When is it worth the time to say "no"?

By on Nov 7th

First I was like…and then I was all!


As you might imagine, we get a lot of submissions for Offbeat Bride. The site's editors, Megan and Catherine (aka Superman), deal with a steady flow of beauty into their inboxes, via all the submission channels described on this page: email submission forms, our Flickr pool, Two Bright Lights, posts tagged on the Tribe, etc. There are a LOT of ways to submit content to Offbeat Bride, all of which have been set up to keep the at-times-overwhelming flow of content organized, and help to save everyone time ("everyone" includes the submitter themselves!).

Then, of course, there are the people who ignore the guidelines on the submission page and do their own thing. Here's just one recent example of many failed submissions that have dropped into my inbox:

  • First thing to note: this submission was emailed directly to me, rather than going through the channels outlined on our submission page. As publisher, I don't process submissions — the editors of Offbeat Bride do that. By emailing me directly, this vendor failed to get the material into the right hands.
  • The email had an enormous .zip file of images attached, clogging up my inbox and bandwidth with a huge file I hadn't requested.
  • Worst, the content submitted was material that our submission page makes it clear we do not feature.

So basically, this was a fail on all counts: didn't follow our submission process, exercised bad email etiquette, and the final nail in the coffin: the content wasn't even appropriate for our site. (I wish I could say this is an uncommon occurrence, but it's not. This particular vendor is just the latest of many.)

The email came in on my smartphone while I was at the park with my family, and I immediately launched into a tirade about it to my husband.

"People can't follow instructions!" I hollered. "The submission page makes everything pretty clear, and when someone blatantly chooses not to follow the guidelines, and then EVEN WORSE sends something that we say very clearly we don't feature!? It's just a mega FAIL."

"Are you going to write back?" my husband asked, ever patient with my work rants.

"Oh, that's the worst part," I said. "The submitter asked me for feedback! 'I'd love to know what you think!' they said — but that's a waste of my time. I'm not going to write back to just to tell them that they fucked up three different ways!"

My husband was of the opinion that when someone fails that hard, it's valuable feedback to let them know.

"But why would I waste my time AND their time basically saying 'No, you suck — and here's why?' It hurts their feelings, and wastes my time!"

"Uh, but you're spending time right now talking about it," my husband pointed out, which was a good point. I wrote the submitter back, gently explaining the ways in which the submission wasn't good.

And now I'm spending even more time to ask you all:

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