GWAS Code of Commenting Conduct

This post comes care of a suggestion made by a loyal Satcheling, which was cemented by the surprisingly lively, yet not entirely positive, reaction to last week's 'Cute & Chic' post.

In the spirit of the Girl Guides, Pollyanna and our feminist friends at Jezebel, I've decided to implement a GWAS Code of Commenting Conduct, according to which I will be vetting comments.

Until now, I've pretty much approved every comment based on the idea that open dialogue is what blogs are based on and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Often these opinions are extremely well articulated and add a valuable dimension to an otherwise one-sided or insufficiently thought out post, as would an interview subject in a magazine feature. Also, as this blog's main meal is often critical magazine reviews, I have to be prepared to get as good as I give. Many readers are passionate about their glossies and understandably defensive.

But when the feedback descends into the realm of personal attacks, I have to say enough's enough. As one reader joked with me recently, "everyone knows you sit at home and live off your rich husband and rip off the government by claiming back mags at tax time". Thankfully, I can shake off those sorts of comments because they are so ridiculously far from the truth. My husband is cute (see him in an upcoming post!), but rich he is most certainly not.

The reactionary and largely anonymous nature of the blogosphere – in addition to the pervasively snarky nature and influence of many blogs, web forums and even magazines – means we are often quick to comment without consideration for a person's feelings. And not just mine – I'm talking those of fellow commentors (you are all valued – even in your anonymity), women who work in the industry, celebrities, and other women I choose to feature on the blog.

As Gordon Ramsay so eloquently demonstrated with his unprovoked attack on Tracy Grimshaw, this snark might just be reflective of a relaxing of standards in society at large: Therese Rein, Susan Boyle, Beth Ditto and Gretel Killeen are just a few more women who've fallen victim to media nastiness of late. But we can all do better than that.

Petty bitchiness, particularly when it comes to a woman's appearance, is diminishing, and not just for the victim of the attack. I know that every time I post something that verges on the bitter side, it kills a little part of me. And no amount of chocolate can console a girl's soul. Deep down, I think we all want to be good and positive and encouraging, but sometimes we give into the persuasions of our lesser selves, like partaking in an office kitchen bitching session that leaves us feeling utterly deflated. Being critical and using your university educated cerebral faculties to articulate an argument is one thing; unwarranted snark is another.

On my MacBook, I have a Bible verse, which I try to consult before posting (often, in haste, I don't). It reads: "The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control... We must not be proud or irritate one another or be jealous of one another." (Galatians 5: 16-26). These are the values GWAS attempts to espouse.

In the Bible it also says: "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45).

So, if you're having a shitty day, or shitty life, try not to bring that to fruition via a nasty comment. Go have a coffee with a girlfriend. Or see a shrink. And if you don't like what I have to say, just turn away. Blogs are subjective and personal – as much as I shoot for the journalistic principles of fairness and accuracy, as well as the GWAS mission of "finding the good in gloss", I will offend, annoy and irritate some of you.

In short, to have your comment approved and ensure the positive, salutary spirit of GWAS lives on (even on the crappy days we all inevitably face), it must adhere to these principles:
- Constructive criticism.
- Relevance.
- No personal character attacks.
- No attacks based on appearance.
- No swearing.
- No hating.
- No bullying.

Grace, poise and nobility are valued. For example, a recent worthy comment from Liz with regards to my recent post on Vogue:

"GWAS, I do love you so, but I sometimes feel that you pick on Harper's Bazaar whilst ladle praise upon praise on Vogue (bar that one article). Now I don't think HB are going such a great job, but in fact both magazines are lacking that certain 'must-read must-buy' factor right now. Whilst I understand the current economic climate (the 'R' word) is making them look both magazines inappropriate, it seems that Harper's bears the brunt of your insults whereas Vogue always seems to get away relatively scot free."

A+. Tick. Approved.

I am fully encouraging of diverse, interesting, witty, informative, funny and insightful comments: particularly those framed in a positive way. Even what might seem a banal thought in your own mind ("I liked that cover because it was pretty") is worthy and adds to the GWAS commenting community. So, stand up and have your thoughts counted. No use storing them up for a rainy day.

If you would like to take me to task on a subject, or even send in some positive reinforcement, please don't hesitate to email me at

Thank you for visiting and for your time. Please do come again!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


Jess said...

Well said. You do a great job, and the people who say nasties are just jealous (I too am jealous, but that's not reason enough for me to write mean things). Keep up the great work. I love it.

SquiggleMum said...

Nicely handled Erica. You are a shining example of a fabulous chick living in the world yet not being of the world. May you continue to inspire a generation of gorgeous, gracious and Godly girls.

By the way, yours is the fastest blog I have ever subscribed to ;) Think I browsed your site for about 4.5sec before signing up.

Anonymous said...

A really valid and well thought out post. I cannot understand people who leave nasty comments on blogs. If you don't like it, don't read it. True, no-one is above criticism but if one of your readers has to resort to personal attacks,then it's really their problem and not yours GWAS. Jealousy has a way of making many people lash out...

Anonymous said...

I'm going to keep this comment short and to the point. Great post! :)

Rochelle said...

Well said, Erica. I think this is spot on and will provide an environment that facilitates kindness and considered, constructive debate. Nice work. :-)

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Bravo Erica. I'll put my fingers up in the Brownie salute as I salute you. Eloquent and inspiring as always xx

Scarlett Harris said...

I know how you feel about personal attacks. I also write a weekly column for a wrestling website,, and as you can imagine, the audience there is slightly more hostile than yours! I recently recieved a comment deriding my opinion, my intelligence and my personality on the site, when the column was simply meant to be a lighthearted one, rather than an investigative journalistic feat! I thought about fighting back with an equally hostile post, but I had a few days when I wasn't able to access the internet, and in turn, that provided a cooling off period, so I was able to defend myself. But personally, I love and can't get enough of GWAS!
P.S. I had been unimpressed with Harper's Bazaar for about a year, but I have a hard time giving up on things, so I kept buying the mag. However, your opinions on the title and it's lackluster content was the straw that broke the camel's back, and I'm no longer buying it until it returns to the HB of old.

Anneke said...

Well said Erica. Love your work, and that is why I keep coming back! Don't like? Don't read it! xx

AVD said...

Rich husband... hahahaha - I love it. (& You!)

Elissa said...

Well said Erica.

Bronwyn said...

Bitching and nastiness can turn into an epidemic unless someone puts their hand up and says, 'hey, we can do better than this'. I think in this context it's certainly your job to put that hand up; but hopefully at least some of your readers will take the thought from their screen to their workplace.

imogen said...

go you thing

sparsely kate said...

Well written.

Sam said...

Well said my gorgeous and lovely friend Erica ... you are such an inspiring and shining beacon of all things positive and glossy in my world. We love constructive feedback on our blogs and I too have no time for petty nastiness, there's enough negativity in the world.
Oh yes, I too had to laugh at the rich husband comment don't we all just wish? :-)

Anonymous said...

well said.

Victoria Hart said...

Hello, I've been following GWAS for quite some time now and really enjoy reading your reviews of the magazines...I can relate to this particular post quite a lot right now as I have received some vicious personal attacks through my blog, I just cannot believe people can find the time to sit on a computer and write such nasty things without feeling bad about what they've just done and how they've just made another person feel, it baffles me.

Anyway, please keep up your fabulous writing, you're blessed!


Top Bird @ Wee Birdy said...

Dude, I think I need one of those bible quotes on my Mac! xx

*this daisy said...

You articulated this perfectly, Erica! Nasty comments are a big no-no. Good on you for standing up to 'bullies'. I'm also incredibly encouraged by the fact that you're never ashamed to proclaim Godly values in your lovely blog. :)

Rachel said...

good on you for sticking it to the nasty commenters - i rarely read the comment section because i find your opinion is always so well rounded out, there's almost nothing else anyone needs to say! I'm sorry to hear people are being horrid to you. Hopefully it all ends now! Keep up the great work.

Ondo Lady said...

I could not have said it better myself. We are all entitled to our opinions but the way we articulate them is vital. I always see someone's blog as their home and when you enter that home you treat it with respect and if you cannot do that you should leave. Fast!!

Scarlett Harris said...

As I'm sure you're already well aware of, Erica, there's an article by Mia Freedman in the Sunday Age's M supplement regarding similar issues as this post. She talks about Gwyneth Paltrow's GOOP blog, and how a lot of people only subscribe to it to use it as fodder for their "snarky" comments. I thought it tied in really well with the theme of this post :)