Please, stop reading this and go read Kathy Sierra’s Death threats against bloggers are NOT “protected speech” (why I cancelled my ETech presentations). Something is badly out of control and needs to be fixed, urgently. There’s got to be more story to be told. Anyone who is remotely connected with the people doing this needs to dig that story up and tell the community. You can’t cure a disease without a diagnosis.

[Update:] Now I recall why I don’t read Valleywag. They brush this off as a “debate between web geeks” and re-run the lame old joke about academics and low stakes. Unless this is an elaborate spoof, we’re talking about threats of violent sexual abuse and death. Valleywag is contemptible.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: John Minnihan (Mar 26 2007, at 13:57)

Wow. I have a thick skin, but that was pretty awful stuff. I, too, want to hear the full story.


From: Frank Paynter (Mar 26 2007, at 14:23)

Kathy mentions me prominently in her post. I am mortified by what happened and have done my best to help her through this. I will post a more detailed response at some time in the future when my own shame and anguish has diminished enough to permit clarity.


From: Mark Woodman (Mar 26 2007, at 16:28)

Penitence is a good thing, Frank. But seriously, when you're "in bed" (your words on Kathy's site) with sites like MeanKids and BobsYerUncle, those sorts of posts are par for the course. Disgusting, but typical. You can't really be surprised.

If you're really ashamed at what happened to Kathy (and not just the bad press for you), I'd say its time for some soul searching on the philisophical bed you're in.


From: Frank Paynter (Mar 26 2007, at 18:40)

Yes, I've been doing some soul searching, Mark. The apology and communication with Kathy was little enough in itself. Mom had some good cliches like "You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas," and "Birds of a feather flock together." Many of these dogs have been my friends for a long time. I expect they will each own the responsibility for their own transgressive speech, as I do for mine.

Kathy has twice accepted my apology (including in a comment by Bert on her blog post). I hope her posse can do the same.


From: Ed Borasky (Mar 26 2007, at 19:05)

Tim, you may remember me from RubyConf 2006. I'm a regular reader of Kathy's blog, and very few others. This is beyond way way over the edge, beyond illegal and beyond immoral. I know Kathy accepted Frank Paynter's apology, but I don't.

The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone. I think Robert Scoble has the right idea -- stop blogging for a week. In fact, I've got two blogs and I was planning to pull one of them down because I didn't have the time to work on both of them. But now, I think I'm going to pull them both down permanently. I just don't want to be a part of this any more.

Ed Borasky

P.S.: If you're in contact with Kathy, give her my love and support.


From: Dalibor Topic (Mar 27 2007, at 05:55)

It's sad to see that despite her chilling post she gets some hateful, abusing comments from readers in the comment section. Sigh.


From: My dumb ideas require anonymity (Mar 27 2007, at 06:09)

I don't suppose you could take a technical approach to tackling this, could you?

Instead of just filtering out spam, also filter out troll comments. Yes? No?


From: Francis Hwang (Mar 27 2007, at 08:06)

"Instead of just filtering out spam, also filter out troll comments. Yes? No?"

That works if you just find other people's speech hurtful to your feelings. If you find other people's speech possibly indicative of an intent to be hurtful to your <em>body</em>, you actually want to be entirely aware of every single thing that's being posted. Of course, Kathy can't be 100% certain that such unpleasant posts are intended as actual threats, but what's the acceptable margin of error when your physical safety is involved?

A small minority of the human race does actually have an obsessive violent streak, particularly when women are involved. And often the internet only serves to amplify their problems.


From: Lethe Vida (Mar 27 2007, at 20:01)

Misogyny is still rampant in IT, sad to say (and have experienced). Unless somehow the culture can be "fixed" to become an actual meritocracy instead of being such a boys' club, experiences like Kathy's will occur in the lives of many more women. What can you do? SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS VILE ACT, and others like it. EsPECially when you see it occurring.


From: Deborah Hartmann (Mar 28 2007, at 08:14)

I appreciate the way Kathy has raised the bar for software product quality. I'm appalled by what's happened.

Can someone tell me, did the perpetrators indicate what provoked these horrible threats? Surely it's more than just that successful, outspoken and =gasp= female?


From: Will (Mar 29 2007, at 20:18)

The stuff posted on that site about Kathy qualifies as a misdemeanor & b/c it's interstate would prob. get prosecuted by the feds. The admins/owners are also guilty of aiding/abetting/harboring, etc. for not disclosing the ID of "Joey".

Not to mention "siftee" out of

Some day people will go to jail or a Federal Pen for things like this.


From: Augusto (Mar 30 2007, at 18:21)

I'd like to second Deborah's request:

I'm trying to understand this situation, and it's really upsetting what has happened here. But I'm really confused as to why she was "targeted" at all. Not that it justifies anything, but what in the world motivated these people to pick on her in the first place? Was it something she said, something she wrote?

I read Chris Locke's response to the whole thing, which seemed childish and inappropriate, he mentions she "hates her". Again, what in the world is going on here?


From: Shifra (Apr 05 2007, at 11:59)

I'm very pleased that Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke have begun a good conversation. I just wanted to chime in about the question of why she was targeted: as a woman in a technical field, I know that I've been subject to stupid comments ranging from patronizing-but-well-intentioned all the way to hateful and abusive. It's very threatening to many men to listen to an intelligent woman with strong opinions. From where I sit, that's the sum total of the reason Kathy Sierra was targeted.


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