The Ravelry Thing

Wednesday marks a bitter milestone in the knitting community. Ravelry, which has had its cheery green and red colour scheme since 2007 (the same year I started knitting), is removing its Classic theme and forcing all users over to one of their NuRav themes. The themes that have caused some people eyestrain, migraines, and even seizures.

The Ravelry redesign has been a huge topic in the knitting community, despite Ravelry's attempt to shut it down on all of their platforms. (Noticed the closed comments on Twitter and IG? Noticed how every Facebook post says there are dozens of comments, but only shows a handful? Noticed the strange lack of -any- conversation about this topic on the main Rav forums?) There are many people out there who have been leading the campaign for better accessibility of the site, and many people who can explain the history and situation better than I can.

I am deeply, deeply disappointed in the response that the Ravelry team has provided.

Rav used to be, hands down, my favourite site on the web. The usability, the information inside, the community. How many helpful little features were added to make my life easier or, simply, to delight. It was my home online, for a long time. I never really got involved in any other online fibre communities, because it was all in one place.

I used to sing Ravelry's praises to anyone who would listen (not just knitters - I thought it was a star example of a website, In General). I can no longer in good conscience do that.

Personally, I am fortunate that I merely find the new design ugly and less usable, rather than outright harmful to my health. The information hierarchy is bad, it's hard on the eyes, the icons are too small, but I can grit my teeth and carry on. So I'm not boycotting the site entirely - I think about the other websites I use on a daily basis, and the heartless corporations that own them, and the compromises I make every day to exist in the world we live in. So I won't go so far as to stay off the site for good.

But I will bear in mind that there are many people who can not, or will not, use Ravelry, and I respect them and I intend to include them.

(In terms of my patterns, everything that is on Ravelry is also on LoveKnitting, and my best-selling designs are also in my Etsy shop. It's a crying shame that Rav so strongly dominated PDF pattern sales that, a couple years ago, I could have listed several other shops that now no longer sell patterns.)

The way they have completely shut down any discussion on any of their platforms - on- or off-site - is absolutely infuriating. The way they have belittled actual people's pain and tried to sweep it under the rug is deeply hurtful.

I felt a deep betrayal when I saw the situation unfold. It was like losing a friend - but we should remember, despite the parasocial closeness we may feel, the Ravelry staff are not our friends.

The community spirit was a good business move. We made the site what it is - enriching it with our user-generated content, setting up and managing groups, sharing our knowledge, adding patterns. If no one ever added a project or posted in the forums, Ravelry would not be half the resource that it is today. Ravelry is its community, and that's why they did us so dirty.


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