joannapenn.jpg
Joanna Penn
Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa still consider their blog, Ideas in Food , a digital notebook. But as food blogging continues its transition

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Food Bloggers Wrestle With Online Errors

joannapenn.jpg
Joanna Penn
Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa still consider their blog, Ideas in Food, a digital notebook. But as food blogging continues its transition from an outlet for personal expression to a valuable "branding platform" -- to use a phrase frequently repeated at this weekend's BlogHer Food conference in Seattle -- many bloggers are wondering whether they need to hire copy editors and purge their online archives of content they no longer consider professional.

For purists like Talbot and Kamozawa, who led a conference session titled "Pushing Boundaries in Food Blogging," misspellings and factual errors don't necessarily undermine a blog's legitimacy.

"It is a voice, it's a growing voice, it's a maturation," Talbot said. "It isn't a brand, it isn't a business: It's a creative outlet, a place to share ideas, a place to be imperfect."

Other bloggers shared Talbot's view, saying they found it "encouraging and amusing," to revisit the early efforts of more experienced bloggers. But a few session attendees disagreed, saying they felt compelled to delete or update older posts which no longer reflected their current perspectives. For many food bloggers, the notion of keeping an online diary isn't as appealing as sharing workable recipes or attracting sponsors.

"This is not a journal, it's a service," a blogger explained, defending her practice of removing posts.

"This ability to play Marty McFly and go back to the future is kind of frightening," Talbot responded. "Just because we can, I'm not sure we should."

Marisa McClellan, who blogs at Food in Jars, says she struggles with how to handle five-year old recipes that call for pectin.

"Tastes are changing, and my personal aesthetic shifts, so sometimes I change recipes," she admitted, before openly asking other bloggers how they handled similar predicaments.

Maggie Battista of EatBoutique said she leaves her archives intact, but writes new posts drawing readers' attentions to recipe updates she's developed.

"I decide to sacrifice on the SEO (search engine optimization) and I do a new post," she said. "It might not be the right business decision, and I'm aware of that, but I think it's interesting to show I sucked at that five years ago, and I'm better now."

In addition to addressing yesterday's errors, some bloggers are now trying to prevent future mistakes. The practice of hiring copy editors is so new that Kamozawa wasn't able to engage session goers in a discussion of it, but she says she's troubled by the concept.

"I know people who are going that route, but I'm not going to name names," she said, giving a hint of how the trend is viewed by veteran food bloggers. "You're almost considered like a fake if you have an editor."

Yet while Kamozawa and Talbot resist the idea that blogs might benefit from copy editing -- they maintain readers will either power through an ungrammatical post or switch to reading another blog -- they're contemptuous of people who don't take blogs as seriously as mainstream media sources, which are typically copy-edited and fact-checked.

"Newspapers and magazines have always been held to a different standard of accountability," Kamowaza says. "With a blog, you would hope everyone is accountable, but it's a different perspective."

Still, she concedes, "blogging is changing."

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