// Internet Duct Tape

Cyber-bullying – Not just for teenagers

Posted in Digital Culture, Links, Technology by engtech on March 27, 2007

I’ve been thinking about featuring 31 bloggers over 31 days for my one year anniversary and Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users would be tops on that list. Which makes this even more saddening and sickening. I don’t know any of the people involved/accused so I won’t comment on the specifics of the situation. It constantly amazes me how “Just Add Internet” and people get up to the kind of actions and harassment they’d never do in real life.

Well, hopefully they’d never do in real life.

Scobles’ response was good, especially since he gets his fair share of internet death threats as well.

Quoting myself from a previous post:

When I was involved in the BBS/IRC scene as a teenager I was surrounded by flame wars; one-upmanship was part of the attraction. I thought it was because of the immaturity of the participants, but now I think it is a natural offshoot of digital communication. We lose all the visual and auditory cues that are a normal part of human dialog and instead focus on words that can be easy to misinterpret (especially if looking for a reason to fight).

Throw anonymity into the mix and it becomes a recipe for disaster. Becoming popular on Slashdot or Digg is equal parts excitement at the exposure and annoyance at the new commenters. To be fair this isn’t restricted to these two communities; for a large number of people getting into arguments on the Internet is a major source of entertainment.

But some people take that too far. Flamewars and oneupmanship is drastically different than harassment. I hope legal action is pursued and the WordPress.com staff do what they can to identify the source.

16 Responses

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  1. engtech said, on March 27, 2007 at 6:42 am

    And once again the Digg commenters destroy my faith in humanity.

    http://digg.com/tech_news/Death_threats_against_bloggers_are_NOT_protected_speech_Kathy_Sierra

  2. Kathy Sierra « Bridlepath said, on March 27, 2007 at 8:43 am

    [...] 26 03 2007 You’ve probably heard about this, but if not: A wordpress.com blog was pulled for hosting obscene content and death threats against another blogge…, Kathy Sierra. What galls me is the sense I get from some quarters that she’s [...]

  3. raincoaster said, on March 27, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    What is this “faith in humanity” of which you speak? That they can walk on their hind legs surprises me most of the time.

  4. A.J. Valliant said, on March 27, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    I read the threat and pictures referenced by Kathy. While tasteless and childish, they were clearly meant to be annoying and offensive as oppose to legitmately threatening.

  5. engtech said, on March 27, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    @rain: so true.

    @aj: I wouldn’t go so far as to make that judgment. Not being involved in the situation it’s impossible to know the context. Even if someone’s intent was to be annoying and offensive it doesn’t mean their actions aren’t threatening. I also think that insinuating sexual assault on a woman is one of those things that can’t be considered anything but threatening — especially if it is someone who peripherally knows you in real life.

  6. [...] Skip navigation DisclosureSubscription OptionsMost Popular PostsToolsWordpress.com Resources – Tips, Tricks and ToolsWordpress.com Theme ReviewsWordpress.com Theme Review HelpGreasemonkey script: WordPress.com Category ResizerWordpress.com 7 Day Referrer ParserPerl Script – WordPress.com 7 Day Referrer ParserGreasemonkey Script: Akismet Auntie Spam for WordPressGreasemonkey Script: Find images that are too wideTag Cloud Generator for WordPress.comTag Cloud Generator AdvancedTag Cloud Generator – Release NotesComic BloggerTag CloudAll Posts by TitleSeriesGift Guide for Geekseaster eggsWindows XPblog – full postsa nerd and his blogAbout Me « Cyber-bullying – Not just for teenagers [...]

  7. engtech said, on March 27, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Best play-by-play I’ve seen: http://www.onebyonemedia.com/from-the-a-list-to-the-blacklist/

  8. kuipercliff said, on March 27, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    It doesn’t look good, does it, this whole shebang? If Kathy Sierra is scared, there’s a reason for that. She doesn’t strike me as a shrinking violet.

    Re: flamewars, etc, have you checked out John Suler’s paper, “Online Disinhibition Effect”?

  9. [...] out some posts by other bloggers regarding this situation: Engtech, One By One Media, Doc Searls, Robert Scoble, Mathew Ingram, and the TechMeme [...]

  10. raincoaster said, on March 28, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    Some clueless bungler on Valleywag is actually trying to compare his experience getting called “faggy metrosexual” to this. Some people really do need a serious wake-up call.

  11. [...] Engtech another tech writer whose blog just reached 1 million hits speaks (congrats by the way) to the effects of adult cyberbullying and is quoted as saying this: “….. Not being involved in the situation it’s impossible to know the context. Even if someones intent was to be annoying and offensive it doesn’t mean their actions aren’t threatening. I also think that insinuating sexual assault on a woman is one of those things that can’t be considered anything but threatening – especially if it is someone who peripherally knows you in real life.” [...]

  12. [...] word of warning — it is a little too easy to find Phil’s personal photo albums. People on the Internet can be jerks, and it is worth the time to put up some barriers between your professional online identity and [...]

  13. Digest for March 2007 « //engtech said, on April 05, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    [...] Cyber-bullying – Not just for teenagers Kathy Sierra saga. Is being minor internet celebrity enough of a reason to be singled out and harassed? [...]

  14. [...] Engtech says, “It constantly amazes me how ‘Just Add Internet’ and people get up to the kind of actions and harassment they’d never do in real life.” “Bloggers are reacting with predictable and gratifying outrage. Many are outraged, some are disappointed, others are sick over it. All of those emotions have run through my head tonight as I struggled with what I wanted to say here about it,” begins the writer of Old Time Signatures in a lengthy and thoughtful piece on the subject and asks, “How can we create communities where button-pushing is no longer the norm, where it is no longer acceptable to be so outrageous, so utterly off-the-wall-outside-the-limit, and where everyone is mindful of the impact a word, a label or a button can have on the community and on the collaboration?” [...]

  15. Rob said, on April 08, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    An excellent website for those interested in bullying prevention is bullyingprevention. This site features information from bullying prevention expert Gail Nachimson.

  16. [...] word of warning — it is a little too easy to find Phil’s personal photo albums. People on the Internet can be jerks, and it is worth the time to put up some barriers between your professional online identity and [...]


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