Is Scottish Roundup sexist?

And other questions about Scottish Roundup

This week Scottish Roundup has come in for criticism from Slutty McWhore, who has basically accused the website of being sexist. There were other comments on last week’s roundup, which was written by Anne McLaughlin (aka Indygal).

The Devil’s Kitchen added his thoughts on his blog. The other main editor of Scottish Roundup, Will P, responded to the comments on his blog. Slutty McWhore added more comments on Will P’s blog.

Coincidentally, there were some other comments about different aspects. As I am the person who started Scottish Roundup a year ago, I feel as though I should offer an explanation.

It all started a few months ago when Indygal sent us an email asking why her blog wasn’t featured often. The email included a tongue-in-cheek comment about how few female bloggers are featured in Scottish Roundup.

Will and I discussed the email. While we thought it wasn’t a fair criticism, we decided it would be a good idea to to ask Indygal if she would like to be a guest editor. We suggested that, if she wanted, she could do a special roundup focussing on woman bloggers.

Indygal fully intended to do that. But despite having plenty of time to prepare for it, and having spent the entire day writing the post, she decided that there simply wasn’t enough material to justify it. Instead, Indygal wrote a normal roundup followed by a comparison of the styles of female and male bloggers.

I am not sure that Slutty McWhore’s criticisms are justified. It is true that Scottish Roundup tends to contain more posts from males than females. But this is because more males than females blog, so this is inevitable.

Incidentally, contrary to Indygal’s claim, there has not been any week where no females were featured — not as far as I know anyway (it’s hardly as if I keep count). The week Indygal sent the email the roundup in fact contained one post by a female. Is that enough? Probably not.

But posts are included on merit only. We are not interested in box ticking. Scottish Roundup is designed to highlight the best of Scottish blogging. This is what we try to do every week. No other factor is taken into account, and that is the way it should be.

I don’t care about the gender of the blogger, just as long as the post is good. If, one week, not so many women are featured in the roundup, it is simply because their posts haven’t caught our eye. And — this is an important point — it means that they haven’t caught anyone else’s eye either.

It should also be remembered that there is the opportunity for people to nominate their own posts. Indeed, we are constantly begging people to nominate posts, because we cannot reasonably expected to keep on top of the entire Scottish blogosphere.

While I can’t speak for the other editors, when I am in the hot seat any nominated posts are guaranteed to make it into the roundup (unless the site’s contents are utterly abhorrent). Guest editors are always encouraged to include any nominations.

I have gone out of my way to make sure that it is as easy as possible to nominate posts via a variety of methods: email, Delicious or via the very simple form that appears on every page at the Scottish Roundup blog. I did not do all of this for fun.

At the end of the day, if you think we are not featuring enough of X, Y or Z, we can not be to blame for that if you didn’t nominate it. Slutty McWhore accuses this of being us taking a “passive stance”. But speaking for myself I could hardly be more active in this regard. I spend hours every week trawling the blogosphere deciding what to include in the Roundup. I can’t be expected to do even more, particularly if you are intent on not doing anything to make my job easier.

Slutty McWhore tries to make suggestions as to how to make Scottish Roundup “attractive” to women. But I am not interested in making Scottish Roundup more “attractive” to women. I am only interested in highlighting the best of the blogosphere. The only audience we are hoping for is an audience of people interested in Scottish blogs, whether they be female, male, or whatever.

Incidentally, there is some irony in the fact that Slutty McWhore’s suggestion was to have a “Women’s week”. This is precisely what was attempted on Sunday, and it blew up in our faces. So, thanks for the suggestion, but no, not again. Not after the way you reacted to it.

Slutty McWhore also suggests that we should broaden our definition of what is “political”. But we already have a very open policy as to what can be included. Scottish Roundup is mainly focused on politics, but not exclusively. Posts of all kinds are accepted. Sure, there is a slant towards politics. But if you think we have the balance wrong, the answer comes back to the nomination form. If you see something good, nominate it! Then it will be included.

I am always worried that it looks as though Scottish Roundup includes the same blogs over and over again. I am sorry that Slutty McWhore was left with the false impression that the vast majority of bloggers featured in Scottish Roundup know each other in the real world. This isn’t true. I have never met a single other blogger in my life.

But there are only so many blogs that I can keep up with (I am already subscribed to around 100 Scottish blogs — all are in with a shout of being featured). If you think Scottish Roundup looks too cliquey or something like that, I once again have to point you in the direction of the nomination form.

One of the reasons why we have guest bloggers is to ensure that a variety of viewpoints and styles are featured in Scottish Roundup. We invite bloggers of all stripes to be a guest editor. Slutty McWhore was under the impression that Indygal was the first female guest editor, but this is not true. In fact, our second ever guest editor was a woman, so there has been a female presence on Scottish Roundup since the earliest days.

Once again, this isn’t a box ticking exercise. There have only been so many weeks since Scottish Roundup began. Inevitably, some “types” of bloggers have not been invited yet, including some very popular ones. But we will get round to it. Once again, we welcome suggestions for guest editors, but of course we will only choose people if we think they will do a good job at it.

There is another point that has come up in the past few days. Ontheoutsidelookingin and Mike Power both expressed their surprise at being included in the roundup.

As I said above, we are really liberal about what can be included. In fact, you only have to meet one of the following three criteria:

  1. Live in Scotland
  2. Come from Scotland
  3. Blog about Scotland

There are no other criteria. It doesn’t have to be about politics, you don’t have to be a male and it doesn’t even have to be a blog.

Whenever I say “blog” in relation to Scottish Roundup, I am using the word loosely to capture the entire concept of Web 2.0 and citizen journalism. We are eager to incorporate all sorts of content — YouTube videos, podcasts, community sites, message boards, wikis, whatever.

That is part of the reason why the word “Blogging” was removed from the name of the site. “Scottish Roundup” is not a very descriptive name, so I’ve always wondered if it was a mistake or if the name should be changed back. As usual, feedback on that is very welcome.

Once again, we can only do this if you nominate things. Please do let us know any old way you want about anything that you find interesting and fulfils the really loose criteria.


  1. In this comment I will essentially say what I nearly said in your recent “top Scottish bloggers” post, which is that there generally appears to be an imbalance of male and female Scottish bloggers, however, this is an issue that seems to be replicated across the blogging world (and in real life, too!): the female voice/content is less “respected”.

    Think about all of the ‘famous’ blogs you know, and consider how many of those are female. Gina Trapani from Lifehacker, Dooce, and Belle deJour are the only ones that rush straight to my just-woken-up mind. Two of those probably gained their popularity from writing about sex, one writes about general geekiness, which is mostly male domain on the internet.

    Specifically looking at Scotland, the type of blogging that’s dominant is political blogging: you can’t get past that. Look for a Scottish blog, and woo: an SNP/Labour/Conservative candidate in Weetoun sneezed! That’s not to say that I don’t care about politics – I really do – but I don’t want to write about it. I don’t talk about it much (or ever) either. Despite that, I know exactly what’s going on.

    Jumping into gross generalisations here, most of the blogs I read are firmly in the “personal” category, and the majority are written by women. “Personal” is not really a genre that fits so well into a general roundup site (“…and X of XBlog really likes Buenos and is having terrible period pain this month”) I’ll stick my neck out and say that this is one reason why there are fewer females included in the SR – well, that and we have less time to blog because we are doing our hair!

    [Incidentally, didn’t it use to be a political roundup, or did I just assume that?]

  2. Sarah, yeah it was mostly a political roundup at first. That focus intensified in the run up to the election. But ever since the election I think we’ve been aiming more for the sort of balance achieved by the Britblog Roundup. It’s been difficult to make that shift, but we are trying.

    Even at the start, though, it wasn’t entirely about politics. Admittedly the non-politics stuff was usually as a sort of “and finally” bit.

    But if you look at the recent roundups, take this one from the week before last. It contains a range of subjects in addition to politics: football, sex, music, hair, chickens and that clockwise / anti-clockwise spinning figure. I don’t understand why, given this, we are being asked to take a “broader view” of what politics is, because we don’t even try to stick to politics at all.

  3. Dioctor Vee – your roundup, you do what you like with it. If Slutty doesn’t like it, or thinks that it isn’t sufficiently balanced, she is free to set up her own roundup, isn’t she?

  4. Glad to have found this site, the cherry on the top was to see Edinburgh mentioned. Interesting subject. as just this week, whilst searching online for chatty Scottish blogs, (ones I can enjoy with a morning coffee), I came to the realisation that they’re all political, well, the ones I found. This was just a general feeling as obviously there is a good mix out there… somewhere.

    I agree with the above comments, you can do and mention what and who you want with Scottish Roundup, it’s your site. As a personal blogger, I also agree with Sarah and cannot see personal blogs, mainly written by women, fitting into a general roundup site, if we do, then we’re like the back comic section of a popular newspaper with loyal followers that know where to find us. I, If only Garfield could reach page 2 of the Washington Post before the General Election.

    Nice interesting blog by the way.

  5. Errr, yeah, I like the roundup mostly because it provides me with some like minded angry people, and also some targets for anger. Whether they be male, female or aardvarks makes no difference. Keep up the good work. And if some people don’t like it… Well, you can imagine what my thoughts are…

  6. My comment was one of surprise mostly because I had not been asked. And while there’s certainly no requirement to ask somebody before linking to them, it’s often a common courtesy especially if you’re attempting to drive traffic to your site rather than further discussion on one particular topic. (It is impossible to further discussion on one particular topic if there is no topic to discuss, which seems to be the case that you’re making above.)

    My blog posts are generally off-the-cuff, written very quickly, and mostly for my own benefit. They’re largely opinion on stupid, pointless matters, and of little interest to anybody else. It’s in this light that I’m not necessarily comfortable being included in a “roundup” as any sort of interesting or informative source on any topic I’m likely to ever blog about on my site.

    It’s with that latter point in mind that I asked “why am I on this list?”; my posts are not technically brilliant, filled with insight, or a distillation of useful knowledge of benefit to the people.

  7. I’ve never heard of this courtesy whereby you have to ask people before linking (after all, what would the web be without links?). If you would rather we didn’t feature your site, you just have to say so and I’ll remove the links.

  8. I only suggest courtesy because the nicest aggregators I’ve ever seen have worked on an opt-in basis, not an opt-out. They seem to naturally tend toward the topic of their choice this way.

  9. I’m not sure I follow you. Scottish Roundup isn’t an aggregator and it doesn’t have a set topic. I am guessing you don’t want to be featured in future though, which is your choice. I’ve taken note.

  10. Not an aggregator, no, but similar in many senses: groups links from a small set of sources into one main feed of data. I’d have been happier to have been asked first, is all. It’s always nice to be asked by people on, say, Flickr when they’d like to use my photos, even if the photo in question is clearly under a nice open license. You may, of course, use my posts in future, though I’m still unclear of how useful they are to most.

    At any rate, I cannot avoid being facetious: How can a site without a set topic possibly aim to be a meaningful roundup? It might be an interesting thought experiment. Focus is never a bad thing.

  11. I would see your point about using photos from Flickr, although the equivalent example for blogging would be if I wanted to take the entire contents of your post and use it for something. It’s different with linking. I must have had my stuff linked to thousands of times, and I’ve even had my words quoted in newspapers and I’ve never once been asked permission. I suppose it falls under “fair use”.

    As for your other point, we have no set aims or ulterior motives. The only ‘point’ of Scottish Roundup is to try and highlight the best blogging every week. As such, I think a focus would be unnecessarily limiting.

    Last week we were being told by Slutty McWhore that Scottish Roundup wasn’t broad enough in what it covered. Now we’re being told that it does not have enough focus. Perhaps this means we’ve hit a happy medium. 🙂