The Ugly side of the web

I’ve been following this for the last few hours and just getting angrier and angrier. Kathy Sierra, one of the best, brightest and most compassionate bloggers that I read, has been receiving death threats and just sheer, unadulterated, vicious, abusive behaviour from other people through comments and blog posts. Kathy’s post points at some people who are allegedly involved, but we need to wait until it clears up and confirmed who is involved, as identities can be misused.

What the fuck is going on? Why does this happen again and again. The only people I know (in real life or virtually) who have been threatened and stalked have been women. What insecure, small mindedness, misogynistic behaviour takes over people to do things like this. Over 50% of the blogosphere are women, yet we continually get the refrain that they are not A-list, that they are not speaking at conferences. This is why. Put yourself out there, show that there is no difference and you get the anger and vitriol poring out from people who think they are better just because they have a Y chromosome. I’ve seen this again and again, from comments on videos we have put out there as a marketing campaign, from reading comments in the cesspit that YouTube and other sites can become; others have seen it as well. It’s said that the web is self-correcting, that it routes around trouble. But I rarely see it doing that with this type of behaviour. The big sites need to stand up to this. put a stake in the ground and ban it; give the tools to the content producers to stop it. The law needs to support this stance and prosecute as far as they can. In the UK, it is difficult to prosecute unless they ave done something; it may be too late by then. It needs to change. It can not be tolerated. I sit here contemplating getting out there more, looking for more opportunities to speak after last week, but this makes me think again. Makes me think I should just draw back into my shell and not do it. And that is so wrong, should not be happening. My thoughts are with Kathy, and with the others who seem to be caught in this maelstrom of hatred and jealousy and hope and pray it works out well.

Update: After doing more more reading, I think I want to clarify that my rant above is about the general attitude that is common. It’s about expected behaviour, not legal allowances. I believe in free speech – even if we (UK) do not have the same ‘right’ that the US laws allows – but just because it can be said does not mean it should be. And moving beyond ‘meanness’ to threats does break US laws. Whatever the outcome of this particular situation, it’s going to be a long time and a hard battle before the attitude in general clears up.

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