I was so excited a couple years ago when I got my Ravelry invite. We had to wait weeks back then to get in, but once you were in it was like a knitter's heaven with access to patterns, yarns, finished items, and new friends to meet.
Thinking back, I guess my first clue should've been the personal profile page. It had all the typical questions: birthdate, years knitting, kids, pets, favorite curse word. Wait... that's not so typical. I blinked and left it blank... but in hindsight, it set a tone for the direction the site was heading. (Now, to be honest, that's not to say that I don't have a favorite curse word... I just try not to use it.)
Then came the day a few weeks later when my friend and I got our new t-shirts with the Rav motto, "Where my stitches at?" printed across the front. Fortunately, my friend's husband caught the derogatory play on words before we wore them anywhere and we were able to re-sell them immediately since everyone was dying to have them. But it occurs to me now that many women our age don't realize where that phrase comes from or how crude it is. (eta: for those who have asked, replace the "st" in stitches with "b"... nice, huh?)
Over time, I started noticing increasingly indecent avatars and it got to the point I couldn't go on the site with my boys sitting near me (you know... cracks and such). Then I started noticing groups that, based on language alone should be at the very least R-rated... and all this on a fiber site that was open to users as young as 12. All of this was became increasingly concerning so I began to avoid most of the groups and use it for the knitting resources.
Jumping ahead, last August or so, I joined a group for McCain supporters and subsequently became a moderator of the group. I'm not going to go into any details except to say that a lot of people did not like us being there and eventually managed to cause enough grief that, last month, Casey (the site owner) shut down our group (the first and only group to ever be shut down on Ravelry) and announced that he had to do so because we, the moderators, were doing a poor job. This was a lie, but I'll refer you to my friend EllieJane, who founded our group, if you want to hear our side of the story.
Needless to say we were hurt and angry, and I ended up leaving Ravelry (which you should know is almost impossible to do... and if you do get Casey to remove your account, all of your projects, stash, patterns, and posts still remain... fortunately I removed mine in advance).
The good news is that we were very blessed to have a member who was able to set up a private board off-site for us sometime ago so we could stick together as friends. However, this morning Ravelry decided to suspend the accounts of all members of our private board, (yes... the off-site board as he felt even it's existence caused him trouble) as well as any friends or family members on Ravelry who we might have shared a computer with at some point. There are more I'm sure based on the people who were former members of our group who have contacted me today to see if I knew what was going on. So I'm talking about 100 to possibly 400 people in all.
I never intended on saying anything about this until today. But now, beyond my reputation, Ravelry has now hurt, angered and embarrassed a very large group of people who I consider my friends. So I share this for all of them.
PS... The highlight of my day was stopping by a popular LYS in Burbank only to overhear two women complaining about the vulgarity and poor behavior allowed on Ravelry. I didn't say anything, but I did linger a few moments longer to soak up the complaints like music to my ears.
ETA: If you're on Ravelry, you should also know that there is a group of about 2000+ that exists solely for the purpose of seeking out drama, tension, disputes, or other things they find amusing among the Ravelry forums so they can link to the "amusing" thread and make fun of people behind their back. Since, according to my blogstats, they are linking to my blog through their own off-site board, I thought I should mention them too. Casey and Jess are well aware of their existence yet do not consider their behavior to be a problem at all. Just saying.