A website that collates recipes from the internet has been taken down just hours after it launched, following backlash from food bloggers.
Product manager and engineer Tom Redman took to Twitter over the weekend to announce a new website called Recipeasly that he and a few friends created “to fix online recipes.” He also shared the following description of the website: “your favourite recipes except without the ads or life stories.”
The concept isn’t new, of course. For years, at-home cooks have been divided into two camps: those who enjoy reading food bloggers’ lengthy descriptions of their recipes and how they came about, and those who prefer to click “jump to recipe” and get right down to business.
But for many food bloggers who create recipes for free, the blog that goes along with the recipe helps them optimize their posts for searchability and monetization. And many food bloggers expressed concerns that a website like Recipeasly could be hugely detrimental to this business model.
So y’all just want to out recipe writers completely out of business? This is extremely gross.
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) March 1, 2021
One Twitter user also flagged a potential legal issue Recipeasly could face: copyright infringement.
I would really hope you’ve run this past a lawyer, because it seems an awful lot like profiting off of someone else’s work without their permission. It will also impact ad revenue and traffic for the bloggers. Not cool.
— Louisa 🌈👭 (@LouisatheLast) March 1, 2021
Food and Wine senior editor Kat Kinsman highlighted an important critique of the website, writing: “Wait, so you are just stealing content, eliminating context and creator revenue, and diminishing the labor that is the only way these recipes exist in the first place because you have decided the humans behind them are annoying?”
Wait, so you are just stealing content, eliminating context and creator revenue, and diminishing the labor that is the only way these recipes exist in the first place because you have decided the humans behind them are annoying?
— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) March 1, 2021
Another Twitter user challenged Recipeasly’s creators to take the time to understand why food bloggers include “life stories” alongside their recipes.
“Recipes are life stories. They tell the stories of generations of families who created dishes that represents a culture. Life stories also are part of SEO which help food bloggers, mostly women support their families,” she wrote.
“life stories”??? Recipes are life stories. They tell the stories of generations of families who created dishes that represents a culture. Life stories also are part of SEO which help food bloggers, mostly women support their families.
— Jessica van Dop (@DiningTraveler) February 28, 2021
Despite the backlash, some social media users were intrigued by the website and thought it was a great concept.
I don’t care what others say, I LOVE this idea. I am tired of scrolling down and scrolling down and scrolling down to get to the actual recipe. I always wished the recipe was at the top and that way if you didn’t want to read the background you didn’t have to.
— Ann *WearADamnMask* *Stay3MetersApart* Ryan (@Ann123abc456xyz) March 1, 2021
One Twitter user even applauded Redman for his work and said most people who search for recipes don’t actually want to read about the blogger’s back story.
Lol this dude is getting killed for this but everyone hates the ads and life stories with a passion. For the people saying “buy a recipe book” why so I can pay $30 for 3 good ones and 100 that I don’t care about? Good for this guy!
— B (@aHyerPower) March 1, 2021
Another social media user said the website sounded intriguing and said she’s likely to still click back to the original recipe to read the author’s cooking tips.
Well done! It’s going to make it easier to find back recipes that I « stumbled on but somehow never manage to find back when googling them ». And I’m likely to click back to the original link to read the advice usually given on top of the instructions. Win-win for all, I think!
— Deborah Rippol (@DeborahRippol) February 28, 2021
Following the backlash, Redman sent out a series of follow-up tweets just hours after his initial announcement.
“So… this has struck a chord. To the content creators, I’m sorry. Your recipe websites and blogs are amazing,” he wrote.
The site founder then went on to admit that he and his team hadn’t marketed the website properly and explained that the recipes that are imported into Recipeasly are only visible to the user who imported them.
After even more backlash, including Twitter users who refuted that claim with screenshots of their personal view of the website, Redman thanked everyone for their feedback and said the website had been taken down.
On the website’s homepage, visitors are now greeted with the an apology message: “We have nothing but respect and admiration for the time, money, and effort that go into creating great recipes & websites. We don’t want to minimize the results for all that hard work. We realize we’re not demonstrating the huge respect we have for recipe creators. We missed the mark big time today and we’re sorry.”
TODAY reached out to Redman for comment but did not hear back.
I’m sorry, we hear you.
Given the feedback, we are taking https://t.co/3ZNkSV82Y5 down as we re-examine our impact on the community.
Our goal is to amplify the voices & content of creators, not diminish them. And if we come back, it’ll be with changes where we have fallen short
— Tom Redman (@redman) March 1, 2021
This is hardly the first time the internet has debated the pros and cons of long recipe blog posts. In 2019, Smitten Kitchen founder Deb Perelman addressed the issue in a series of tweets.
“Dear recipe writers on the internet: I have a radical idea. I think you should write as long and as in-depth as your heart desires about recipes and anything else they drum up in your mind and ignore anyone who says you shouldn’t,” she wrote.
Actor Mindy Kaling expressed her frustration over lengthy recipes in 2020, as did historian Kevin Kruse in 2019.
Why do all online recipes have endless pages of the chef’s whole life story about the recipe and then on the 12th page is the actual recipe? I just want the recipe! I don’t need the Modern Love essay on how you came up with it!
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) March 29, 2020
Actor Chelsea Peretti has also spoken out on the matter — in a very passionate, all-caps manner.
WHY DOES EVERY ONLINE RECIPE BEGIN WITH A 40 PAGE ESSAY ABOUT SOMEONES HUSBAND DOG AND KIDS AND A BRISK WALK THEY TOOK IN THE FALL AND HOW THEY LOVE THE CHANGING OF THE LEAVES AND THEIR DOGS FAVORITE TREAT. GIMME THE RECIPE HON MY SCROLL FINGER HURTS
— Chelsea Peretti (@chelseaperetti) November 22, 2018