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An Abuse Trifecta

I was just about to write a post explaining how my less frequent blogging is a lack of something I need to talk about when this abuse happens to Kathy Sierra. Please, go read it. Kathy Sierra is a major figure in the Web 2.0 movement, so it's getting a lot of attention. I agree with Tim Bray: we need to shine a bright light on this kind of bad behaviour.

A lot of people are pointing to the general anonymity of the Internet as the problem. Others think it's the gender imbalance of the tech industry, calling the industry and some of the players in it sexist or misogynistic.

I don't disagree with those points, but here's where I add a few cents that I haven't seen out there yet...

I'd like to say I'm surprised and shocked by these ugly events -- but I'm not. Anyone who has been on the Internet for more than ten years (or around any networked technology like BBSs, newsgroups or IRC) and explored their deep dark corners knows that nothing -- not even with the threat of the law -- is taboo. This freedom, of course, is one of the Internet's strengths and weaknesses at the same time.

I'm not condoning the behaviour, absolutely not. I'm just saying it's not unexpected. I have mixed feelings about the 'shocked' reaction. Bloggers have been abused (anonymously or otherwise) for a long time and so have celebrities. Now we have a female celebrity blogger -- a target trifecta on the Internet, if you will -- taking abuse from other bloggers/commenters and we're surprised and shocked? Please. It happens every day to people online, they just aren't all celebrities or women (or both).

Even though I think the ugliness is status quo, the strong reaction helps bring this issue to the attention of the blogosphere, at least for a few weeks anyway. That's good, we need to keep talking about it.

Posted at March 27, 2007 at 04:13 PM EST
Last updated March 27, 2007 at 04:13 PM EST

Ryan, you really should do something about the amount of spam comments you get on your blog.

» Posted by: Kibbee at March 29, 2007 11:11 AM

...annnnd they are gone.

» Posted by: Ryan at March 29, 2007 01:31 PM

And they are back... :P

» Posted by: Kibbee at March 29, 2007 03:39 PM

First point: Please remove all that spam. Man those spammers are annoying.

Second point: Yeah, I've been online probably as long as you. Since the BBS days...friends ran a few. So yeah, I'm not surprised about the comments because assholes will be assholes. And with the Internet, the fact that you're anonymous, only adds to the attractiveness. Unfortunate, but true.

» Posted by: roy at April 2, 2007 11:12 AM

I have an idea. For blogs and certain website, we should make people use their real identities. People are not as likely to behave like that if they use their real name. Enforcing it would be a technical and social challenge.

» Posted by: roy at April 2, 2007 11:31 AM

First point: I can't help being spammed. I remove them when I see them.

Facebook is doing a good job of using people's real names and pictures. It's interesting to see the effect it has on the tone of the discussion!

» Posted by: Ryan at April 2, 2007 12:59 PM
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