I woke up this morning to a complete clusterfuck.
People are leaving comments calling me everything they can think of in response to the redesign of the TechCrunch.com blog.
We relaunched TechCrunch last Friday morning. The goal was to clean up the advertising (it was all over the place before) and to expand the text area to allow for bigger screen shots. That’s it. Nothing else.
People screamed, in the comments to the post above and elsewhere. That’s ok, people scream at me all the time. I try to delete the comments where people threaten to kill me, my dog or my family, or rape my mother (approximately one per week, and no, I’m not exaggerating). I also delete comments that attack other people unfairly. But for the most part, if you want to take a shot at me, I’ll leave it up. I’ve grown a fairly thick skin. The comments that discuss raping my mother still get to me, of course, but I guess this is all part of having a blog.
So when the negative comments came in I just sort of rolled with it. A number of people made some good suggestions which we implemented. Other ideas were still baking and may or may not have made it eventually into TechCrunch. Anyway, I spoke at a conference on Friday, left for Spain, and have been offline for a lot of the last few days. In my mind, I was glad that we relaunched, I was happy with the new design and I looked forward to tweaking bits and pieces over time to make it better.
And I want to reiterate, I like the new design. It isn’t perfect, but we needed to launch and iterate from there. I was and am happy with the work that my designer did, and I supported her publicly and privately. I also stated publicly, “Everything wonderful about the new design is because of the awesome Rachel Cunliffe, my designer. Everything wrong with it is my fault for overrulling some of her ideas.”
Yesterday, Jeremy Baines sent me a private email with his vision of the TechCrunch redesign. I was impressed that someone I barely know would go to the trouble to do a mockup of the way he would have done TechCrunch. I liked many aspects of it. So I posted it on this blog.
Was I undermining my designer by doing this? Hell no. I was showing support for people that wanted to help me. If I thought Jeremy’s design was so hot, I would have implemented it. I thought it was incredibly cool that someone would do a mockup like that, and so I posted it.
But my designer didn’t see things the same way. She was upset, felt that this was somehow my way of saying that I don’t approve of her work, and resigned (I found out about it by reading a trackback on my own blog). Valleywag knew about her resignation hours before I did.
Now I suspect that my “thick skin” makes it harder for me to understand why Rachel would quit on me just because I posted a screen shot that someone sent me. Again, I want to stress that I have, many times, written about how great Rachel is.
If you think about this from my point of view, you get this: People call me names and scream over just about everything I do. What I write about. What I don’t write about. How many ads I have. Whatever. The comments don’t impact me as much as they use to. I like the new design, and haven’t waivered. My posting of Jeremy’s mockup yesterday was not a signal that I don’t like the current design. It was a signal that I appreciate people who take the time to do things like that. Nothing more. If Rachel chose to take that post as a different message, and resign in the middle of the night publicly, so be it. I would have preferred to have a discussioin with her about it, but she chose the path.
So anyway, I’m going to go back to writing about companies, which is my passion. I’ll keep doing it until the benefits no longer outweigh the costs.
I also want to make one thing clear. I like feedback, and I appreciate even negative feedback. It’s important to hear what people think about what I write. If I didn’t think it was important, I’d choose to use a different publishing format than blogging. This is a two way conversation. Yes, the random, anonymous, hateful stuff sucks, but it doesn’t suck enough to turn off comments, or edit them like some other bloggers do.