(Almost) The End of Recipezaar

Just three months after we sold Recipezaar to Scripps Networks Gay and I quit. We did not get along with Deanna Brown, our boss, and she made it clear that she did not want to hear from us at all on any topic. She put a yes-woman in between us and her and told everyone else to humor us but to ignore us. Life’s too short to put up with incompetence, especially when they’re your boss, so we quit in October 2007. The three people we had hired and brought into Scripps, Kathy, Liza and Debbie stayed at Scripps. In retrospect, I’m sure we would have been fired or, at least, strongly encouraged to leave, had we not quit on our own.

Last Thursday we found out that Kathy was layed-off.

When we got her email that she her last day was January 30, we assumed she quit. We were shocked to find out that they fired her! Kathy ran Recipezaar day-to-day and was a critical part of the site — she processed all the recipes which we never got to make completely trivial, it was still a manual job to fix the things people enter into recipes to make them suitable for the site. She managed and communicated with the community so she had a handle on what was going on. She filtered complaints and bug reports and kept us aware of what needed to be fixed or changed. Without Kathy, Recipezaar would stop dead in its tracks.

Scripps assumed that she was just a customer service rep and they’ve got tons of those, so what value is Kathy? Sure, someone could have been trained to replace Kathy, but Scripps didn’t even try that. In the 18 months while she worked there, Kathy was never asked to train anyone. Scripps is clueless about how the site runs.

The next day we found out that Debbie was fired too. I can’t say we were surprised by this and I don’t think she was either. Debbie was over-over-over-qualified for her job. We hired her in a Usability and User Experience position and Scripps turned her into a Photoshop-jockey, creating ads and adjusting photographs. This is like asking an astronaut to ride a tricycle. Scripps is lousy with Photoshop nerds and those people work for peanuts, so it only took Scripps 18 months to realize she was overpaid. Scripps has no desire for a User Experience designer even if they knew what it was.

The unorganized way Scripps is run never failed to surprise us, but what business person doesn’t know that lay-offs should happen at once, not over several days? Scripps doesn’t. They did lay-offs on Thursday and then Friday leaving the remaining employees to wonder over the weekend if they’d have a job on Monday. It’s a great way to destroy morale at your company.

So that leaves just Liza of the five of us that worked at Recipezaar.

If it wasn’t inexplicable enough, Recipezaar is the only site at Scripps that is meeting (and surpassing) its goals for traffic and revenue. Every other site they own is falling short of their goals. Recipezaar is also incredibly profitable. It had a 50% profit margin when we ran it. If Scripps did _anything_ right selling ads with their massive ad sales department for both TV and online, the profit margin must be 80% or more. Why lay-off two-thirds of the staff of a staff of three when those three people are generating lots of revenue and profit?!? Someone at Scripps is very bad at math (and logic). I could name five people that I worked with at Scripps in the short time I was there that were complete dead weight. For example, they have a person whose sole job is to manage the cellular phone contract for the company, a person who manages a staff of 2 in Receiving (of the Shipping and Receiving Department), and a person who is a glorified DayTimer — she schedules meetings. Most of their IT staff is weak and their developers are downright lazy.

The core problem at Scripps with respect to Recipezaar is that they think of it as a magazine that just needs regurgitated cover stories. We suspected this was true before we sold the company to Scripps, just as we were of every company that wanted to buy it in the previous years. Recipezaar is a software company; the site is software that has to be maintained and enhanced constantly. We correctly gauged every other suitor as a company that doesn’t understand software development so we always refused to sell it. But Scripps repeatedly insisted that they understood that Recipezaar was different and, more importantly, that they wanted more interactive sites like Recipezaar and that they wanted us to help makeover FoodNetwork.com and HGTV.com into more engaging and interactive sites. John Lansing, the President of the company, sat at our dinner table with us and talked at length about this understanding and desire for good software developers. Our experience with Recipezaar and at Microsoft was appealing to them.

If you can’t believe the President of the company, who can you believe? I tend to think he was being honest. Unfortunately, they hired Deanna Brown in the meantime to run the web sites and she never got (or more likely, understood) the memo. Deanna thinks a cashmere sweater is software. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we were lied to to convince us to sell it to them. But I can’t imagine why they would think that is a good idea. Why would anyone take something on that required work that they didn’t understand how to do had no intention of learning?

If Liza doesn’t pick up all of Kathy’s job, I don’t see how new recipes and reviews are going to be added to the site after January 30, let alone all the communication with the community. I already know that Scripps doesn’t care to fix bugs and only begrudgingly fixes performance problems. The site can’t grow without software fixes and improvements and a constant flow of recipes, reviews and photos. Like all businesses, if it’s not growing, it’s dying.

It’s almost the end of an era in my life.

Clarification: This post is not Recipezaar’s obituary. T&G.com is my personal site where I write about things that matter to me in my life. Please don’t read into anything I write as anything more than my personal thoughts. I called it “(Almost) The End” because, to me, it is almost the end of Recipezaar as I know it. In my Recipezaar book, quitting was the end of a chapter, the crazy half-assed redesign that we fought against was the end of a chapter and Kathy and Debbie leaving is the end of a chapter. That book is almost over. Liza leaving will be the final chapter. The site could last 30 more years but that book would be a sequel that has nothing to do with me. :)

89 Comments

  1. Annie H
    Posted January 23, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Troy, Recipezaar literally changed my life. It breaks my heart that something so unique and valuable should come to such a messy and careless end.

    Please know that you do not grieve alone.

  2. Dorothy Parks
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I went into shock when I heard Kathy was fired. Can’t believe how they could do that and expect things to keep running smoothly. Incredibley stupid on their part!! It was bad enough when you sold it, it will be 10 times worse on January 30, it took months for Kathy and Liza to cool things down and get stuff going again. First thing i said when Kathy told us was “This is the end of ‘zaar”, I do believe it is and it does break my heart too.

    Hope all is going well with you two and your babies, bet they are growing like weeds!
    Thanks for all the good years we had with ‘zaar, it was wonderful while it lasted!!

    love,
    Derf

  3. A Fan
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    [Edited for clarity]

    I am one of the jerks on the site who try to cause as many problems as I can. It’s great fun for me and my friends, but Kathy wouldn’t let us do that. So we had an idea to bombard Scripps with complaints about Kathy and maybe it worked and we got her fired! I sure hope so!

    I’d also like to add a lame platitude to you and Gay so I that I appear somewhat sane.

  4. Caro
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m in shock, too. Kathy is the backbone of Zaar. What a blow to the community; it was a real downer when it was sold (believe me, you are not at fault–you only believed what you were promised) and now, this. I’m bummed—major bummed.
    The RecipeZaar community has lost a great friend, tireless worker, and the best responder that wecould ever have had.
    BUMMMMMER!
    Troy & Gay, we never meet(virally nor physically), but I feel I know you both well, through Zaar. No words can express what Zaar means to all of us on the site.
    If you talk with Kathy, please let her know that we are very unhappy with this and how very sad we are. THX-Caro

  5. Caro
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Birally=Virtually–ye Gods…I am bummed.

  6. Caro
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    OMG! Sorry, Virally=virtually…I need a caretaker.

  7. Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To “A Fan”:

    No, I don’t think that’s true. Scripps, like every company these days, is suffering due to the economy. They layed-off many people across the company and, in Kathy’s case, they did a poor job of choosing that person. I don’t think any whining about perceived unfair practices had anything to do with it. We talked with executives at Scripps about problem people in the community and they know it all too well — they’ve had people stalking the celebrity chefs on Food Network and have had to have police involved in some cases, so they know there’s nuts out there and how much weight to give their opinions sent in through customer service channels. Frankly, every sane person knows how much weight to give to whack jobs who complain incessantly about insignificant things.

    Let me guess… she “played favorites” with your enemies on the site? You’re probably one of the idiots on the site who loves to bash everyone who doesn’t act and think exactly like them because you’re terrified of people who are different and, egads, Kathy doesn’t let you. Or maybe you’re a paranoid delusional who thinks the world is out to destroy you through negative reviews on your recipes. If you’re neither of those types and you truly think Kathy “played favorites”, you’re just listening to those types of people because you enjoy being negative and antagonistic. Either way, you need to grow up.

    Besides, the traffic in the forums is minuscule in the overall site traffic, just 3% when we ran it — it gets less traffic than the home page (5%). When I say “community” I mean the majority of people who post recipes, reviews and photos help out in positive ways, not the kooks who create fake battles and small-minded people who berate others in a forum tucked away in the dark corner. Nobody at Scripps even knows the Community Cafe even exists. Most don’t even know the forums exist. Kathy didn’t just police the forums, she processed recipes, reviews and photos which are the core of the site as well as handled other administrative responsibilities.

    Are you the same Tampa Bay person who bashed me for my political opinions on this site a few months ago and then pretended that they just “found me” through Recipezaar? If so, you should get on with your life and stop being so obsessed with me and with Recipezaar. You call yourself “A Fan”? You’re a sycophant. Do something productive and positive with your life — trust me, it is far more rewarding to build than it is to destroy.

  8. In Misery
    Posted January 24, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    This is horrible news. Zaar has really changed over the past year or so and not for the better. The site keeps getting slower and slower and Scripps never does anything to fix any of the issues. Now with Kathy gone, I’m sure they will push Liza out fairly quick and nothing will ever get fixed again.

    It must be heart breaking to see something you had worked so long and hard on to be run into the ground like this.

  9. Joanne
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Hi, Troy and Gay,

    I didn’t get to know you but I have been a benefactor of all your hard work the last few years, so thank you.

    I’m having a hard time understanding the idiocy of firing one of the people who makes Recipezaar the site it is, or at least used to be. Anyone who knows business knows that you reward the people who make you money so they will continue and make you even more money. It’s a no-brainer. Firing Kathy is shooting yourself in the foot.

    From a personal perspective, this is tough to take. The best thing about Recipezaar has always been the interaction between people, the helpful advice, and knowing the community, but none of those things happen without the people behind the scenes, one of whom is Kathy. As far as I’m concerned, once Kathy is gone everything changes and there is a clear understanding where Scripps is concerned. A very sad one.

    Please tell Kathy that she has always been appreciated.

    I would consider going on strike.

    - Joanne

  10. Mirj
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    This comes as a shock to me. I have been an active member for over seven years, and although Zaar is “just a website,” I can’t begin to tell you how interacting with various members has changed my life. Hearing of Kathy’s dismissal saddens me, especially in these hard times. After you and Gay left Kathy was my backbone. I truly wonder about the future of Zaar when those now running it are one original friend and a bunch of strangers.

  11. Kirstin
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I wish I could say I am surprised by these recent events, but I’m not. Scripps has shown time and time again since the purchase that they don’t care about the things that made Recipezaar what it was (emphasis on was)…the software, the people, and the communication. Sooner or later, Zaar will be nothing but a slick shiny website with no easily findable content, no people that understand how and why it was built, and a membership that will be a shell of it’s former self.

    I was a member for nearly 8 years until I was suddenly banned one day. 8 years worth of collecting recipes, notes, cookbooks and menus just deleted with no real reason, and a complete lack of any real communication from Scripps as to why. They just don’t care about the people…they only care about making their $$.

    Kathy and Debbie, if you see this, I am sorry for your loss of jobs…you guys did a great job for Zaar and as usual I do not understand Scripps decision making processes…

  12. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To Kirstin:

    Banned? No you weren’t. I wrote the software and there is no way to ban anyone from the site and to take away their recipes, cookbooks, etc. The only people who use the word “banned” are the people who were prohibited from using the forums because the message people got many many years ago used the word “banned”. If you were kicked out of the forums, you know why. Don’t try to make yourself into a martyr.

  13. Kirstin
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Not trying to be a martyr Troy. I truly and honestly do not know what I posted that made them take my access away. And I did get a message that told me I was “permanently banned”…but whatever. Have a great day

  14. Dawnab
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    You might want to check that Troy, all her cookbooks are gone.

    I will miss Kathy and wish her the best, the site is truely a changed beast.

  15. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Lots of people made the same claim when we ran the site. They were lying. Unless Scripps’ developers added the capability, which is highly doubtful, the same is true in your case. Or at best, you’re exaggerating, hiding facts or have conveniently forgotten facts. There is no reason to prevent anyone from using the site, every page view generates money and money is all they care about, right? The only plausible reason any business can have for preventing people from being customers is when those customers are disruptive to the business.

    But why post it here? I have no influence on Recipezaar or Scripps. Posting your complaints here isn’t going to do anything. You’re only doing it because you’ve found another soapbox where you can criticize Recipezaar management and try to gain sympathy and supporters for your anti-Recipezaar crusade. Anyway, aren’t you and DawnAb part of Bethany’s group or the convicted wife-abuser and crack-addict Mean Chef’s group? Even those losers have moved on and seem to have let their animosity for Recipezaar go. Why can’t you?

  16. Dawnab
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am sorry Troy, I am not a Brat- never was cool enough, and I fell for Mean’s act for a bit (he is a former crack head and total alcoholic freak). I just was pointing out that something happened witht the software that you had written because the cook books did indeed dissapear. Your post was unfair.

  17. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    You tried to be part of two groups who very early on had a mission to cause as much trouble on the site as possible. Two groups who plotted to disrupt my wedding and damage my home. Two groups who maliciously libeled me personally, promised to do all they could to destroy my livelihood and only stopped when we brought a lawsuit against them and the courts forced them to stop. And you expect me to care about how your friends were mistreated or that they can’t access their cookbooks? And you call *me* unfair?

  18. justcallmetoni
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m in too much shock to adequately respond here. The place is just not the same without you. Forget personality, just in basic functionality. Without Kathy, things will only get worse.

  19. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Dear, troy and gay -start a new site, you would have so many people join.Rose

  20. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Hi Troy and Gay, as a host of the British Forum I find this really sad. I discovered Zaar during it’s early days and it has been much more than a “recipe” site to me. I have made valuable and strong friendships on there that mean the world to me. I liked the fact that it felt like a real community and had a “heart” quite unlike other recipe sites out there. I know exactly what you mean when you are talking about that “old” crowd. They were bad news and did nothing to boost morale on the site and you were well rid of them. I was saddened when you and Gay sold it to Scripps, but totally understood why you did it. You must be feeling totally betrayed that someone has taken your baby and little by little taken away pieces of it’s heart. I truly think this is the end of recipezaar as we know and love it as well. This is so sad.

  21. Auntie Jan
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    This is just too sad. Troy, none of you deserve to be treated like you have been. Do you think we have to worry about Zaar being canned? I have met so incredible people here who have been a huge support to me over the years. I can’t imagine Zaar not being a part of my life.

  22. Lvs2Cook
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am just LIVID that they would fire Kathy. Can the demise of the forums be far behind? I have some thinking to do as to whether or not I want to be a host on a site that treats it’s best workers so casually.

    I hope all is well with you and your family!

  23. Lori S
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I can not believe this, I am totally shocked and so sad to hear this news about Kathy! It was hard to believe you and Gay were leaving and took awhile to get adjusted but now to have lost Kathy too! This is terrible news, I am still in shock.

  24. JoyfulCook
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I just cant believe whats happening. its a great site and its going to be dragged down… we wont have any one to help and i cant believe that others can pick up the extra work….. e]we all pay a good price to e here, I dont expect the pivots to e fired!

  25. Cheryl
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I was so shocked when I heard the news about Kathy. I thought about it for days and wondered how long it would take for Scripps/Recipezaar to suffer the consequences of their actions… and now I read Debbie will be leaving as well. How on earth will Liza take over all the work.

    When you and Gay sold Recipezaar I was so sad. Although, If I had been in the same position I would have done the same thing :) It must pain you to watch what these people are doing to your creation.

    Is there something we, as members and Forum Hosts, could do that could possibly change the direction?

  26. Not Buying It
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    [Edited for clarity]
    I saw a book on a bookshelf once with an ominous-sounding title, so I think it applies to this situation. If I could read I would have read this post to understand it, but I didn’t so just let me add an insult to Kathy. But really what I’m saying is that I’m incredibly jealous of people who accomplish things because I never have and never will and I’m embarrassed for myself. I’m posting this anonymously for that reason.

  27. faith58
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I have not been there at the beginning but I appreciate everything, troy, gay, kathy and liza and debbie have done. I have met some awesome friends there and am sad they are letting kathy go. Kathy has always been nothing but kind to everyone. She is prompt, friendly and probably couldn’t have made as much as she is worth. I have an idea. I thought it was said you and gay can’t start a website for 5 years so we are almost 3 years away to a great new sight. Kathy why don’t you start one and maybe gay and troy can help :) Liza too. I know I would be willing to go. Thank you kathy for all you have done and troy and gay I really wished you could help kathy with a new sight. :)

  28. Cheryl
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    My father suggested that I read “State of Fear” (which should have foreshadowed the mediocrity of the dribble between the pages of the so called “thriller.”) The whole time I read the book I kept thinking…. Conservative Republicans would have orgasms reading this….

    Anyway, I don’t see the similarities. But, anyone reading your message can see your intent.

  29. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To “Not Buying It”:

    I didn’t ask you to feel sorry for me. If you read the post you’d understand that. But because you read something else entirely into my post, it’s clear that you’re jealous of me. Get off your butt and work hard for once and maybe you’ll have some success. Until then, you’ll continue to anonymously post insults at people who make you jealous.

    And what does a book about the politics of climate change have to do with anything here? That must be the only book you’ve ever read so you think it makes you sound intelligent to cite it, even when it isn’t appropriate.

    And yes, Kathy can be replaced. But again, had you read my post, you’d see that they aren’t replacing her. That’s a problem.

  30. Bergy
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    This is a very sad time for Recipezaar – Troy/Gay you put together a site very different from other recipe sites – It had values and heart built into it and so many other side benefits. Kathy & Liza have continued to respect your goals. Kathy has put her everything into Zaar to keep it going. Giving, I am sure, many many unpaid hours. I am sure that there have been times when she has wondered why she continued to do it! She will be missed. I am in shock that Scripps can be so short sighted not to see that they are cutting off Recipezaar’s gate keeper – Kathy knew what members wanted, she knew what needed fixing, she was responsive to our needs. Who will do this now? Liza I know will be right in there but she is only one person – she won’t be able to do it all. Hiring another assistant would be ridiculous so there it will all sit in Liza’s lap – Good luck Liza.
    I think what troubles me the most is that a large corporation can care so little for it’s members. I am sure that they do not understand the concept that has made Recipezaar so sucessful so they . They have tunnel vision seeing that Kathy is valuable and necessary. Kathy I will miss you terribly and appreciate all you have done for us as members.
    Recipezaar will go on – it’s heart will be missing – it will be a recipe site like so many others!

  31. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    It took us a while to accept that the site is out of our control. But we had a baby girl weeks before we sold it and a son a year after we sold it, so they have given us a lot of perspective on what is really important in our life.

    Gay and I aren’t the types of people who can (or want to) run a big company. Recipezaar was always meant to be a small business, even at 5 employees it was about as big as we wanted to handle and the day-to-day demands were becoming too great. Businesses either grow or die, it’s not possible to have a business just maintain a specific size forever — ones that do are just struggling to not shrink. From 2004-2006 it was perfect for us, but it kept growing. That’s good and bad.

    We thought that Scripps was the perfect company to buy it and carry it forward and they convinced us that they understood it. We loved Food Network, we thought it was a perfect companion to the celebrity chefs and we felt that Scripps and us had the same vision. We knew at some level they’d do things differently than we would, but from what we understand, Recipezaar has been left off in the corner by itself. It became clear to us that Deanna not only didn’t care much about Recipezaar, but she actually exhibited disdain for it at times. I think if it was up to her, Scripps would not have bought Recipezaar. But it was profitable and was very inexpensive to run. So it’s surprising, from a financial point-of-view, that when layoffs come and they have to cut their costs, they cut 2/3 of Recipezaar. I don’t see how it could possibly make sense. Again, Kathy and Debbie were not the only lay-offs, apparently 10% (30 people?) were layed-off across all of the internet sites. We have it on good authority that the lay-offs were 100% Deanna’s decision, she took no input from anyone in any of the groups about who should stay and who should go and, more bizarre, were not performance-based! So it’s as if they randomly fired people.

    So I have no idea what will become of it. I could guess, but my guesses about what they would do have consistently been wrong.

  32. Tish
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m sad to lose more friends at ‘zaar. It’s not the same without you…and now, I can’t imagine what it will become. It must break your heart to see what’s become of you first “baby”. I’m so sorry.

  33. shapeweaver
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Well, the “ZAAR” that was once a place where we could come and enjoy each others company is now just another money hungry cooking site.I wish I had of known that Kathy wasn’t going to be here anymore, or I wouldn’t have renewed my subscription.It’s a sad day indeed for the “family of “ZAAR”.You can’t bet that I won’t renew next year.Please let Kathy know that I for one will miss her very much.:(

  34. KeyWee
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Don’t know where to start ~ first, I want to praise your writing Troy ~ I have missed your great humor and your knack for speaking your mind (and then some). You always manage to make your point with common sense and fairness, regardless of some of the ridiculous comments sent your way.
    Second, you can probably count our days as Forum Hosts numbered, too. Since joining Zaar seven years ago, I have rarely missed a day, and recommended the site to hundreds. Now I don’t know how I would feel about doing either anymore. Zaar was an awesome creation at the outset, but what once was has been gone for awhile now ~ you must have all noticed.
    Will I miss the great people I have “met”? Yes, of course, but this is a lesson to us all. The internet is like smoke and fog ~ you can see it and feel it, but it really has little substance. It’s obvious Scripps cares nothing for its customers, but that doesn’t surprise me ~ I don’t get a warm-n-fuzzy feeling from Walmart either.
    Best of everything to you, Troy, Gay and your wonderful little family. You owe explanations to no one.

  35. Dawnab
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    But can you check the code?

  36. UnknownChef86
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I was saddened when Recipezaar was sold to Scripps because I knew that your “personal touch” wouldn’t be there, but I understood why. You and Gay worked hard to develop it into the success it became…and you’d earned the right to reap the benefits from your hard work. The saving grace was that Kathy, Liza and Debbie were still there to help out. Kathy, in particular, became the “face” of Recipezaar to me. She’s the one I went to when there was a problem at ‘Zaar…she’s the one whose experience I sought when I had a host-duty related question (no offense intended to Liza or Debbie). The thousands upon thousands of hours of experience she has under her belt shows. And now, she’s simply to be sent to the chopping block? On the whim of an under-qualified, overzealous paper-pusher? I hope that Scripps reconsiders this stupendously short-sighted decision…but I won’t be holding my breath. While I love ‘Zaar, and am a staunch supporter…this is by no means the first poor business decisions they’ve made. I truly believe that removing Kathy from the staff in this manner is yet another instance of cutting their nose off to spite their face.

  37. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @Dawnab:

    No, I can’t check the code. I haven’t been an employee of Scripps since October 2007. I have no access to the software or the site at all other than as a normal user of the site.

    Haven’t you learned anything about what your internet friends tell you? Don’t believe what Kirstin says, she probably deleted everything herself and then cried foul to rally the dummies against Recipezaar. Kirstin also tells people she’s friends with us. The truth is that she met Gay in a conference room once in 1995 or so when they both worked at Microsoft. That’s the extent of her “friendship” with us. I’ve never met her. Frankly, it’s kinda freaky that she stalks Gay to this day. Gay’s great, I know, and she must’ve really impressed Kirstin 14 years ago but Kirstin needs to get over Gay.

    Even if Kathy or Liza or someone at Scripps did somehow do that to her cookbooks, you’d have to be a fool to believe they picked her randomly and had no good reason. Only a malicious person would do that, and I know Kathy and Liza — they don’t have a malicious bone in their bodies. From what I’ve seen, on the other hand, the people you associate with aren’t happy unless they’re being malicious.

  38. Gecorican
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Wow, this is super sad, I’ve been a member for Zaar for quite some time and love it!!!
    Troy and Gay you are truly wonderful people, super sad Kathy will be missed.
    And it’s true Troy you owe no one any explanations, I think you all did a fantastic job, it was like a family site, warm and fuzzy as one said above, but now is not. Truly an amazing site you had sad that it has changed so drastically, too bad they did not learn from you.
    If you ever start anything again please do let us know I know I will be a true follower, I am sad I too recently renewed my membership, I will not be doing so this year that’s for sure.
    Take care to you all, God bless you and your families in all that you do.
    Grecorican – aka Anne :-)

  39. Saturn
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am so sad to hear this. Your “blurb” was very well written and I appreciate all the emotion and thought that went into writing it. (Please don’t think I am minimizing with the word blurb… I am simply referring to what us hosts call it when we do a posting up)

    Kathy is a wonderful person who works tirelessly for a company that does not value personality. The site has changed a lot since you were there. Maybe not the nitty-gritty part of it. But that special feeling isn’t there anymore. I have missed you guys being there a lot. Even though I never had any real interaction with either of you, you made the site what it was. Kathy picked up where you guys left off… as far as they would let her, anyways. She did her best and I think it was above and beyond. Apparently, Scripp’s isn’t logging into the site themselves. They are hiding behind numbers and dollar signs.

    I don’t like what the site has become – plain and simple. I am so sorry that this all turned out the way it has. I am seriously considering turning in my hosting hat in support of Kathy. I may be but a small ripple in the pond… but maybe it will be noticed…..

  40. chia
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    i’ve missed you and gay and inho recipezaar hasn’t been the same since you left. i know kathy has done a wonderful job assuaginf fears, making upgrades and keeping the peace.
    i know from experience that when big companies take over people get fired and they new co. loses sight of the original goals and only wants to implement their own policies.
    very sad for kathy. she did a great job over the years.
    hope you are all well-
    chia

  41. Dawnab
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I thank u Troy for your view point, and while I may not agree with it all I cannot imagine the fear that would accompany the things you state happened at your wedding. I do not think I was a zaar member then, but I may have been, and I regret that you had to go through that. You know that we all can be had and that is how we know Mean for what he really is. Please take care of you and yours.

  42. Bigbadbrenda
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am shocked and very sad. I just renewed my membership this week actually so lets hope they stick around for awhile.

  43. A Fan
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    [Edited for clarity]
    I’m right, everyone else is wrong. I enjoy stalking you, Troy.

  44. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Gay and Troy, this is sad news for us to lose Kathy. When I first discovered Zaar, it was such a happy and fun place, and I’ve made many good friends. We missed you after you left, and the tone changed, but we had Kathy to turn to for help. She has not only kept the site running well, she has kept our Zaar family together. Zaar will suffer from her absence, and it’s only a matter of time before there are more unfavorable changes. I’m so very sorry. My best wishes to you and your family, and . . .. maybe . …. someday you’ll start another site.

  45. Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To “A Fan”:

    I am right about who you are. That’s why you’re hiding behind an anonymous post to bash Kathy. There can be no other explanation for it. Kathy has given Recipezaar a high standard of customer service and satisfaction that can’t be matched, which is why all the people here are posting about how terrible it is for Recipezaar to lose her.

    You internet bullies are all the same: you played the game of life and lost so you’re angry at the world for all your failings and embarrassed about who you are. Rather than admit to yourself that you are the only cause of your misfortunes, you lash out at people anonymously on the internet because it makes you feel good about yourself and, because you’re anonymous, you can pretend that people don’t know how pathetic you are. But you have to keep doing it because that feeling fades. It fades because, deep down, you know that you are a loser and you know that everyone else knows it.

    And now that you know that I know that you’re a loser, you’ll follow this blog religiously so that you can jump at any chance to attack me to make yourself feel better. Anonymously, of course, because you’re too scared to stand behind your own words. I look forward to all your ignorant comments.

  46. Jade
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Troy, I have to disagree with you about the “bannings”. Perhaps you didn’t write it into the code, but it must be there now. I know of too many instances in the last year or so of people that were “banned” that lost all access to Recipezaar. These were people that were in no way (that I know of) connected to each other or to “groups” or “cliques” on zaar. As far as I can tell, they have nothing in common other than the fact that they were all banned from the forums at various times since Scripps bought the site. Yet these disparate groups of people all said the same thing: that not only did they lose posting privileges in the forums, but they also lost all cookbooks and access to the site.

    Yes, I would be skeptical if the claims were coming from only one person or even from several people that hung out together. That is not the case here. You said yourself that you have been consistently wrong about guessing what Scripps would do. Perhaps you are wrong about this, too. I don’t believe that Kathy or Liza was acting “maliciously” against any of those people; it may simply be that they have to follow “company policy”. The policy may not make any sense, but seriously, has Scripps done anything since they bought zaar that made any sense? If it has, I can’t see it.

    I may not have seen eye-to-eye with Kathy about a lot of things over the years, but she’s been helpful while putting up with a lot of bullshit- not just from me, but from everyone. She’s kept her cool when I would have told everyone to F*** off. I have to admire her for that. I think it sucks that she’s been tossed to the curb like so much yesterday’s garbage after all she’s done, especially after Scripps took over. Actually, I’m surprised they kept her on this long. I don’t expect Liza to last long, either. They’ll either let her go too, or pile so much on her that she’ll quit (that way they don’t have to pay unemployment). Zaar is the only site they own that has a “live” online customer service/support area. I think they see that as more of a liability than a benefit.

    I knew the moment I heard that Scripps had bought Recipezaar that its days were numbered. It was obvious to any outside observer that had ever visited one of their other websites. They are slow, poorly maintained and just generally sloppy. Call me a fatalist, but I knew that zaar would be brought down to their level, not that the other sites would be brought up to what zaar (once) was. The fiasco of 2/14/08 simply further cemented my belief. Honestly, I’m surprised the site has lasted this long. Strangely, I envision a Board of Directors meeting six months from now trying to figure out why this site (zaar) has failed as badly as all their other sites and no one knows why.

  47. Zuri
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    What a shock to receive this news on a Monday morning! I always thought it would rather be Kathy who would resign, due to her sometimes impossible workload. She’s the glue that keeps RZ running. She’s the person people turn to now if eny problem crops up. She and Liza are a formidable team.

    Zaar is not running well. As several have said, the site is slow, things happens (software) and it seems that few bugs get fixed. If Kathy and Liza go, I can see only one way for Zaar, and that’s a downward spiral.

    From the start we could see that Scripps could not care less about the human element involved in this wesbite. People e-mailed them about problems, personally. As far as I know not a single person ever got so much as an automated reply. When they took over, I found it strange that they did not ever place a personal announcement on the Home Page. Never, ever did any of the Scripps people make their presence known to Zaar members, except to change your original friendly logo to a look which spelled “business site here to make money”. The warmth was gone.

    The hundreds of thousands of lowly members (as if Scripps care) put in their little efforts to make Zaar what it is — our recipes, our photo’s, our posts. There are many members who have physical problems and can’t socialize normally, and who depend on Zaar for companionship and support.

    Kathy kept all the strings firmly together … Who else would ever be able to do that, even if Liza stayed on, which looks unlikely? I don’t think any of us can see either a future for Zaar — as it is now — without Kathy and Liza, or when/if a stranger is brought in to take on Kathy’s job. Her understanding and tact and always doing the right thing when trouble struck, cannot possibly be done by a new person brought in by Scripps (IF they did such a thing).

    Unfortunately, when Kathy and Liza go, RecipeZaar as we know and love it will follow too.

    I think we’ll eventually all wish we could delete all signs of our presence on Zaar — recipes, photo’s, cookbooks, personal pages, the lot, and follow Kathy off Zaar. Oh, to be able to leave Scripps with nothing but a skeleton site!! (Not possible, unfortunately).

    With this shock firing (they have no idea what gem they’re losing) we can only be losers too.

  48. Zuri
    Posted January 25, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Geez … “wesbite” = website

  49. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @Jade:

    Everyone always has anecdotal evidence of people who were banned. It’s all BS. Show me screenshots of these messages. No one will, even though they now swear they have no access, they’ll tell you they don’t see the messages anymore, or their computer is “acting up” or something else as unbelievable. If it’s so prevalent, you should be able to get me a screenshot within a couple hours. I doubt you will.

    And they lost cookbooks at the same time? That I know is not possible. The forum software is 100% separate, I didn’t write the forum software, it’s the well-known PHPBB forum software. If it doesn’t do it, then Recipezaar doesn’t do it. The cookbooks code is completely separate and in no way intertwined with prohibiting access to the forums. That tells me those people (Kirstin here, for example) are lying. Don’t be so gullible. People are banned from the forums often, and for good reason: they’re being jerks. It happens in every forum all across the internet. So what? No one has time for the idiots that act up in forums. In most cases, they’re doing those people a favor — they should take it to heart and learn to stop being such a jerk and learn to get along with people. Plenty of people can participate in the forums happily and peacefully without being kicked out, why should they have to suffer with those who can’t or won’t? Because they’re *your* friends? Pick better friends.

    And for what purpose would Scripps delete cookbooks as a company policy?! You think they have a plan to destroy their own investment and kick people off the site randomly and anger the masses? Do you imagine that Board of Directors sitting around a table asking “Should we cherry pick users and boot them off the site for no reason at all as a way to increase revenue and profits?” It’s absurd.

    And your genius note about forcing Liza to quit to avoid unemployment. Unemployment taxes are paid *during* an employee’s time with the company, not after they’re fired. Have you ever had a job? And they layed-off all these people just now and are paying 3 months’ severance pay but they’ve got a grand scheme to force Liza out to avoid paying that for *one* person. Yeah, you’re really on to their devious plan there. Alert the authorities!

    It’s ridiculous that this post has turned into a diatribe about the evils of corporations or of Scripps. They’re doing what they believe is the best way to generate more traffic and more money. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s exactly what we did. I may not agree that they’re going in the right direction, but that doesn’t make me right or wrong. It’s a difference of opinion. Time will tell who is right.

    Plenty of people, many people on this very post, told me for years that I was screwing up the site and it’ll never be the same and we don’t know what we were doing and we only care about money and blah blah blah. Now they’re saying we did everything right and Scripps is doing everything wrong. It’s all very boring.

    If you don’t like the site, don’t use it. Or better yet, go build your own recipe web site if Recipezaar doesn’t meet your needs and Scripps won’t listen to your requests. It’s a free internet.

  50. kiwidutch
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    In this world there are people who make the best of every opportunity in life be it large or small and in whatever form, they use their natural talents large and small and are willing though hard work to learn many more.

    They are, from my experience, often ” givers” and “do-ers” They work hard, every day and not just when the boss is looking. Their attitude is usually more positive than most and they appreciate people.. not just as employees, but as a “real human being” assets and their real value is working together as a team with one goal, and be each wheel and cog in the machinary of that team: gigantic or miniscule, each played a part and are important for the part that they play.

    Gay and Troy are those kind of people… and Zaar is the recipe community they built using that ethic. What a shock and pleasant surprise to become part of a website where members were actually be consulted about possible changes, to be able to use beta versions in advance so that bugs could be ironed and nips and tucks could be done to smooth out new roll outs… to have a Suggestion Forum where many ideas were incorporated into the site over time, (ok many also weren’t, but you can’t please everyone all the time and not everything is always possible either, so let’s be realistic here)

    Then like spoilt children some members seemed to think that this unusual inclusion into what over time became the “Zaar family” gave them a certain sense of entitlement, that owners and staff should bow and concede to their whims, fancies, spats, trantums and ideas. A few thought it meant that they could treat other members as they wished, regardless of tact, decency, privacy, respect.

    Some clearly seemed to think that they were entitled to be consulted on everything and entitled to be in the “know” at all levels. A few of these had their access removed because somewhere, somehow, they crossed the line of what is considered acceptable in their treatment of other members.
    I know that in these situations the member being removed was always informed privately as to the reasons why, but also that Zaar Staff are very professional and that these reasons were always ONLY kept between the member concerned and Zaar Staff.( note: Staff, NOT Hosts, just Staff)

    This professionality on the part of Zaar Staff backfired many times of course because often the member being removed cried “foul” and gave “their version of events” in a light that obviously could not contain the full story. And never to my knowledge did Staff publically retaliate and spill the beans and tell the rest of the members the other side of the story. Many members seemed to forget that the details of these indiscretions were none of their business anyway.

    So, ….no I do not know the Facts, but I do know that members were not removed on any whim, but for real and credible reasons after warning are given, so please pass the salt cellar as that people say, who post here in an unidentified manner, clearly needs to be taken with a grain of salt.(or in in some cases an entire salt mine)

    At all times when these Mini Wars broke out (usually in CC) Gay, Troy and then Kathy and Liza do their upmost to keep the peace, smooth things over. Often I wonder if they wondered why they bothered.

    Then came Scripps… the steamroller is slowly trampeling the machine, squashing the life out of it. Ignoring the fact that Zaar’s main asset, first and foremost ARE it’s members and the dedicated Staff that they inherited.

    Kath and Liza and Debbie are the rudder to the ship, the main masts that hold the rigging and the sails and without them I fear that good ship Recipezaar will be becalmed and worse pirated, pilleged and wrecked.

    Surely the Scripps staff member who has dealt this body blow should be called to account? Severely and swiftly, emphatically ?!

    Good business sense should always be: nurture and look after your assets well and limit your liabilites, Gay and Troy obviously understood this, Scripps obviously and most seriously do not.

    Yes I AM a Forum Host on Zaar, and I use my Zaar name in this post because when I say something in public I am prepared to stand by it and be responsible for it. be it a question, cooking game, or review I try always to be positive, kind , diplomatic to each and every member I have come accross on Zaar.
    I have hosted Zaar members from around the world in my home, visted other Zaar mambers in theirs, correspond with many and yes we ARE a “special website Family”. Many thanks to you Gay and Troy for setting the ball rolling and making this site possible, my passion is cooking but this site has given me far more than just recipes.

    Never mind the mud slingers… I have noticed thoughout my life that there are always a few who “can’t” or “won’t” who like nothing more than to knock those who “do”.
    We all do an honest days work for an honest days pay… but some have more of a ” result” and effect of that in the wider world.. for Gay and Troy that is certainly true.

    Bravo for what you have put into Zaar.. no matter what happens next, YOUR good efforts will not be forgotten.

    Now you have two georgous treasures that keep you tried, happy and grounded :) Enjoy them, and yourselves, as you deserve.

    I hope that Scripps comes to it’s senses and realises that they need to reconnect with those of us for whom cooking is a passion, they need to realise where the REAL assets of Zaar are, Kathy, Liza, Debbie, the members.

    They need to realise that middle management do NOT have the skills to steer the ship and that middle management hot air will not power a ship with no sails.

    I sincerely hope for Zaar’s sake that they realise with all urgency the terrible mistake that they have just made and the deep impact and severe reprecussions that they are about to be heaping on themselves.

    I hope that they have the humility and guts to rectify their error justly and quickly.

    Yes, companies are in business for profit, it’s the way of the world and we would be foolish to ignore that, but Scripps please take note: shooting yourself in the foot is not the way to win the race and the day that you devalue your product by stripping it of two of it’s most valued assests is a sad day indeed.
    Guess what.. bad news often travels fast, if you fall into a hole because of your actions then never let it be said that *YOU* were not the ones who started digging it for yourselves in the first place.

    .. so on the subject of digging… is this a grave and an obituary for Zaar? I sincerely hope not, Note for Scripps, if you have any guts at all you will fire the CORRECT people and reinstate Kathy and Debbie (Beg on youe knees if necessary!) (with very generous compensation for their distress of course too) and THEN give Liza, Kathy and Debbie a VERY handsome raise, because the SOONER you realise that THEY are the backbone of Zaar and that their work and expertise generates the success that Zaar enjoys, the better.

    As a hobby chef who has a passion for cooking, let me tell you: ignore the special qualities that Zaar brings to the web community at your peril.

    For Gay and Troy… Thank you for all that you have given this site, for being ” do-er’s” and not *just* dreamers. Maybe it was a bit of a circus with a few, on occasions when you were here, but now the clowns are in charge and they have put us onto a roller coaster. Maybe we should just close our eyes and hold on tight….

    ESPECIALLY BIG HUGS FOR YOU BOTH,KATHY, DEBBIE & LIZA – kind regards kiwidutch.

  51. Molly
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’ve missed you/Gay and I’ll miss Kathy.
    She’s been just wonderful.

  52. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    When I was told the news recently, I was horrified, disgusted, sad, amazed, angry, incredulous……………you GET the picture?

    I know how much Kathy means to the integral running of RecipeZaar, and her craven dismissal both astounds and upsets me. For me, she along with Liza and Debbie, represent the last vestiges of a highly individual and wonderful recipe website – an experience and an active community as much as an informative centre for posting and finding recipes.

    The lack of vision that has been shown by senior management at Scripps is mind boggling!

    Although I have been without any power, phone or internet access for the last 48 hours due to severe storms in SW France, I had to come here IMMEDIATELY to make my thoughts known.

    I have lost the desire to post recipes, post photos or do anything much in the forums I co-host and in which I participate; I am astounded that a corporation as big and as successful as Scripps can make such a callous and badly judged decision – to fire Kathy, as well as Debbie. What is the future of RecipeZaar? This is a question I have asked myself repeatedly for the last year.

    I wish my feelings to be added to the long list that has been posted already………………RIP RecipeZaar, I feel my addiction is waning.

    Karen aka French Tart/FT

  53. kiwidutch
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Riotproof, what do you really care? and may I respectfully ask: where do you get your opinion? I looked you up on Zaar and you don’t seem to be a member… OTOH you know who Kathy is.. .. but oh… ah ha, silly me.. someone else hiding behind an anonomous “persona”.

    Seriously, do you expect people to take anything you say seriously if you don’t even have the B@lls to sign your name to what you say?
    Sorry, but I would rather that someone state an HONEST opinion that they were willing to stand up and own, than to hide behind a facticious name and spout nastyness.

    In fact, even if I disagreed with you 1000% I would STILL stand up for your right to HAVE an opinion, and even if yours was vastly different from mine, I would RESPECT RESPECT RESPECT your right to that opinion.. but sorry *not* if you obviously have so little faith in your own words that you can’t even put an identifiable name to them.

    Seriously, it gives very very little credance to your views at all.
    How much the site was sold for is none of your business, just as I (correctly) don’t demand to know how much you are paid for your hard work. Jealously mayhap?

    .. and no… I’m definiately not insane, but thank you for your concern :)

  54. Laury Oliver
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am so sad about her being laid off. I am having a difficult time getting myself to do many of the things I have been doing.
    I feel the Scripps decision just is wrong.

  55. Leslie
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m so sorry to hear that Scripps has decided to let Kathy and Debbie go.
    Zaar will not be the same and I really wonder how things will work without Kathy there to keep the ship sailing.
    She has one tough job and has always performed it with grace and fairness.
    Troy, you and Gay started something that turned into much, much more than just a recipe website.
    Because of Zaar, I have met some new best friends, I’ve been a bridesmaid at a wedding in Costa Rica (and my daughter was the flower girl) for a Zaar friend, and I’m going to the U.S. for a week in the summer with my family to spend time with two other Zaar families for our summer vacation.

    I will be so sad (and a little nervous) to see Kathy go, and yes, a little worried about how Zaar will get by without her, but no matter what happens to the site nothing can change the friendships that have come about through Recipezaar.

    You and Gay should be very proud of the “little site that grew!” and I thank you both for it.

  56. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Dear Troy,

    I am so upset. I have admired you and Gay ever since I discovered the Zaar. I have been upset with Scripps for the poor job they have done. I realize that you have moved on with your lives, and rightly so. However, part of me wishes you would do this all over again and make us a new site. Kathy and Liza are miracle workers. They have kept the pot stirrers at bay, have been tactful, fair, and from what I can see, nonjudgmental. If you ever entertain the idea of “doing this again” I am willing to do whatever I can to help.

    Although I feel I know you, I wish I knew you “in real life” I wish the best to you two and your beautiful children.

    Most sincerely,
    Barbara

  57. Bev
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am so sorry to read of this. I could say, things will never be the same again. But then, they never are, are they? I have loved Zaar from the first moment I found it. Such a wonderful collection of people. The site really has not been the same since Gay and Troy left and so many others seemed leave at the same time.
    I wish we had the old Zaar back again. The one that allowed us to visit while talking over the backyard fence and share a cup of coffee with friends and smiling faces.
    Thank you to all of you that helped to fill my life for these past (almost) 8 years for me now. All of you have helped me to open a door to the world that otherwise I never would have realized. You all have changed my life dramatically and have held my hand and comforted me during the worst times of my life. Thank you so much.
    Gay and Troy, we owe it all to you! Thank you both so much for your creation that joined us all together!

  58. Rita
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Troy and Gay,
    I miss you and I am Thankful for all you have created for the world and I!
    Many many enjoy zaar. I`m one of the biggest fans! It was upsetting when you let it go. But we understood that you had to move on in your lives. And that seemed to be a wonderful move for you. You are missed as Kathy will be missed. I will miss Kathy very much. I know she will stay in touch. I do wish her better things and have a feeling that her life will be wonderful as well. Yes she did much and I know Scripps is really stupid for letting the wrong person go. I hope they learn before the whole sight is no more. I don`t think that would happen but I can see it becoming a total mess.
    Kathy I truly wish you the best of everything.
    (((HUGS)))
    Live, Love, & Laugh, Rita

  59. Jess4
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    You care for your baby. You feed her well, pamper her greatly and love her generously. Then she grows up to get tattooed and pierced everywhere. You gasp and reel, but still, you love her and move on. Then she marries a greedy bastard that steals her away from you until she is changed into something you cannot even recognize. Yeah, this is my story, but it seems to work here too. She may be changed into something you don’t recognize and have a hard time loving right now. Hate that greedy bastard, but love her. Know that people with good intentions and are good to others have a way of having things work out in the end. She may not be what you wanted, but that doesn’t mean she cannot become something great. Hopefully she can just get away from that greedy bastard soon enough before she crashes and burns.

  60. Parsley
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Troy,

    You and Gay have a girl AND a boy now? Congratulations! Your family really IS what is important in life.

    I’m sad to see Kathy go. I realize she did more for the site than most people know. She was always helpful and well-spoken.

    You and Gay did a wonderful job with Recipezaar. Your ideas and creativity got you where you are today. Recipezaar is part of my everyday life.

    Thanks!

  61. PanNan
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m sad to read your post, Troy. Kathy will definitely be missed. Change is inevitable and it’s not always for the better, as evident with RecipeZaar/Scripps. It seems clear that current management will be happy with just another recipe posting site. They don’t seem to really care about the forums or what long time loyal members think. Time will tell whether cutting costs in site maintenance, customer service and forum management will lead to less profits and/or RecipeZaar’s ultimate demise. I would bet that it will.

  62. Andi of Longmeadow Farm
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Troy and Gay, you probably don’t know who I am, but I wanted to tell that I have been a host on your site for two years now, and Kathy has helped me through some rough times, so that I was better able to give, help, and do all I could do to keep your site the best cooking site it could be. I am devastated to learn about Kathy….but know in the end she will be happier and find more peace in her life, without the daily grind she has been through. ~Andi

  63. Hope - Mama's Kitchen
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am shocked and very very sad to hear this news! Troy and Gay, you should be very proud of all you accomplished. The site is NOT the same! ‘Old’ members like me and many others have stuck it out and tried our best to maintain some of the same energy and enthusiasm even though many have felt ‘used’. Kathy was so much more than JUST an employee. She WAS ‘Zaar! She had her finger on the pulse and made everything run as smoothly as possible. She will be sorely missed as are the two of you. How long is it before you two can start a NEW site???

  64. Madaline
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I think what people are saying about being banned is that they were banned from forum access only. It happened to me. I lost my temper with a member of THE CLIQUE who attacked me for no reason and the next day when I went on to the CC the page said that I had been banned permanently from the forums for violating the TOS. I belive the exact wording was “This ban is permanent”, but that I still had access to the rest of the site. However, my recipes are there, but my cookbooks are indeed gone and my premium membership was suspended and no refund was issued.

    At first I was mad because I was just defending myself. But, after I calmed down I realized that defending yourself or not, a TOS violation is a TOS violation. I just wonder why the ones who started it were not treated the same. But, that is not for the membership to decide.

    There is life beyond Zaar. I just feel bad for the original founders who watch their hard work and obvious passion be dismantled. But, I think that they too, realize that there is life beyond Zaar.

  65. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    As a developer at Scripps, I take offense to your sweeping generalizations about my work aptitude, and the important roles our employees play here.

    I’m sorry that you feel like Recipezaar has decreased in quality since you sold it, but please don’t make comments like “Most of their IT staff is weak and their developers are downright lazy.” It makes you sound childish and ignorant.

    Also, there haven’t been any other layoffs other than Recipezaar staff. A good number of your facts need readjustment.

  66. JoyfulCook
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I am totally shocked at the complete stupidity of Scripps! How the He!! do they think that its going to work when you shove out the real hard workers…. I wonder what they really want Zaar to be….. I am devastated that they even thought to get rid of Kathy and now it sounds like even more are going to go……..

    Troy, I can imagine just what it must have been like for you both to have worked with non thinking people, I am so sorry about it all, we will all have to wait and see just what is going to happen. I wont go on as so many have said so much, but believe me, I agree with every one and every word…….Joy

  67. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @Pichote:

    Then why are there tons of bugs on the site still? Why doesn’t the shopping list work? 18 months later and things don’t get fixed. I built the site by myself in that time and your team of 5 or 6 developers can’t fix bugs. It’s pathetic.

    Sorry you’re offended, but in my experience with the devs at Scripps, they all suck. For example, the most senior guy, can’t remember his name but he was promoted weeks before I left, called me one day because FoodNetwork.com wanted to add an RSS feed of recipes from Recipezaar and wanted him to do it. He estimated it’d take him 2 months to do it. 2 months to parse an RSS feed! And he was asking me to help him argue against doing it because it was so complicated. When I insisted that it was easy, he got off the phone as quickly as he could. To this day, 18 months later, it doesn’t exist, to my knowledge. That’s lazy and flat out a bad developer. And he was Scripps’ best!

    I spent 5 days, a couple hours a day, walking the entire dev team through Recipezaar’s software explaining what the database tables are for, what the columns mean, how the PHP pages work, what memcached is, how we query the SQL db, etc. I still don’t think they got it at the end. But any good dev wouldn’t have needed anywhere near that much help. And given that bugs aren’t being fixed I’m convinced they never understood any of it. My guess is that they do what all lousy lazy devs do: claim it needs a rewrite.

    What passes for dev work at Scripps is restarting ColdFusion.

    Or what about the CTO, (who has since left the company) who in September 2007 didn’t know what an iPhone is?!? A CTO not knowing about the iPhone 8 months after it was announced! My gardener knew what an iPhone was and he doesn’t even own a cell phone, but I had to explain to the CTO of Scripps that Apple made a cell phone called the “iPhone”. And even then, he couldn’t keep the name straight, he kept calling it “an internet phone”.

    BTW, the CTO above told me the 3rd day I was there that the IT staff was incompetent but that he was told by Deanna to refer to them as “under-staffed”. So he explained to me that whenever he uses the term “under-staffed” I should understand that he’s saying they’re dumb.

    The guy who runs the IT group in Scripps claimed that their new servers for Recipezaar could handle 64 times the traffic as the hardware we ran it on. His rationale for 64x was that the servers had a higher GHz and that they could add more CPUs as necessary. A CIO who thinks that clock speed and CPU counts increase performance linearly is a noob. The site today is far slower than it was when we ran it and traffic is maybe 2x as high. I ran the IT work by myself, a staff of 20 at Scripps can’t do what I could do. That’s lame. And when we wanted to use Akamai, they insisted it would take several weeks to get it running. When I kept pressing to get it done faster, it was done that afternoon. That’s a weak IT staff in anyone’s book.

    I come from a school of developers who love to build new things and are excited to work. That doesn’t exist at Scripps. The best developers go to work at Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc. The incompetent ones go to old media companies and argue that everything’s too difficult and complicated.

  68. Kelly~Wildflour
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Hi! :)
    I’m so sorry ‘zaar has taken such a sad turn! I’m very sadly, (mostly) a “shut-in” at only 45. Recipezaar breathed LIFE into me!! I cannot imagine what you and Gay must be going through!! :( To see what you created, and have it turning out this way after all your hard work, dedication, and just plain loving what you were doing!!! It truely just must break your heart. I’m sure this is NOT what you had intended, but with hands now tied, there’s nothing you can do. Or can you…..hehe… ;)

    *I understand that there most likely would’ve been a “non-compete clause” in the contract when you sold Recipezaar. (Is there??) If so, how long was the clause’s duration? When it expires, will you be staring a new recipe site? :)

  69. Molly
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To Pichote:
    What Troy said was “I already know that Scripps doesn’t care to fix bugs and only begrudgingly fixes performance problems” and “Most of their IT staff is weak and their developers are downright lazy.”

    The first statement certainly seems to be accurate…there have been performance deficits for almost a year (the infamous Valentine’s day event) and progressive forum slowness. Neither the deficits nor the slowness appears to be getting addressed in a timely fashion. The promised updates keep getting put off.

    With multiple problems of many months standing, the second statement might be considered accurate also, even if a little sweeping.

    At the very least, there doesn’t appear to be any sense of urgency on IT/Development’s part to fix the problems or make improvements and the customers aren’t being served in the best, most responsive fashion possible.

    You can do better. You have big shoes to fill.

  70. faith58
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Pichote I am sorry if I am stepping out of line. What I would like to know is why let go of someone who has done nothing but help this company. I hope you understand we all luv recipezaar are grateful what troy and gay have started but when they sold we were happy we still had kathy and the rest of the staff. If anyone from scripps see this please realize we are all sad that kathy will no longer be here. I will vouch and I am sure everyone else will that when we had a problem it got fixed pronto. With kathy and liza we had that family feeling still. Now with her gone it’s going to be hard to feel that void that kathy filled for us.

  71. Lvs2Cook
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Amen, Molly!!!!!

  72. Pichote
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @Troy – you are missing the point. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. But you calling me lazy is offensive. Right? I know it’s the internet, but I think we can be adults here.

  73. Molly
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Pichote, he didn’t call YOU lazy.

  74. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @Pichote:

    I don’t know who you are because you’re hiding behind an anonymous post. You call me childish, but at least I’m using my real name and identity and saying what I think. You’re just demanding that I not say what I think. You may be a super star developer, and I hope you are, but that wouldn’t explain the time it takes to fix what are mostly really easy bugs to fix.

    Look at the comments on this post, these people are frustrated that bugs just don’t get fixed. Not that they aren’t attempted to be fixed, they are just ignored. So you can work on what? That real estate site in one of the worst real estate markets in history? That short-lived political site that had a known lifespan? Is anyone paying attention to the sites that actually make money year after year? Can you stand up to Deanna and say “Hey Deanna, Recipezaar makes tons of cash, can we fix the bugs and improve the site before someone else eats our lunch?”, “Or Deanna, why is AllRecipes still beating Recipezaar and now challenging FoodNetwork.com, which for years was the king?!” Deanna’s clueless and you’ll find yourself out of a job if the Scripps sites continue to miss projections. I realize Deanna really just wants to be surrounded by ass-kissers but eventually the rubber will hit the road and Deanna will be gone and if you did something to help Scripps, they’ll reward you.

    Ever see Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares TV show? Do you see how irritated he is at chefs who are lazy and don’t care about their product? That’s exactly how I feel when I see devs who do the same. And I’m not saying I’m the world’s best developer, far from it. I know lots of developers in my career that can code circles around me. I just make up for it with enthusiasm, hard work and pride in what I produce. If you don’t want to jump in and fix bugs and you have no interest in improving software, you need to find a new career. Dismiss it as childish or ignorant if you want, but it’s good advice.

  75. Kelly~Wildflour
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To Pichote:
    Do your JOB, and you will have nothing to DEFEND.

    ***Also: Someone at Scripps has lost site of the fact that this is a community-based site and the members of the community keep it going and running. If the members ie. forum hosts, recipe contributers and general members become dissatisfied, and quit contributing to the site, the site will experience a significantly reduced number of visitors. With fewer visitors, there will be less interest in advertising space, fewer new members and subscription renewals, reducing the profitability of Recipezaar. Someone there needs to correct the problems with bugs and performance before it’s too late and there is no longer a Recipezaar to visit. At that point, you won’t have to worry about your job anymore, or what people think about the quality of your performance.

  76. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    It’s been asked a few times, so let me answer: yes, we have a 5-year non-compete so we can’t build a recipe site until 2012. The 5-year length was one of the few sticking points for Scripps, they wouldn’t budge on it even though 2-3 years is the norm. We thought it was odd and told our lawyers to let it go thinking we’d be at Scripps for at least that long, but we realize now why they wanted 5 years.

    We have no plans to create another recipe site. We’ve been working on some infrastructure stuff the last 18 months so that we can avoid the infrastructure problems we had with Recipezaar and we’re working on a couple ideas for sites now, but don’t hold your breathe. :)

  77. shapeweaver
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To Pichote,

    When Scripps took over in the “St.Valentine’s Day Massacre”
    the soul of Recipezaar died a little bit that day.
    And now letting Kathy and Debbie go,Sripps just signed
    it’s own death warrant.
    It’s “ZAAR” people that has kept the site going,not some big
    company.
    So I guess if Scripps, is looking for a tax write off they will
    have found it when the Recipezaar we all knew has gone by the wayside.

  78. Pichote
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    [Edited for clarity]

    Pichote is my real name. I’m an arrogant ass and I’d like to make a childish and ignorant anti-American insult because only dumb Americans have never heard of the super-common name “Pichote”. You can’t throw a rock in Europe without hitting someone named “Pichote”, all Europeans know that because Europeans are smarter than Americans. I hope no one is offended by that, I am the only one who is allowed to be offended, even by things that are totally true.

  79. Bobbie #3
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I’m so very sorry to hear the news of Kathy and Debbie. I can’t imagine Recipezaar without Kathy. She has such dedication and work ethic. Troy, I’m also sorry for you and Gay because it must be hard to watch what you both worked so hard on and what became so successful be ignored and mismanaged. I feel bad for Liza. This must be a blow to her as well. I applaud you for your frankness and I hope some of those “lurking” from Scripps will give your concerns some serious thought. Congratulations on the birth of your son. I knew you had a little girl — but it’s wonderful to know you and Gay have now added a son to your family.

  80. Kelly~Wildflour
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    ….”Uhmmm..” Pichote, hope Scripps is reading this. And hope you have a large suitcase to pack your things in. Extremely unprofessional. If your comments are reflective of the quality and attitude of Scripps, which you represent, you should be more diligent in your posts. If you were representing me (my company), I would at the very least strongly repremand you, require you to post a formal apology, and place you on probation where any further violation would result in your immediate termination. THINK before you SPEAK. Troy is speaking for himself and his personal opinions, where as you in your postings have represented not only yourself, but also have been speaking as a representative of Scripps.

  81. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    We appreciate the sentiment, but nobody should feel sorry for us. We made the correct decision given the information we had and we have no regrets at all, even if it didn’t turn out the way we would have liked. We learned a lot about ourselves and about people over the 8 years we had Recipezaar and that will serve us well for many more years. We have two great kids now and can afford to give them all the things, opportunities and life experiences we never had as kids and that means much more to us than any job, career or business.

    We wish Kathy and Debbie could have jobs they loved for many more years, but all good things must come to an end, I guess. Both will find good jobs and I’m confident that they’ll both move on to bigger and better things.

    As bad as Scripps handles Recipezaar, it’s still the best recipe web site out there. That may not be true forever, I imagine someone will surpass Recipezaar given the obvious demand for it. And that means that all the current Recipezaar users will have a new and better place to move to.

  82. kbksmama
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    My membership is coming due in a week and I was trying to decide whether or not to renew. I guess my mind has just been made up, I’ve waited too long for things to get better.

  83. Kelly~Wildflour
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    To Pichote:
    We posted prior to your comments about Americans. As someone who travels to Europe frequently, I have never heard that name before. We even searched the “super-common” name and could not even find a simple definition of that name. Please remember where you are. As a guest in our country, you must be respectful of our people and customs. Never forget, as “ignorant” as you may think we are, Europe would not exhist in it’s present state if it weren’t for Americans. If you don’t like it here, please LEAVE. Someone should copy and paste your comments in an email and submit them to Scripps as I’m sure they would like to know what their employee is posting in a public forum. That is if you even truely work for Scripps. Which I seriously doubt.

  84. Kelly~Wildflour
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Oh, and BTW, Pichote, (or whoever you really are), you may now try to say that you are not representing Scripps, but unless you work outside normal and customary business hours your posts are taking place while you are “working” for Scripps most likely using a Scripps computer attatched to the Scripps Corporate Network. I’m positive they would not believe this is a good and proper use of corporate resources. In “simpler terms”, just so ya know in case ya got “American” misunderstood….ya might wanna grab the BIG suitcase.

  85. Skooch
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    I heart goes out to Kathy and Debbie …. being unemployed at the present time is very scarey. Although with the talent they possess, it won’t be hard for them to find better jobs. My heart also goes out to Liza .. it’s going to extremely difficult for her trying to maintain and stay afloat all alone. It’s not a good situation for Zaar and, like many previous posters, don’t see any good coming out of this.

  86. Marlene
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @BOBBIE #3

    You are one of the biggest busy bodies on Zaar and a trouble make to boot. You do not have the right to mention Kathy or anyone else in your comments. Some of see right through you and know what and who you are. You sneak around in zmail and cause fights between other members and I would not allow you to use me as your carrier pigeon as some have. Your constant attacks on the elves have not gone unnoticed. Your innocent play is ridiculous.

    @Troy

    I am truly sorry about everything and I am in agreement with you 110%. Your kids are just beautiful. Good luck to you!

  87. Skooch
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    @ Wildflour … great posts to Pichote. I couldn’t agree with you more!

    @ Marlene, where’s this attack on Bobbie #3 coming from? I’ve had numerous encounters with her in the different forums/threads on Zaar and have always found her to be helpful, funny, and doesn’t easily go on the defensive … I just don’t get it!

  88. Bobbie #3
    Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Marlene — So you’ve changed your name! Why take Troy’s site to attack me? If you want to say something to me, z-mail me or use one of the Zaar Forums — but don’t intrude on Troy and Gay. I’ve received 2 messages (1 z-mail and 1 e-mail) and the people wanted to let me know that they know who the new Marlene really is (of course I knew immediately)!!! So your writing style has not fooled anyone.

    Kathy, Liza and the rest of the “elves” are hard working individuals who I admire and respect. On the other hand — as far as you go, just go back an crawl under your rock.

  89. Posted January 26, 2009 at UTC | Permalink

    Crikey, I thought I got away forever from these immature antics 18 months ago. Don’t you people ever learn? Not everyone likes everyone. It’s okay, you don’t have to. The internet is plenty big for everyone. Please take your petty bickering and battles elsewhere. I knew you people were lunatics, but it’s been years, like 4, 5 or 6 years that you have been fighting stupid little battles with each other, day after day after day. The amount of wasted lives is shocking. It’s so sad I can’t help but laugh at all of you. I picture all of you in the future in your 90s, decades after your families and friends gave up on you, with long grey hair, sitting in your rockers, barely able to move but struggling to raise your fist and slowly type an insult at each other. Someone should make a documentary about you guys.

    I’m turning off comments on this topic. There’s nothing left to see here.

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  1. By Documentary idea: Internet Warriors on January 27, 2009 at UTC

    [...] latest chapter of the Scripps/Recipezaar debacle brought out a group of people I had forgotten about. I just had a [...]

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