How to Save a complete Screwup

I recently launched a huge project of mine.  A massive 12 month Crochet Along project.  All was moving well with automated signups for the newsletter growing at a good pace.  Promotion in magazines and big growth on the supporting Facebook Group.

I decided to attempt a Ravelry group to support those who don’t have access to Facebook.

Even though I was attempting something new  I gave into the fear  – my BIG mistake.

I didn’t have much experience of Ravelry and so I accepted the offer of a friend to admin the group on my behalf.

Through no fault of the admin things began to fall apart with the tech. The signups failed, without errors and when I launched the CAL a significant number of folk didn’t receive their patterns.

Unfortunately this seriously stressed out the poor admin, and caused massive unhappiness and frustration in the Ravelry group, where most of the issues seemed to be occurring.

On a nightly basis, most of the loud voices were typing through the night on the other side of the planet to me, I was supporting my wonderful friend.  She was doing her best to relay my words in a seriously stressful situation.  It was 1am in the morning and I was too tired to be able to focus and write a cohesive answer to the angry voices…

This went on for several exhausting days with us doing our best to support each other, at 2am each night, and the group.

It felt as though I was being attacked personally and sadly the same was felt by my stressed friend.

Unsurprisingly the Admin left the group due to stress, a number of aggressive comments were directed at her personally and there was swearing in the boards….

All in all it was a complete firestorm.

It Was Time to Strap My Big Girl Boots On

I was so scared to begin typing… it had to be done though.

  • Firstly I apologised to everyone in the forum, explained the errors and took personal responsibility for all the screwups.
  • I shared the files as an interim solution until the email demons could be pacified.
  • I replied to every comment individually
  • I worked my way through all the unpleasant mess and did my best to address every issue raised.
  • Restated the policy regarding manners, swearing and positivity for the board
  • Drew a line under the mess and asked those who wanted to participate to look forwards rather than rehash the aggravations and frustrations to this point

Then I had to sit back and wait…

It was so nerve wracking to wait for the responses.  I was opening up myself to a hell storm of responses but I needed to go through that process.

The response was amazing!

I received so much support and private messages of praise, specifically thanking me for giving the Ravelry community a second chance.

One comment I received several times was that “other designers simply walk away” when I had stuck with the problem and done my best to resolve it.

Things are settling down and moving forward. The second pattern has now been released successfully.  Files will be shared in both the Ravelry and Facebook groups as the email demons have yet to be pacified.

Folk are sharing their wip photos, advice for yarn choices and everyone is having a good time.

I still occasionally receive emails or private messages from new members shocked at how people treated both the Admin and myself.  It’s reassuring to know we weren’t over reacting to the excessively aggressive nature of some of the group members.

I strongly suggest that as a designer if you are engulfed in a firestorm of a problem for one reason or another that you too pull on your “Big Girl Boots”, dig deep and open yourself up for criticism. You may well be surprised at the positive responses and offers of support you receive.

Babs Rudlin


My Top Tips to Beat A Screwup

  1. Take Ownership of the problem publicly, don’t blame others
  2. Don’t give into fear
  3. Apologise for your mistakes
  4. Set time aside to deal with the problem, rather than making excuses
  5. Speak to people individually, where they took the time to complain you should take time to mend fences wherever possible
  6. Fix the core problem, with a work around or by resolving the real issue

If you have experienced something similar and have some extra tips to help others please drop them into the comments.

About the Author

The Founder of Yarn Academy Babs is all about inspiring others to find their creative juices. Babs finds it exhilarating to learn as many new techniques and skills as humanly possible and explore the entire world of yarn. Babs is always looking for the win win solution to any situation so we can all grow together in the wonderful world of fibre and colour.

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