The usually tranquil world of Country Living magazine has been hit by an online furore over its handling of a competition to find a new columnist.
When it was launched, the competition asked fellow website users to vote for their favourite blogger, who would then become the Natmags magazine's newest recruit.
But midway through the competition, editor Susy Smith changed the rules so that the final decision was down to the Country Living editorial team — a move which has prompted outrage on the site's forums.
Forum posters have accused the magazine of lying, misleading and changing the rules of the competition and claim that the three finalists chosen by the magazine were not prolific bloggers, nor had they blogged for a long time on the site.
A typical response to the rule change, from forum poster "Countrymousie", said: "I have never come across anything so unprofessional — many people took the competition very seriously, and they are very hurt."
A number of posters have threatened to leave the forums and boycott the magazine.
Many bloggers were surprised that the magazine announced its rule change in a forum post by Smith, midway through a thread. In an announcement on the forums after posters expressed their outrage, Smith defended her decision to intervene, saying that she was only doing so in response to posters complaining that they did not have the time to read all the blogs and then vote.
Smith told Press Gazette: "We asked the online community to vote for their favourite blog. However a discussion in the chatroom made it clear our readers felt uncomfortable with the vote. We responded directly to their concerns and agreed the editorial team would select the winner."
Forum posters argued there should have been a formal statement as to the rules, and accused the magazine of "unprofessionalism".
In her response on the website, Smith said: "We are very much on a learning curve with the website and hopefully will get better at it as we go along."
She defended the choice of finalists, who despite only posting a small number of times demonstrated "quality over quantity" and "showed real potential".
She added: "As editor, I am ultimately responsible for the content of the magazine. My job is to select content that as much as possible meets the wider expectations of all of our readers.
Occasionally this disappoints a few, but predominantly this pleases the majority of our very loyal readership."