Sometime between five and six years ago, I stumbled across this website. It was pretty hard to miss the diversity of opinions in its content and the well-intentioned open invitation to contribute. I loved that. It was refreshing. There were some perspectives that made me cringe, some I agreed with, and plenty that made me think about my own infatuation with riding waves in a whole new way. I contributed my first piece to The Inertia that night and a few years later I found myself on board as a staff editor.
I like to think that same open invitation to include as many voices as possible is an important element of what sets The Inertia apart from everybody else today, especially in an industry that’s often more focused on sitting at the cool kids’ table than giving something valuable to the community it’s a part of. Recently, the good people at STAB decided to exploit that well-intentioned invitation. Using a fraudulent name, email address, and a string of courteous and enthusiastic (but untrue) emails, they paid a writer to attempt to publish his first article on The Inertia so they could show everyone what they did!
As the editor who responded to those emails and ultimately pushed publish on a piece instead of listening to my own instincts (I’d asked for links to support the research and data, a request that was casually and seemingly innocently sidestepped), it’s been a learning experience. Time is the most valuable thing we all have and the most valuable thing we can give. Anybody who’d use any amount of theirs and even the tiniest bit of mine to make our little group of people in Venice look foolish is, well…an asshole. It’s really that simple. The way I see it, somebody went out of their way to not only embarrass our staff but to put down the 2,500+ contributors who share their experiences and stories here, making The Inertia what it is. We’re really proud to have something where the guy who just took his first surf lesson and Kelly Slater can both chime in on the same conversation (yes, Kelly is a contributor too). We believe in that because surfing isn’t what some insecure prick at another surf magazine tells you it should or shouldn’t be. Even though the vibes in our lineups can sometimes leave us feeling otherwise, surfing isn’t an exclusive club. It’s a collection of experiences for everybody who knows what it’s like to take off a cold wetsuit at 7 am and laugh when saltwater starts spilling out their nose.
Most of all, I’d hope this misstep doesn’t discourage anybody from adding their own thoughts and experiences to surfing’s narrative in the future. We’re committed to bringing value to the surf, mountain, and outdoors culture by sharing great stories. We continue to reserve the right to politely decline submissions, though we’ll continue to encourage a diversity of perspectives on the site. Simply put, we want you to keep sharing your photos, your films, and your work with us because our editorial staff is here to steer the ship while you all participate in driving it, too. Obviously, we’ll be making some changes to the management of our contributor system now in an effort to make The Inertia an overall better publication.
So thank you to our 2,200+ and counting contributors from all over the world. We’re happy you love us. And for those of you who think we’re kooks, well, we’re okay with that too.
All the best,
With that said, here are a couple adjustments to protocol to keep in mind about The Inertia‘s contributions policies moving forward:
Let Us Know Who You Are and WHY You Want to Contribute
What are your credentials? That’s a funny question given how liberal we’ve been about inclusion over the past seven years, but understand while we’re not asking you to be a professional surfer or industry guru in order to have work published on this platform, we do want to know who you are – from the wave-starved Great Lakes surfer to the marine biology professor and everybody in between. Artists, photographers, writers, Average Joe surfers, snowboarders, teachers, filmmakers, and the list goes on, are all welcome to share what they’re working on, what they’re excited about, and what they’re learning by enjoying the ocean and outdoors.
When you reach out, keep this in mind, and be prepared to fill us in on why you have a unique perspective that can be added to the mix. It’ll be just as important as telling us what you want to contribute.
No Pen Names
This isn’t really a policy that’s changing, just one that’s being reiterated here and now.
In the past, I’ve received requests from people who wanted to use pen names or brand names for an author byline, some admitting they didn’t want to use their real name to avoid being hassled in the lineup or on their Facebook pages for offering a controversial take. It’s been my personal policy not to allow that since becoming the first point of contact for The Inertia’s contributors, wanting to keep the integrity of the platform through honesty and sincerity.
So, “put your name on it,” as Herm Edwards once said. If you feel something is important enough to say and share, we stand by you. We just require you to stand by that as well.
New Contributors Should Include Social Media Links
It’s 2017, if you don’t have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin then you’re probably not a person. In fact, I’ve dated women whose dogs have at least two of the four, and so we think requiring you to share at least as many links to your own social media is a pretty solid requirement moving forward.
We won’t require those links to be in your author profile, just let us know.