More On Kathy Sierra

This post is going to be more-or-less a recap of a bunch of the talk on the ongoing story about the alleged death threats on Kathy Sierra that I have taken in all day today. (Her original post is here, with hundreds of comments) There’s lots more out there, and I’m sure that even more will come to the surface as the week progresses, but for now, here’s some interesting reading (in absolutely no logical order).

Edit: There is a great post on Dave’s Educational Blog about this story, where he nicely assesses the strained relationship between free speech and censorship, and the problem with anonymity on the internet. It is one of the first truly even-handed responses I’ve read. Do check it out.

Now back to the regularly-scheduled recap:

Paul Ritchie - ChatRat
Note: He gets even more ugly than what I’m posting below. Check his blog if you’re feeling up to it.
L Ron Hubbard ring any bells? Smith and Rutherford perhaps? Helen Demidenko? How many more crap artists could I name before you stupid prats in the media get it through your damnably thick skulls that nothing beats research for a good story and the sooner this Sierra troll is highlighted for the lying cow that she is, the stupider she - and all of you - are going to look.

It's Wednesday morning in Australia. By Friday, you'll be blaming her for this outburst but what wreckage will you all leave in your collective wake? This stupid beat up is your creation because you've fallen for a beautiful ploy of a consummate liar.

Since you're all such a pack of gullible suckers, come over here and suck my motherfucking dick.
Listics - Frank Paynter
MeanKids was purposeful anarchy. I thought the people at MeanKids would create art and criticism, pointed and insulting satire, but not foster a climate of fear. Misogynistic postings at led me to try to moderate, but indeed the group there was of the “You Own Your Own Words” tradition, so moderating or central editorial control wouldn’t work. I tore the site down.


I don’t know what to say Kathy, except that I support you and I agree that misogynistic bullshit must not stand. I left a “take it down” comment but it’s in moderation. I’m going out to burn a pile of brush right now and I’ll be mulling over a post on transgressive art and personal boundaries. Meanwhile, I’m sure you know that for every bizarre asshole who resents you and your work, there are hundreds or thousands of us who admire you.
Scripting News - Dave Winer
I'll tell you what -- the mob that's going after them looks a lot more dangerous than they do. Locke and Paynter are pretty harmless, although they are nasty mofos, on the net (which is an important distinction). Sessum is a champion sexist male-basher, a real piece of work. I've never met her, and if I had the chance, I'd run the other way. Which is what I wish the mob of well-intentioned do-gooders would do.

On this one, I take the side of the mean kids, because no one else is, and I have a soft spot for people who are being attacked by a mob, no matter how pathetic they are.

RageBoy - Chris Locke
I did write two comments on the "Bob's Yer Uncle" site, which I am happy to repeat for the record: 1) "Kathy Sierra is a hopeless dipshit."; and 2) "The only 'passionate users' I know are crack heads." I do not like Kathy Sierra. I like her even less after her post of Monday. If she is waiting for me to apologize for something I did or said, she is going to have a very long wait.
BlogHer - Lisa Stone
For the record, I deeply disagree with the premise of sites like and others, and am surprised by the women and men who recommended and linked them from the beginning. To me, these sites are the of the blogosphere, a place where bitter cowards who don't have the courage to own their snark hide and spit. I disagree with Frank Paynter that the early posts were designed to be "mere anarchy". It looks to me as though the site devolved into being exactly what anyone who has ever seen that kind of site fester would expect.
Jeneane from ALLIED on Burningbird
I don't feel i can speak on this, though I wish I could. Legal statements have been used in emails that leave me unwilling to go beyond stating what I have on my blog. I'll state it again here–anything i have ever written about kathy has been on my own blog. I agree with much of what shelley has written here and thank her, and parts of what Frank has written on his blog as well.

My statements are and will be on my blog, the place I where I actually write stuff, when I know I can speak freely without legal consequence. There are important issues here to discuss, which shelley mentions — layers and layers of them.

I hope Kathy does find the commentor who has threatened her life and takes action to feel safe. And I hope she uses the same vigor to exonerate those whom she has inaccurately linked to those acts.
Nick Denton at ValleyWag
The facts won't help Locke much. A cry of misogynism pretty much shuts off debate. The marketing guru, an abrasive character by his own account, has no defenders. (Update: Dave Winer is one of the few who stands out against the chorus of cowardice.) The bloggers are behaving like a lynch mob, or a US president, looking for someone to string up, or a country to invade. Sierra is upset, traumatized, even; but it's Locke's reputation which will be, possibly quite unfairly, soiled by her accusation.
Burningbird - Shelley Powers
Do I think Kathy's life is in danger? From what she wrote? No. But it's not up to me to decide, I'm not her and I deal with things differently than she does. Doesn't mean I'm better or she's better–just different. As for fully interpreting this as a criminal act, it's up to the police since she's called them. But by calling the police, and writing her post, she's raised some very high stakes, which could end up causing a great deal of harm to some folks. She's created a posse, and from what I can see, not a lot of people have asked for context. Or care.

The email that Kathy received is separate from the posts. It was unfortunate that she combined these into a post. I'm concerned now that a lot of people are going to react and some folks, including Kathy, are going to get hurt–and no, I don't mean physically.
Alan Herrell - HeadLemur, who has quit blogging with this post
character assassination by image and psedonym
believe what you will
get some help
Doc Searls
This isn't far from the concern I had when some of the MeanKids creators approached me to participate a few weeks ago. I thought it wasn't a good idea, but didn't say anything. In fact, I don't think I visited the site after I failed to log into it before it launched. Wish I had. For what it's worth, I never heard of unclebobism, where bad stuff was also posted and which is now also down
And finally, AKMA, with some closing words
All these dimensions show, yet again, that whatever else is true, there’s no magic barrier that separates the Net from Real Life. Whether in flesh or in pixels, we’re continuously taking part in a venture with the highest stakes, in a medium with an exceptionally long memory and no guarantees of anonymity. What we do, we do in public even if we hold a domino in front of our features — the slandering, threatening, stalking, bullying and other gestures we make online had better be gestures whose consequences we stand by.

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Oh yeah, and it was written up in the BBC