The Personal Website of Ash M. White

An Open Letter to Smashing Magazine: Stop Being Assholes

by Ash White / 03.18.10

I had to laugh a little at the irony of your recent tweet about mainstream design blogging. The article does hit the nail on the head, though. There's way too much noise on the Internet these days. And you're not helping it at all. But you could be.

Having been subscribed to your RSS feed for about a year, I'd be surprised if I've found more than two or three actually useful chunks of information hidden in the mass of unoriginal, regurgitated link bait. The same goes for your Twitter feed, which is nothing more than a half-assed attempt to copy Gruber's Linked List format (which he freely admits was not his idea). Seriously, it's almost as spammy as Guy Kawasaki's feed.

If you were to take down all of the posts whose subject start with a number greater then three or include words like "showcase" or "roundup," there wouldn't be a whole lot left except for a handful of "articles" based on product placement and name dropping.

I would simply unsubscribe and unfollow, but I like to have reminders around me of how not to act.

Here's the thing you need to realize: you aren't providing us any useful service or information. That is, nothing that we aren't already getting from far better publications. We already know about all the latest nifty jQuery plugins because we read about them on Ajaxian and DailyJS first. We already got the latest tech news from TUAW and Daring Fireball, who are kind enough to provide real, honest perspectives. We already know what the latest design trends are because we read about them from the people who are actually creating them. We get spammed with disingenuous tips for optimizing our workflows and businesses all day long, most of which boil down to common fucking sense. We don't need someone to aggregate our news for us, so what are you really adding to the mix?

But think about what you could be adding. What if you stopped with the unreadably long roundup posts and started writing original, thought-provoking, non-attention-begging content? What if you broke away from the easy formula and went out and talked to real people with real opinions, or better yet, came up with some of your own? What if you stopped using Twitter to spam my feed with 20+ useless links per day and started using it to generate substantive conversations among your followers?

You could (and should) be doing something better than picking the low-hanging fruit.



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All work is original and copyright 2014 by Ash White, with the exception of a handful of free third-party libraries, including the Scriptaculous JavaScript framework, Lightbox image overlay, Google Font Directory, Google Code Prettify, and Eric Meyer's CSS Reset.