“A Blow for Freedom”

That’s one of my father’s phrases. Whether it’s finishing a chore, getting out of an unwanted responsibility, or just speaking one’s mind, he’ll often mark his accomplishment with “Well, that’s a blow for freedom.”

And what have I freed myself from? The “disagree” button on Ravelry. The first time I ever even noticed its existence was when someone disagreed a new shawl design I’d posted. Perhaps I should be made of stronger stuff, but it felt like a punch in the gut. The shawl wasn’t all that complicated, but I’d worked on it, I liked it, and I figured some other people out there might like it too. And within a few hours there along the bottom of my post was the disheartening judgement: “disagree (1).” Ouch!

As I followed 20 Shawls in 2010 on Ravelry, I started seeing a lot more disagrees. Usually I could guess what the disagree-er was dissatisfied with—the piece posted was a scarf, or maybe could have been a scarf, or maybe the post included unblocked, but not blocked, pictures. I mean, a sin of that nature—to let it passed unnoticed would threaten the very foundation of our knitting community. (This is sarcasm, get it?)

I have this crazy mental picture of a woman who’s appointed herself captain of the knitting police and who surfs Ravelry with a bitterness in her heart, looking for opportunities to find other people’s work inadequate. Maybe she has a daily disagree quota set for herself, like the quotas police are rumored to have for certain kinds of tickets. Maybe after twenty disagrees, she feels like she’s defended her knitterly fortress and made it safe for one more day.

I am no saint. I have had my moments where I’ve looked at something that was posted for 20 Shawls in 2010 and thought “that’s not a shawl.” In the privacy of my own home, I make catty remarks about knits I find unattractive. But it would never cross my mind to disagree. Knitting is a hand craft. Our hands craft it. It is what we say it is. We’re on the honor system here. If the person who knit a piece is going to use it as a shawl, if she’s put a shawl’s worth of wok into it, if it seems shawly to her, I’m not going to call her out in public by disagreeing—even if I do disagree.

So the blow for freedom? I’ve just discovered that if I go to the “settings” tab on my Ravelry forum page, I can unclick disagree. Poof! It’s gone! I never have to know when some stranger finds fault with a knitted piece—my own or someone else’s. Amazing how good that feels.

12 Replies to ““A Blow for Freedom””

  1. I have never used the disagree button myself. Knitting to me is personal, what I may love others may not. I, too, have seen some knitting and thought WTF about it, but I would NEVER share that with anyone.

  2. Kind of sad, isn’t it? We all love what we do and there’s certainly something for every imaginable taste. I don’t know why some people feel the need to be negative.

  3. I don’t understand the disagree people. I get disagreeing to a yes or no question but just randomly disagreeing to things just bothers me. Such wanton snippiness just makes me crazy.

    Can’t we all just get along! 😉 LOL

  4. I can understand a “like” or “dislike” button, but “disagree”??? What – is knitting now a debatable craft?
    And as they say about art: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, become critics”.
    Knit on proudly, my friend!

  5. I just wanted to let you know I recently read on one of my forums what most Ravelry members use the disagree button for. It is the way they indicate they are jealous (or envious I would prefer) of what you have shared. Since there is no “jealous” button, they click the disagree button. Hopefully, the site designers can add an envious button some time in the future.

  6. Love this post. The seemingly irrational disagrees drive me nuts! Plus, Ravelry is my happy place… I don’t need to see a “disagree” under my photo of the stuffed cat it took me two years to knit for my toddler. Totally disabling that crap right now!

  7. Thank you for posting this! Recently, on some of the Bay Area Knitters threads, someone has gone through and disagreed with — no kidding — every single post, from every single user, no matter the content, for pages and pages. This made it feel like a lot of other Internet spam, and a particularly passive-aggressive spam too. I’m so glad I was able to find your blog and realize this spam vector could be disabled. 🙂 It’s a great addition to my New Year’s resolutions to not read any Internet comments, anywhere, or follow Buzzfeed and Upworthy links.

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