How To Be A Publisher in 2018

How To Be A Publisher in 2018 featured by popular lifestyle blogger, Design Mom

How To Be A Publisher:

Lately, I’ve received emails and comments from readers who feel betrayed. They consider Design Mom a place where they’ve always been able to speak freely about controversial topics — like taxidermy or education. But nowadays, they’ve found that if they share certain political opinions in a comment, they are likely to get a negative response — from a fellow reader, or from me. They feel they can no longer openly express their opinions, at least when it comes to political topics, and so many topics are political right now. 

Their comments and emails have me thinking about what my responsibilities are toward this community.

You won’t be surprised that, from my perspective, what’s happening looks different than they describe. It’s one thing to disagree on whether or not taking your spouse’s last name is a good thing, or on whether or not hydrangeas are pretty. In instances like those, all opinions are welcome! In fact, the wider the variety of opinions, the better. I love, love, love, seeing glimpses of the world from all sorts of different viewpoints.

But if the topic we’re discussing is political, and someone says they disagree because they believe so-and-so is running a pedophile ring out of the basement of a pizza shop, then I see that as a whole different thing. If I see people sharing opinions here that are based on lies and misinformation, I feel compelled to call that out, or even delete it. Otherwise, it’s like I’m letting people use this platform to spread the lies and misinformation. To me, they aren’t simply sharing a differing opinion, instead, they’re sharing something really harmful.

In a case like that, I don’t even feel that I can “agree to disagree,” because if I do, that would be like acknowledging the other viewpoint as legitimate. And I don’t believe the other viewpoint (pedophile ring in the pizza shop basement) is legitimate at all. I would consider it irresponsible of myself to behave in a way that would give it credence.

That said, I can see why people would be frustrated, or feel betrayed. Many readers here are used to expressing themselves freely, having their comments acknowledged and respected, without risking any negative consequences. It must come as a shock to write a comment and receive a response that boils down to: that’s baloney, stop being a jerk. I get that it’s not fun to spend time on a comment, and then be responded to with anger, impatience, distrust, or even disgust.

In this hard-to-fathom world of 2018, I’m not always sure how to be a publisher responsibly. What are my responsibilities to people who comment here, not with a differing opinion, but with misinformation or lies? Do I ignore them? Delete the comment? Do I owe them a discussion? Do I owe them a patient response when they write a comment based in racism or bigotry? Should I pull out the bolt cutters and break the connection as an act of forgiveness?

What are my responsibilities to those who comment here in good faith? If I have a limited amount of time and energy to respond to comments on a given day, should I reserve my patience and responses for those readers who are adding to the conversation in a constructive way?

What’s your take? What would you say my responsibilities are in moderating political conversations? I acknowledge I have an editorial voice, and I also acknowledge I’m not trying to cultivate a community where someone on the far right (say, a white supremacist) would be comfortable participating.

How do you respond to the people in your life who disagree with you politically? Is this topic on your mind these days? Have you lost or ended relationships over our current political situation? Are you someone that maintains strict boundaries and cuts people out of your life fairly easily? Or do you feel compelled to nurture and repair every relationship?

P.S. — In casual conversations about this topic, the suggestion to “take the conversation private” often comes up. It’s an instinct I understand, and have even encouraged from time to time. For example, if someone has something negative to say about a home tour, I would much prefer that they express that to me via email, and give me a chance to respond, than say it in the comments where the homeowner might see it. (I’ve mentioned this before, but I consider the people who share their homes here as valued guests, and I know how much courage it can take to open your home to strangers, so I don’t allow negative comments on home tour posts. If I did allow rude or critical comments, I know very well I wouldn’t get so many amazing and vulnerable home tours.)

These days, when someone sends their thoughts via email or Instagram DM, and wants to have a private discussion about a topic I’ve brought up publicly — like gun control, I can rarely if ever respond in a way they find satisfying. I’m not a particularly fast writer, and a thoughtful response on my part can easily take 45 minutes or more. If I’m going to take the time to collect my thoughts, and write them out, and research pertinent links, I typically feel the need to share the writing publicly, because this is what I do for work, and I use my work hours to write the responses. Does that make sense?

119 thoughts on “How To Be A Publisher in 2018”

  1. As someone who has read your blog for years, I really appreciate that you have been so vocal in adressing current events. It is so great to see bloggers with big audiences speaking up on these things, in addition to all of the other great content the blog usually offers, and I’ve been disappointed to see some other blogs be so silent. And I agree fully that you have a right (even an obligation!) to not allow your site to be a forum for the spreading of false information… Things like lies or hate speech are not the same as just having a different opinion.

    1. This is almost exactly what I came here to write — and I’d add that I couldn’t take seriously a parenting blog that did not speak against family separation.

  2. It’s such a hard thing to figure out in this quickly changing world! I also love that you don’t keep away from controversial topics, but at the same time it’s your blog and like you said, you’re the editor of your content. I feel like people’s common ground, where they agree on facts or what is grounds for discussion, is disappearing so fast. (Example: holding to the religious view that homosexuality is a sin, and wanting that to influence public policy… is that a viable opinion, or does that become hate speech/ “you’re being a jerk”?) And you’re right that you can’t give lengthy responses to every comment, or you’d be doing nothing else. I think you’re doing a great job… it’s like updating the “letters to the editor” section of a magazine in real time.

  3. I think you are spot on in how you are approaching things right now. This is a place for thoughtful, respectful conversation and disrespect, bigotry and racism have no place here. In the age of Trump, “alternative facts” cannot be perpetuated, particularly when they come to topics that people are voting on. You have ALWAYS welcomed differing opinions and new ideas while approaching difficult topics. In doing so you really take one for the team when someone writes something really nasty, and I applaud you for that!

    1. SPOT. ON. I agree! You’re doing what you do so well that I never even realized it was happening. Thanks! :) I hope the burden doesn’t scare you off of controversial topics. The fact that you facilitate these conversations and the way you approach difficult topics with curiosity rather than judgment is my favorite part of your blog and one of your talents I admire the most.

    2. Agree. I am not a confrontational person—I’m pretty introverted, actually—but I’ve found myself having to correct “alternative facts” that are just wrong and, for the first time in a long time, I’m having to confront racism in acquaintances who assume I’ll agree with it because I’m white. I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing.

  4. It seems to me that you’re very accepting in hearing alternate views usually and give measured responses to those that really disagree with you. But I think you have to shut down lies and misinformation. There’s a difference of opinion and then there’s misinformation. We all have to shut it down when we see it otherwise we’re complicit. It’s one of the only things we can do.

      1. Agreed! During these times of misinformation and lies I think it is critical for good citizens to stand with the truth. While it can be hard and feel divisive to correct misinformation, it is important because the misinformation is designed to divide us.

  5. Your blog is your blog. I don’t agree with your politics at all. It’s still your blog. You can drive away readers if you want. You have many others cheering you on. You can disregard the pizza shop business, but that doesn’t make it true or false.

    1. The pizza shop thing has been THOROUGHLY debunked. This is exactly Gabby’s point about some comments no longer being a difference of opinion, but a willful refusal to accept facts, or a continuing spread of disinformation.

      And unfortunately, it is impossible to debate or argue with someone who does not accept facts. There is no way to “make them” do so. They cannot be convinced by logic, because they simply refuse to accept the logic. You can provide links to 100 news sites, fact checkers, videos, and tapes proving them wrong, but because they have a link to Fox or Breitbart or InfoWars–or even no links at all–they simply say, no, you’re wrong, and there’s nothing anyone can do to change their mind. It’s a more frustrating version of the old saying that you can’t argue with a fool because they don’t know when they’re wrong.

      I read through a FB comment thread yesterday where someone was again declaiming against David Hogg for supposedly being at home during the shooting — again, a totally false claim — and even with links to a correction article on the right-wing “news” site that originally provided the false report which admitted they had it wrong, the person simply kept repeating, “No, son, he wasn’t there.” That’s it, over and over again, even with his own sources having published a recant. There is no way to reach that person.

      It is still important to call out this misinformation, however. Because others with greater compassion and less willful bullheadedness are listening, too.

    2. JO, Gabby isn’t “disregarding” the pizza shop business, she is pointing to the well-established fact that it is false. The investigation and determination that the story was utterly false is what makes it false, not Gabby’s regard or disregard for it. I think you are making her point perfectly. Some people will not consider and accept proven information, and there is no point in her entertaining those opinions on her own forum. She honors those who are using facts and demonstrated information, whether or not they agree with her and others or not. But I personally don’t believe she needs to give space to those who can’t even come to the table agreeing on a few basic truths, or those who ignore well-established facts to perpetuate untrue information.

  6. I am on the other side of the world where we have our own politics and issues.
    I appreciate being called out on stuff when I am wrong and then the onus is on me to find the truth and to apologise when I need to. In this day and age it is easy to pass on false information because there is just so much out there being presented as the truth. I think your readers can make their own choices about whether to read or not to read, but there is no need for them to be mean about what you stand for. Having good boundaries and being respectful is a wonderful thing. keep up the good work!

  7. This is the RIGHT problem to have. If you didn’t have this problem, your blog would be boring, uncontroversial, trivial. And it sounds to me like you answered your own question: encourage a diversity of opinions but delete anything with alternative facts. When I come to a blog like this, which is both personal and political, I want to be able to easily discern the blogger’s politics–whether or not I agree with them is unimportant. And I want to know that the discussions will be civil and substantive. That’s it.

    One thought: what about an occasional post where you list a few comments or ideas that you’ve gotten wrong? A chance to express regret, or an evolving viewpoint, or an apology? I would find that so valuable as a check on my own sometimes unquestioned certainty.

    1. I love this perspective, Amy! Yes, it is a sign of the importance of the things Gabby brings up, and her thoughtfulness. And I love the idea of revisiting topics, or a comments that made me think/re-think post. It’s a bit like the gun violence posts where she discusses her changing feelings vs her earlier very very cautious, polite post.

    2. “One thought: what about an occasional post where you list a few comments or ideas that you’ve gotten wrong? A chance to express regret, or an evolving viewpoint, or an apology?”

      I like this idea. I think I’ve done this over the years accidentally, but I like the idea of approaching it with intention instead, and really watching for areas where my views are changing/evolving.

  8. You have every right to express your views and your readers can decide if they want to tune in or not. But since you are asking, I miss the good old days when your focus was on design. I don’t follow your blog much anymore because it feels more like “Political Mom” than “Design Mom.” I still check in once in a blue moon to see a home tour… I can’t help myself, ha!

    1. It’s funny, because I very much align with Design Mom and it’s her blog and she can write what she wants. But I also tend to not click on the “political” posts. I already spend a lot of my day reading about how awful the world is — on the NY Times, WaPo, articles shared on my friend’s FB feeds, etc… Reading design and lifestyle blogs is more what I consider “fun, free time” and more and more I find myself being super protective of that space. It’s important to have places to go to disengage.

      In any event, I usually read my blogs through Feedly so it’s easy to skip over political content if I don’t feel up for it that day. I don’t think Design Mom should stop writing what she wants to write about (and I do read some of the political posts). As far as people disagreeing in the comments, it comes with the territory when blogs get controversial. At the end of the day, she can moderate out whatever comments she feels like.

      1. I come to Design Mom because I like the Home Tours, design-focused articles, and recipes (love the old school lunch series), but obviously this isn’t my blog, and I understand its important to evolve. I also get that being a Mom right now in 2018 is inextricably linked to the political climate. If I had a platform like Design Mom, I might find myself drawn to comment on political topics, as to not speak out on certain events might feel like a lost opportunity. That said, I appreciate how Gabby has moderated the comments, and sought to protect families featured on the Home Tours section. It’s amazing how the families put themselves out there and its nice to see there is a desire to keep that a safe space.

    2. To be honest, I sometimes miss those days too. In my experience, the design-focused posts (where I might highlight a new line or product or designer) take much less time to write and research, and certainly don’t cause the same kind of angst that my longer-form posts on education or parenting or current events do.

      I think there’s actually room for both here on Design Mom. For me, the issue is that my own time is limited, and I’m going to naturally favor working on the posts that have the most meaning to me, you know? That’s why I’m trying to hire a new editor. I posted the help wanted notice a few months ago, and got an amazing response, but haven’t had time to bring someone on board yet. Still working on that.

      My hope is that I can still host the conversations that are important to me, while also bringing back more design-focused posts — directed by me, but written by others.

      We’ll see if I can pull it off. Who knows.

      P.S. — I also think social media had a big affect on this. As blog posts became longer form, it made more sense to me to Pin a designer or product I was inspired by, or share a FB post, or mention them in a video, instead of writing a blog post about them. Both my blog, and my social media, definitely continue to evolve.

      1. For what it’s worth, I always skip a Home Tour and, honestly, most all design-related stuff. I love your posts on family and political happenings. I have found your perspective to be very level-headed, fact-driven, and empathetic to other views. That’s what I need to see these days and it has been fantastic to find it here. It’s the parts that you share of yourself and your true life that appeal and keep me reading when other blogs have gone into the land of overly-sunny and overly-sponsored content.

        And, for what it’s worth, having grown up as a very close friend to an LDS family with lots of daughters, I love to see your perspective on feminist and liberal issues that take your faith into consideration. It’s a voice that generously accepts others and it’s a voice we need.

        1. Same! I’m here for those interesting conversations. I mean, I actually read everything but when I discover one of those time consuming, thoughtful conversation posts, it’s like finding a handwritten letter in the mailbox.

          1. Sara, I love your description “like finding a handwritten letter in the mailbox.” That’s the feeling exactly!

            Gabby, this stuff matters so much. Thank you for being so thoughtful about the issues, your responsibility as a publisher, and the forum you provide to readers around the world. Keep at it. Your instincts are so good.

  9. I think you are doing an honest and fair job with the responses and editing you have done. You are absolutely right not to give credibility to fabricated stories.

  10. I’m a longtime blog reader and infrequent commenter. I love how much the topics on your blog vary. I greatly appreciate your direct moral & political voice on current topics. I think the world has changed and we do have more of an imperative to call out misinformation. I find your voice brave! Thank you for all the thought & energy you put into this space!

    1. Same!!! Long time reader and rare commenter. (Maybe this is my second comment?) So many reasons to love this space…. I love Gabby’s book, I have made that dreamy ombre ice cream cake twice (it’s gorgeous) and loved the sibling gift series from a while back – my own children now do this and I was (and am) greatly inspired by this site. I love the feminist issues that are raised here, the parenting issues (I must have read the article about why not to fret about public school that Gabby wrote when she moved to Oakland at least four times – especially when we moved from the East to the Bay Area). I love the the quirky and compelling links in the Friday round up. (I usually skip the home tours – but have enjoyed some that I have read).

      This is long intro to say YES, I agree with everything Tina has said. This is a time unlike any other – the misinformation is at an all time high, whether you agree or not, the measures this administration is taking are unprecedented and the flat out lies this president is telling are daily (yes, lies. do your research). Gabby, I salute you for your brave and measured voice. I find your political posts (understandably) passionate, thoughtful and well reasoned. How could anyone who identifies as a feminist, who is a parent or who cares about equality NOT post about this now? To me, this time is a call to action to all who have a platform (like Gabby). Absolutely call out false information. I love your blog more than ever.

  11. Longtime reader here, and honestly, I’m still here because of how this blog has evolved. I deeply value the ways in which you are facing the issues of our day head-on, with thoughtfulness, rigor, and love. “Politics” are only “politics” to people with loads of privilege. To the rest of the world, politics are our lives, families, bodies, neighborhoods, and homes. Thank you for recognizing that fact, and widening your conversation of family and home accordingly.

    1. “Politics” are only “politics” to people with loads of privilege.
      Excellent point, Erin. It always bugs me when people say that they “aren’t into politics”. I mean, fine if you don’t want to spend a couple hours per day reading current events articles. Plus, I think people are often saying that when what they really mean is “I am disgusted by corrupt politicians.” But ignoring politics is not a solution.

      1. Erin, I’m also a long-time reader, and someone who has stayed with this blog for the same reasons as you have (thank you, Gabby!). I’m also a political science professor. On the first day of my introductory class, I ask students to write down their definition of politics, and then we discuss their (anonymized) answers. Your words so clearly articulate something I want to communicate to those students who think “politics” is something separate, or technical, or distasteful.

        Could I have your permission to quote you in our class discussion? If yes, how would you like to be cited (smart woman on the internet)?

    2. “To the rest of the world, politics are our lives, families, bodies, neighborhoods, and homes.”

      Yes. Totally. I think this is so important. To ignore politics is to stand by or defend the status quo. Which is easy to do if you’re currently a major beneficiary of the status quo. But it seems so selfish to me.

  12. I very much agree with Erin. I still check this blog daily because I so appreciate the thoughtful discourse on the topics of this time.

    My one question though: Don’t both sides of the political debates feel that the other side is spreading false information? I’ve seen both the right and the left vilify certain aspects or outlets of media. How can we draw the line at speaking “alternative facts” when people feel they are speaking the truth? I know information and articles should be sourced, but that feels like a less bullet-proof answer in the blog world as compared to the academic world. This is an honest question from me if you’re willing to divulge me. I am not super familiar with the fake news epidemic, particularly in the US, and I’m honestly trying to navigate and be more aware of my own bias as well.

    1. There are certain things that truly are facts. There was no pizza parlor pedo ring. David Hogg was at school during the Florida shooting, not at home. The Holocaust happened. Etc. People saying otherwise are literally refusing to accept facts — and because of that, you can’t debate them (you can’t argue with someone who just keeps saying “you’re wrong” over and over, with no willingness to accept overwhelming evidence and actual fact). Statements like these should not be allowed to stand unchallenged, or we are complicit. A person can dislike Hillary Clinton for many valid reasons, but it is simply untrue that she was involved in running a pedo ring from a pizza restaurant. There are lots of grey areas in politics, but more and more often, people are doing the equivalent of looking up at a clear sky and saying it is green, not blue.

  13. Probably at issue is deciding what your goal is. Getting consensus if you have a set of readers with diverse viewpoints is tricky, because most people tend to believe what their “tribe” tells them to believe (for more on this On the Media did a fascinating interview recently with the ProPublica environmental journalist Andrew Revkin). Because you have your own opinions, those whose tribe tells them “this opinion is incorrect” are never going to be satisfied even when you present facts backed up by science, research, history etc. It sounds like safety for vulnerable readers who might be looking through comments sections is important to you, in which case censoring out comments laden with bigotry or at least responding to someone who is clearly unaware of how painful their comment might be to oppressed groups seems like a no-brainer. On the other hand, as a nation we probably do need people out there who are consensus builders who can help groups make the connections about the places where we overlap. Revkin’s example was someone in a geographical area who would never say they believe in climate change, but would highly value living “off the grid” because it increases their independence. If these groups come together, meaningful change can happen. Each publishing platform has it’s own mission and purpose. Deciding what yours is, in the context we all live in, is a tricky but important task. So glad you are asking these questions.

  14. As a long-time reader who does not always agree with everything you post, I must say I can’t–cannot–imagine you doing a better job at this than you are already doing. I appreciate your calm, measured approach to those who would take the comment section off the rails. I look to you as a dear friend (honestly, almost like a family member by now) who helps me see how I might be closed off to the other side of an issue. I mean, we also often see eye-to-eye on things, but I think the feeling of being a *leetle* bit uncomfortable at times is good for all of us, and sometimes that’s exactly what I come to your blog for. It’s been a life-line to me in some dark times personally, and I think your courage and wisdom are particularly important in the current political climate. superXOX

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Jess. And thanks for reading even if we don’t always agree. I value the diversity of viewpoints here so much!

      And yes, it’s so important to me that the comment section here remains a valuable place to learn and grow. I’m know that I sometimes make mistakes as I attempt to moderate it, but I appreciate the patience, because my goal truly is to keep things from going off the rails.

  15. I’m not in any way of the editor or publisher persuasion, but just from personal experience—this is such a hard road to navigate! First and foremost, be true to yourself, and stop hate in its tracks. Secondly, there are consequences to this. People will leave, or you will leave others; people will feel angry, and you will feel angry; readers may write LOUDER comments, and the responses to them will become LOUDER too. Until the comments disappear. Until all of those readers have finally disappeared and you’re left with a chorus of voices who sound just like yours. The pros of this: you have a blog with what I call “your choir” in your comment section. You have a community of like minded individuals supporting and uplifting each other and reiterating your collective priorities and beliefs. The cons: when the time comes that you have genuine questions that you wish could be answered directly by a voice from “the other side”, in hopes that you might learn or try to understand from each other, you won’t get an answer. There won’t be any more of those voices here to pull insight from. And you will continue to be left wondering about why in fact the ‘right’ truly believes one way and the ‘left’ believes another. The dialogue will end because it will be one sided. (A much happier uplifting one sided discussion of course! But still, one sided.) I have NO IDEA what the correct answer is. I suppose part of it is that anger in discussion never achieves the goal of either party, which is usually to change each other’s minds. (Anger in protest is something different, I think.) And I suppose it’s always easier to speak with hate and anger and fear in a comment section rather than in person. Perhaps a live event in person moderated by you Gabby that encourages face to face dialogue about these issues! You would be a wonderful platform and host for something like this! Thanks for accommodating my rambling stream of consciousness rant! 😉 Love, a devoted reader who has found herself with only a “choir” on her own social media platforms when trying to reach to the other side for answers, and then feeling sad about that. ❤️

    1. “Perhaps a live event in person moderated by you Gabby that encourages face to face dialogue about these issues!”

      I love that idea. I always like a chance to talk with people in person. Facial expressions and tone of voice can completely change things.

  16. I am also a long time reader and love the home tours and other content posted. I don’t always see my viewpoint reflected. I never comment on controversial posts because I don’t want or need negativity directed at myself. I am happy to keep my ideas and opinions (based on the personal experiences I have had so far) to myself rather than risk upsetting others or feeling misunderstood if I were to express my thoughts. That being said, I still enjoy reading others responses. I feel like my opinions and ideas on various topics are constantly changing the more I read, the more people I meet and get to know, and all the different places I have the opportunity to live. All places are different and have their own challenges. I feel like most issues have more than one side to them which I feel is not always clearly acknowledged. Personally, I analyze issues in more of a list of pros and cons or reasons why something would or would not be successful. Also it is helpful to step back and take a look at the “big picture” so to speak, but also to zoom in and see the individual or close up examination of issues and problems. Above all, everyone needs to remember that respect and kindness are the most important things we can share with others. I wonder how strong we could be as communities or countries if we worked together to help each other and solved problems. Can you imagine if young, old, rich, poor, all cultures, races, religious or non religious backgrounds could sit down and work together to solve problems…rather than wasting so much time arguing. We have forgotten how to compromise and work towards common goals little by little. I still believe there are more good people in this world that are quietly helping those around them. I think overall, you do a great job of excellent content and posts about issues that need discussion. It is probably difficult to have to be constantly checked into social media, monitoring and commenting on so many things. Even though we may have differences of opinions sometimes, doesn’t mean it is a bad thing to see another perspective. Maybe once in awhile, if it was appropriate, you could invite a reader or someone in the community with a different perspective to respectfully post their viewpoint in a post that goes along with your own. I’m thinking about how I often hear interviews on NPR and they mostly have respectful conversations agreeing with some points and disagreeing with other points. I love when they acknowledge that they have a few things they agree on. It gives me hope that people from both sides can work together to come up with solutions!

  17. The humility and transparency in this post alone is proof of your navigating these difficult waters with grace! I have limits on how much I engage with the news and social media, so don’t always read the political posts. I have relatives and friends who seem addicted to the negative feed of news, but do little to contribute to things that they care deeply about, instead they seem to prefer to stay in inactive outrage. It feels very unhealthy to me emotionally and mentally. I have learned so much from my brother-in-law who is pro Trump and super right, about what the driving forces are that got the U.S. here, so I value diverse conversations. However, I did tell him I was unwilling to have political conversations in the future because he was unable to stay reasonable, and would start getting too heated, so I had to put up that boundary. I have had to do that on my own “side” as well, when people no longer speak with respect and demonize “the other” I cannot engage.

  18. You are doing a wonderful job. Don’t change a thing.

    I should end my comment there, but I’m not known for brevity. In my opinion there is no way you can run the content of this blog without occasionally wading into controversial topics. We are living in strange (dangerous, appalling) times. Frankly, I appreciate your honesty in the comment section; however, I can see how it could be exhausting trying to respond to some of the comments that are controversial. Maybe you shouldn’t feel that you need to always respond. Or have a simple reply: “I disagree. I believe that your information is not based on facts.”

    Please keep speaking up. One of the things that has heartened me during what I’d consider the worst stretch of my life is the fact that all of my favorite bloggers have come out of the shadows and spoken up for truth, justice, and kindness. This kinship of women is powerful and has been incredibly helpful to me during my darkest moments.

    1. “Or have a simple reply: “I disagree. I believe that your information is not based on facts.””

      Love this. It appeals to me so much!

      There are instances, where someone has shared a link to a disreputable site, or their comment includes something totally false, and I’m not sure if I want the comment to even appear on Design Mom at all.

      In my head it’s an equation I’m constantly trying to figure out:
      Will I cause more harm if I let the comment stand, and someone sees it and believes it, or thinks I believe it? Or, will I cause more harm if I delete the comment, and not state publicly that I know it to be false?

      I don’t have the answer, and so far, have just tried to go on a case-by-case basis.

      1. You gotta change it! Strike out the words “I believe” — leaving them in suggests that there’s a choice to be made, and there really isn’t. Facts are facts. It doesn’t matter if one does or doesn’t believe them. They still are what they are.

          1. It softens it, yes, and maybe even unnecessarily, but if we assume that most readers and commenters have good intentions and are coming from what they believe is a place of truth, then I think it’s ok to be kind in your rebuttal. Maybe it’s the southerner in me, but a soft response is no less powerful. In fact, I think it’s often more powerful.

            That said, I appreciate your willingness to tackle such difficult issues and to do so in such a direct way. I am a better person because I read this blog.

  19. I once read an article entitled “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion.” I think this is the one. The article really speaks to what I think can get out of hand: people assuming that having opinions means that their opinions deserve to be taken as legitimate and valid. I can appreciate diverse opinions and views, but only when they’re founded on facts and logic. The First Amendment does protect your speech, but you’re not shielded from public contempt for sharing a hateful, ignorant, or even completely inaccurate opinion.

    I appreciate how you have managed this space in this regard and I believe that as a public we need to continue to weed out opinions that simply don’t have a place in our discourse. Of course, we should show mutual respect toward one another, but it is certainly fair to limit the airtime given to opinions and views that simply don’t hold up.

    1. That article is excellent. I’m going to quote an early paragraph:

      The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.

      Thank you for the link.

    2. Coming back because I keep thinking about your comment. Especially this line:

      “The First Amendment does protect your speech, but you’re not shielded from public contempt for sharing a hateful, ignorant, or even completely inaccurate opinion.”

      It’s so true. I think some people seem to want freedom of speech without consequence. But of course, that’s not how it works. We can say what we want, but we then must face the consequences.

      I suppose that on Design Mom, one of the consequences for saying spreading a false story or a harmful opinion is that you’re going to be called out on it, and you might end up feeling less welcome here.

      I’m also thinking about this line in your comment:

      “I believe that as a public we need to continue to weed out opinions that simply don’t have a place in our discourse.”

      That’s definitely a place I feel myself struggle. There are limits to all our freedoms (including Freedom of Speech), but it’s sometimes such a challenge for me to figure out what those limits should be; to identify the opinions that don’t have a place on Design Mom.

  20. You are doing such a good job!

    And your demographic (I’m assuming here) probably skews heavily towards middle class white women – a group we need to desperately claw back to the non-Trump political side of the spectrum. That job doesn’t belong to women of color it belongs to white women and you’re doing your part!

  21. I’ve been following this blog a long time and appreciate the content and your voice. I don’t normally comment, but since this may affect teh very voice I tune in to read, I felt I needed to say something.

    I just read Barack Obama’s Nelson Mandela lecture that he delivered in South Africa and I don’t think I could say it better he did:

    “You have to believe in facts. Without facts, there is no basis for cooperation. If I say this is a podium and you say this is an elephant, it’s going to be hard for us to cooperate. I can find common ground for those who oppose the Paris Accords because, for example, they might say, Well, it’s not going to work; you can’t get everybody to cooperate. Or they might say it’s more important for us to provide cheap energy for the poor, even if it means in the short term that there’s more pollution. At least I can have a debate with them about that, and I can show them why I think clean energy is the better path, especially for poor countries, that you can leapfrog old technologies. I can’t find common ground if somebody says climate change is just not happening, when almost all of the world’s scientists tell us it is. I don’t know where to start talking to you about this. If you start saying it’s an elaborate hoax, where do we start?”

    Everyone can have opinions, but if your opinions are not based on facts, they are wrong and nonconstructive.

    1. Oh Theresa! Thank you. Your Paris Accords/climate change example is a good one — super helpful as I clarify my thoughts.

      It’s exactly how I feel. I’m very open to discussing/debating the best ways to be a good steward of the Earth; to figuring out the pros and cons of different approaches for using and preserving our resources. But I don’t know how to find a starting point of commonality with someone who denies climate change is an issue.

  22. I originally read your blog because of your time in France and fun house tours.

    I’ve come to depend on Design Mom as a place to read about complicated, challenging things. Your posts on everything from public schools to mental health to bedwetting to sex ed to religion are so valued by me (and shared so often!). As an atheist, I don’t mind one bit that you post about LDS-related topics. In fact, I appreciate that I know I’ll learn something from someone with a deep respect and curiosity for those unlike her and deep convictions and beliefs she is willing to share. I want to emulate that!

    I’ve so enjoyed watching your public emergence as a feminist and progressive…I don’t doubt these are identities you long held but I’ve delighted in your measured yet passionate engagement, your thoughtful posts and your family’s activism.

    I imagine it must be exhausting…I also see you doing the same on Facebook and realize you need breaks and respite. So take that when you need it, by all means.

    I understand the impulse to just want fluff and fun regardless of personal political leanings. But the personal is political, eh? And I’m more concerned about public figures/platforms that move through these times pretending like nothing is going on beyond picking throw pillows and packing lunches.

    So, go on with your bad self Gabby. You are an absolute gem.

  23. I’ve followed your blog for a long time but not commented. However, I was actually just recently thinking about your blog in relation to comments as it’s one of the few places where there is still a comments section that I actually like to read. And I realized I should thank you for that! In this day and age I think there are topics you just can’t shy away from when you have a public platform. But I always admire the way you seem to manage to do it in a way that doesn’t hide how you’re feeling about something but also open-minded and inviting of constructive conversation. It’s not an easy line to walk, but I think you’re doing a great job with how you handle things, which is evidenced I think in the fact that this is literally one of the few blogs or platforms of any kind that I use where there’s still a meaningful, discussion-oriented, comments section on posts. But also kudos for taking the time to think about how you’re doing!

  24. I really think that many of us are facing this kind of issue in our personal lives or social media experiences. This is the first time I ever remember feeling so far from others in my belief of what is true, that I don’t know if I can even have a conversation with them. For those who believe in a giant wall, or stronger immigration, and those who want to have guns in their home, or only straight, white, Christians in their neighborhood (country?), I don’t really know if there is anything I could say or do to reach any kind of agreement. For that reason, I’ve trimmed a lot of those people from my life – both online and real. Even some family. It’s scary. I think this is how wars begin. And at the same time, I’m loving seeing people get engaged in their world in ways they never have. The marches, the motivation to vote, etc. This doesn’t answer your questions, Gabby, but I can say that I trust you to do the right thing for your blog, and I appreciate everything you’ve been doing so far.

  25. Yes! Keep on doing what you’re doing to fight the normalization/legitimization of terrifyingly false lies that are being presented as truth. I’m so glad that you are NOT allowing your site to be a place where falsehoods are perpetuated. I just had a super frustrating experience where several students in my class turned in a paper advocating for more “free speech” in the US and basically they were arguing that there’s no such thing as hate speech. Just drove me crazy to deal with that in a professional setting and I am so glad that you are fighting the good fight!

  26. I’ve really enjoyed seeing this conversation. Honestly, this is the only site I really engage with in the comments. I’m assuming there are comments that we as readers never even see – the ones that you do block or mute. Is that right? So there must be vitriol I’m not seeing but that you are dealing with. It sounds exhausting.

    This all has me thinking about grading (I’m a college prof). The A papers and the F papers are easy to grade. It’s the D and C papers that really take time to evaluate and respond to. I suspect it is the same with comments. And I know replying to comments takes a lot of time, energy and thought! I’m always amazed to get replies from you. Thanks for that.

    Navigating the line between opposing and questioning versus misleading and hateful seems like the important gray area. I would actually like to hear from people who have questions or disagree but are sincere and engaging with the topic. Is that even possible? Like others have said, I don’t know where to start with someone who thinks pizzagate is legit. But what about someone who doesn’t think that but does think something questionable for perhaps good or understandable reasons? I’m worried I can’t even make up an example! Where do we hear any moderate views?

    1. So much good stuff in your comment for me to think about.

      As for deleting comments, it’s actually pretty rare on the whole. Before making that kind of decisions, I do my best to look at the commenter’s history on Design Mom — I’ll go look up their past comments to see if I can find any context, or something to help me understand where they are coming from.

      Sometimes I’ve deleted something in an attempt to be protective — like if they’ve written something offensive, but aren’t aware it’s offensive, and I know they are going to get a heap of negative responses. But again, that’s very rare.

      One of my gun-related posts was shared on Quora and I received over 200 comments from men who aren’t regular readers here. Most were angry and foul. I made a decision to delete all of them — these aren’t people who are invested in Design Mom, and I don’t feel a responsibility to make a space for them.

      It can get complicated for sure.

      And I especially hear you on your last paragraph. What’s the best way to navigate a situation where someone says something that I know to be nonsensical, but that they seem to take seriously? There have been times where I thought I was expressing a moderate/neutral factual position, and had someone accuse me of being extreme. But if a fact is extreme, then that would put the middle ground somewhere in Bizarre-o-land. And nothing in Bizarre-o-land is actually middle ground. It makes everything feel skewed.

  27. Another long-time reader here who loves the evolution of your blog. (I actually got started reading you because you were mentioned on name blogs as a great namer! How could I not follow someone like that?!)

    I agree with Julie – “I’ve come to depend on Design Mom as a place to read about complicated, challenging things.” In fact, this is what keeps me here now as I find I much prefer the more challenging posts!

    I want to echo everyone else who’s congratulated you on the wonderful job you’ve done creating an open, vibrant, civil comments section. I know it’s not easy. I absolutely agree with weeding out those who are trafficking in outright lies. And I agree with engaging those who have an honestly different opinion (e.g., the Obama example of addressing climate change above). I like that this blog isn’t an echo chamber, filled with people who agree with each other. I like hearing others’ opinions, even if I disagree.

    You’re brave and inspiring. Keep it up! The world needs more people like that, and Emma’s right, we need white woman to be the change they want to see in the world.

  28. Keep doing what you’re doing. I love your blog, I think you represent different viewpoints while still remaining true to yourself. I agree with you that there are areas we can “agree to disagree.” But people who perpetuate “fake news”–aka attempts to normalize disgusting behavior that poses a real threat to our democracy–should not be able to socialize in polite company. Even if that socialization is happening on the internet.

    1. “But people who perpetuate “fake news”–aka attempts to normalize disgusting behavior that poses a real threat to our democracy–should not be able to socialize in polite company.”

      I’ve been thinking about this idea lately. This community is full of generous, smart, interesting, kind, open-minded women. I consider it a privilege that I get to interact with you. Should everyone be allowed that same privilege? Or do I need to be more protective of this community? Should someone who wants to make room for white supremacy be allowed that privilege? Should someone who thinks toddlers representing themselves in court is somehow justifiable be allowed that privilege?

      Interestingly, even if I wanted to (and I don’t), I can’t prevent someone from reading here. On Instagram or Facebook you can “block” a reader, but there’s no function to do that on a blog. (Though yes, I can delete or moderate a comment.)

  29. As a British reader, your blog is a hopeful reminder that not all Americans agree with the havoc that Trump is currently wreaking in his country, and across the world. Definitely don’t stop the political posts; they give you – and your blog – so much substance!

  30. I’m a new follower but just thought to mention that I agree, in the days where social media rules all, so much lies and faux posts are being shared as fact or the basis of opinion when the information isn’t accurate at all. I am a “stay out of it” kind of person but when people share fake posts or news articles that are designed to invoke chaos and panic I often wonder if I should stay out of it our call the poster out. I like to verify facts before believing everything I see on the internet.

  31. Oh, this is a good post. I have never agreed with you politically Gabby, and in the past I have felt knocked down, but you know what? I don’t come here for your political views, no offense. I come here because I truly enjoy all your other content. Therefore, I no longer read most of your political posts & I no longer comment on them. I’m making an exception here.

    A short while ago my sister in law told me she cannot stand to be in the same room as our father in law since the election. I asked her what exactly changed? She says it’s good she knows “what kind of person he actually is.” This is based solely on how he voted, and not on anything else he has ever done for her, her husband, her children, our family and community. I believe this is absolutely bonkers. She doesn’t care that his point of view comes to him from a very complex layered background, and current circumstance. She believes he is now awful. Overnight. I believe we need to give people some grace and understanding. You do not need to agree politically on all things, while still liking and appreciating the person. For the record, she believes I voted the same as she did. I have NO idea how this is possible.

    1. Hi Cathyma – Obviously, I don’t know your sister in law or father in law, but your story sounds familiar to me. Only, I’m the one who feels shocked and disturbed, like your sister in law, because my husband is supporting Trump policies (Im assuming that’s what you meant). I’m finding it incredibly hard to navigate – much as it sounds like you and your family are. On the one hand, I have known him to be a kind, smart, good person. And on the other hand, I feel deeply offended by the sexist, racist language and actions of this administration. It feels personal to me – a vote for Trump honestly feels like a vote against my humanity. It’s hard for my husband to understand that, as in his mind he can separate out the parts of Trump that he approves of from those he does not. But for me, it’s all tied together. And it is not easy to know how to navigate this in my relationship. Perhaps your sister in law is also struggling with this hurt.

      1. oh Meg P, I am so, so sorry you are struggling with this. Oh my gosh, my heart hurts for you. I completely get what you are saying.
        In the instance of myself and my father in law, we are devout Roman Catholic, which makes us COMPLETELY UNPOPULAR. We know this. My sister in law is atheist, which we understand, and do not try to change her mind, but she will not do the same for our father in law. Again, I do not understand how she doesn’t see me the same way. For us, a vote for Trump was not a happy one, which is how it seems we are perceived. It feels like people think we ate cake and drank champagne! A vote for Hillary would have been an abomination due to her stance on abortion and loyal devotion to PP. I do NOT expect to change anyone’s mind on this. It is their business. I also will NOT be swayed or bullied to not think what, how or why I do on the subject, as it is a deeply personal one. Therefore, we were between a rock and a hard place. A vote for Hillary would have felt to me how you describe a vote for Trump feels for you– “against your humanity.”
        I am only explaining this small bit to you (of a much grander conversation– if one person even suggests I voted on one issue, I will take it with a grain of salt because no one here knows me personally) because you seem so kind and genuine. In the past, on this blog, in the comments, I have been ridiculed and made to feel small (for a moment, but it still hurt) because my belief was not aligned to the majority here. Therefore, my belief was “an opinion” and not ” a fact.” I was even told I was making a “false equivalency statement.” Oh, how I laughed at that!!!!! Those are divisive comments, not bridging comments. I will NOT engage with anyone who will jump to belittle or attack me. It would not be good for anyone.
        I wish you peace Meg, and I pray you and your husband will meet up in a better place. <3 The way I view my sister in law is that I know she is coming from a place of love, that's why I love her so much even though we are world's apart on some issues. I wish she would realize our father in law is also coming from a place of love. If more people granted each other this grace, there would be a lot less fighting. We are all doing the best we can. Peace.

        1. Sorry to butt in to this conversation. CathyMA, I’m not sure if you know this, but your explanation of why you voted for Trump makes it seem like you are dogmatic to the point you are willing to be cruel to others.

          Watching the election, this is what middle-ground citizens observed in relation to the issue of abortion:

          The woman candidate is a devout Christian.She is openly and publicly very respectful of all religions. She has not had an abortion. She actively supports programs that are known to lower the number of abortions. She will never have an abortion, but believes abortion should be legal. Why? Because research shows when abortions are legal, there are fewer abortions. She understands that being pro-legal abortion is also being pro-fewer-abortions. Moderate citizens knew many people who are pro-life and consider it an important issue, and voted for her.

          The man candidate is not religious, does not respect religious people, and makes a mockery of religion. He has never been to church nor read the Bible. He publicly cheated on his wives and paid for the abortions of the women he cheated with. He has said in an interview he wishes one of his own children had been aborted. He does not respect religious institutions (like marriage). He does not respect religious freedom. He does not respect humanity. He claims to be pro-life, but in action is not.

          Which one of these candidates actually cares about children and families, preventing abortions, and supporting the women who find themselves contemplating an unwanted pregnancy? The answer is very clear to any free-thinking citizen.

          When I hear you saying you didn’t like voting for Trump, but did it because you’re pro-life, it makes you sound like a fanatic. Perhaps you are not, but your words make you sound like you are. I say this as a devout Lutheran who believes deeply in the sanctity of life, and probably agrees with you on many topics.

        2. You could have chosen not to vote at all, or you could have voted third party. This is what I don’t understand. No one made you vote for a man who makes a mockery of American and Christian values.

  32. Six months ago I would have been one of the people commenting “it’s your blog!” “You’re doing great!” And “you have no responsibility to even acknowledge extremist views,” but then…it just so happened to me. And I happen to just be a whole-hearted person who came to contemplate a difficult subject, without extremist views.

    And I don’t have any issue with your disagreements or moderating comments, but I on principle I do still do think you need to think long and hard about the power you wield by being able to edit/delete your comments and others’, and I think you need to be more willing to reach out personally to your readers. My offer still stands.

    1. This still keeps nagging at me, as I think it came across as overly harsh, and I would like to give more constructive criticism.

      – I find it refreshing to see someone take a firm stance on a subject like family separation or gun control, when their arguments don’t include overly simplistic or unfair statements about someone’s character (i.e. “all Trump voters are a**hats/fascists/all-around terrible people). Every Designmom blogpost I’ve read strikes the perfect balance of standing up for what is right but also not unfairly characterizing the other side.

      – I have seen and applaud your efforts to protect the people who share their homes on the Living with Kids tour from unfair and nasty comments. It’s an incredibly vulnerable thing to share your life and your truth with the world in a public forum, and I am grateful for all of the men and women who are willing to do that for our benefit. I’m also grateful to you, Gabby, that you have been willing to share your life with us.

      – Your public forum is also unique in that you have complete control over it, and with that power comes a responsibility, which you have acknowledged. In general I think you have used the responsibility well. The only time I have seen that power misused (I believe) is in the comments, where you are able to delete and edit comments, but commenters cannot delete/edit theirs, which allows you to control/manipulate the conversation in a way that is not completely fair. The only solution I can see to this is to require administrator approval of all comments so that you are being less reactive to a comment that has already been sitting there for hours.

      – This thought doesn’t just apply to our exchange. I’m also thinking about a particular post in which you call out a single person by name. I didn’t agree with her, but this makes my heart hurt for her just thinking about it. Now when I read it, it feels a hair shy of bullying.

      – My other recommendation would be to give more consideration to the potential disconnect between your blog posts (which tend to be more cheerful and open) and your comments (which can come across wholly different). I find it confusing, as I’m not sure which Gabby I’m getting. I always want to be respectful of your views and your story, but honestly I’m not always sure how to do that. To me, there is some cognitive dissonance between your current political views and your voting record, as well as between your religion and your feminist perspective that I just don’t know how to navigate without potentially being attacked in the comments.

      – As I mentioned, I also think you need to be more willing to reach out personally to your readers on political subjects. You are talking about really important, heavy topics, and I think with that should come the understanding that with that comes a responsibility to engage more deeply. For example, if you started talking about a heavier non-political subject more often–let’s say death or sexual abuse–I imagine you would get more emails and comments with people’s stories. To say “well, I don’t have time to respond in the way this person deserves” would be irresponsible, right? Again, this does’t just apply to me–I think if comments start getting out of control, it may mean that a blog comment section isn’t the best place to continue the conversation.

      I hope this is helpful and not in any way hurtful.

      1. The personal outreach to readers is tricky. It’s so important, but also kind of impossible to keep up with. Today I received 90+ comments on my politically-focused Instagram post, 30+ Instagram DMs, a dozen or so new comments on this blog post (which I published Monday and still haven’t responded to every comment), 14 emails from readers, and I haven’t checked my FB messages yet. Some are casual notes, but most are very heartfelt. And they certainly ALL deserve acknowledgement and a thoughtful response.

        Am I irresponsible because I can’t reply to all of them in the way they deserve? I sure hope not.

        How do other bloggers you read handle personal outreach? If you have someone in mind who is doing it well, I’d love advice!

        1. I would only think you are being irresponsible if their email/message/comment necessitates a response. Sure, it would be ideal if you could give a response to every heartfelt comment/message/email, but I don’t know that I would even say that they all deserve it. I’m not sure how other bloggers handle personal outreach–I don’t read any other bloggers who talk about heavy topics and reply to comments in such a way that necessitates more engagement.

          I understand that you are overwhelmed with feedback, but since this post is about how to be a responsible publisher, I’m giving you my perspective–that maybe the only ways to be a responsible publisher in 2018 is 1) Get more help so you can reply in a way that your readers need/deserve, 2) Don’t post about political/heavy topics as often if you can’t keep up with the response, 3) Stop posting about political topics so often (please don’t), or 4) Be okay with the possibility that you are causing more division than connection, and that your readership of loyal followers may be shrinking to the point that you are only hearing the chorus of agreement, as another commenter suggested may become an issue.

          I sure hope you don’t consider the last two options as actual options. I’m not really sure what to tell you other than give you suggestions for improvement.

  33. As I read your article and then most of the comments, I just kept nodding and nodding and nodding. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for you as a professional and a parent, and that respect has only grown as I’ve watched how you’ve navigated these gruesome political times on your blog. I think a lot about how I will answer my young kids in 10 or 20 years when they can fully understand this period of time in our history and ask, “But Mom, what did YOU do to make things better?” I need to be able to tell them that I tried, that I worked, that I spoke out. Several of your kids are old enough to understand these politics in real time, and they have got to be so proud of how you have chosen to show up and use your voice. I applaud you for refusing to be complicit by allowing the propogation of “fake news” in your space.

  34. Long time reader here..I have been reading your blog for years and I appreciate that you discuss issues that are relevant in our world…not just design posts. If someone doesn’t want to read it the can choose to skip it. I love the way you respond to readers and are vocal if you don’t believe the information they are spreading is truthful. Thank you!

  35. I agree with all the above comments that you really do a good job at moderating your comments section! I do think you could actually diversify your posts a little. A few weeks ago someone commented that you live in a liberal bubble and don’t understand what it’s like to live in the Midwest and I actually kind of agree. No offense intended at all, (we all live in bubbles to some degree, right?) but I would like to see more links or posts about —for example— why some people really want a border wall or oppose abortion? What is their experience that leads them to think this is the right conclusion? Though I typically agree with you, it usually seems to me that most design mom readers —at least those who comment on your political posts—also agree with you. If that is actually the case for your readership as a whole then I think you could do some work exposing “the other side” to be able to build bridges. (What’s the point of posting your thoughts if everyone just agrees with you?)
    I’m smack dab in trump country, yet I’m also among the nicest people I have ever met. The college students I work with are kind, well-mannered, eager to serve in the community and very hard working. They support their lgbtq neighbors. They are not the white supremicists media makes trump supporters out to be. People not in trump country forget that. Ultimately what I’m saying is how can you shed light on those who don’t agree with you in a way that makes connections and moves toward solving problems and not just pointing fingers. (You don’t point fingers but both political parties do).

    1. H, yes! yes! yes! to everything you said. It is a MAJOR reason why I no longer read or comment on Gabby’s political posts (no offense, I love everything else about this blog). Kind of like a relative I love, but can’t talk politics with.

    2. “I’m smack dab in trump country, yet I’m also among the nicest people I have ever met. The college students I work with are kind, well-mannered, eager to serve in the community and very hard working. They support their lgbtq neighbors. They are not the white supremicists media makes trump supporters out to be. People not in trump country forget that.”

      Just because a person isn’t burning crosses on the lawns of black people doesn’t mean they aren’t racist. Helping to put the party in power that wants us to treat as lesser human beings those who are foreign-born, darker, skinned, non-christian, lgbtq . . . is not supportive of the community – unless you don’t coun’t these persons as part of the community.

      1. Melissa, I think maybe you misunderstood my point. What I am saying is I think many people became alienated from the DNC because they were shut down & automatically as labeled “racist,” uneducated and stupid for voting republican. Just as an example, there were people who lost their mom-n-pop business because they could no longer pay for Obamacare. It is unfair to immediately label such a person as “racist” because they wanted to repeal Obamacare or change it. (Not my experience personally, btw) I–a mother with 5 kids– did not qualify for Obamacare and went without health insurance for 3 years because I couldn’t afford it. Another example is many of my liberal friends who purport being inclusive have seriously contributed to gentrification and pushed people out of their homes or apartments they could previously afford. Those who have lost their homes/businesses by liberal policies and liberals themselves don’t feel that these policies or the DNC are “supportive of the community.” It is these people who are not the white supremacists the media portrays trump supporters to be.
        What I am simply suggesting is that Gabby allow some of these people a voice on her blog so we can all understand “the other side.” We will not be able to make any difference in this country by labeling. We need to understand why these people voted for Trump–what they thought they could gain or how their lives would improve–and how the democratic party can build bridges of understanding. I might be in the minority that simply doesn’t believe the majority of Republican voters are out to treat non-christians & foreigners etc as lesser. I believe THEIR EXPERIENCE during the Obama Era led them to think the Republican party had something to offer. It is these experiences we need to know about so we can reach these people politically.
        I am suggesting that if Gabby allows people who don’t agree with her a voice on her blog, she will be more inclusive. She doesn’t need to have people spouting off fake facts, but it would be interesting and helpful to understand the other side. If she only has people who agree with her in the comment section, than what’s the point of posting? Just to pat ourselves on the back?
        Finally, what I am suggesting is that I still believe the majority of Americans have the same goals and see many of the same areas of improvement. We need to come to consensus on what the goals are and what the real problems are we are dealing with including data and peoples’ experiences. We can’t do that if we don’t understand the other side.

        1. I’m totally open to hosting a discussion about living in “bubbles.” It’s been on my mind for awhile. So I love that idea.

          Regarding the idea of offering this platform to people who don’t agree with me politically, I have a few thoughts:

          1) I’m not opposed to it, and feel like I already do — both in the comment section, and in home tours. On home tours, I don’t ask political questions, but it’s often clear to me that the family we’re highlighting doesn’t see eye-to-eye with me politically. All that to say, I’m open.

          2) Is it someone who voted for Trump and now regrets it? That could be interesting. What changed their mind? What kind of candidate are they looking for now? Will they approach their vote differently this year?

          3) If they voted for Trump, and are still on board the Trump Train, I gotta say, I’m not interested at all. I follow quite a few strong, life-long conservatives on Twitter, who label themselves “NeverTrump,” and believe he has done permanent damage to our country and to the Republican Party. Several of them are convinced it’s unnecessary to listen to Trump Supporters, and also a waste of time. Here is a thread from Tom Nichols explaining why. (I should note: Tom was brutally critical of Obama when he was in office, and he hates Hillary too. And yes, he’s given up on Trump Supporters.)

          4) Personally, I’m over trying to “understand the Trump voter.” Been there, done that. Immediately after the election, there were dozens if not hundreds of articles where journalists and writers went to the heart of “Trump Country” and wrote compassionate profiles of the people there, why they voted the way they did, and how they feel about the country. The articles are still being written — I see several a week (along the lines of: their company is shutting down because of tariffs, but they’re standing by Trump; or her daughter-in-law was deported, but she doesn’t regret her Trump vote, here’s why…). I’ve read probably 30 different pieces, plus books like Hillbilly Elegy. Honestly, I feel like I have a good handle on why they felt compelled to vote Trump, and I feel I’ve done my part in trying to Understand The Trump Voter.

          But how about the Trump Voters understanding me? What articles are they reading to understand people who hate Trump? What books are they reading about people who don’t align with them politically? I ask because I have seen zero articles trying to capture the thoughts and feelings and background of non-Trump voters.

          Republicans have control of the government. They have the upper hand. Shouldn’t they be the ones reaching out with olive branches, trying to unite the country? If Democrats are out of power and the underdogs, why is it on them?

          5) I’m starting to think there aren’t that many Trump Supporters overall. Because many people are fleeing the Republican Party, some surveys put the number of diehard American Trump Fans at 19% of the population. Do we need to expend energy worrying about them? It’s true they are choosing to support policies that hurt themselves. And once in a while, I feel sorry for them and think of them compassionately. But then, I stop, because I feel my compassionate energy should really go to the people Trump is hurting instead, which is a much greater number of people.


          At the end of the day, I’d say that if I was approached by someone who doesn’t align with me politically, but sent me a great essay that I thought would help this community think in a new way, I’d certainly consider it. In the meantime, they are welcome to voice their thoughts in the comment section.

          1. Gabby, thanks for your kind response!
            1. Yes, you are always so gracious hosting home tours!
            2. It would be interesting. (But don’t feel the need to add more to your plate)
            3. Thanks for the Tom Nichols suggestion! I kinda liked Obama but I will check him out!
            4. I think you have done your research very well. You don’t need to do more. I think there are those who have not who assume that every person who voted Republican is a racist. I already described the kind of people I work with who in our interactions in the community are not racist, yet I was told they must be racist if they simply voted Republican. I HAVE met some super-pro-trumpers (wearing a sash and pins and all.) I know they are out there. And I have seen racism here, I’m not denying that. I just think some people would be less likely to criticize a political view if they understood it. Again, it’s not your responsibility to highlight the experiences of those who voted republican but I have noticed some readers immediately shut down an opposing view point in the comments who could probably benefit from a dose of understanding.
            Gabby, you are right that understanding needs to go both ways. I mean heck, yeah! I think the initial flurry of articles about the trump voter must have been in WTH? mode. Why do I put the onus on Democrats? Because they have the most to gain. I agree that the actual percentage of Trump supporters is probably small. I think there are many who feel partyless (I’m one). The incessant name-calling and hypocrisy is just..ugh!

            To anyone who accidentally thinks that Democrat politicians are above the likes of Trump, I recommend “Lady Bird and Lyndon” by Betty Boyd Caroli. I read it early in 2016, naively thinking there was no way someone like trump could get voted in. After reading this book, I realized it already had (minus the tweets). I had a horrific realization at the time (probably May 2016) that trump was going to get elected and I couldn’t sleep the whole night.

          2. Totally agree with all of this, especially #4!! I’ve said this many times. I have many extended family members who voted for the current president and while many have tried to convince me they aren’t racist not a single one has asked why his election and subsequent actions are so abhorrent to me.

            Also, trying to figure out how to respond to H’s comment below about LBJ. Yes, personally, LBJ was crude and a bully in many ways but his ultimate goal was to create a Great Society that benefitted all. He expanded Medicare and Medicaid; his War on Poverty helped elevate millions of Americans; he reformed immigration to allow more non-European immigrants; etc. The current president’s aims are in direct opposition so today we get boorish (to say the least) behavior and nothing good for the majority of Americans. I think this is another false equivalency.

          3. @ Bertie below:
            The reason I don’t think it is a false equivalency is because LBJ is a good example of people excusing bad behavior for what they think is the good end goal/goal of the political party. (and in my opinion his behavior was every bit as bad as trump’s and he bragged about it). It’s also my opinion that LBJ really had no big dream for any such Great Society, nor did he truly care for others’ well-being–he was only interested in his own political advancement and getting things done before the Republicans beat him to it. This too, IMO, is the same as trump. I really think he’s only interested in his own political advancement.
            Overall, what I’m saying is we’ve had some pretty corrupt and crappy politicians in the past from both political parties. We need to stop freaking out because we’ve lived through bad ones before. I do not support trump but I just think it’s our job as voters to demand much, much better of those who represent our country!
            Why do I insist people need to hear both sides? in summary, because I think people actually agree on more than they think. If we can agree on the WHAT, then we can compromise on the HOW. This core of people who actually agree is probably the majority of the population. I hope! But we need to get out of our bubbles to find out.

        2. H, there are members of my family, close and extended, that voted for Trump. I live in an area that was light on the Trump lawn signs and MAGA hats (but there were still some) and I think that’s because it’s not customary, not because we don’t have a mix of political views.

          If Trump had actually run a campaign based on policy, you might have a point about people thinking the Republicans had something to offer them that the Democrats did not. But the entire campaign was nationalistic rhetoric. There is no logic to picking the least-qualified candidate for the job. The Republican’s picked Trump because he appealed to peoples’ hate of “other”. Also, just a P.S. – gentrification is definitely a challenge where I live as well. However, picking the REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER was not going to make that better for the people being priced out of their neighborhoods. It’s kind of his thing.

          1. [This comment has been edited.]

            I wish candidates would run campaigns based on policy! Wouldn’t that be amazing! I just left the top slot blank when I voted but living in California of course I knew all our electoral votes would go for [Hillary Clinton]. I think it is interesting that you claim Republicans picked Trump because he “appealed to peoples’ hate of ‘other”” I can’t really imagine claiming to know other people’s motives, but I see that a lot in my liberal friends and relatives. I’ve even had people tell me, “Well, you believe….” When, in fact I’ve never even heard of what I supposedly believe in. I wonder where they get their news. I guess Socal is different because here the liberals I know personally are upper middle class whites and the Trump supporters are not. So maybe they weren’t voting for him out of their ‘hate for others’?

            And of course, it is Gabby’s beautiful blog so she should moderate it however she feels comfortable. I think it would be really strange to not share home tours of someone because their politics were different. It just doesn’t seem tolerant at all.
            Really glad to see people on both sides who want to engage.

            1. Hi Kimberley. I edited your comment. You are welcome to dislike (or even hate) any political candidate, but please don’t use this comment section to spread misinformation.

              And there’s no need to accuse Melissa of making assumptions about other people’s motives. There’s research on this, and the data says Melissa is right — economic anxiety didn’t make people vote Trump, racism did. Perhaps other research will come out contradicting this, but at the moment, I think it’s the most current info we have. So it’s possible your liberal friends and relatives are just familiar with the current research.

              You might also be curious to know that based on data, education, not income, predicted who would vote for Trump. And exit polls showed that overall, white and wealthy people gave the victory to Trump. Anecdotally, my experience in Southern California is different from yours — I know many wealthy Mormons in Southern California (there’s a big Mormon population there), and the bulk of them voted for Trump. Though really, there’s no need for either of us to rely on anecdotes — I’m sure we could find data on the socio-economic status of Trump voters in SoCal if we spent a few minutes on Google.

  36. Facts are so important and your blog is amazing, your perspective is so different to mine but you are so open about your background. I love it.

  37. Katie Buttram

    If I accidentally found myself having a larger than average “voice” in these times, I don’t know exactly what I’d do. But. I would hope it would be close to what you have done and continue to do. Don’t shy away from the hard conversations. Make them true conversations. But at the same time- don’t perpetuate the hate, the fear, the discrimination, the lies. Perpetuate the light and the love. And be as intentional as possible about making your own life an example of that. You do that Gabby. And you are human too. You make mistakes. But that’s part of being so open and so vulnerable. You are brave. And to echo an earlier commenter. A badass. Go on with your badass self!

  38. I’ll be honest and it makes me sound awful but maybe it will help put things in perspective: when I first found your blog, many years ago, I fell in love at first sight. I clicked through dozens of articles and then, after about an hour of devouring your posts, I discovered you are a Morman, and I was totally disappointed, for reasons I don’t even understand. I told myself “well, she must be a bad Mormon” to explain how much I related to you. As I continued to read it was clear l had a lot of misconceptions about Mormonism, and religions in general. You are 100% responsible for opening my mind, Gabby. If that’s not the point of the written word then I don’t know what is. So, please keep it up. Keep it all up. And I am so sorry. And Thank You.

  39. This is yout blog and you are entitled to your opinions. I respect your family size and the educational diversity of your family. Your are privledged through your socioeconomic status, and more acknowledgement of that would be great to see. Not sure how much real exposure you have to a lot of things on the lower economic scale. Loved the home tour of subsidized housing.

    1. I’d say I was familiar with the lower economic scale until about 2010 when we had 5 very young children, lived in the most expensive area of the country, and Ben Blair had just finished grad school. At that point we both started working full-time and things began to change. But yes, I’ve been less familiar since then.

  40. I will start by saying I haven’t had the chance to read through all of the comments on this post – you have an engaged readership for sure! But I do have a few points I’d like to share and I apologize if I am redundant.

    First and briefly, I echo those who look forward to your current event posts. I can see in each word you choose how much thought and heart go into every idea being shared, and I feel we can all benefit from that example of introspection and care.

    Secondly, your question brought to mind two quotes that I have seen sprinkled throughout the internet recently:
    – “My fave tutor at uni had a great journalism 101 lesson: ‘If someone says it’s raining & another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out of the f**king window and find out which is true.'” – @Klujypop on twitter
    – “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” – Desmond Tutu

    Some might argue that you’re not a journalist, but as a person seeking truth and to create a community of thoughtful discussion, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting a standard of fact as part of that community. And I know not every issue is about oppression, but it certainly seems like many of the things we grapple with today are. As someone above said, “avoiding politics” is a privilege for those who are not having their families, safety, health, or livelihoods impacted by the policies and decisions we’re discussing every day. I’m a very dull U.S.-born, well-off, educated, straight white woman in a committed relationship with good employer-provided insurance. I’m unlikely to have my child taken from me, need an abortion, lose my insurance, be discriminated against in my housing, be harassed because of how I look, have my marriage challenged. But I should damn well care about those things anyway.

    1. “I’m unlikely to have my child taken from me, need an abortion, lose my insurance, be discriminated against in my housing, be harassed because of how I look, have my marriage challenged. But I should damn well care about those things anyway.”

      YES to all of this.

      And I love the Journalism 101 example.

  41. I feel the need to chime in too! Yes, please keep doing what you do! Like others here, your blog is one of the few places where I read the comments because most people are respectful and you step in when they are not.

    I have been confused when I hear people complaining about not being able to share their opinions. I feel like it is only people who don’t have the opinions based on fact who say that because they get angry when facts are thrown at them! Which is crazy!!

    For example, I always found it healthy to hear both sides of pro-life vs pro choice. I am pro choice, but I can easily see why someone is pro-life! It is because I think most people who are pro life are coming from a place of love and respect, so it is easy to respect their opinion. And conversely, I hope that they also see that I’m coming from a place of love and respect.

    However, I recently talked to someone who was defending Trump’s policy to separate families and although we had a respectful conversation, I had to bite my tongue because he was using false information and was ignoring facts and morality to defend his position. That is hard to respect and listen to.

  42. Lizzi Brosseau

    I work for a public media organization and our rule about comments on social media posts has been that if the comments aren’t furthering the conversation, and if they are hateful and vulgar, they get deleted.

    We recently had a workshop with YouTuber’s and it was interesting to see how much further people who are very active on the internet take the seriousness of online conversation. As a YouTuber you can keep a running list of banned words from your video comments- so for example, female YouTube personalities often list “voice” and “hair” as banned words, because they absolutely will get comments about their voice and hair, and neither of those things have anything to do with the content they are creating. They just won’t put up with comments that are extraneous and aren’t helping build a positive online community.

    It made me glad to see that. To me, that is a clear sign that we are starting to take our online interactions more seriously. If you feel that your philosophy of moderation is creating a more positive online community among your followers, then I think you’re on the right track.

  43. Gabby, I have always thought (and now more than ever) that you are MASTERFUL at handling the Comments section and navigating tricky, sensitive topics with intelligence and grace.

    As someone who has written online for 8+ years, I have seen the kind of garbage comments that get written on all sorts of platforms: the bigger the platform, the more hateful comments seem to crop up. I’ve only written in the home/garden sphere, and *still* the hateful comments come up on home tours, about green building practices, you name it, there are haters out there who are sitting anonymously at home firing off mean words without any thought as to how those words will make the author or subject of the piece feel.

    And that’s just home design! Entering the conversation about political issues today feels like walking through a minefield.

    So to circle back to your question, I think as readers we need and rely on you to use your best judgment about which comments/commenters need to go. I love reading comments from those with differences of opinion — I honestly do. I listen to the Pantsuit Politics podcast (hosted by 2 women from opposite sides of the political spectrum) for the same reason: because I KNOW deep in my heart that what our country needs is more listening.

    But there is a line, and I think it’s pretty obvious when that line is being crossed: Commenters saying hateful things, or spreading patently false information is not OK. It’s just not.

    1. Isn’t it shocking? The comments on even benign posts can be wretched sometimes. From what I can tell, the comments are worse if the site feels somewhat anonymous, you know? One of my gun control posts was shared on Quora, and within the week I received over 200 vile comments, all from men who were coming to Design Mom for the first time, and had no context for what this site or community is. The comments were awful. Just the worst. I deleted every single one without hesitation or an ounce of guilt.

      And thanks for the Pantsuit Politics Podcast recommendation. It sounds awesome.

      1. Oh my gosh, please do check out Pantsuit Politics if you haven’t heard it yet! Sarah from the left and Beth from the right are definitely showing us all how it’s done. I feel like I should note that while Beth is a catholic and a republican, she is decidedly anti Trump. But that doesn’t mean they agree on everything – far from it! You can find them here (or on iTunes, etc).

  44. I deeply admire that you are willing to discuss sensitive topics and advocate for equality, justice, and human rights in these weird political times. Your posts are measured, thoughtful, and honest, and I’m so glad to read your thoughts on some of these issues. While I also appreciate that many people value the comments and community here, THIS IS YOUR SITE and YOUR VOICE. Keep fighting the good fight for truth.

  45. Thank you Gabby for keeping your voice strong and not being willing to make your platform an open site for lies and disinformation. Facebook is already doing that (and so is Twitter) – no need to join them and add to the misinformation they perpetuate by not policing the bad actors.

    You created Design Mom and nurtured its sense of community. If your readers wanted to spend their days in the bowels of Infowars they could go there. Instead we come here because you have created a space for thoughtful, intellectual and creative dialogue rooted in empathy. And if that’s what you want to continue to do, there’s no room for the ethical hypocrisy, dubious moral equivocation, intellectual dishonesty, disinformation and the utter lack of compassion for humanity that some people feel entitled to shout anywhere they want (including your sites) under the guise of free speech. No one is free to speak on your platform without your consent and approval. And to maintain the culture you’ve carefully crafted, it should stay that way.

    Some readers may find themselves experiencing cognitive dissonance because they respect you but prescribe to different political views. You can engage in dialogue if and when you choose, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you don’t have to each an every time someone demands it of you.

    Thank you Gabby, for being you!

    1. “You can engage in dialogue if and when you choose, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you don’t have to each an every time someone demands it of you.”

      Thanks for saying this.

  46. Just want to say I think how you are navigating is great and I continue to be a devoted follower of your blog. And can i say I am super excited for the podcast. Lolly

  47. This makes so much sense to me… and this is what keeps me here. With all that concerns the world these days, I find myself very disappointed by other bloggers who don’t speak out more… who stay silent and don’t take an active position on certain topics. You should be extremely proud of the integrity of your work and your ability to bring people together. BRAVO. Please keep doing what you’re doing! <3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top