As Tim Bray wrote, something is badly out of control when some well–known bloggers create an environment that breeds threats of death and sexual abuse. The victim in this case is Kathy Sierra, author of wonderful and clueful Creating Passionate Users. She is now too scared to even go out and her ETech session had to be cancelled.
I rarely pick on individuals on my blog. When I have to vent, I try to vent out at companies. But this is the kind of bullshit that I would even defend my worst enemy against so I am making an exception.
Kathy points to
two websites, meankids.org and unclebobism.wordpress.com [UPDATE: Bob's Yer Uncle site was started by Chris Locke], both apparently started by Frank Paynter who wrote on Feb. 8th:
Who’s the real meanie and what does that mean anyway? Who will the Mean Kids pick on next? Kathy Sierra? Doc Searls? IBM is a Linux shop for goodness sakes, don’t tell me none of that rubs off on Doc.
<p>And today, he commented at <a href="//www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2007/03/26/Kathy-Sierra" target="_blank">Tim Bray's blog</a>: <blockquote> 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.</p> </blockquote> <p>You are mortified that readers of MeanKids.org could be so mean? This is what happens when you create a website whose theme is to gang up on fellow bloggers! Were you expecting meaningful discussions after throwing rotten tomato at people? The damage is done and Kathy will never be the same. What use is your shame and anguish to her?
This is what Frank Paynter wrote, supposedly after his shame and anguish diminished enough to permit clarity:
MeanKids was purposeful anarchy. […] Misogynistic postings at MeanKids.org 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.
A core group that gathered at both these sites includes people I consider important artists, thinkers, and writers. Most of those who posted were not posting the kind of hurtful trash that made Kathy feel threatened. Some of the stuff was brilliant. Some was interesting. Some was mundane.
It makes no sense to expect moderation to work in purposeful anarchy. What was he trying to accomplish? Pan the river of nastyness for nuggets of brilliance? Based on what Frank wrote above, he suggested Kathy Sierra as one of the people Mean Kids should pick on. Did Kathy ask for a gang of intellectual anarchist to pick on her? All I read form Frank's post of clarity is pointing fingers at others and admitting his inability to control an intentionally uncontrollable situation when, IMHO, he is directly responsible for letting his naivety and vain pursuit of brilliant conversations hurt others.
How did that go? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions? So fucking true.