Saturday, October 5, 2013

An open letter to Renie Revin: Is IndiBlogger on the decline?

Top post on, the community of Indian Bloggers

Dear Renie,

Firstly, let me make it absolutely clear that I am in complete love with this forum and the entire team of IndiBlogger. The near 3-year association which I have enjoyed with IndiBlogger and with the fellow co-bloggers has helped me grow as a writer and has lifted me out of my gloomy personal malaise on several occasions. So much so that, I consider everybody out here as a part of my extended family and an essential ingredient of my social life.

So, it is with a sincere filial concern that I pen this letter to bring a vital point to your notice. One of the major points of discussion in my recent rendezvous with some fellow bloggers was the stark decline of IndiBlogger. Prima facie, this blogging forum has grown over the years and is the undisputable king of blogging networks in India. However, of late, it has permitted itself to get corporatized. It is an act which may have strengthened and cemented the organization’s hold as a powerhouse entity, but it has eroded the element of personal touch for which it became so beloved in the first place.

This is evident from a chain of trifle events. The responses to complaints/requests are not quick anymore, but have got more languid with that element of corporate formality kicking in.  The prizes and hampers are not being dispatched immediately and there is a lapse on the part of IndiBlogger to give out a personal intimation to bloggers about the same. As far as winnings are concerned, there is this shadow of uncertainty in every blogger’s mind. We all know that the hampers shall arrive, but nobody knows when exactly.

Some fellow bloggers also pointed out how the threads and chats are being dominated by just a few popular faces. This is in stark contrast to the bygone era when the involvement in such threads was much more universal.

Then there is the ‘book review’ section where the efficacy of the team has got compromised. A number of bloggers had applied to review certain books. But they were not intimated about whether or not they had been chosen to review the book. Even after several weeks, the particular segment says, ‘You have applied to review this book’, with no hint whatsoever as to whether the application still holds or has it got expired.

One of the major blunders (I’m using the word ‘blunder’ for lack of a better word) made by IndiBlogger was the way in which the Harper Collins’ ‘Get Published’ contest was handled. The hushed announcement of winners, the absence of transparency and the pruning down of winners from the promised 25 to just 10 irked nearly all the participants. Again, it was a sign that IndiBlogger was allowing the corporate giants to dictate the proceedings. This is certainly not in congruity with the motto and objective of IndiBlogger which, as such, is to promote blogging and to nourish the amateur (and unpublished) writers.

So, when IndiBlogger recently announced its IBL award thingy, several bloggers remained unenthusiastic about the program for they felt (may be wrongly so) that the awards may be governed by the popularity of bloggers, and not necessarily on the merit factor.

Overall, though IndiBlogger has been going great guns, it is becoming more of a corporate guardian than the personal friend it once was. Here I wish and hope that you will see to this matter and ensure that we have that good, old friend back with us.

Yours faithfully (and always so)
Ritesh Agarwal


  1. Nice Letter Ritesh..Even I feel the same way..But as they say,to hold the space strongly Corporate Guardian as you mention has to be there....

    1. Yes, but one feels that the corporate guardian must not eclipse the personal friend

  2. Wow a lot of the points I feel so too. I didn't know that my opinion was widely shared!


    1. Well, the most clandestine feelings are the ones which are most widely shared

  3. Hey Rit,
    I love Indiblogger and really don't have any issues with the way they work but yes! The points you have stated are in some or other way very true! Indiblogger is indeedloosing its hold...

    1. Even i love IndiBlogger....I am not pressing allegations. It is just something which I feel should be pointed out before it's too late

  4. Ritesh I would disagree on the mishandling part. I think the Inditeam has nothing to do with the organisers of the contests (companies) it just acts as a facilitator. Regarding the books and all IDK.

  5. obviously commercialization does make it loose its charm! but it is important to survive...

    awards thing well i didnt nominate still thought some winners were deserveing while othere were normal blogs winning!....

    btw about contest inditeam needs to buck up and take a tough stand with the organizers. Making it clear that they will follow all terms n conditions mentioned

    1. Like i said, I do not bear any personal grudge against the IndiBlogger. I am too much in love with the forum to hate it. It's just a wakeup call which i felt i should mete out

  6. Hi Ritesh,

    What I admire about your letter is:
    1. It's genuine honesty. Your love for IndiBlogger shows, as does our dependence on it for varied reasons. That you cared to write a post on your viewpoint goes to show how seriously you take this blogging forum.
    2. By and large, most users, including me, will agree with most of the points you have up there.
    So, well done for that.

    However, I slightly differ with your approach. Do you think it was necessary to write an 'open letter' to Renie, post it on your blog, rather than send him a mail? What this has done is garnered support for your points, created an 'I agree' movement of sorts, without even knowing Renie's side of the story. I do think this public approach misses exactly what you miss in ImdiBlogger - The Personal Touch.

    I talk from experience. I wrote a long IndiMail to Renie recently on how I do not like the idea of contest date extensions. I wanted to know his side of the story, as founder-owner-etc of IB, and what do you have? I got an instant reply from him detailing the reasons and telling me the limitations they, as a site, have to work under. And I was happily convinced. Point being, IB DOES work on a personal level, still.

    I appreciate your letter. I, by-and-large, agree with and understand the points you make so politely. However, I do not agree with your approach. But then, that is just my view point. :)

  7. Well, dissent in any form must always be welcomed... however, not every person who comes out openly with his/her griviences does so because of love. There are opponents who do this all the time... and there are those who simply want to do it for reasons other than good intent.

    I'm not sure what your real intent is... I only hope it is to make Indiblogger better.

    You've objected to corporatisation, complaint redressal, forum-thread-domination, contest and sponsor handling, and Indi Awards.

    All these points of concern are vital and, I'm sure, Indiblogger staff keeps a hawk's eye on their progression. But let me address them one by one.

    If delay in sending prizes and hampers is how you relate everything to a corporate, it is rather unfair, isn't it, to corporates. Corporates are forever brain-storming to transform work platforms into able-bodied work-horses and this is exactly what indi is trying to do. Delays aren't so much a gift from corporates but from a sarkari mindset... or plain lethargy. So far as reply to any query is concerned, I've always got one... from renie, if I wrote to him. There are times when I've also called him up to voice a concern, and got my concern addressed adequately.

    Come on , Ritesh... there is nothing called forum domination. You be active on indiforum and you'll start getting replies and you'll be in the centre of these online chit-chats. Though this will depend a lot on how bright your comments are... or how inspiring... or simply how stupid! You can choose to be at any point of the intelligence spectrum and get a deservinf response. Let us take the example of comments on posts... there are some bloggers who get hordes of readers even for inane posts... well, it is their day, let them bask in the sunshine.

    Even I don't agree with all the judgements in all the contests... but then who am I to comment upon the sensitivity and preference of the judges? After all, I participate not just with an intent to win... I also do it becasue i love writing on topics that actually rear up and challenge my skills! I enjoy participating. Do that and you'll forget all this rant about contest handling.

    Indiawards is a nice thing to have been initiated. All the deserving bloggers surely didn't get an award... but then there is always a next time, or some other award to yearn for, innit?

    One last thing, Ritesh... what you have done requires one to be courageous, so don't worry. I'm sure the right sort of people will read your post and the right sort of action will be initiated soon enough.

    Arvind Passey

  8. Interesting points, Ritesh. I do agree with you on your concern over excessive corporatization (if that is even a word!) at IndiBlogger. But, perhaps that's the price one needs to pay to run a blogging platform of this scale.

  9. Ritesh! I have voiced a few concerns myself on the Indiforum - that Harper-Collins contest for one. BUT I think there are some limitations on what Indiblogger can be realistically expected to do. Clout with corporates is limited and, thus, if there are any dichotomies about winners etc. it is tough to be blaming Indiblogger for that. End of the day, they do need revenues to keep the platform going and are dependent on the corporates for the same.

    Similarly, the Forum cannot be policed and, if a few, in any way make it impossible for others to participate (Not that I know of any such thing since I have been totally inactive on the forums. I am assuming that such is the purport of your complaint) THAT again is something that Indiblogger cannot control without appearing to be outright stifling free communication UNLESS people are indulging in flaming. As far as I have seen, Indiblogger has been by far the most transparent in dealing with bloggers to the extent that they keep the doors and the forum open even to vocal dissent with their policies and procedures.

    As for the IBA and popularity being a decider - well, what did anyone really expect? Beyond a point it is tough to assess relative merit of blogs and the only option is to go the "Vox Populi Vox Dei" route. No need for heartburn there.

    1. Hehe true....these opinions in my post are not necessarily mine, but a reproduction of the discussion that i happened to be a part of

  10. the negatives well pointed out. all i can say this one is much needed wake up call to our beloved Indi before it loses its shine.. good one rats..

  11. Get published contest irked me too ., I posted a huge thread on indi too !
    u brought up all relevant points and spoke on behalf of many
    i hope situation changes but m losing hope witheach passing day :(

  12. Hey Afshan....hope things get better.....


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