To PR or not to PR

A week or two ago I stumbled upon, completely by accident, this thought-provoking blog post at Gigi's blog Behind The Seams. If you are a user of or contributor to PatternReview, I urge you to read the 185 (at present count) comments on this post, some from sewing divas such as Debbie Cook, Gigi Louis, Pam Erny, Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics, and many others.

Did you know?

...that PatternReview is a profit-making company, despite its decidedly not-for-profit looks?

...that profits go to the founder, even though the site consists primarily of content  contributed for free by over 200,000 members?

...that moderators receive no payment, only a free PatternReview membership?

...that by posting a review or tip or uploading photos you grant PatternReview a "nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, and display such Content throughout the world in any media"? (You can read the full user agreement here.) This includes compiling said tips into a book format with the PR founder named as sole author and selling this at a regular book price.


Posts about the book - e.g. "Not-For-Profit Book"  - really puzzled me. Now I understand why the not-for-profit is accentuated again and again. I looked at the book cover at Amazon  a while before I read the Behind The Seams post, and noticed that the summary lists a sole author (see pic below). I have been in the publishing industry for a long time, and have worked for a not-for-profit organisation where I published more than 20 not-for-profit books, many of them compilations of information from many contributors. The compiler is never mentioned as the author.
"Compiled by ....." -  Yes.
"Edited by ...." - Yes.
But "By ...." - NEVER.


I always thought (naively) that PatternReview was a community thing, and not-for-profit. The About Us page says: " is used by 218,721 sewers to collaborate, share and discuss the projects they have been working on, or are planning to work on. It catalogs and describes sewers experiences and opinions in a structured way so that you can quickly and easily find the information they are looking for. The value of this site keeps increasing as more and more sewers start using it. As of today there are more than 70,349 reviews." (Maybe I misunderstood the meaning of the word "value"?)

Maybe this was the part that made me think it was non-profit (and of course the amateurish user interface): "Many [features] are free however as you can imagine a site like takes a lot of time to manage, support and operate. To that end there are some advanced features which are only available to a special group of members, called 'Friends of PR'. Signup for a membership or Upgrade your membership to a Friends of PR membership today!" (from About Us)

I have been thinking about all of this for a few weeks now. I have decided not to post any additional reviews or photos or tips on PatternReview, with immediate effect. I will publish reviews on my own blog where they remain my own property. I will use Google to find other pattern reviews and not automatically turn to PatternReview when I want info on a pattern. I will NEVER become a Friend of PR.

*Edited to remove the founder's name


  1. Anonymous said

    To Pr or not to Pr is very much a personal choice.

    I was very happy to find pr after a long absence from sewing. I even started taking picture of my work to post. The glow quicky faded as I found the site frustrating to navigate and the message boards not that helpful.

    After reading the full user agreement and various comments on the web a few weeks ago I too have made the choice not to participate.


    K.Line said

    I didn't realize this. I'm not a member - I don't like the idea of paying to use such a scattered interface. And, you can access a lot of the content for free (if not the archives). But I assumed it was an NFP. Maybe I just didn't give it that much thought...

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