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Opinion Editorials

Anatomy of Pinterest’s poor communication, hatred of men



Pinterest hates men

For months, AGBeat has led the conversation about Pinterest, introducing the visual bookmarking site to you last fall, showing you tips and tricks and how to use it for business, but one question plagues the skyrocketing social network – is there a place for men on Pinterest? Our knee-jerk reaction is annoyance that of course men are welcomed, in fact, 30 percent of AGBeat’s Pinterest followers are male, and 35 percent of my personal Pinterest account followers are men, and I would add that the men in our networks are extremely active, moreso than most of the women. So why the idea that Pinterest is a lady site?

First, the site is pink and red and the font is a charcoal grey instead of black. Very feminine. Second, even after achieving 10 million monthly users, the about page still reads, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.” Seriously, Pinterest? Why not just place a sign like the one designed above that shows hot chicks that says “no boys allowed” on the landing page!?

What is most bothersome is not that Pinterest continues to push toward a niche, there is nothing wrong with targeting a demographic, but for tech bloggers to perpetuate that it is a lady site, as is often done with a condescending tone, as in “oh look at the cute housewives with tiny brains pinning pictures of fancy things they’ll never have.” Yes, that is an exaggeration, but it is very similar to what has come up in personal conversations. The assertion by bloggers is almost that the male users, especially creatives, are feminine and belong in the ladies’ restroom. Intolerable.

Meanwhile, brands are quietly taking the site by storm and not exactly in a stupid housewife way, but in ways that crowdsource products and projects, research and connect with consumers, and brand content and ideas. While the site may believe itself to be feminine, one in three of our connections would argue otherwise.

Pinterest has some real problems

Pinterest has a real problem, and not because of their less-than-upfront revenue stream of swapping out your links with their own affiliate links. The real problem is that the team is not out front in any way. The team has no meaningful social media outreach, nor a meaningful press outreach, and as users reach out to ask questions or make suggestions, they remain quiet – look at how many stories have been written by us and other news outlets that cite Pinterest had no comment or failed to respond to any email contacts. This is a communications problem with Pinterest that could easily be solved, even if to simply assuage fans and keep them on board – remember, as anything find success, it immediately finds its haters because people like to have discovered tools yet abandon them when they go mainstream.

Pinterest should hate men

Marketing Manager Eugene Hsu, who formerly worked at the Cheezburger Network and Challenge Games (Zynga) wrote a blog today entitled “Pinterest hates men” and points out some unseen potholes that lie ahead for Pinterest. “If Pinterest does not hate men, it should. Pinterest doesn’t need to kick out the men, but they need to keep the site “pretty” and “clean” to ensure they don’t lose their strongest demographic and their future to monetize off of that audience.”

Hsu also noted, “As the popularity on Pinterest grows, more men will sign-up for this site, and that will change content from women-only into more PG-rated tumblr content. Likely teenage boys will finally hit the site realizing that all the women have gone to Pinterest, and then there will be some serious issues with signal to noise ratios and NSFW content. Pinterest better have some better segmentation and filter mechanisms in-place soon so they can maintain their core audience.”

The takeaway

Yes, Pinterest was originally targeting women, but their user culture has determined that it is far more useful than for just pinning wedding dresses. Pinterest has a communications problem in that they have no strategy and I would question if they even have a communications staff. They are quiet and many find that to be off-putting and indicative of deceptiveness. They are ignoring their user growth and continuing to cater to women which is fine, it is there prerogative as a private company, but their growth we are all praising is limited if user behavior is ignored.

Will these problems kill Pinterest? No. Will we leave Pinterest because they are silent, poor communicators that appear to value their own methods over what their users are asking for? No. Will men eventually flock to Pinterest despite the pink background and bloggers implying it’s a site for housewives? Yes. We look forward to the growth of Pinterest, we use it every day, and we really enjoy it professionally and personally, but the long term growth is limited by the Wizard of Oz curtain the company has put themselves behind, especially when it comes to male users.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. andrea

    February 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

    You are spot on with this, Lani. Pinterest totally went after the easy demographic – the one they knew would latch on quickly and help make the site grow to over 11+ million users. The question: was this the smart choice? Is it easier/better to grow your product staying focused on what you know (think) your target audience is? I say heck yeah! Do one thing right and then expand..after all, you can't be all things to all people.

    I also think you are right about the lack of a communications team. I imagine Pinterest was started by a couple of dudes who are total techies – not savvy communicators. I bet they are doing some quick hiring, though.

    Thanks for staying on top of Pinterest trends and news. You know my love of the site and I hope they don't get to big for their britches.

  2. herman chan

    February 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    u nailed the pin on the head, so to speak!

    curious, why this has not been a highly commented/forwarded story? do u think ppl suspect pinterest is the quora of 2012?

  3. Dawn-Hamilton Color Lab

    February 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Being a woman, and finding Pinterest first personally, then using it professionally. I LIKE how it's being launched. I'm not a techie, but think about it.

    I loved being on Facebook in 1997 before all the apps, games, and "noise", I love being on Pinterest because it's still clean, personal and actually useful. It's word of mouth, it's invitation only, people want what they can't actually access easily, it's marketing genius. Makes those who get an "invitation" feel special and those that don't want to join.

    So let it sit back and grow in popularity. Who knows what's going on behind the scenes. Right now it's driving traffic and those with creative minds can come up with how to use it commercially. The public and SM wonks don't have to take control of it yet.

  4. vinnie mirchandani

    February 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

    just what we need – a gender war over photos. Clint Eastwood is about to commit suicide off the bridge in Madison County:)

  5. Liz

    March 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

    The issue doesn’t seem to be that Pinterest hates men; the issue, based on this article, seems to be that the tech community hates women, what with their inferior interests and inclinations.

    I mean, “housewives?” Really? You couldn’t pick a more derogatory term to try and describe the user base?

    The site is used by design bloggers, art directors, style leaders, graphic professionals, interior designers, party and wedding planners–not all of whom are women, by the way. They are simply sparking to the notion of visual curation, as opposed to the text-heavy diggs and stumbles of the world.

    How threatening it must be that something huge happening in the technology space right now that doesn’t feel manly.

  6. Elle

    March 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    When I read this article, I could not see anything but RED, er should I say pink? How infuriating. @Liz, your comment is wonderfully thought out and well-written. I think even us “stupid housewives” can understand it. Never mind the fact, I have a college degree, I work outside the home (another bad thing, I know), mother of two…oh no…GIRLS!
    Let’s go back to cave times, shall we?

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Opinion Editorials

Ways to socialize safely during quarantine

(EDITORIAL) Months of isolation due to quarantine is causing loneliness for many, but joining virtual social groups from home may help fill the need for interaction.




Quarantining, sheltering in place, staying home. We’re tired of hearing it; we’re tired of doing it. Yet, it’s what we still need to be doing to stay safe for a while longer. All of this can be lonesome. As the days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the alone time is getting to even the most introverted among us.

Solitary confinement is considered one of the most psychologically damaging punishments a human can endure. The New Yorker reported on this in a 1992 study of prisoners in detention camps in the former Yugoslavia, as well as Vietnam veterans who experienced isolation. These studies showed that prisoners who had experienced solitary confinement demonstrated similar brain activity to those who’d suffered a severe head injury, noting that “Without sustained social interaction, the human brain may become as impaired as one that has incurred a traumatic injury.”

We aren’t meant to be solitary creatures. Your “pandemic brain” is real. That fogginess, the lack of productivity, can be attributed to many things, including anxiety, but being kept apart from other humans is a big part of it too. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and join others virtually. Be it an app, a class, a Facebook group, a chat room, or a livestream, someone somewhere is out there waiting to connect with you too.

The good news? We are lucky enough to live in an era of near limitless ways to interact socially online. Sure, it is different, but it is something. It’s important. The best thing about this type of social interaction is being able to hone in on your specific interests, though I’d caution you against getting caught in an online echo chamber. Diversity of interests, personality, and opinion make for a richer experience, with opportunities for connecting and expanding your worldview.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to socialize while staying home and staying safe. Communicating with other humans is good for you, physically and mentally.

Interactive Livestreams on Twitch:

Twitch is best known as a streaming service for video game fans, but it offers multiple streams appealing to different interests. This is more than passive watching (although that is an option, too) as Twitch livestream channels also have chat rooms. Twitch is fun for people who like multi-tasking because the chat rooms for popular livestream channels can get busy with chatter.

While people watch the Twitch hosts play a video game, film a live podcast, make music or art, mix cocktails, or dance, they can comment on what they’re watching, make suggestions, ask questions, crack jokes, and get to know each other (by Twitch handle, so it is still as anonymous as you want it to be) in the chat room. The best hosts take time every so often to interact directly with the chat room questions and comments.

Many Twitch channels develop loyal followers who get to know each other, thus forming communities. I have participated in the Alamo Drafthouse Master Pancake movie mocks a few times because they are fun and local to Austin, where I live. Plus, in my non-quarantine life, I would go to Master Pancake shows live sometimes. The chat room feels familiar in a nice way. While watching online is free, you can (and totally should) tip them.

Online trivia in real time:

There are some good options for real-time online trivia, but I’m impressed with the NYC Trivia League’s model. They have trivia games online on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The NYC Trivia League seems to have figured out a good way to run the game live while keeping answers private from the other teams. They run games on Instagram Live with a live video of the host, and participants answer via the question feature. Clever!

Online book club:

First I have to shout out my Austin local independent bookstore, BookPeople, because they are fantastic. They run book clubs throughout the year, along with readings, book signings, and all things book-related. BookPeople hosts several online book clubs during these lockdown days, and most people will find something that appeals to them.

I’m also impressed with this list from Hugo House, a writer’s resource based out of Seattle. This list includes Instagram and Goodread book clubs, book clubs for Black women, rebels, and poetry lovers. The Financial Diet recommends the Reddit book club, if you are comfortable with the Reddit format. Please note that it’s a busy place, but if you like Reddit, you already know this.

Cooking class or virtual tasting:

This is doubly satisfying because you can follow these chefs in real time, and you end up with a meal. There are a couple on Instagram Live, such as The Culinistas or Chef Massimo Bottura.

You can also participate in virtual tastings for wine, whiskey, or chocolate, though you will have to buy the product to participate in the classes (usually held over Zoom or Facebook Live). If you are in Austin, Dallas, or Houston, I recommend BeenThere Locals. The cost of the course includes the wine, spirits, or cooking kit in most cases, and all of the money goes to the business and expert hosting the class.

Look for your favorite wine, spirits, cheese, chocolate makers, and chefs that are local to you to find a similar experience. Most either prepare the class kit for pickup or delivery within a local area.

Quarantine chat:

To interact with another quarantined person seeking social interaction, there’s Quarantine Chat. Quarantine chat is one of the ways to connect through the Dialup app, available on iOS and Android devices. Sign up to make and receive calls when you want to speak with someone. The Dialup app pairs you randomly with another person for a phone conversation, at a scheduled time, either with anyone or with someone with shared interests.

Quarantine chat takes it a step further with calls at random times. When your quarantine chat caller calls, you will not see their number (or they yours), only the “Quarantine Chat” caller ID. If you are unable to pick up when they call, they will be connected with someone else, so there is no pressure to answer. It’s nice to hear someone else’s voice, merely to talk about what you’ve been cooking or what hilarious thing your pet is doing.

Play Uno:

Uno Freak lets people set up games and play Uno online with friends or strangers. Players do not need to register or download anything to play. Uno Freak is web-based.

Talk to mental health professionals:

If your state of loneliness starts sliding toward depression, call someone you can speak to right away to talk over your concerns. When in doubt, call a trained professional! Here are a few resources:

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): The NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET, 800-950-NAMI (6264) or
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to this text line 24/7 for someone to text with who will also be able to refer you to other resources: U.S. and Canada: 74174, U.K. 85258, Ireland: 50808.
  • Psych Central has put together this comprehensive list of crisis intervention specialists and ways to contact them immediately.

There are many ways to connect even though we are physically apart. These are just a few real time ways to interact with others online. If you want something a little more flesh and blood, take a walk around the block or even sit in a chair in front of where you live.

Wave at people from afar, and remember that we have lots of brilliant doctors and scientists working on a way out of this. Hang in there, buddy. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for all of us.

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Opinion Editorials

Working remotely: Will we ever go back? (Probably not)

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Now that the pandemic has opened the door on working remotely, there’s no way we’ll put the genie back in the bottle. But, here’s some ways you can adapt.



Woman working remotely on her couch with a laptop on her lap.

When it comes to working remotely, will the toothpaste ever go back in the tube?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale…” By 2030, Zuckerberg anticipates that over half of Facebook’s workforce will be remote. Many other companies are jumping on the work from home bandwagon. Working remotely has helped many businesses manage the pandemic crisis, but it’s unsure what form remote working will take over the next 10 years.

We know that employees are responding positively to WFH, as reported in this article – Employers: Lacking remote work options may cause you to lose employees. As offices transition to a post-COVID normal, here are some things to consider about your office and remote work.

What does your business gain from allowing workers to WFH?
The future of remote work depends on a conscious application of WFH. It’s not just as easy as moving employees out of the office to home. You have to set up a system to manage workers, wherever they are working. The companies with good WFH cultures have set up rules and metrics to know whether it’s working for their business. You’ll need to have technology and resources that let your teams work remotely.

Can your business achieve its goals through remote work?
The pandemic may have proved the WFH model, but is this model sustainable? There are dozens of benefits to remote work. You can hire a more diverse workforce. You may save money on office space. Employees respond well to remote work. You reduce your carbon emissions.

But that can’t be your only measure of whether remote work fits into your vision for your organization. You should be looking at how employees will work remotely, but you need to consider why employees work remotely.

The work paradigm is shifting – how will you adapt?
The work environment has shifted over the past century. Remote work is here to stay, but how it fits into your company should be based on more than what employees want. You will have to work closely with managers and HR to build the WFH infrastructure that grows with your organization to support your teams.

We don’t know exactly how remote work will change over the next decade, but we do know that the workplace is being reinvented. Don’t just jump in because everyone is doing it. Make an investment in developing your WFH plan.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.




Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out. And even as we enter 2021, there is still more to be aware of – we’re not out of the woods yet.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note… So let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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