When it comes to negativity in travel blogging the general consensus seems to be that you should cast negative influences into the blogging wilderness – without them the world of travel blogging would be a happier, less critical place.
I’m sure it would. But would it be real?
Sometimes when I read posts and comments about travel bloggers being nice to each other all of the time I get a vision of one of those Nirvana worlds on Star Trek (the original) where predominantly white, blond-haired people skip around with harps, singing and smiling all the time; a perfect world where there is no anger, confrontation, or questioning of any kind.
I just don’t buy it. For a start criticism is good. I don’t mean abusive, school yard stuff; I mean constructive criticism, the kind that is recognised as good business practice and which forms an important part of man management skills. And which ultimately leads to people being better at whatever they do. But in some circles, mention the C word and the crucifixes are metaphorically brandished, even when it’s got a nice helpful constructive before it.
But that’s a whole other post. This one is more about why some travel bloggers have made me behave in a negative fashion.
I’ve never met a fellow travel blogger that I didn’t like… a lot. But that doesn’t mean there are others out there who are hiding behind a guise, who aren’t quite what they seem.
All too often I stumble across one of these and sometimes I get negative. These are some examples.
The Poor Researcher
A blog about a destination I know very well was peppered with seriously wrong information. Normally I wouldn’t leave negative comments but because the information was so incorrect and misleading, I couldn’t let this one pass. The blogger replied to my comment pointing this out, but did so by sticking to their badly researched guns. After a few words were bandied about it turned out that their source had been a dodgy website in the first place. They had never actually been to the destination they were writing so ‘knowledgeably’ about. It was a sponsored post.
It was a negative comment for sure, but good travel bloggers need good research skills, especially if they’re going to pocket a pretty penny for their work. This sort of mercenary amateurish behaviour shouldn’t be what travel blogging is about.
I stumbled across another sponsored post from yet another blogger who ‘loves to travel and tell it how it is’; except what they were telling it how it was was lifted directly from one of our websites (it was very niche stuff, so easy to identify) and given the barest of jiggles. It wasn’t quite plagiarism but it was as close as you could get without it being an actual cut and paste job. They also gave away the fact that they had no idea about the place they were writing about by making a geographical howler of epic proportions.
Is it wrong to get negative on someone who uses your material, makes shocking errors… and takes money for it?
The final example is the worst in my book. The text in a blog about a place we’d just visited seemed very familiar. So familiar in fact that blogger must have been at the exact same spot, at the exact same time, doing the exact same thing and then using the exact same words to describe their experience. Fantastic coincidence eh?
I’m not in the game of embarrassing people in public even if what they’ve done is blatantly steal from us, so an assertive but polite email was sent. Did the blogger acknowledge it? Did they hell. But they did change the text pronto.
As it turned out this was also a sponsored post. Not only did this blogger steal our words, they took money for doing so.
The thing is, in those perfect Star Trek worlds where everyone loved each other, you always knew that something wasn’t quite right in their Gardens of Eden. The world just isn’t like that; people aren’t like that.
Most people are good with honest motives but anyone who expects everyone to skip around singing ‘La La La‘ all the time needs to wake up and smell the coffee. There’s a damn good reason why some people would like to completely do away with negativity.
Personally, I much prefer a world that is populated by a mix of Captain Kirks, McCoys, Scottys, Spocks, Uhuras, Sulus and Chekovs.
A world where people have similar principles but don’t always agree just seems a far healthier state of affairs to me.