Sunday, July 21, 2013

Re-Publishing the Stitcher's Guild Backstory and History

I originally published this in July, 2013.  I then took this post down  as a courtesy to Julie Ford (DragonLady on SG), but I see no reason not to re-publish it at this point.  I have not been reading SG or having anything to do with it since this time, and since Julie has never seen fit to acknowledge either my (or Kathryn's) genesis of the whole thing, or my acquiescence to her request to remove this post, it's going back up.  Obviously it doesn't matter to her, so why should it matter to me?

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time, or who remember me from Sewing World, may remember that the very first Announcement of the new sewing board, Stitcher's Guild (originally and very temporarily, Sewing World Refuge) was made here on Sew Intriguing, on March 20, 2006! By March 29th, we had been temporarily shut down by our host because we exceeded 100 (!!) members. It's hard to believe it's been over 7 years since Kathryn (Fzxdoc) and I put our heads together to figure out a way to keep in touch with all of our wonderful sewing friends when Sewing World finally ground to its inevitable decline. As we said then, we had no real desire to 'usurp' SW's place, but it was slowly dying from neglect, and there was nothing to be done other than make a place where we could all begin again, and carry on.

Much time, thought and effort was put into making the transition as friendly as possible, and to that end, since Kathryn and I are experts at sewing, not with computers, we thought we would ask DragonLady (Julie) to help us create the sewing board of our imaginations. She did this very ably, though of course everything was done with a consensus of the three of us, then Lisa came on board to help us, and it became four of us. Eventually Ann was added to our leadership group, and we have worked long and hard over the years, much of it behind the scenes, to make it all run smoothly. I'm sure I don't have to remind you of the many little contretemps and disagreements over various topics and posts which became controversial for one reason or another. We think we have the greatest group of posters and members anywhere, but a little diplomacy was called for now and then, you'll agree!

As our project grew, we each gave many hours and put a lot of effort into it. The Moderators read all of the posts, heading off trouble where it looked likely, moving posts to make our search function more user-friendly, and more successful, something we all agree is vital to the serious sewer looking for answers, and generally welcoming new members and making wonderful friendships ourselves. We help fix/edit member's posts and photos where and when necessary, which takes time and knowledge on our part and is no small assist to the look and feel of the board. Julie was vital to it all, and she has gotten the credit she deserves. Perhaps the rest of us have not.

Now it seems that a major change is coming to Stitcher's Guild. Julie first approached the Mods in April of this year about an offer she had had to buy the forum. She was considering it, and we had lots of questions, which she said she would answer, but we're still waiting for those answers and the promised discussion. After Stitcher's Guild had problems in the last week, and was down for a few days, major changes were publicly announced by Julie. We are very aware that she puts a lot of work into Stitcher's Guild, as do we all. We have also become very aware at this point that the entire board has been registered in her name, and she has claimed ownership of it. In looking at the stats from Stitcher's Guild, it becomes obvious that in time spent on the board and number of posts, Lisa and Kathryn are clearly in the lead, by thousands of posts, and thousands of hours. We each have our strengths, and I think that when it perhaps happens that the Mods are no longer cleaning up the board, moving things, editing, fixing, creating new threads, etc., it will no longer be quite the place it was. That will be sad, but free labor only lasts so long, especially when it becomes clear that it's only going to be some of us who will be working for free, and not only free, but with no consideration of any kind, and for the financial benefit of others. We have been working for the benefit of others (all of the members and ourselves) all along, but it's a little different to work without remuneration, for the financial gain of others.

When we began this board, it was on the Ladies Club format, where everyone was a volunteer working to provide enjoyment to all. When something was required, we asked for volunteers and/or donations, and those were forthcoming. Now that it seems likely that Julie is planning to run it as as business, the club model is no longer applicable. It has its limitations of course, but it also has a lot going for it. It will be interesting to see just what finally occurs.

As most of you also know, I have been almost totally absent from the board since the death of my DH, Pearle. My life changed so much I just couldn't manage to keep up with it, I couldn't even sew, which was soul-killing in its own way. Any of you who have been through a similar event will understand when I say it was all I could do to just keep my head above water and let the future take care of itself. It was a very dark time, and I was so glad that Kathryn, Lisa, Ann and Julie all were very gracious and let me just slip away.

I am finally (I think, and hope) back to normal, or whatever normal is going to be now, and I thought a little reminiscing was in order. It's been wonderful. I feel that I have friends all over the world through it, and I wouldn't trade the experience of starting and caring for Stitcher's Guild. I don't want to fight, but I don't feel like I should just walk away without a discussion either. It's worth more than that to me. If Stitcher's Guild's time to change into something different has come, it has come. I think we need a discussion at least rather than just announcements.

Links in this post:
Original Stitcher's Guild Announcement
March 29th, 2006

Anonymous said...
Thank you for a gracious, gracious post, Liana!
I'm another troubled by the dynamics of the latest leadership twist - which marks another grieving period for me... one I will probably ponder while I continue to sew in solitude.

I understand your courage in finding a new normal. I am working through a similar period myself and you are a representative of hope.

Meanwhile, thank you for your hours of contribution to the forum. I will continue to follow your blog.

OzAnnie said...
Thank you also for your gracious post. Like the others have already said, I was not aware of the background of the SG Forum and assumed that all mods had been included in discussions about what is to be the future of the forum.

I thank you for all your contributions to the Forum as mod and a member and I wish you well for the future.

Kind regards.
Sandra said...
Dearest Liana, Thank you for taking the time and energy to write this post. I am sorry for the difficulties that this current situation presents to you and the other moderators and Julie, too. And I hope that what come from it is fair to all of you. There's always more to the story, isn't there, at least for me who, about this topic, was completely in the dark. Blessings and peace...
Marie-Louise said...
It was very enlightening to read your side of the story; it certainly adds a different perspective to the suggestion that we pay to use the site. Dragon Lady made this sound like it was a sudden problem due to the site crashing, not something that has been under discussion for months. She was not being honest with us and certainly not fair to you and the other co-founders and moderators.

I suspect that a lot of the new members came after Ann Rowley became famous-as did the offer to buy the site. If that is true, after all Ann has done for Stitcher's Guild, this will be an even sadder story.

Thank you so much for sharing this information. We needed to know it.
BetsyV said...
Thank you for the thoughtful, articulate, and lovely post.
Anonymous said...
Thank you for posting another perspective/information. As with everything there are always two sides - sometimes more. Hopefully this will resolve for the betterment of all and continued sharing of knowledge and experience for SG "members", paid, otherwise, whatever becomes. As a long time volunteer for other organizations I agree that when an enterprise becomes for profit, with so many other obligations and things to draw our time and attention, working without any compensation is an option only if you're a college intern or otherwise working for hands on experience where you have none.

Thank you and all the mods for all the time you have so generously donated so far.
Martina said...
Hi Liana,

Oddly, my sisters and I were talking about the difficulties involved when you volunteer, and the biggest piece of it is managing all of the personalities involved. I think all of you mods do a tremendous job, and I hope that whatever happens to SG works out for the benefit of the entire group, and not just one member. I love seeing what you sew, and I'm glad you're finding your way back after such a difficult time.


Linda said...
Thank you for sharing this. I came over to SG soon after inception and know of all the work you and others did behind the scenes. I have not been on the site for a very long time now, so many blogs and other sites I visit that I just don't have the time. Change is inevitable and constant. I do hope that this ends well for all.

Somehow I did not know that your DH past away. I knew I had not seen new post on your blog nor seen reviews on PR. Truly sorry to learn of your loss; I can imagine how difficult the transition has been in your life. I hope that things are turning around for you now.
Diane said...
Liana: So glad to see you back sewing and sharing your love of all things creative. As one of those who transitioned from SW to SG, I so appreciated all the hard work you and Kathryn put in to create a site for all of us. I hope you know what a great joy your knowledge and creations have provided.
Janis said...
Liana, I am one that would love to hear the suggestions of the mods. I understand, as I read between the lines, that DL has managed to become the owner of the site, despite the fact that the mods have done the majority of the work. Sorry, I just hate to beat around the bush. It has taken several days now to figure out what's happening. What can we do to keep SG together in some form. Do the mods have any ideas?

It looks like Debbie Cook has offered up a web address. What else is needed?
Ruth said...
Liana, I post very infrequently on SG, but, as with others was a part of SW, then made the switch to SG. I have also been around long enough to remember the genesis of Pattern Review at SW, and the subsequent development of the PR business model. I support many of the comments of others and would also add the following.

There is a whole herd of elephants in the room, possibly the same one that was in the PR room and it is in danger of being ignored. The true value in SG is the knowledge, wisdom, support, advice, cheering on etc of the moderators and others who post, not the technical side. In other words it is the people, not the IT platform that makes SG what it is.

I guess as a group of moderators (and there are some key contributors to SG as well who should be included in here)you need to decide whether you are willing to give away your Intellectual Property to someone for their financial advantage (and there are good and valid reasons for and against this). But fundamentally why do you share your knowledge and how much control do you want to retain control? Certainly there were major issues with copyright and signing over IP at PR that went against the grain for me.

If you are comfortable with a for profit / some sort of financial model what are you most comfortable with? Interestingly the SG situation mirrors the PR situation where the potential "owner" is the one with the IT skills, but not a principal content contributor. Maybe the mods should be the "owners" and employ DL if you do support the membership payment model.

Alternatively I belong to other forums where there is no compulsory membership fees but there is an option to be an angel and contribute to the hosting and other costs.

Sorry for the ramble, and for being a cynic, but once something becomes "for profit" it seems to fundamentally shift in spirit and a number of good people get trampled on/exploited, maybe inadvertently but that's not the point. I would hate for you or the other gurus at SG to end up in the same boat, you're too valuable to lose.

Thanks for being brave enough to point out the elephants in the room.

Good luck
sewsy said...
Hi Liana. I have checked your blog from time to time, and didn't realize that you'd begun posting again until reading about it on SG.

First, I'm glad that you are feeling better. I worried about you after your DH's passing, and hoped to see you up and about online as soon as you felt up to it. I would see your name over on SG from time to time, but then after awhile, I'd see the "hidden" tag, and figured it was you. Glad things are beginning to right themselves, and you are arriving at, as they say, "a new normal."

Also, I'm thrilled to see that you are once again in front of your sewing machine! It would have been a terrible loss to the garment sewing community if you stopped sewing.

Thank you for this explanation. Of course, most of us had no idea as to the way Stitcher's Guild was started, and more importantly, WHO EXACTLY started it.

Without reiterating anything, I'd like to say that it will be interesting, knowing what we do now, to see how this all plays out. You and Kathryn have my utmost support.

Hope all turns out well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liana, I sadly remember the demise of SW, it felt like losing a true friend. As far as domain / ownership of SG....could it have been registered jointly, in all of your names? If so, why did you choose to not do so......or was it that you did not have a choice in that decision?

I miss both Ann's and your contribution to SG, you both were guiding lights along with Kathryn and Lisa to new, and experienced sewers.

I am so glad to hear you are again sewing.....the pain of a loss does not go away, it just becomes different.