First - for background, you may want to read Jenn's blog post, as well as the forum post she was reacting to.
Maya's blog post is, to me, fascinating. I love to read about the history of digital scrapbooking. I wasn't involved those many years ago, and I wish I was. It sounds like it was a very exciting time! It's amazing how much has changed, how quickly. I think Maya very respectfully and thoughtfully addressed a 'hot topic' that not everyone has been able to keep their head about.
I have some points I'd like to make in reply to Maya, so I am going to quote her a few times. My intentions are not to 'bash' Maya but to respectfully state my ideas on these points. Also, I am not making any comments about Maya as a designer, or Maya's site, which I am not very familiar with but is by many reports friendly, professional, welcoming, and full of creativity. I am merely using Maya's comments a launching point for more conversation. And so I begin...
However, my biggest issue with her position is that she is that she is pitting designers and scrappers against one another into an US and THEM situation, and this is hardly fair or of any use to either group.
I don't think Jenn is creating an 'us against them' situation between designers and scrappers. For one thing there are designers and scrappers firmly on both sides of the issues. But more importantly, I see she is doing quite the opposite, she is 'pushing back' against an 'us vs them' that seems to already exist between two different groups at some sites (not yours Maya). I might feel differently about Jenn's blog post if it had been random, but it wasn't, it was in response to a posting of the 'rules of this hobby' that said we need to all credit down to the tiniest button. These kind of 'rules' set experienced forum member/CT teams/Designers against everyone else, creating an environment where people feel it is acceptable (nay, necessary) to admonish and shame people for not crediting. Maya, you have had that experience, but you come from a unique place of knowing the industry inside and out and probably being able to chuckle at yourself about it and then move on. But a new scrapper, or someone new to the community, doesn't have that, and that shame and embarrassment keeps them from coming back (or coming out of lurk mode and participating at all.) (As an aside the original 'rules' post was so upsetting to me I may never find my way back to that site, and it has been a place where I have spent a good many of my scrapbooking dollars in the past.)
The conversation has gone on at length, because those of us who reject those rules have been told that we are breaking copyright laws, which is not true. I have a strong personal sense that following the law is vital, and a just as strong personal sense that mis-quoting and mis-interpreting the laws to make people do what you want is actually a form of bullying. Crediting is the law if the designer asks for it, yes, but no one is breaking the law if they don't credit when it isn't specifically asked for, nor should they be threatened that they are doing something 'illegal' for not crediting a designer who doesn't ask for it.
Like Jenn, I too am a person whose skin may crawl at the idea that there might be any rules applied to my hobby . However, there are no rules applied to the creation of the art, or the creative process. The rules she is speaking of are applicable only in the publication of that art. So the rules are not about the crafting or creative process at all. They are about the community, and the publication of work, either in print or online.
I submit to you that there really is no way to effectively participate in this community, to learn from the tutorials, get feedback, play along in challenges, etc., without posting your layouts. Unlike, say, pottery, where we can meet in real life with a group and share tips and techniques without ever having to post an image online, for digital scrapbooking our community is online. And as being a part of the community is a big part of the hobby, the rules that are applied (or not applied) to the community are vitally important.
Does it help us when you credit us? Of course it does. Does it help the community when you credit? Of course it does. Does it help you? Yes it does. If you like a designer and you want her to continue working and creating more stuff that you enjoy, it really helps to support her.
I agree with you on all points. Everything I purchase, online and off, I purchase both to fill a need but also to support a business I appreciate and want to stick around. I also post credits on all of my layouts. The conversation has never been about whether it is a great thing to do, but whether it is right to require it. And also whether it is right to admonish people who don't credit/can't credit for any reason. People have differing levels of organizational skills and some just cannot do it, and it has nothing to do with being lazy or disrespectful (trust me, there are people I dearly love who are most certainly not lazy, but can not keep track of a shopping list with 4 items on it - apologies to my husband.)
What I would like to know then, is how does this community and industry continue to sustain itself?
The industry will sustain itself because of the community around it. Because people do share their layouts, they do share when they have found designers that they love, they do share new techniques, tutorials, ideas. Not requiring credit is not the same as forbidding credit. As hobbyists, we love what we do, we are often self-proclaimed 'addicts' and we will continue to make layouts, rave about supplies we like, and HAVE to have the latest and greatest new kits. Designers don't need to demand or require credit for us to give it - we LOVE giving it! By setting aside the 'rules' we create more freedom for people to come into our community, feel welcome, make layouts, share them, not worry if they missed crediting a button, and not worry about breaking an un-written code. We can do away with the people who ruin the experience by shaming people for not following rules. The more people feel free to just enjoy their hobby, the more they will create - and the more they create, the more supplies they use - and the more supplies they use, the more they will want to purchase even more of latest and greatest supplies. And that is what will sustain the community ... the community will. But not if it's not a friendly and welcoming one.
I did start out as a paper scrapper. And I went to some workshops where you were only allowed to go if you only used supplies made by that manufacturer. I was shamed out of a workshop in tears for using a tool I had brought with me, breaking a rule I did not know existed. I stopped going. I was looking for a way to be creative, and to enjoy some companionship with people with like interests. Instead I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and inadequate for not knowing enough to choose the 'right' tools.
Though clearly a different situation, this is a similar case - a group of people felt they needed to impose rules to protect their ability to profit from the people participating in the hobby. Instead, they alienated hundreds of customers and are still to this day perceived as elitist (I am quite sure many paper scrappers who read this will know exactly which company I am talking about, and I don't even have to hint at the name). They did exactly the opposite of what they were trying to do - they did not protect their ability to profit from scrapbookers, they pushed them away.
And there were hundreds of other paper scrapbooking companies ready to step in and say 'come to our workshops, use our products, and feel free to express your creativity without any rules.' And people did.
And the paper scrapping company went bankrupt. And many people shook their heads and said 'I knew that was coming.'
The irony in the situation here is that demanding credits will get you credits, but NOT demanding them will get you credits too - freely given, often enthusiastically, and without alienating anyone. And so, as we build our communities, and as we establish ourselves as designers (as some of us are trying to do), we need to be really clear: do we want to be the community/designer that large groups of people avoid because of our rules, or do we want to be the community/designer that everyone returns to and raves about because we are fun, flexible, and encourage creativity?
I know which one I want to be. Do you?