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Something must be in the water, because Erin over at Mysteries Internal just posted a “rant of sorts”, and I am about to do the same.  This post started with the theme of “being dubbed a “fisherwoman”, and how being a girl somehow makes you entitled or special”.  However, Erin wrote the post much better than I.  So please, go check out her post.  It will help you get a feel for how I feel about this issue.   

Now for my second rant – What is it really all about?  The recent past has brought about a disturbing trend in fishing blogging – blogs that exist because people need attention.  I started this blog so my family could follow along on Dustin and my adventures.  For a little over a year, I read a few blogs in secret.  With the birth of the OBN, I was exposed to many more blogs.  For the most part, I really enjoyed reading other people’s stories, liked learning new techniques, valued gaining education about all facets of outdoor activity, and feeling people’s passion through their writing.  However, recently, it seems some blogs only exist only so the person can gain notoriety, free swag, likes or followers.  “I only need x amount of followers to get to 500…follow me!  Who can get to x amount of likes first! etc etc.  It seems the quality of the blog is based on these things.  That is utter rubbish.  When did enjoying the outdoors become a contest in popularity?  Do people really fish to make some kind of name for themselves?  Do people go out just so they can put something on their blog?  Is it really about enjoying nature anymore?

Perhaps I am getting a better look at this because my time is so limited.  My reading list has dwindled down to those few blogs that are there for the right reasons – blogs that exude passion, pass on tricks, or provide laughs.  I have taken off the blog list on the front page, and added a “page” with a list of blogs I try to check frequently.  I have removed the Facebook feature, the follow feature and the twitter button from my blog.  My experiences do not need validation, attention or anything else.  My experiences are for me, and if my family and friends so chose to read, for them.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all comments and all readers.  For those of you that enjoy reading our stories, I do hope you will continue.  I enjoy sharing our adventures with whomever wishes to read them.  However, I refuse to exploit my gender as a fly fisherman to obtain free goodies.  I refuse to let my value be measured in how socially networked I am.  I refuse to let this blog take value away from the pure simplicity of nature.  I refuse to go into the backcountry with the sole purpose being a good story.  Fellow bloggers, please don’t forget what enjoying the beauty of nature is all about.   

I realize this will rub people the wrong way, and frankly if it does, then we perhaps are not on the same page, and our blog ways may not pass again.  I am okay with that.  My two cents has been said. 

-Stephanie  

Written by Stephanie Mullins

32 Comments

Cofisher

Well said Stephanie!! I have noticed some peculiar similarities in some blogs That scream look at me, I'm the best. It's really not a competition…the fishing or the blogging. We all do our own thing just a little differently for many varied reasons.

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SoleAdventure.com

It may be a rant, but it is a well deserved one! It think that most people who start a blog fall into the trap of "performing" for their readers, or performing to gain readers at some level or another. It is a trap indeed! Keep doing what you do, but please do keep sharing your adventures. Some of us are still stuck in Missouri, you know?

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Beared Boar "Tony"

Well put, reading blogs are about passing stories along. It used to be sitting at the fly or bait shop telling stories, but now we send the tales of pursuit out via the internet. Thanks

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Wolfy

Great rant, Stephanie. Blogs started (at least the ones I read) as a creative outlet, and often to let a small group of people follow the comings-and-goings of a relative or friend. I'm glad the readerships have grown, but only if it means that there are more like-minded individuals who have found the blog. Not to win the "contest". Luckily, no one can ever accuse me of going for ratings – my blog stinks.

Joe

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Howard – The differences used to be what made reading blogs so great. Like I said, some excelled at storytelling, some excelled at pictures, some excel at many things, some teach, and some just made me laugh. That is what blogging is all about. All the other garbage gets in the way.

@Erin – The water is refreshing. It has been a long time coming!

@COAngler – Thanks for the support!

@Mark – I won't quit blogging. I like to share stories for all who want to read. You really nail it when you said it becomes a "performance"! I don't want that for outdoor storytelling. Keep your blog great – it is sincerely one I check weekly.

@Tony – What a good analogy. You are so right!

@Wolfy – Your blog was one of the first I started to follow (while I was still in the closet.) I appreciate its simple nature and honesty.

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heyBJK

As I mentioned on one of Mark's blog posts, I have been disillusioned lately with "social media" and the hunting side of things. I came very close to posting a rant very similar to yours, but more so toward what I'm seeing on the hunting end of things. I'm at a point now that I don't really care if anyone knows about my hunting and fishing outings. There are too many people trying to get attention and I don't want to play the game.

I've recently incorporated photography into my blog because I enjoy it and because it keeps me from getting bored. I'm still hunting, fishing, and doing everything I've always done, but I don't feel the need to limit myself to just those topics. I'm sure I've lost readers, but like you, it doesn't bother me.

Excellent post, Steph! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels things are out of whack. You've got a great blog! Keep doing what you're doing.

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Jim Browning

Stephanie ~ The balance of enjoying an outdoor adventure and sharing it with others is such a personal struggle. Fly fishing and photography are a true passions, but … more, and more days I wade the waters without the blog in my back pocket.

Enjoy your personal time .. it is valuable to you, and your relationship with Dustin.

Jim
Two Guys ~ Wet Waders & Flies

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Sanders

Give me a computer or a day on the water, and I'd pick a day on the water every single time. I totally understand your rant, because I think that we have similar perspectives on both blogging and the outdoors.

Once I start looking at a trip up the poudre as anything other than a trip to catch a fish or two, I'll stop blogging. I need to get away more than I need to share my experiences…

As for people wanting attention…I really don't care, although, it can get weird at times. What I don't like, is people that want attention, but have nothing really to say.

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Jay

Nicely stated. You may notice I don't do the Facebook or Twitter… the only place my bog is really promoted is on other blogs and OBN. Unfortunately, I don't have any family that finds what Kelly and I do interesting. I started my blog to share my experiences with other like-minded individuals like you and Dustin. In that way, I do sort of feel like my blog validates what I do. I don't live in a part of the world where everybody fly fishes, or kayaks, or even goes outdoors. It's been nice to connect with people from all over who "get it" and that's my primary blogging motive.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@BJK – You do a lot of work for me. Your tweets help me wander through the muck – they help judge what is worth reading and not worth reading. I haven't kept up with hunting blogs like I should, but it sounds like the problem is universal. Don't change your blog – it is a staple in my reading.

@Jim – I love the pictures you share. Your blog truly is about the photography and the hobby you share with your son.

@Sanders – Perhaps I should say validation…a lot of people seeking validation and a pat on the back. I am all for exchanging fish stories, but it needs to come from the right place. Make sense? A lot of wrong places out there now. Indeed our perspectives are similar…is it a Midwest thing? 🙂

@Jay – I'm so glad you started your blog. There are so few fish biologists that share their knowledge and job with the common folk like us bloggers. Actually, lately I have been going to my blog roll looking for new posts from you or Kelly. I thought you had hung it up and went "snaking" full time:) I do hope you might get to share a few of your new job related experiences! One question – will your new job keep you in TN?

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THE RIVER DAMSEL

What is this really about? Sharing outdoor experiences and for me, my love of fly fishing. We can all enjoy reading each others adventures and not have a compete fest…My recent journey out to Colorado was not to pick up views, but to show other bloggers that there are people all around you that want to share the outdoors with each other! Thanks, Steph…for sharing your feelings (and drinking the water out there today!)

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Clif

I see I didn't make the cut and, believe me, there are no hard feelings. I've never asked anyone for a link and take a certain pride in that. You own the roll and build it as you see fit. I own my roll too, and link with blogs I enjoy reading and personalities I can relate to. I enjoy getting links as validation that a person appreciates what I offer, not because webmasters feel obligated to reciprocate.

I started out seeking a place to upload fishing pictures. Then I used the blog as the creative outlet my life was lacking. Now I relish in building personal relationships through my blog with those who enjoy my interests and can relate to my stupid sense of humor, social media helps to bolster those friendships. I unapologetically love using my blog for all three avenues and look forward to the next opportunity it brings.

Keep up your honest approach, you have standards and I appreciate that. Keep living the dream in your new home territory too…makes us "flat landers" jealous.

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Jay

Stephanie, to answer your question… my new job is located right here in my hometown of Memphis, TN. I think eventually there may be opportunities to relocate, and I may jump at those opportunities. I wish I could get paid to go snake catching full time, but that's only a small part of my new job. I'll probably fully divulge what it is I'm up to soon… maybe when I've figured the job out a bit better.
By the way, I hope I never gave the impression that I was a fisheries biologist, because I'm certainly not… although I wouldn't mind being one. I would call myself a naturalist and herpetologist by virtue of previous employment and personal interests. I'm interested in all sorts of animal biology and may know more than the average Joe about fish, but an ichthyologist I am not.

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Travis

good stuff stephanie, i agree. i started blogging as an outlet for my writing and photography, it really hasn't changed. its a "fly fishing blog" because that's what I do a lot of. i don't post often because I'm in the woods or on the river if i'm not working. the more time spent away from the computer is better…its unfortunate if satisfaction from recognition for their blog is where a person gets their self worth.. actually more of a bummer.. honestly though, if that's what they need I'd let em have it. there are still tons of people who blog because they enjoy it.. anyway, keep up the good work. antlers and gills is always a good read, just like fall is a good season "thinking steelhead"

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Midge Man

Knowing both you and Dustin, I think the greatest treasure you share is the seemingly unending passion you share for the outdoors and the absolute fearlessness you have in how you approach that passion! Take away the brand names and the games and you two just enjoy having mud on your boots. That is so rare these days where flyfishing is associated with named sections of rivers and part of the morning ritual has become posing in your new waders before leaving the parking lot. The gift you're giving yourselves far exceeds any that most fly anglers will ever find.

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Nathan Ira

First off let me say that this is the first time I've come across your blog and I'm glad I did. Secondly, I gotta say that the following is just my opinion and please don't take this as a dig on anyone that has posted here.

I enjoy browsing blogs and I enjoy blogging. I enjoy blogs with good pictures, good fish, cool places, and good stories. I don't really care what peoples' motives are. I'm selfish. I browse blogs just for personal enjoyment.

I read both your post and the post your referenced and I guess I just don't have that much energy over it. There are some blogs out there that suck. They suck for various reasons. There are blogs out there that are rad. They are rad for various reasons. For me, these are harder to come by. One of my favorites could be considered the type that some of the posters here don't care for. It's somewhat self-promotional. What do I care? Great imagery, well-written stories, and an insane amount of passion. Good enough for me. Everyone posts for their own reasons and has their own motivations. I'm not gonna fault them for anything – I don't even know anything about them.

From time to time I have wondered how my blog is perceived by others. Then I realized that it has no effect on the good times on the water, neither my love for fishing that I try to convey. I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope that people enjoyed viewing though.

I can't lie, the idea of "performing" is laughable to me. I don't deny that many blogs are out to promote something, but I find it hard to believe that these individuals are actually thinking about blogging when out on the water. Or to question people for having facebook and twitter plugins on their site? Seems pretty cynical and sanctimonious to me.

Again, like Stephanie mentioned, this may rub some people the wrong way, but I'm not to worried about it. I mean we're just talking about blogging…and fishing blogs at that. Just enjoy!

Look forward to further exploring your blog.

/rant

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Jay – As a naturalist, you have to know the biology of all things in an ecosystem. I just used the blanket term biologist. You in no way gave the wrong impression. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new job. Has Kelly decided on grad school yet?

@Clif – Are you sure you aren't there on my page? I couldn't do a copy paste thing from my blog roll, and I noticed yesterday I missed some of my reads. Lunker Hunt is original and funny – it most certainly makes the cut. You've been on my bloglist forever! I still check to see if you have caught that 6lb bass. 🙂

@Travis – Agree about the less time on the computer! With my limited free time anymore, I noticed it was becoming a pain to even "login".

@MM – Said perfectly. I sometimes wish I was born in another time. I seem out of place in this era.

@Nathan – Thanks for visiting and your comments. I'm most bothered by the blogs that pose as a love of the outdoors blog when it is just an avenue to have their experiences validated, sell something or whatever else.

And yes, I have personally seen people be concerned with what they are going to put on the blog while in the water…

I'm not putting down those that have facebook and twitter accounts – they might need and like that. However, for this blog it just isn't necessary. I don't want to take the time to keep up with it. I have better things to do.

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Jay

Kelly has begun grad school at University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB)… so we're unfortunately not living under the same roof at the moment. I guess that's one thing that might make me jump at an opportunity to relocate. I'm just happy that I have a job with some opportunities.
Kelly's research is going to be focused on stream inverts. I'm jealous, but somebody has to pay the bills.

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Fontinalis Rising

I've read and enjoyed your blog for some time Stephanie, and even gone back in the archives to root around a bit. I can't say I'm with you on this one. That’s an awfully high soap box you’re on. It seems like an awful lot of rancor and emotion spent on something that is easily solved with the click of a mouse.
The internet is the last great democracy on this planet, people vote every day. It’s why YouTube is so popular. I've come to love the blog world because I’m able to find and connect with people of like mind. I’m not being force fed information from major media outlets and manufacturers. I’ve let the magazine subscriptions to publications I love lapse because I’d rather read my favorite blogs. It’s the plurality of the blog world and the internet that has so much appeal- you and I can find the blogs and bloggers we like and ignore the rest. So why put so much effort into decrying the ones you don’t personally like? They may not appeal to you, but who cares? They might appeal to others. In the end, quality of content is what will appeal to readers, and no one- no one- will keep up blogging or fly fishing if all they want is attention. They’ll wash out like so many have.
People blog for a lot of reasons. Yours are valid. I started blogging because I’ve always wanted to be an outdoor writer, and wanted to know if people would like my writing well enough for me to pursue it. They do. Doing this did involve some self-promotion and the use of social media. I certainly made mistakes in using social media, and as a blogger and writer have alienated some people and lost some readers. I’m not perfect. Some of it was through idiocy, for which I’m sorry, but I’m not sorry to readers who disagreed with well thought out and considered opinions I’ve aired. We disagree. Next. The hazard for the writer is that if you never offend at least some people you probably never had anything worthwhile to say. You’re a copywriter. Do you hate blogs like Moldy Chum, Midcurrent, or The Fiberglass Manifesto because they’re commercial? Plenty of anglers appreciate them for the information and content they provide. If they’re not your cup of tea, don’t visit them.
In the end this smacks of mean-spirited high school cliquishness- these are the cool blogs and the rest suck. That’s your opinion, and you’re welcome to air it, but why beat up on your fellow bloggers and outdoors people? If a blog is that bad it will wither on the vine and die of its own accord. I fail to see any moral high ground here for you to stand on.
I like your blog, and you’re still on my blog roll. This post was just a little difficult for me to fathom.

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Bigerrfish

Rubs me Right! I know all too well just what you are saying here… Im the same way just a little more quiet about it…

None of us can lie to our selves and say that we dont want clicks… But we can say the truth.. and that is some of us are after fish first and the clicks come later if they want..
Like I said. Fish first!

This forces me to answer the question why do I blog…
Its not to share stories with family members thats for sure… Its not to share with long time friends… Its simply a way to communicate with the friends that I have made in these parts… ok ok, and I sometimes post to show off a good looking fish!

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Stephanie and Dustin

@FR – We agree to disagree. The self promotion rubs me the wrong way, and it does a lot of bloggers. Just since I've been blogging I've seen good blogs go away because all the promotional crap has taken away the true essence of the sport or the outdoors.

I don't read blogs that are all about self promotion – and you are right these people that do it for attention will go away. I recently made the comment, lets see if some of these people are fishing a year or two years from now. It just seems that a lot of people are wrapped up in the newest gear, swag or whatever and have lost touch with what fishing or the outdoor experience is really all about. Like someone commented earlier, it should be about telling stories as if you were in a fly shop. It shouldn't be about shameless self promotion. The blogs I chose to follow are my choice, and I am not trying to run a popularity contest. I fear those that are all wrapped up with twitter followers, facebook likes, and promoting themselves to the media or vendors are the ones who have brought the sport and blogging to the high school level. I enjoy reading blogs that are above all that, and just report the fishing or outdoor experience.

FM, MidCurrent and Moldy Chum never act like they aren't commercial – I'm not beating up on other bloggers. I'm not "popular" enough to make any kind of impact. I'm just saying how I feel about so many that have turned a way of sharing stories into a plug for themselves. If you are trying to make it in the Fly Fishing business – just say it. Don't blog under the premise you are doing it only because you love the outdoors or what have you. Case in point – Owl Jones. He makes no apologies for his self promotion. You know going to his blog that he is trying to make it in the Fly Fishing industry. There is no hidden agenda there. I appreciate that. I suppose that is where my beef inherently lies – the hidden agenda. Say that you are blogging to break into the industry and then we know. Don't pawn off your blog onto unsuspecting readers only for them to find out you are more interested in getting on their blog roll or accumulating "likes", "clicks" or "follows".

Perhaps I am being an elitist or whatever, but it is my opinion and my blog. This will probably really rub you the wrong way, but I don't want to share a river with these types. I enjoy people who are real. It isn't about the photo ops, the flashing of a logo or making a trip to blog about it. It's just about being outdoors with my partner and sharing experiences and things we have learned with our family and friends. Like I said to MM, I was born in the wrong era.

@Josh – I guess I am lying to myself. I don't care who comes and visits my blog. It serves two purposes – a memory book for Dustin and I, and a way for my family to keep track of us However, I do appreciate all who wish to follow along on our journey.

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Marcia

I found you via Networked blogs a while back. I'm glad I followed your blog before you deleted your link.
I am not much of an outdoorsman myself, but I began following you because my husband is an avid whitetail hunter. I keep reading because I enjoy reading it and love the pictures. Thanks for sharing the beauty of Creation. 🙂

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Tim B. Smith

I started following your blog soon after I moved to Colorado. You also seemed new to the area and I have a fisheries background as well. I've dropped in from time to time and I'm sure I will continue to do so because of my interest in your pursuits. I noticed my blog I didn't make your group of bloggers for the "right reasons". I suppose that's not especially important to either of us, but your post here does make me think about some things.

I don't know if I'm an "attention seeker" or not. Maybe I am. Mostly I blog because I'm provoked. Things out there upset me or inspire me or sometimes I just enjoy them and they end up online. I've tried to be intentional about how I address topics. I've tried to be positive. I've tried to be specific.

Certainly I do think about who might read my blog and I certainly I don't do it for my family. They don't really understand why I got involved in aquatic ecology and on the whole, they have a fairly modest level of interest in the issues in the Anachronism…aside from posts about fishing with my daughter.

So I guess there are people "out there" who's attention I want. I do want to be read. In the past I've tried to avoid issues that might upset some people. More recently I've come to the point that it seems absurd to avoid important controversial issues like climate change and the ridiculous, consistent ethical failures behind the way most natural resources are handled. I'm aware those messages are not popular with a very large sector of the outdoor community. I know it costs me readers. I'm at peace with that.

Because of the choices I've made in life, I won't leave this world with much. But I've loved almost all the work I've done as an aquatic ecologist. There are incredibly important things happening out there in the world. I feel proud to have put my shoulder to the wheel and added my (very very meagre) efforts to help us get past this particular point in history.

I would not trade that process for any other life. There are experiences there I cherish as much as my next breath. There are also the days I've been threatened, shot at, lied to, slandered and worse. It doesn't matter. It's all part of the ride and I'm not going to budge an inch off that path. Others can make similar claims, but I feel my experiences give me a right to speak. So I do. Happily.

Looking at my blog, I think I'll follow your lead and do away with my bloggers list. Some of those people are dear friends but I can follow them easily enough with out it. A blogging "community" doesn't really exist outside of shibboleths and gate keepers and political expectations. I've probably wasted far too much time trying to address myself to it.

I wish you both the best as you progress through school and life beyond. See you in the mountains some time.

Anachronism out.

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Stephanie and Dustin

Ah, Tim, I can't believe I forgot your blog! I have found that when I made my list I left off some of my biggest reads. Bigerrfish – who was the first CO blog I read – I forgot. I found out later when I went to my page to click his link he wasn't there.

Long story short…I LOVE YOUR BLOG. You, much like Jay over at Naturalist Angle, give readers a different perspective. A perspective that is needed. Any kind of blog that I can get my hands on that teaches me the ways of being a biologist, I soak up. I may not comment all the time – I am a bad comment person, and just read between 5 minute study breaks, but I do read it. Even the posts about your daughter 🙂 I loved the photos with the Moose in Cub Lake.

As for your content – Don't shy away from the controversial stuff. There are real issues out there. Someone that actually has a science background – someone that is in the field seeing these changes and depletion needs to report it instead of random politicians and various other talking heads. Its your duty as a good steward of the land and water to tell us what you see in the field and in the lab. Report your successes and report the failures. It what being a scientist is all about.

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Stephanie and Dustin

@Marcia – Thanks for finding us. I need to be better about putting up hunting content. Dustin is the hunter, and I try to get him to write all the time. He just won't do it. He's going back to MO in November and December – hopefully he finds success.

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Rhythm Rider

Thought provoking rant. I'll be following you now 🙂

Fer what it's worth I'm not a fly blogger, but am a flyer amongst other interests. It's a great place to post thoughts just as you have, and learn a little, god forbid think a little, laugh a little, and connect with family and friends…..without FB or Twitter.

Marc

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Angela

I am a recent newcomer to the blogging world but it didn't take long for me to notice many of the things you pointed out in this past post. I started my own blog as a way to express my ideas and to have a cathartic space to share personal issues. I'm very grateful for the two followers I have, but I'm not seeking a record number of readers (I doubt my writing warrants much reading anyway!). I could probably get more followers if I started posting pictures of myself fly fishing in a bikini, but I don't want those types of followers. I follow blogs and continue to post my own because it's nice to feel my ideas are shared with others out there.

More power to those people blogging for different reasons, but thanks for posting a refreshing viewpoint.

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Vanda

Do people really fish to make some kind of name for themselves? Do people go out just so they can put something on their blog? Is it really about enjoying nature anymore?

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