being/s who work hard to produce the content. It’s so easy all of a sudden. To be clear – negative comments, criticisms, and suggestions are all absolutely welcome – please don’t stop those. I love the dialogue and feedback is crucial to the progression and success of the blog and to me, personally. You’ve helped me become a better designer, writer (ha), mom, and person. I want to know what you like, don’t like, how we could be better, etc. You have opened my eyes and have expanded my world with your thoughtful criticism and intelligential dialogue. I really need feedback – good and bad, but with respect.

Hate-filled comments close me down. They make me less transparent and I become far less interesting and way less funny (plus nauseous, anxious, and riddled with vulnerability, etc). I find myself not wanting to write the posts, not taking risks, and just apologizing over and over with so many disclaimers trying to reduce the backlash as much as possible. Strangely the more honest and transparent I am (especially about mistakes and money), the meaner the backlash – but by only a few people. It’s confusing, for sure, but I have to listen to the 99% of you who want that and not the 1% who make me feel like garbage for whatever vulnerability I’m displaying that day.

So here is a good method: If you have a criticism of us you feel compelled to write then pretend that an 8 year old, someone who is just learning how people should behave in the world, will read your comment out loud in front of you. If that makes you uncomfortable then perhaps rephrase it. I think this is probably a great way to go about life, actually.

Even though it’s just a few of you, there is too much power in that negativity and despite me not being particularly sensitive (I couldn’t have this job if I were), the effects are latent and long-lasting.

IT’S VERY GOOD NEWS πŸ™‚ Look how happy I am –

Emily-Brian-henderson

I already feel SO MUCH BETTER. We implemented it last week and while there were only a couple comments deleted before I could read them (which is the goal) it meant that I could click on ‘comments’ with excitement, not fear. We now run a cruelty-free blog and ironically by censoring the hate, I feel WAY more free to write.

But listen, if you find yourself wanting to leave mean comments all the time then perhaps you should find someone else that better inspires your life and style. I’m clearly not the right fit for you, you aren’t that into me, and frankly the feeling is mutual. There are other sites (or bridges) that haters can troll with the sole purpose of hating – they’ll be happy to have you πŸ™‚

Sorry it took me so long to do this. I felt that by censoring you I was taking some of the open democratic nature of the blog away, but I’m not. Just weeding out the hate. BUH-BYE!

Now to those of you who are not compelled to be mean (which is most of you), thank you so very, very much for all the support, positivity, and encouragement. Thanks so much to those of you who have a criticism and know how to phrase it in a way that won’t make it feel personal or disrespectful. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you. If I offend you I WANT TO KNOW, please don’t think this is me wanting just positive comments. It’s not. You mean a lot to me, and I want everybody to feel happy when they come here (including me :))

I feel like I have the most engaged, positive, open, and intelligent group of people reading and commenting on my blog in all of the internet. You open my eyes to so much and have made me look at myself and my life in a more macro way. You help me see other sides, you help me expand my bubble, and you may not know this but many, many brands and companies read your comments to help understand this super valuable demographic – YOU. The fact that we can debate in a friendly way about politics, race, and religion is truly remarkable – let alone parenting, feminism, design, and style. Besides, you’ve help make some VERY good design decisions and suggestions on my house – I really do need you.

Thanks for all your support and positivity over the years, seriously, and cheers to a new more positive chapter to all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. xx

Fin Mark
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Lana

Yay! I’m so glad you made this decision! Good for you Emily. ❀

Carol

Good for you! It makes me anxious and nauseous when I come across hate in blog comments, and it’s not even directed at me! We – the 99% – approve!

Hannah

i agree with carol! i get so mad/sad for you when i read nasty comments! SO…GOOD FOR YOU! I LOVE your blog! πŸ™‚

D

Same! Then I spend the day composing a thought reply to help them see the light in my head that I know I’ll never post. Keep with the positivity in feedback! I <3 EH

Couldn’t agree more!

Natasha

Me too. The hateful comments and barrage of responses became so stressful to read each day that I just tried to avoid the comment section. I’m really happy you’re making this decision because I was always a bit concerned that you might eventually quit blogging and that would be terrible!

priscilla

ha, me too D! it’s such a drain on time better spent being happy. (tho it’s nice to want to help others be nicer… πŸ™‚

Molly

Good. For. You.

Kelli

Amen.

Shawn

Ditto.

“We now run a cruelty-free blog” – love this!

Jb

I’m so happy to read this! The hateful comments (not the constructive, respectful ones you mentioned) were bringing ME down and I’m a third party spectator and none of it had anything to do with me! which was totally confusing me and making me mad at myself because I’m emotionally and mentally stronger than that! (or so I thought!).

Tori

Exactly!!!

Beth

Emily, This is such a healthy choice for you. This is also comforting to me because I am a high school teacher and with so many social media platforms, my students occasionally make hurtful comments about me that all the world sees. It nags at me for days and makes me shut down to all of them. To me (like for you too) I put so much of my heart into what I teach and am so open with them in my classroom that I feel their hurtful comments are a breach of trust. It blindsides me when I feel like my classroom is ticking along, students are smiling and laughing, and then someone shows me a Tweet that calls me a mean name or a parent insults me through email. I track back through my whole week replaying everything I did and said that could have triggered such cruelty. Then I proceed through the next several weeks verbally disclaiming everything in class (like “I was just being sarcastic everyone…or “your essays were really excellent and don’t take this personally, but we need to work on thesis statements some more”) and waiting on pins and needles for more. Anyway, thank… Read more »

Maya

I had kind of the same experience my first years teaching– a bunch of really mean comments from seventh graders literally sent me into therapy. Since then I’ve started a new job where I actually have public online reviews posted of my classes… And I’ve NEVER ONCE read them. I actually am fairly certain they’re generally glowing, and my classes are extremely popular and test scores are very good. I focus on the more subtle ways to receive feedback and just insulate myself from the stuff I know might make me distracted and depressed. It works for me and I’m a better teacher because of it!! If we listen too much even to kind and well meaning feedback, I think we stop hearing our own under voices… At least if that inner voice is as people-pleasing and easily self-critical as mine πŸ™‚

Alison

Beth, I don’t know you, but thank you for teaching. As the grown daughter of a public school teacher, I know how hard you must work. Teaching is the most noble profession, yet, the salaries rarely reflect that. Peace be with you sweet Beth! Continue fighting the good fight!

Elaine

amen!

Luna

Beth stresses a related and very important topic: your blog needs comments (in fact, I think the success of blogs is dependent on the number of views AND comments), but more and more occupations are now open to public reviews (and comments) that were not in the past. I am a lecturer, too, and I am also hurt by some comments of students. Especially when they can write things anonymously, some of them can be very mean and personal. It is such a pity, because most of the students like my classes, but the few mean comments can change the way you feel about your work. I don’t think some of them even realize their comments can be hurtful: they could just write ‘boring!’ in the reviews. I know that some students might find the things that I teach boring, when I was a student I also found some classes boring. Everybody does. But nowadays, the students can leave reviews of the classes and the lecturers are compelled to read these (they are sent to you). My point is, that you Emily, can (and should!) control these, but a lot of us actually can’t. And the hard part is, we… Read more »

Carly

I love this idea! I would like to know not only how to deal with criticism personally (or how Emily approaches dealing with criticism), but also as a person living in this new age of public reviews, how to make sure I am contributing in a sensitive, positive, useful way. I would love to be able to give better feedback.

Tiffany

Thank you for making this change. Your blog is the first one I check each day. I have purchased many of your items and truly enjoy the content and vibe.

Abbey

Good, strong decision with a thoughtful explanation. I’m so happy for you, your family, and your team. YAY!

shopgirl

I think this is a brilliant policy. I’m honestly surprised you didn’t implement it either, although I get why (I think) you didn’t. Just remember that deleting hateful comments is not the same as squelching disagreement. Those of us who are here all the time appreciate what you do (even when we don’t agree). Frankly I don’t like reading the hateful comments either, so you are also doing the rest of your readers a service. πŸ™‚

I come to this blog for the design advice and inspiration but WAY more because I ADORE your voice and your stories and your struggles…PLEASE keep writing. As good of a designer as you are, you’re also a fantastic writer. (From one to another…)–Liz Krieger

Hannah

agree!!

Lara

Kudos to you!! Its about time everyone, everywhere should folllow this exact same policy~ way to go!

Rose

Excellent!

Maya

Great new policy!! And as a fellow mom of two young kids whom I love with all my heart– vacations without kids are the BEST.

Chantel

Hooray!! So glad that you are doing what is right for you, your blog, and your business. This is great news πŸ™‚

Heather

This is an excellent policy! And your suggestion for how to approach comments in the first place is perfect – hopefully more people will begin to think about how what they write would sound read out loud by a child before they post it.

Anne

Good job on eliminating hateful comments, dear Emily!
I love your blog and you – and me(!) – and don’t want hate anywhere near us!

RENEE

YAYYY!!! I’m so glad you are enforcing this, and so glad you have someone else censoring the hateful comments, so they don’t impact you. Recently I have noticed a shift in your writing, riddled with apologies and disclaimers. I 100% understood why you started writing that way, but it made me sad to think of how nervous and self-conscious you must be to feel the need to apologize. Because that is not YOU! You are proud of who you are and confident about your choices, so I hope the real you comes back, because we, the 99% love the real, honest, human YOU.

Yes! Please don’t apologize Emily for living your life and writing amazing and free content for us!

Lisa

Yes!!!

Totally approve of this new policy. Esp the bring on the criticism – but chill with the nasty stuff attitude. Good on you.

Julie

I support you 100%. Last week I gave you a compliment and it resulted in you getting berated by other people. I was so depressed reading the follow up comments. I am so happy that you made this change. It was spreading negativity in the world because when I read nasty comments on your blog I would picture a super ugly person living in the worst home with bad lighting. I want to come here and fill my mind with beautiful images not ugly people. I also think as the owner of your design firm you have a responsibility to protect your team. I own a business and when I read the hateful comments directed towards your team I thought they needed to be protected. Your team supports you and therefore you need to protect them like a momma bear. I love that you are giving them the power to delete the hateful comments. If we are cleaning house can we also edit (not delete their entire post) the grammar police people. Let’s be honest nobody likes a grammar police. I say this to everyone in my life: If you are happy I am happy, therefore, this post made me… Read more »

S

Please delete grammar police comments too. While not always mean, they are always annoying. (It really grates me)

Tracy

Katya – 100% with you – grammar corrections are so often used to silence. In another life I was a copy editor, so every time I see an error here I can’t help but grit my teeth. Then I remind myself of my first boss, who opened our initial training meeting on editing fiction by saying “There’s a reason that Robin Williams’s first act in Dead Poets Society (the title of which itself contains a painful punctuation error) is to have his class tear up a parody of E.B. White’s ‘Elements of Style.'” Emily is an amazing writer, her staff are amazing writers. There is so much more than interior design here – humor and serious wisdom (the marriage advice alone is no joke – the pregnancy/airplane parallel made me almost cry with recognition). This is raw, fun, serious, interesting stuff. Yes, I obviously think everyone in the world could benefit from a copy editor, but ultimately the writing is all that matters. And this is some baller writing.

Dottie

Good for you!! πŸ™‚

Julia

I held my breath for a moment there – I thought you were closing comments! When people are helpful or constructive I love the comment sections here. It’s been very helpful regarding home upgrades. I’m glad you can lessen your stress load though. It’s so very important to do that.

Sarah

Good for you!!

Sasha

Good for you! I love stopping by the blog to see what you and your team are up to. I can’t imagine how hurtful some of these comments must have been. No-one should be subjected to that at work (or anywhere else for that matter)!
Thanks for letting us come along on your journey.
Peace and blessings.

Emily

This will make it so much more productive and interesting to engage – when we don’t have to constantly defend against or buffer negativity but can have real discussions (with real disagreements). Good move. Incidentally, my husband works in a totally different field but had a person who was just spreading poison, and everyone was afraid to confront this person for fear of being mean or censoring personalities. But my husband called this individual on it, reduced their responsibilities until changes could be made, and the person just left. The whole atmosphere of the workplace changed – people feel free to share ideas, to make suggestions, and have an air of joy and excitement instead of worry and anxiety. It was amazing to see the difference, and totally worth the firm choice to say no to unproductive negativity.

Jessica

100%. Thank you for cultivating positivity through moderation. I will now start reading comments again. All blogs and newspapers should do this.

Josh

Wow! Very powerful post Emily. Thank you.

Crystal

Excellent idea! As a blog, and sometimes comment reader, I similarly wince when I’m about to enter the comment section. This will make the experience much better for us too!

Sarah D.

Lake Tahoe looks gorgeous. Great decision. I check your blog daily and really enjoy the thoughtful content and predominantly positive comments. I don’t like when I feel the need to defend EHD or a commenter from an overly aggressive, mean-spirited remark in the comment section. Let’s all continue to be overly friendly:)

Emily

YES YES YES! I am so happy you are doing this for your own sanity, hiding behind computers with cruel comments has just become too common!

Mindy

Good for you, Emily! Keep doing what you are doing. You are so talented and I love your posts and look forward to reading every day.

jessvii

If this makes keeping the content flowing, then I am all for it! It’s got to be so hard to be so public / vulnerable / open (I’d imagine). Before this policy, this blog was my happy place – I don’t see how this policy would harm that or make it less authentic given that respectful criticism is still welcome.

Elizabeth

I never comment, but I have to say I am so glad that you are doing this. I sometimes scroll through the comments here, and I have been surprised at how negative I felt like they were becoming. You were clearly becoming more apologetic in your posts, which I felt like actually empowered and “justified” the negative posters. I know that whenever I think something negative of someone or make a negative comment, it is 99% of the time because I feel bad about myself or something in my life (consciously or subconsciously). So, it makes me really sad that people are feeling so terrible as to post such hurtful things. But, truthfully, I was starting to not read your blog as much because the vibe had gotten so uncomfortable. You seem like such a kind person who doesn’t take your success and things for granted and who truly wants to engage with people in a thoughtful way, and that is really important to have in the world now. So, thank you for being so brave and putting yourself out there!

Elizabeth

P.S. I meant when I make a negative comment in the real world (which I obviously try not to do!). Not on the internet…

Melissa

Sending a great big thumbs up across the blogosphere πŸ™‚

Anna

This feels like a decision I would also make. I support you.

Your blog is on my bookmarks bar and I check it almost daily. A couple times I have seen those cruel comments and was surprised that it upset me too. Even later in the day I would think about it. Was worried that it would discourage you from posting content that was authentic to you. Glad you have found a solution so you can continue to do what you do!

Lynn 2

Yes. πŸ™‚

Emily P

I love this! I only regularly follow a few blogs and it always amazes me when there is a repeat commentator who is just a total ball of hate. I feel bad for those people because I can’t imagine their lives have much happiness in them if they use their free time to hate on bloggers. I see the same thing in regular life on facebook. Some people I am friends with will comment negatively on a weight loss story, or photo of a baby in some baby carrying sling that they don’t approve of. Get a life!

I’m glad you implemented this new comments protocol. You are trying to put all of this happy, beautiful knowledge, advice, and admiration for design out into the world and 99.9% of us really appreciate it. Do I love every single detail of every project you post, or every outfit to post? No, but we aren’t the same person and that’s fine. I wonder if the 1% trolls are furious right now lol.

P.S. Can I come sip wine in your new backyard?? You are awesome, keep it up!

Hilary

Thank you for making this decision, and kudos to you for doing so without apology. Lately there have been so many mean, personal, hurtful comments (I’m looking at you Hannah! Her comment seriously had me upset on your behalf for days), and I really feared this blog would go the way of Young House Love. I think your new comment monitoring policy will make us ALL happier in your little corner of the internet. Cheers to the EHD team!

Rachael

So happy for you and just had to say how necessary this is! Your transparency is what makes this blog interesting and full of your personality. It would be heartbreaking to watch you pull back from fear of comments/backlash. I love reading about the good, bad and the ugly of interior design, motherhood and marriage!

No more apologizing for the life, talent, family you were are blessed with. There is an overwhelming amount of proof that every minute, resource and energy goes into supporting others. Whether through content, mothering or simply being an uplifting leader and boss! We need more of you in the world and you shine brightest when you are not afraid to be entirely YOU!

I love this, Emily! Great decision! I love all your content–your openness and authenticity. Hoping to see more fashion posts soon. Love you!

Erin

Wise and kind. There is a difference between feedback that matters and nastiness that shouldn’t. You bring a lot of joy to my life, so as a reader, I wouldn’t want to bring hurt to yours. Thank you for being you in a public space so we can have the opportunity to share in your talents and adventures!

Deborah Hansen

Thank YOU, appreciate your openness, honesty, realness, and designs!!!!!!!

Justina

Congratulations on making such a positive and healthy change on the blog! It takes bravery to say that you aren’t going to put up with hate. I understand that this new policy will make it easier for you to read comments, but I also think the change will encourage other readers to comment who might not have in the past.

Ashley R

I always feel so bad when I’m reading your blog and you have to explain yourself in so many different ways just to keep from getting such hateful responses. This is your space to say what you feel. You shouldn’t have to apologize for being human. I just love your openness and honesty so much. Along with your incredible style and content, that is what brings me back day after day and I’ve been following along for almost 6 years. Love to you and your team!

Sophia

I hate coming across those kinds of comments too, even when it’s not directed at me, so I can only imagine what a downer it would be for you. Great decision!

Arlyn

I’ll never understand repeat hate commenters. WHY ARE YOU HERE IF YOU ALWAYS HATE EVERYTHING? And you’re so right. Negative comments aren’t the problem (they fuel conversation and growth). It’s the personal attacks, the unnecessary ugliness, that make you feel less than. You’re fabulous and amazing and a complete and utter inspiration. We love you Emily!! Keep rockin’ it out!

Yes, but sometimes EHD loyalists can be really mean when they misinterpret a thoughtful critique. I think it was last week there was a lovely comment about how much the reader loves the blog, gets the mom-to-two-toddlers thing, but didn’t love the post (maybe it was the neutral paint post?). Really, it was so kindly worded and, to my eye, beneficial to EHD in terms of reader interests.

But my god the vitriolic responses to that gentle post from the loyalists were unfair, uncalled for, and unnecessary.

There is a difference between outright meanspirited and unnecessary comments and thoughtful criticisms.

Margot

I agree, sometimes Emily’s defenders make things worse giving both relatively innocuous comments and truly negative comments more space than they warrant. The comment space becomes all about the so-called negative comment rather than Emily’s original post. So culling some of the really nasty stuff will hopefully address this.

Shelby

I’ve seen a few hateful comments but most of what I’ve read have been this. Any kind of dissension results in vitriol from these staunch supporters. It seems they don’t understand that disagreeing with someone doesn’t equal “bullying”. Truthfully, I enjoy the back and forth of people and the drama of it all. I live a boring life. I love the content of the site and I’ll come back to read that once a week or so. But I don’t think the comment section will be very interesting if it’s all just special snowflakes patting each other on the back. (Which of course, I’m happy for you if what was here was stressing you out. Life is too short to give energy to people who drain you.)

Monica

I’ve noticed a bit of what can feel like a “mob” mentality – the mob I imagine being those who seemingly have a lot in common with Emily. My life has some different challenges than faced by this group, so it can hurt to see dissenters shouted down. It takes courage to share your thoughts with strangers. That phenomenon in the comments had led me to swear off reading this blog at times. I’d find myself thinking – Emily is making money from sponsors so if people aren’t countered every time they share opposing views, maybe it is because it is important for her to show her advertisers that all of her readers love absolutely everything she writes. (I am not sure if this is the type of comment that is “beyond the pale.”) Having said all of this, I do like the content very much and appreciate that Emily shares parts of her life story on this blog. In fact, I think her opennness inspired me to dare to share my own thoughts online, something that I had done very infrequently and reluctantly previously. I am always assuming that I am one of those “toxic” people that every works… Read more »

Kate

So true. I commented once on here to point out a clothing issue (which I hemmed and hawed over because I am not that outspoken of a person but felt like I had to…i.e. If my skirt is in my underwear please tell me even if it is uncomfortable for us both). The defense attack that followed by one person was out of proportion and uncalled for. I feel like if Emily and her team needs a body guard they’ll let you know, until then simmer down everyone.

Brenda Kliethermes

Thank you for trying to keep the Internet civil and respectful. I enjoy your blog and I’m glad you are taking this step so you can enjoy writing it.

Arli

Yay for this decision! As a reader, I can certainly tell the difference between criticism and a hate comment. I too learn from the former but get upset by the latter. I think with social media and the possibility of hiding behind a screen society has further lost its tenuous hold on common decency and manners. Thank you for bringing those values back to the comments section of your blog.

Debra

Brava, Emily! Democracy is not to be confused with making the world safe for cruelty.

S

Preach!

Lauren

Bravo for this decision! I personally don’t think of it as ‘censorship’ to remove hateful comments – it’s your blog and you’re still encouraging dialogue and a variety of opinions, so really, it’s just a healthy, smart thing to do. My personal style is fairly different to yours and your team’s, but I still visit the blog every day for your distinct voice, the personalities of you and your team, and helpful roundups- I don’t understand why someone would continually visit and take time to comment if they have so much hate for it? I don’t spend too much time in the comments, so [luckily] I haven’t seen too many of the hateful ones, but whenever I have I agree with others here that it’s upsetting for me to even read, and clearly exponentially worse for you and your team. Glad you won’t have to deal with that anymore.

Juli

100% agree with Lauren!

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