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Monday, March 7, 2011

Let's Talk - blog & forum posting



I don't know who else will want to talk, but I have a few thoughts I'll ramble out. Every once in awhile there will be a ripple of some sort in an online community, a forum or on someone's blog. Some folks witness the skirmish from start to finish. Others arrive after the cops have broken up the party and wonder what the heck happened. I'll leave some of you wondering what recently happened, because it doesn't need to be repeated. It wasn't a big deal. Just some things shared on The Mothership about...y'knowwho. The gist of it I want to talk about is that retailers read online content. After reading feedback, solicited or not, some retailers update their marketing, merchandise, pr, policies etc... to benefit the customer. Ann Taylor, Loft, Gap and Talbots are some of the retailers in that group.

The Talbots community is very vocal on the Facebook fan page and wanted to see models in Woman sizes. Bam! There it is! Gorgeous, too. Talbots has been very fluid and responsive to their customers. Other retailers, in contrast, will do things to take away perceived benefits from the customer. Like a parent removing privileges from children. So while online communities can be quite awesome, it's good to remember that they're public. Yes, there is some intern trolling Google and coming across your blog, not just massive communities and FB fan pages.

There are times when I wish people would watch a site or a blog like double dutch ropes before deciding when to jump in. This topic reminds me of a large restaurant I worked in. The place used to wring out waiters like rags. Some would last only a day. Some wouldn't even last a shift. Some would stay and irritate, yipping and yapping away. A co-worker had a great saying that summed it all up about the yip yappers. The saying was, he put his feet up on the coffee table too soon, huh? Mmm hmm... It's been years and I remember it to this day. I think it applies to online communities. Remember that we don't really know one another and trust has to be established, to a degree. I mean, really, do you know for sure that I don't work for a retailer? I don't, but how could you be sure? (really I don't, believe me) I believe we trust each other over time online and very much by what we say because it's all we have to go on. This is why people who have jumped in a wee early or come on strong on The Mothership have been accused of working for the brand we adore. I think we're willing to extend it quickly, figuring that we're coming from a good place so other must be. However, sometimes this 'trust' takes a bit of time.

There's a culture to sites. Each one has its own. Its seasoned members. Resident experts, etc... I've watched people get eaten up on Talbots for redundancy when if they had just read the page before, they would have seen the topic discussed ad infinitum. When I go to Purse Forum, I just shut up and look around. It's clear many people know each other and I'm not butting in no matter how much I think I know about a topic. I just watch and try to learn things I don't know. I think I've posted one or two things on the site pertaining to J Crew, but I don't think anyone cared because I was new. When I visit new places, I add a simple comment if I think it will just blend in. If there aren't a lot of comments or I want to say something and it's my first post, I try to let the blog owner or community know I'm new. That gives some context to my statement in case I am out of line and if someone wants to let me know something, they can do it. I've never had that happen, but if someone wanted to contact me, the could because...

...my Blogger profile has an email address listed. Of course my email is listed on my blog homepage as well. Oh the emails that go! There are tons of emails that are exchanged offline. Not just between me and others. So many peeps have become friends. Answered questions. Helped each other out. GGS readers, thank you so much again for all of the offline love I received last year. It still amazes me. On a lighter note, I just got an email yesterday about the Target paisley dress from 2009. The email author wanted a tip on how to find the dress. For a number of reasons, I haven't worn the one I purchased. I offered to sell it to her, she agreed and I sent it off the same day. This is how amazing communities can be. If you run around in the Blogger community, it would behoove you to have a profile. There are sooooo many profiles I've clicked on, hoping someone has an email address so I can share a shopping tip. Through my profile or through my blog, people have emailed me to get clarification on something I said that was potentially offensive, which I absolutely appreciated. It surely beats having a miscommunication on a blog post. Here's my tip of the day. Pick an id. Bother to log into it. Create a dummy email for it if you don't want to give out personal information. It's ok. Speaking of privacy, if you've noticed, I have commented on very few of your pages on Facebook. I figure some of you may not want people asking who's Gigi and how does she know about your kid's birthday party. If I have a comment or question, I usually email a private message. I appreciate the friends & fans I have on Facebook. I don't want to mess it up by crossing an invisible line. Y'know, blogger to 'real life.'

I realize everyone skims. I do it. I totally do it. I want to read everyone's! blogs, but I have to skim. I get the main idea and try to post something truly from my heart and mind. If nothing feels authentic, I don't say anything. If I'm unclear about the site culture or don't know the blog owner, I look around. It's easy to see if someone's blog is new or has been running for awhile. The longer the blog has been going, the less I say right off the bat. If I'm new, or think I'm new, I try to remember to mention that. Another thing I don't do is guess folks' personal information out loud. I've had a couple peeps email me offline to ask personal questions and I super duper appreciate that. I show parts of me here, my personality and some of my personal business, but I like to keep my identity private for personal reasons. Yes, identity is separate to me even though parts/personality/personal business make up my identity. At any rate, it's not fun for me when people have tried to guess info out loud or made assumptions thru statements or questions on a post. I'd rather people focus on what I present than other people skimming and coming away w/the idea that my husband's a rich man that I live off of, I buy everything I try on and other knee slappers. This is just another part of the vent. Of course I realize people are going to think what they choose no matter how much I say it's different. In closing, I want to thank all you that've accepted me, head chopped off at all. I appreciate it.

As usual, Let's Talk is a space for you to share your thoughts. Which I always love reading!

Chime in...




p.s. See also, How to Leave a Good Comment by Stirrup Queens.

33 comments

  1. Gigi, I know exactly what you're talking about. We've gotten burned so many times over at j'youknowwhere that instead of being excited about certain posted comments, I now cringe.

    I guess I'm lucky enough to have started posting there from the first month when the community was just getting started, but you're absolutely right that often it's best to lurk before jumping in. I recall a forum that I used to frequent in the early 2000's that had a pretty established core of posters - if anybody posted a question that could be easily found on the Internet, they'd be barraged with a bunch of posts saying, "Google.com!". Ouch. But after lurking there, you figure out that if you wanted opinions from that group, they were happy to give them - but they were expecting you to do some of the work yourself. Know what I mean?

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's great to have a wide range of opinions - it's really made for a great community. But it's past practice that anything we say can (and often is) be held against us over j'there. I can guess which 'perk' is going to be the next to go because of some posts, and unfortunately the people it's going to hurt are going to be the ones that usually miss out on other stuff due to their location.

    So yeah, I hear you. I think I'm still grieving the FS thing - especially now that stuff is going there in 2 weeks! ;) I tried to keep this as cryptic as possible, but as always, please feel free to delete if you think that there's anything too identifying in my post. I'm off to a Whispers concert!

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  2. Great post lady! I was a "lurker" for a while, then I started commenting mainly in the Mothership and other J.Crew blogs. At first, I would comment on everyone's blog, every day, but after discovering so many awesome blogs and becoming friends with a lot of the bloggers, it has become harder for me to do so. And then I started my own blog! I am not complaining by any means, because I love the blogging community and it has become a part of my life. That said, I will still comment on people's blogs, though some blogs have become soooooo popular that they get 300+ comments and then it becomes harder for me to read through the comments or even post my own. But if I have a specific question or the outfit/review really made an impression on me, I will write a little something.
    Anyway, I am rambling...
    Thanks for having this little discussion, it's great!

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  3. Interesting discussion, as always. I must say it saddens me that it's not safe to say certain things for fear a retailer will "retaliate", or other things are not a good idea because they won't be well accepted by an established group of posters. It's a little bit "the internet by way of mean girls" from time to time. I've seen some blog wars that would curl your hair, and found myself appalled by the behavior of the grown women involved. The relative anonymity of the blogsphere is a double edged sword. I've gotten cautious and I post much less than I did a few years ago.

    Still, as you point out, some virtual people become real friends and I have been lucky enough to develop relationships that started on blog comment areas.

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  4. Great post Gigi! I think I'm like you in that I tend to watch communities before I actively start posting, and my first few posts are usually just tipping my toes in so to speak. I pretty much assume that agents of the brands are commenting across blogs. You can usually sniff them out. ;)

    I do think that a community should be welcoming to new members, even when someone asks a question that's been asked 1,000,000 times before. I've been in places like silver_lining mentions and it just ends up turning me off. If you want to grow the community you're creating you have to be nice.

    There are two things that really get my goat: first, I can't stand it when people use the anonymity of the Internet to say incredibly mean things about other people. If you wouldn't say something to someone's face why would you say it to them online? I work in the IT industry and it is VERY easy to find out who someone is based on just two or three pieces of info that are easy to find online. So these people who think they're anonymous often aren't so anonymous at all.

    Second, it bugs the crap out of me when I see people claiming someone else's idea as their own. How hard is it to 1 - ask permission before posting about the same thing and 2 - citing your source in your post?? I'm talking about "original features" mostly, some of which are less and less original as more blogs do the same thing. I read different blogs for diversity and unique points of view. It truly saddens me when I see one blogger copying another's idea, which makes things homogeneous and boring in my opinion. I've seen some of my favorite bloggers give up recently, and in talking to a few of them they decided to stop because they felt like their original ideas were being replicated elsewhere, and they were tired of fighting to come up with ideas only to see them stolen. I think it's so lame.

    Whew, sorry for the long post. Dragged up some stewing thoughts!

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  5. I lurked on blogs for several months before starting to comment and then a few months after that before starting my own blog - and I'm still learning as everyone kind of has their own unofficial rules of blog etiquette.

    You're right, sometimes it takes a while to get noticed on some blogs because the commenters "know" each other so well - and it makes sense to make sure you know what you talk about before jumping into a discussion because you can still damage your blogger reputation.

    And I try to always be careful about what I post and write because it if is online, who knows who can see it - it is public information at that point (and who knows how someone can take something!)

    It is a difficult medium where I think we should all feel free to voice our own opinions, but in a public forum, we need to think about doing it in a considerate way. There's no point in being intentionally catty or purposefully rude IMO.

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  6. Great post! I'm still kind of in the dark on what I missed out on the other day, but I love that you are encouraging people to attach an email to their profile. There have been many times I have wanted to contact a commenter, to follow up on something they said with additional (and I think helpful) info, but I can't get in touch with them, because there is no email!.

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  7. Gigi I always love your Let's Talk posts!
    ITA with everything you have to say, and the email on a profile point is a good one. I've developed friendships with blog-friends outside of the blog which would not have been possible without a personal contact option.

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  8. I am also late to the party but I admit when sometimes things get tense on some other blogs I tend to move along and come back later. I have been reading some of the blogs for a couple of years now and I guess I fail to understand why people get so upset about things, or maybe they are what we call in the customer service world "mad on arrival". You don't know what kind of day this person has had but it comes out in a place that's considered safe from backlash. This has been such a nice community and I don't know why anyone would be snarky to someone who doesn't understand what IRL or NWT means or contribute a comment that's already been posted. People get excited and want to help and I think that's great. So what if it's the 10th time I have read the same tip. I love your "Let's Talk" posts and really at the end of the day we are talking about clothes :-)

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  9. Lately due to work I hardly have time to read posts, much less comments, but I just wanted to say thanks and wish I had time to comment more. I love the "Let's Talk" posts. It's funny how I still love all the JC blogs even though I hardly buy anything from JC these days!

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  10. Hi! Ben Folds says it best, "some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know he's got his own blog." LOL.

    In the end, civility is what matters. Whether you are posting in a forum, commenting on a blog, or meeting someone in real life. Or if you are driving in a car on a highway, or if you are taking an idea from someone else and posting it on your facebook page, or if you are talking to someone whose ideas are different than your own.

    What do you do? Are you that person who condescends when you think someone is being ignorant, or are you understanding because you may have been that person once? Are you quick to yell and get angry? Are you pleased with the fact that people "LOVE YOUR IDEA" or do you give credit where credit is due?

    Only you can answer for the way you act when interacting with others, and it really doesn't matter if it is on the internet or in "real life." Because in the end, both are a representation of you...not the person or thing on the receiving end.

    I get so scared that I might come off as anything less than I strive to be in real life on the internet. I READ and re-READ what I write before I click "post, comment, or send."

    And regarding the games J. Crew plays with us, if they make our lives more difficult when something on their site has made us HAPPY, then that's their problem when they lose our loyalty. ;)

    GREAT topic,Gigi!

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  11. Gigi, thanks much for opening up this topic for discussion.

    I will preface my comment by saying I think I have an unpopular point of view about sharing some saving tips in blog comments!

    I think sharing information to save others some money is more important to me than trying to "game" the retailer and worry that they will read comments and make changes that we won't like. That actually makes me feel more uncomfortable. I appreciate when I find something that saves me money and I don't worry about whether the same opportunity will be available again in the future or not. J.Crew is going to run their business the way they want and if I don't like it I am not going to shop there (I shop there much less than I used to). I get what others are saying about this, I just am looking at it from a different angle.

    About Talbots: the Facebook "Wizard" who answers questions and helps out with shopping issues is really cool. OT about Talbots: The downtown Seattle store is closing the end of this month, which really surprised me. Wonder what the scoop is about that.

    And lastly, thanks for the info about having an email available on one's Blogger profile. Maybe I will
    try it out - I realized that if I do and don't like it, I can always go back and omit it again.

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  12. Great post Gigi! I've been burned in the past on online forums and have seen grown women get downright horrible to one another. I love the blogging community because I haven't seen very much of that - I think, for the most part, everyone is so encouraging of one another.
    I will second Roxy's sentiments that it upsets me to create original ideas, or see my fellow bloggers do so, and turn around and have them ripped off. It's shameless, and I know I work hard to come up with original ideas for my blog. Having them ripped off without even politely asking, really just upsets me.
    Anyhow, I don't know what you're referening that happened over on the Mothership, because I don't read the comments there, but I just hate when people are rude to one another over the internet.
    Again, I second Roxy's thoughts about how it's so spineless to post mean things anonymous. Hide behind the internet - real brave.

    Thanks for the discussion!

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  13. I get a very small amount of junk mail sent to my email account listed on my blogger profile. The amount is so minimal it does not impact the benefits of having an alternative means of contact. Plus, I feel it gives more legitimacy to a blogger, as though you're willing to stand behind your comments, and humanizes you as much as that is possible w/o having a blog.

    If you have a hotmail account, I believe you are able to associate up to three accounts, can't get simpler than one log in & access to three email accounts! Esp useful for those multiple personality bloggers - LOL (joking)!

    Great post as usual Gigi!

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  14. Great topic Gigi. As a blog owner/writer and reader for almost five years I have seen things change a lot, the rise of new blogs, and a general change in the blogosphere. Over the years I have received some mean comments, e-mail, etc. and I will admit it hurts but then I figure that is the price one may have to pay to have a blog, which is sad.

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  15. Cheers Gigi! Reading endless comments that get off post topic or become increasingly childish, mean spirited and argumentetive is tedius. I appriciate comments that are helpful and informative and mainly ON TOPIC. If it's a fashion blog lets talk about clothes, duh.
    Also about commenting on established communities. I completely agree. I tend not to comment unless there is something pertinent to say that hasn't already been pointed out. I usually lurk awhile before posting and say so. I've read the Mothership, your blog, Chloe's and a handful of others not linked by this communities for two years now, but comment really, really infrequently. Because I usually treat blogs like a magazine article. Would most people seek out the author of an article if they found a small matter of disagreement with their statement? I think not.
    One more ranty point. I think it's a weird sense of familiarity, coupled with anonymity, that makes commenters feel like they know complete strangers. However, the blame is on some bloggers, because the sense of familiarity comes from putting too much of themselves out there, and a failure to keep enough of a boundary between real and virutal life. Thanks for always bringing up such good talking points.

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  16. I started lurking on blogs about a year and half ago when I stumbled across the mothership, looking for coupons and such for jyouknowwho. Since then I've started my own blog and have a (fair sized) blog roll I follow.

    I've found the JCA community to be on the whole extremely helpful and civil. I get so upset when I see an argument break out on one of the JCA threads, I literally get sweaty palms and a knot in my stomach. Thankfully nothing of that sort has happened on my blog, and I haven't received any hate mail.

    ITA on the culture of a community, whether in real life or in bloggy land. It's paramount that newcomers be respectful, figure out that the tone of the discussions are, before jumping in.

    I am very conflicted about posting tips/tricks to outsmart jyouknowwho. I actually saw that % off stacking opportunity on Sunday night but thought better than posting it. I figure the JCA's are smart enough to figure that out for themselves. And frankly, if the merchandise was reasonably priced to begin with (with low min. for FS) then we all wouldn't be racking our brains trying to outsmart the site.

    Just wanna say I really REALLY enjoy your blog and your Let's Talk posts.

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  17. I missed the drama on the mothership. Unfort I don't read it nearly as much as I used to. I still think it is one of the best blogs out there but since JC never fails to disappoint me there is not much reason for me to keep up. It's almost a shame that the blog is SO popular that you know they are constantly lurking and we can no longer share the info that makes this community great.

    Great topic Gigi. I always enjoy your Let's Talk posts!

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  18. I read your entire post and all the comments and this was tremendously helpful for a newbie blogger who has no idea what she's really doing. So thanks for opening this up for discussion.

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  19. Gigi,

    Love your blog and read it when I can;) which is most days. Your "Let's Talk" posts are fascinating to read.

    silver lining---I too am still grieving the FS thing! So sad:(

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  20. Hi, can someone please tell me what the FP thing is? people seem tp be upset about it but I have no clue what it is?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Just echoing the sentiments of others: another great post Gigi!

    For the most part, our little retail community is one of the best I have seen. The way we share and help each other is amazing. I know of several JCAs who became close friends in real life through exchanges on the blog.

    That is why it really frustrates me when y'knowwho uses certain information against us. It's too bad that all the requests to make things better haven't been put into action as fast! ;)

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  22. Gigi you always find great subjects to discuss on "lets talk", thank you!
    I usually lurk for some time before i comment and I think it is a good idea to get a feeling of a blog tone and general etiquette before posting.
    On the other hand, if I posted something in good faith and got people angry and annoyed I would probably just ignore it and stop reading the comments. I refuse to get involved. Bad karma.
    On the subject of sharing tips and tricks I have to agree with SE Mom.
    Better to die once and for all, than live in continual terror (Aesop). Jmho.

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  23. But now that we know JCrew uses the sharing info. against us it is time to keep quiet. The FS "trick" being taken away was the final straw for me.

    I just read the JCA blog and help others with direct questions when I can but if I ever discover another secret...well,as I have learned a lesson, don't make the same mistake twice!

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  24. As always Gigi, you come up with the most well worded thought-provoking topics! The whole bog/commenting thing is still intimidating for me. I've been reading/lurking on a sizeable amount of fashion blogs since '09 but rarely posting comments because I always thought I wouldn't have an original thought to add or no one would care. Now that I've recently started my own little blog, I'm having to learn very quickly the ins and outs of blog etiquette. I get so nervous I’ll say something offensive, accidently spill the beans on top secret info, or something will be taken the wrong way! Eek! It’s comforting to know however that the vast majority of readers in community surrounding the Mothership are kind, thoughtful, and welcoming.

    Speaking for myself, it’s tough to balance on that fine line of disclosure. I want to be open and forthcoming on my own blog, as I have so greatly appreciated the info shared on other blogs. But I still get anxious that anything I post could come back to bite me in the rear. Show my face, or not? Share family stories, or not? Discuss work, or not? Include personal measurements, or not? Most of my decisions have been made by looking at other bloggers whom I respect (including you) and following their lead. There are truly some amazing ladies out there who have found the key to successful blogging!

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  25. I am so curious to know also what the FS trick was that was taken away? Can someone shed some light on it or are we not supposed to talk about it b/c jyouknowwho won't approve?
    Since it was supposedly taken away, there is no harm in talking about it, is there? Please remove this post gigi if this is inappropriate, but I am just wondering what all the hullabaloo is about :)

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  26. I agree that the sharing of coupon codes, reviews, sizing information, and in-store prices are extremely helpful and beneficial to the community. However, there are some things that really should just be left unsaid because they hurt us all in the long run.

    Also, I too, am grieving the FS thing along with many other changes that have taken place due to one too many comments that really shouldn't have been made in the first place. Now apparently all we can do is enjoy what little we have left, for however much longer it's going to last.

    On another note: I completely agree with Roxy and Kim about the issue of copying without giving credit to the original source. It really is unfair, but seems to be happening more and more these days.

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  27. Although I appreciate Gigi & the rest of the other senior bloggers opinion, I have to say that these comments that you all believe are obvious etiquette or blogging fau'pars, may not be to others.

    I freely admit that I also made a comment earlier this week that would have been better off left unsaid. Once this was pointed out to me by another helpful blogger, I quickly deleted the incriminating information. I think the issue is a lack of knowledge. I really do hope that we can keep helping our existing & new blogger friends out, & not jump on them at the first sign that they are breaking blogger law; which they may or may not be privy to.

    I do agree that helping each other out becomes quite difficult when there is no way to contact the person by private means. Personally, I don't post my email addy on my blogger account due to past co-worker issues. I do have a Kontact button on my blog that allows people to contact me without giving away my address.

    As some of you have pointed out, some of us should spend more time observing prior to posting, in order to prevent these types of problems. This is a difficult thing to regulate without posting some lengthy list of rules or blogger etiquette on each of these blogs. There will always be people that we believe are being inconsiderate or rude. The only thing we have complete control of, is how we react to those situations & people.

    Just my 2c

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  28. One more thing. I wanted to share a tip that wasn't exactly obvious to me at the beginning. For those that wish to keep their active email accounts private, there is a way to have all your emails forwarded from a secondary account, such as gmail.

    That way, you can set-up a secondary email to post in your profile, that will forward to your active account, without publishing it for all the world to see.

    Sorry if this is obvious info for most folks. I'm an Electronics Chief who still can't figure out texting. Just trying to be helpful.

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  29. Thanks, everyone!! I haven't deleted anything, for those that thought I might. I appreciate everyone's thoughts and the discussion.

    More came to mind. Irl, I wouldn't go up to a trio of folks and start blasting my opinion at the tail end of someone else's thought. Esp if I didn't know them well. Done that and it doesn't go well, particularly when I've interrupted the flow. I think similar situations happen online. Ppl come into an area, not realizing it's an ongoing conversation. In some cases, a discussion or debate that's been going on for years. It's not right of the old timers to get irritated quickly, but the newbies should consider watchin the ropes for a minute before jumping in. Esp newbies that feel defensive and are quick to attack, which I've seen happen. At least I think they're new peeps. Y'never know, right?

    I agree w/comments here that old timers should be welcoming to new folks. I see a lot of people that aren't acknowledged on JCA, so maybe we can all do that a bit more.

    Good point, Desert Flower, about ppl coming across as mean girls on the Internet. For the record, I definitely wasn't trying to be exclusive when I talked about The Whispers. My sister told me that years ago when we worked together and we've cracked up over it since. I like to think people have good intentions overall. That's definitely where I'm coming from. However, I agree that it's definitely mean girls when insults are hurled and personal attacks happen.

    I totally understand that j'youknowwho has the right to do what they want w/their policies and the company. Absolutely. And any little things we perceive as perks can be taken away at any moment. Fine, too. The reason many of us are trying to hang onto some things as the first rule of fight club, don't talk about fight club is that they taketh and taketh away. No giveth. They're not improving the customer experience or giving us other perks in place of the things they've removed or tightened up on. (yet we stay...why, why, why!?)

    Whoever mentioned fight club on The Mothership cracked me up and I can't find the quote to credit you properly. ;-)

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  30. Great post as always! I've never been much of a poster on the JCA blog, mainly due to the time suck that is med school, but I find it interesting when people comment on my blog and disagree with what I'm saying- usually it doesn't bother me, it's nice to hear other ideas- but I've gotten a couple of comments that were just so obnoxious I deleted them.
    In terms of commenting on other's blogs, I only comment on a few blogs I've been reading for awhile- and it's pretty cool to get to know other people this way- I've definitely "met" some other med students through blogging. I think people who use the anonymity of the internet to be obnoxious clearly have other issues, and as a result just ignore it- though that is easier said than done!

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  31. C- And people wonder why Anons have a bad name. *lol* I totally hear you. As a new blogger you want to address comments, but after awhile you simply take advantage of the ability to delete. Permanently as if it never happened.

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  32. I have to admit that even as someone who has followed the JCA blog for over a year now, I do not always know what 'tips' are appropriate to post and what aren't. I'm actually kind of paranoid about it and I find myself erring on the side of not sharing. The poster over at JCA was clearly just trying to be helpful, so I empathize, because these things aren't always clear to me either...

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  33. ^ I could easily see myself making a 'newbie' mistake! (:

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