Update on Ravelry
It’s been quite the ride lately in the Knitting and Crafting world. But, that’s 2020. (Remember when we thought the biggest Stories of the year would be impeachment, Australian Wild Fires, and Murder Hornets? Ahhh simpler times)
My latest video is up and yes it’s about Ravelry again. I promise I’m not become a Ravelry commentary channel. But, there were things that needed to be said about Ravelry’s latest blog post regarding NuRav. (Accessible google doc) One thing that’s tough about doing commentary video is a lot of times things I said get lost in the edit. Or things I should ‘ve said never got said. So, couple of things I wish I had in the video but did not.
But, there’s a certain power in that. Those of us who do not experience problems with NuRav, but still care about accessibility can make a difference simply by calling in Ravelry to do better, and uplifting people adversely affected.
2. NuRav is a giant Beta Test.
Intentionally or unintentionally Ravelry is subjecting 9 million users to a massive Beta Test of their new look – not even their new infrastructure, just the new skin. Yes, Ravelry had a beta test before launching NuRav across the site. But, in my view that Beta Test is continuing.
And to be clear, I’m not claiming the Ravelry team is viewing this “Phase 1” of the roll out as a massive Beta Test. I’m saying that’s how it is functioning.
Volunteerism and Community as a Business Model
Part of the reason there’s such strong feelings about how the Ravelry team is handling accessibility problems with NuRav is Ravelry has done a very good job over the years at building a community. Ravelry has never looked like nor felt like a business. Rather, it felt like the business was a side hustle to support the community.
On twitter I’ve read accounts of the first Ravellers donating server space, donating time to build the pattern database, and beta testing the site. All of this was done in the name of Volunteerism. Volunteer your time and energy to make something great. And going into the Ravelry Offsite Blog, I found this post: The Ravelry Army. They thank users not just for monetary donations, but donating time to edit the database.
Ravelry is NOT a small team. It’s a 9 million member user base + small staff team. And most people have been good with that relationship because they believe in the mission, and the community, and the pattern database. And that’s volunteerism.
And that volunteerism is a great way to build brand loyalty. People put personal time into the site and thus personally invest in Ravelry. It’s not just a website or a platform. It’s a family. It’s community.
But, here’s the thing: Ravelry is and always has been a business. It’s business model is based on a barter system: 9 million users get free access to a pattern library, notebook, other people’s project, and community in exchange for their clicks on ads, buying independent designer pattern, and voluntarily building the pattern database and moderating forums. Knitting groups get free access to forums for their groups in exchange for bringing in more users. Independent designers, meanwhile, pay through their sales and ad buys to get access to those 9 million “volunteers”
This barter system is why Ravelry has gotten away with being such a small “team”.
To be clear: I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Because Ravelry relies on users to do a good chunk of work for them, and they keep their overhead low, independent designers are also able to keep their overhead lower. It’s well known that Ravelry is one of the least expensive places to sell patterns.
This relationship has over the years been mutualOy beneficial to everyone. But, what happens when the barter system breaks down? Because I believe that is what is happening right now with NuRav.
A lot of users are feeling betrayed right now because Ravelry is not holding up part of their end of the bargain: inclusivity.
Ravelry has its defenders. People are invested in the community they helped build. And I get that. But, part of the Ravelry team building the community were from the disabled community. Some of the community have vestibular disorders and are being harmed by the way Ravelry is handling this re-design. They have held up their end of the bargain. It’s time Ravelry lived up to their end.
Oh and everyone needs to remember Ravelry is a business. It’s okay to believe in the mission of that business, but it’s still a business.
Links to Resources and Information about Ravelry and NuRav:
CRAFT GOSSIP: https://knitting.craftgossip.com/ravelrys-new-look-knocked-for-accessibility-issues/2020/06/27/
RAVERLY BRAIN IMPLOSION: HOW TO DESTROY YOUR BRAND IN 7 DAYS: https://wakeupnmakestuff.com/ravelry-brain-implosion-or-how-to-kill-your-brand-in-7-days/
CATH SEEKER BLOG: https://cathseeker.blogspot.com
Epilepsy Foundation Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EpilepsyFoundationofAmerica/photos/a.101501138876
INFORMATION REGARDING WEB ACCESSABILITY: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Accessibility/Seizure_disorders
RAY WALTERS HAS PUT TOGETHER A NEW SKIN FOR RAVERLY USERS EXPERIENCING ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS: https://www.instagram.com/tnprogrammer/