Thursday, March 20, 2008

War in the Playground: Babble Bullies Offsprung

Guys, things are getting nasty: 2 parenting websites are clashing in the playground. And I'm taking a side.

Babble did a bad, bad thing.

If you read this blog you may notice I often refer to Offsprung, a parenting website whose motto is "because your life didn't end when theirs began." I like Offsprung, and I like their parenting forum, called "The Playground," where open conversations can be mildly addictive and where I even hosted a virtual Parents' Night Out complete with real cocktails.

But since Offsprung's been up a while now, one can only imagine why Babble (which has been around even longer) has suddenly seen fit to debut the Babble Playground. Another online forum for a parenting site? Fine. But calling it "The Playground"?

Babble can hardly claim ignorance of Offsprung and its playground, which I imagine they will do if questioned about the coincidental name. Offsprung is the venture started by Neal Pollack, author of parenting memoir, Alternadad. Babble knows Pollack. They've gotten quite a bit of mileage out of discussing his book on their site.

I enjoy both Babble and Offsprung. In fact it is Babble that inspired me to start Crabmommy, right here. Babble debuted as a supposedly edgy, ironic parenting website, but their first video featured the gorgeous CEO couple giddily chatting about the beauty of parenthood while their son frolicked in his Modernist nursery. Edgy, ironic stuff!

In truth there are many pieces I have enjoyed at Babble. But it's always scary when major corporate-sponsored sites step on the little guy. At Offsprung, you are free of pop-ups sporting new designs for SkipHop bags or Sigg flasks. Offsprung is going it alone, whereas Babble is a corporate venture by ultra-successful NerveMedia people. Nothing edgy or ironic about their m.o. there.

Look, far be it from me to diss advertising. I blog for Cookie magazine for God's sake. But when you're on a sponsorship-free site as good as Offsprung, you know it's a rare treat and it should be protected, not threatened. It's basically public service for parents. All parents. Even rural ones. I once sent Babble a piece I'd written about leaving the city (NYC) for the rural mountain west. Only to be told that they couldn't run it because Babble is only for urban parents. Now THAT'S edgy, innit?!

Thankfully Offsprung doesn't mind the country hicks swinging by with our weird rural ideas and crappy unironic decor. They accept me, unsophisticated as I am given that I am agrarian folk...They's good peoples.

Babble, don't steal from the little guy. Get out of the playground. Go have fun in "The Sandbox" or on "The Sidewalk" or some other edgy, hip urban place where you do your edgy, hip urban thing. Meantime I'm off to copyright Crabmommy, in case you plan on debuting me without my being there.


Anonymous said...

Crabmommy, thanks so much for giving the Offsprung Playground a boost. I have yet to meet such a diverse group of people who thorougly enjoy talking about everything under the sun and truly caring about how the next person is doing. We have moms and dads, new parents and old hands, lawyers and massage therapists, astrologers and scientists, working parents and the stay at home type, grad students and folks who barely finished high school. What we have in common is a commitment to being the best parents we can be and an insane desire to laugh at the whole business on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time Babble has stolen from the little guy, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

DGB said...

Right on Crabmommy! I'm a proud card-carrying member of Offsprung (okay, we don't have cards, but if we did I would carry one) and I hate that somebody ripped off from them (us).

Anonymous said...

I'm heading straight over to Offsprung. At first I liked Babble, but after a few months, all the good bloggers left and it was no longer worth my time. Not long after there was controversy when they stole from one of my favorite bloggers, Dutch at Sweet Juniper. The only thing urban about Babble is the crime rate.

Gabrielle of Design Mom said...

I love everything you write.

Amanda said...

tanya, I too was quite shocked to hear about the sweet juniper theft. I think Babble is a good magazine, notwithstanding some of their annoying qualities. but filching pictures and "playgrounds" is pretty sucky of them.

design mom, I ADORE YOU! no seriously, this chick's blogs rock hugely and I don't know how she does that since she has like 90 kids...right gabrielle? (At least 5)
I'm thrilled you read Crabmommy. fantabulous.

Derek said...

Kudos on your taking Babble to task!

I put my own take on the stolen playground here.

I like the user-friendliness and design of Babble on whole better than Offsprung, but I don't think it has much in the quality content department. That's why Offsprung is a superior site.

Amanda said...

DBR, I will say what i said at Offsprung. I don't think babble sucks or that Offsprung is necessarily better. In some way yes, some ways no. Babble has some great essays and I for one have frequently commented on them and enjoyed reading them. The question is one of ethics. Even if the temr playground came to them innocently or was deemed to be generic, what are they going to do when offsprung asks them to change it? They ahve taken without permission before (ref. Sweet Juniper), which makes me doubt their integrity. It's really shame. They should be supporting Neal Pollack and co not side-swiping them. Seriously, are you going to tell me his little offbeat site is really a threat to babble, which is clearly a rip-roaring success? Please.

Derek said...


I think I was expressing my own personal preference between Offsprung and Babble. I would not assert that Offsprung is any sort of real threat to Babble.

Amanda said...

no, cool DBR. I hear you, didn't mean to seem as tho' were taking issue w/ you. And your post is very nicely put. I tried to comment but the thing didn't take. Maybe it's me. my blogging finger hurts today. :)

Mom101 said...

I'm with whoorl. The "coincidences" are adding up.

(Love your writing by the way. And am well familiar with the mocking/coveting dichotomy.)

Derek said...


Your comment did take on my blog. I appreciated the feedback. It was just delayed. I need to adjust my Blogger comments moderation settings.

It seems like Babble is just ignoring the charges of stealing. It'll be interesting to see if that will last and it will blow over.

Daisy said...

Only for "urban" parents? How narrowminded. I, too, have enjoyed Offsprung and their playground.