The rapid rise and fall of Recipeasly

Both Jenny and I have written before about the constant criticism aimed at food bloggers who pen a lengthy introduction or indulge in a personal story before reciting their recipe. I wrote about ‘How much story do you want with that recipe?‘ a couple of years ago, and recently Jenny returned to the subject with ‘Order up: one recipe, hold the narrative.’ The tug-of-war between those who value the stories that accompany the recipes and others who want to skip straight to the ingredients list is a never-ending struggle.

For a brief moment, it seemed that the folks in the latter camp had a solution – Recipeasly, a website that stripped ads and narrative content and contained recipes only. As the BBC reports, Recipeasly was immediately embroiled in controversy.

One of the site’s founders, Tom Redman, posted on Twitter introducing the new service: “Two friends and I created a new thing to fix online recipes,” touting that the site provided “your favourite recipes except without the ads or life stories.” Food bloggers immediately objected to Recipeasly, noting that it would eliminate important context about the recipes and result in revenue loss for content creators. Food writer Kat Kinsman summed up the criticism in her reply: “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?” An article from The Washington Post explained additional ways Recipeasly could harm food bloggers.

While there were a few people who praised the site as a ‘lifesaver’, most of the responses were negative. For their part, the developers noted that they would not receive any revenue from Recipeasly, and that the site could drive traffic to bloggers. Redman later posted that “We realise we’re not demonstrating the huge respect we have for recipe creators. We missed the mark big time today and we’re sorry.” As quickly as it arrived Recipeasly has departed, and there is no word on whether it will return in another form.

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  • slimmer  on  March 2, 2021

    I’m in the cut-the-blather camp. A couple of grafs about how the recipe came to be, or about substitutions, makes sense. But skip the navel-gazing., or that cute thing your kid did, or how your day is going.

  • averythingcooks  on  March 2, 2021

    I JUST saw this “Recipeasly” news item cross my phone newsfeed this am – and said out loud “you can’t do that!”
    I do read a few blogs regularly and often come across others as I search for recipes beyond my bookshelf and I guess my view is this ….if I don’t actually want to read (or even skip through) the personal narrative/photographs etc, then I guess I can choose to skip that blog and go elsewhere. It seems pretty simple to me.

  • dmco6863  on  March 2, 2021

    Sometimes it’s as if there actually is no recipe. After much scrolling, accidently clicking on an ad instead of read more/continue, I tend to give up.
    I’m looking for dinner inspiration that doesn’t take forever. (This is why I love EYB)!

  • Fyretigger  on  March 3, 2021

    It’s nice when a “jump to recipe” link is provided. I want at least some story. Especially if the recipe includes unusual ingredients or combinations, how else am I to know what to expect or what it might be served with if there isn’t a story? But I don’t want to have to wade through a long story every time I visit the recipe. When I cook a recipe, it will be at least the second time I’ve visited it, so a “jump to recipe” link is very helpful.

    Any recipe that I decide is a real “keeper” I transcribe to my personal, digital recipe book. It is the only way to insure you won’t lose a recipe that appears online. It also means that I have the recipe with me when I go shopping.

    What I find infuriating is when the design of a web page causes ads to appear and disappear and the webpage repaginates as they do so. The second time the line of text I’m reading jumps out from underneath my eye, leaving me searching for my place, I’m leaving the webpage and avoiding visiting it again. Sometimes free is just too expensive.

  • nwaterman967  on  March 3, 2021

    I don’t think a third-party site or app should scrape a recipe from a website without the user actually having to first visit the original site at least once (unless the original site owner says its ok.) That’s not ethical in my mind. But once I’ve actually MADE a recipe on a website, I’ll save it in some way so I can make the recipe again in the future without having to track it down online again. (And recipes online can disappear.) I don’t see that as a problem. I might print the page, save the page as a pdf, write a short recipe down or use cut-and-paste or an app to save it directly from the original site (when I’m still on the site.) It don’t see that as a problem. If the recipe is successful, I’ll probably go back to the site to poke around more and see what’s new.

  • Passionflower  on  March 4, 2021

    Creating recipes and maintaining a blog is work. If you work, you should get paid. Bloggers write stories to accompany their recipes because it helps drives traffic to their site. Similarly, advertising provides bloggers some revenue.

    Consider your views of the story as a way to provide payment, albeit indirectly. In the alternative, pay money for the recipes that you use. If you complain about having to scroll, or that you’re annoyed by the stories, that means you expect the blogger to do all the work with no compensation. I wish we had a different system, but this is how things are. Nobody should work for free.

  • sir_ken_g  on  March 4, 2021

    I like “jump to recipe” links.
    I also use a Chrome app called “Print friendly and PDF” Which allows manual deletion of text or photos in any on-line article.

  • whitewoods  on  March 4, 2021

    I like the phrase “cut-the blather camp” used here by an EYB member. I’m also in that camp; however, the bloggers and/or journalists were rightfully upset, and I’m kind of surprised that the developers didn’t foresee that there would be backlash.

  • Tovie  on  March 5, 2021

    Actually I find the ads and other weird website features far more annoying than stories I don’t want to read. I can simply scroll by inert content (or maybe they’re nice and provided a jump to recipe button). Ads that appear and disappear and they’re like every three lines or so, even in the middle of a recipe (3 ingredients, ad, 3 ingredients ad, etc), ads that cover content, drive me insane.

    And don’t get me started on website features, doubly annoying for mobile users. Sometimes the top bar floats down the page and I can barely read the recipe. Some have a weird floating bar about a third of the way down the page. Try a site that has both of those, view through Pinterest and on a mobile and it’s a lost cause. Also the “join my email list” crap or cookbook sales popping up before I’ve even had a chance to look at your page are NOT cool. And video! OMG I came to your page to look at a specific recipe (i.e., Green Chile Enchiladas). I’m not remotely interested in a video on chocolate chip cookies. Especially if it pops up uninvited and I have to wait forever before I can X it out. (just for the record, I’m not interested in a video for Green Chile Enchiladas either, but if it’s embedded in the page and optional, then that’s fine because if it was something new to me, I probably would watch a video).

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