Thursday, March 29, 2007

Blogger Hooliganism

I ran across a piece on the BBC News website about a woman blogger who was being harassed to the point that death threats were being posted on other blogs. Whoa, I thought. Wonder what sort of radical Feminist critique of Virgin Birth she posted, I thought.

It turns out that Kathy Sierra is a tech blogger.

A. Tech. Blogger.

She writes about computers and sofware and creating passionate consumers for killer apps. And so naturally people who disagree with her Photoshop sadistic murder fantasy images of her. As a result, she may stop blogging.

According to the BBC interview:

    Other than being a woman, she can see only one other reason for the hatred she has experienced in the last four weeks.

    "They thought I was just too damned optimistic," she told the BBC News website.

    "These people are interested in rage and they think that if you aren't enraged then you are part of the problem. It seems that they hate my optimism. They think I am poisoning peoples' minds with my positive outlook," she told the BBC News website.
What the Hell?

When we write about politics, we write about what means the most to us. It's about what the world our children will inherit and personally, nothing means more. And yet, while rhetoric gets heated, we manage to stop well short of posting death threats. Even the lefty sphere's resident unbalanced troll traffics only in childish taunts. But when people are talking about technology, apparently some go all Mike Tyson on each other.

As a result of this, some are talking about somehow formalizing rules for blog behavior. I fail to see how anyone could think what has happened to Kathy Sierra is OK under any rules of behavior. What is needed is for people to act this side of beastly. And what is needed is for members of online communities to call out people who don't.

One of the reasons I stated opposition to some of the slurs launced at Ann Coulter was that such talk represents the first few steps down the road rolls past the dark spot where Ms. Sierra finds herself now. Everyone, even some obscure, borderline tech-illiterate local blogger in Akron, should stop and decry what has happened. We ignore it at our peril.


Gloria Ferris said...

Civility seems to be on the way to becoming an "archaic" word. I agree with you Pho why should we have to enact rules that common decency suggests are over the line.
I agree with your approach that all of us need to say "enough is enough" and your behaviour has no place anywhere let alone on a blog.

I think we have had these conversations about hiding behind anonymous as well. It allows people to say things that they normally would pass on if their name were attached to it in some way.

Thanks for the post, Pho. We all need to be aware of these things and do what we can to make sure that they are squelched.

If we don't, the powers that be who say we need to be "controlled" will use it to close down and regulate something that should remain as is.