Not looking for sympathy or anything
Thursday, March 29, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Just want to get on the record as Michelle Malkin did yesterday, that the kind of abuse that Kathy Sierra reported is not anything new, it's been going on for a very long time. Without going into detail, because I've found that just creates more of the kind of crap we don't like.
People aren't going to like this, but it's true -- when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who's more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it's not always a woman.
Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I'm sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y'all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you'd feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don't change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don't want to be part of the herd on that day, that's why I won't join herds.
Yesterday I said I don't support the kinds of rules of conduct that Tim O'Reilly was calling for. Giving Tim the benefit of the doubt, I think he doesn't fully unerstand what was going on in the blogging world, and I'm not claiming I do either, but he was running a conference this week, and it couldn't have gotten very much of his attention. And you know what, that's a good thing, and we should all strive to keep our perspective, before we create the kind of fantastic graphic imagery that was created around this event.
If anyone had a reason to want retribution against the "mean kids" -- I have it. They've been on my case for years. They're really nasty people. That's why I have some credibility when I tried to put the brakes on the mob. Next time, let's have some more people do that too.
And out fo all that was said I think Doc nailed it -- we got used by a few trolls, and no one knows who they are. Everyone played a role in this, the people who stopped blogging, the people who threatened their friends, the people who called it a gang rape, and yes indeed, the mean kids. But they've paid enough. It's time to welcome them back into the blogging world, and in a few weeks, ask them to reflect on what they learned. These are all intelligent and creative people, who have acted badly. But they didn't deserve what they got.
The time to act is way before it escalates into the kind of post that Kathy Sierra posted. There should be people who are willing to provide personal support to others who are ostracized this way -- and that support should be available regardless of gender, age, or other circumstances. I won't support anything that only offers support to women and not men, we must help unpopular people, even people who we think are mean. It's no crime to be unpopular, and you can measure our humanity by how good we are to people we don't like.
Sometimes people say things that are designed to hurt other people. Locke, Sessum, Paynter and Head Lemur are the kinds of people who do that. I read yesterday that Denise Howell considers them friends. I've asked other people who do, like David Weinberger and AKMA how they can support that -- I asked when I was a target of their attacks. All I got was silence. I think people need to come to terms with that, and speak up whenever people say or do things designed to hurt other people. That's how we prevent explosions like the one we dealt with this week.
So if we have a code of conduct, it can't just talk about how trolls behave, because truly we have no control over that. It should talk about responsible people whose names we know with reputations they care about -- what should they do when abuse happens? That is something we can do something about. There should be 18 steps before something like Kathy Sierra's post appears in the midst of the blogosphere, and it shouldn't come from teh person who has been victimized, someone else should stand up for them and explain what happened. For so many reasons this is a much better way to go, and I'm sure the victim would like it better too (I speak from experience).
You know there's nothing worse than being hunted and having no one care enough to speak up for you. That's what we need to work on folks. And when we solve this problem, we can go to work on Iraq -- because that's much heavier and much worse, but kind of the same thing. Why aren't we angry at all the wasted lives? I think we'll find the answer to that question is related to why we're so bad at dealing with situations like the one we tried to deal with this week.