Picture this: you’ve decided to push the boat out and cook something new. You check the cupboards to see what ingredients you already have lying around and find a lone can of chickpeas. You google “chickpea recipes” and are met with hundreds of options. From Morrocan tagines, to Indian curries, to classic hummus, to homemade falafels, to vegan salads, the list is endless. When you finally find a recipe you like the sound of, you click… only to be met with some obscure food blogger’s life story.
Before you can actually access anything like useful instructions, you must learn what she ate on her first date with her now-husband, the menu at their wedding, her pregnancy cravings, the trials and tribulations of weaning her child onto solids, and finally, (as the tangent leads us back to the task at hand) what her go-to chickpea-based busy worknight family-friendly meal is.
Exhausted yet? We’ve not even broached the subject of those ridiculously irrelevant pop-up ads that assault your vision each time your scroll past the next instalment of chickpea-related autobiography. Not to mention the embedded links to the author’s Youtube channel, ebook, and Instagram.
For anyone who loves to try out new recipes, this is relatable, weekly irritation. Admittedly, something of a ‘first-world problem’, this minor issue was just begging to be fixed by someone with the tech know-how. Apparently, Tom Redman shared my view. He is the founder of ‘Recipeasly’, an online platform designed to compile recipes from across the internet all in one helpful and easy to access place, while cutting out ads and those unnecessary background stories.
Sounds like a great solution, right? Wrong.
The website was taken down by its founder only hours after its launch earlier this month, after managing to ‘stir up’ (pun intended) internet-wide controversy from food bloggers and recipe-users alike in a matter of minutes. So, what are the issues?
Content creators took offense at the concept and format, accusing its founder of breaching copyright and creative commons licensing rights, as well as endangering the jobs of those who rely on the industry by redirecting revenue out of their hands.
Despite taking the site down and recognising that the concept had “missed the mark”, Tom was quick to clarify that Recipeasly in fact drives traffic to blog sites in the way it operates, rather than bypassing them altogether as many had assumed. It worked by compiling recipes as listed links, the full recipe only becoming visible to those who clicked to import it, essentially transferring the relevant text from the original blog onto the user’s computer. In this sense, the website did abide by copyright laws, and wasn’t “stealing content”, as accused.
In reality, Recipeasly’s major sin was its marketing failure. As Tom Redman commented in his apology, “We have nothing but respect and admiration for the time, money, effort and years that go into creating great recipes & websites. We don’t want to minimize your results for that hard work and we’ve built Recipeasly carefully to make sure this doesn’t happen […] Clearly, how we’re marketing Recipeasly doesn’t demonstrate that respect at all”.
Perhaps the real lesson to be learned here is wariness around the trigger-happy nature of ‘cancel-culture’, of which food blogging seems to be only the latest victim? While some do subscribe to food blogs for the relatable writing style, humorous and heart-wrenching back stories, a platform like Recipeasly does nothing to prevent those types of audiences from continuing to do so.
At the end of the day, I sympathise with one twitter-user who summed up her attitude by saying, “We all hate shifting through lifestyle guru stuff to see if we need one egg or two”. The reality is, with the lifestyles we lead, most people don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to read a novel before they cook, especially if long waits make you as hangry as me.
image: OldMermaid via Pixabay