Taking the week off

I’m physically ill after reading what happened to Kathy Sierra. Maryam and several others here at PodTech asked me about it and are concerned since the same sites that are attacking Kathy also mentioned me and Maryam. Maryam is really freaked out about it. So am I.

She doesn’t feel safe. I don’t either after reading Kathy’s post. I, like Mike Arrington and other bloggers, have gotten threatened and I’ve just ignored it. It comes with the territory, or so they say. But what Kathy is going through is just totally disgusting. I note that only one of the four that Kathy specifically mention has apologized. That itself is disgusting. Those people are NOT my friends and I don’t support that kind of blogging or commenting and remove such attacks if left here against other people (I leave attacks against me up, but that’s cause generally most people here are pretty cool, even if they think I’m a jerk).

We’re putting ourselves out there in ways very few people do. We should be safe from death threats and other sexual attacks and stuff, especially from other bloggers.

So, since she doesn’t feel safe. I’m going to stop blogging in support of Kathy, who I consider a friend and someone who’s voice would be dearly missed here. I’ll be back Monday.

The Internet culture is really disgusting. Today when I was on Justin.TV the kinds of things that people were discussing in the chat room there were just totally disgusting and over the top.

We have to fix this culture. For the next week, let’s discuss how.

And, Kathy, Maryam and I love you and are there for you. Don’t let these jerks get you down.

It’s this culture of attacking women that has especially got to stop. I really don’t care if you attack me. I take those attacks in stride. But, whenever I post a video of a female technologist there invariably are snide remarks about body parts and other things that simply wouldn’t happen if the interviewee were a man.

It makes me realize just how ascerbic this industry and culture are toward women. This just makes me ill.

796 thoughts on “Taking the week off

  1. Dear Robert,

    If it is any consolation, I’d like to voice my staunch support for you and Kathy.

    It is shameful to many of us “moderate” and “normal” men, that a few bad apples tarnish the image of the entire population.

    Such behavior is unacceptable. No matter how much people disagree on an issue, there is no reason to threaten somebody. A simple, this conversation is over would’ve been sufficient.

    Stay Safe Bro!
    Rohit

  2. Dear Robert,

    If it is any consolation, I’d like to voice my staunch support for you and Kathy.

    It is shameful to many of us “moderate” and “normal” men, that a few bad apples tarnish the image of the entire population.

    Such behavior is unacceptable. No matter how much people disagree on an issue, there is no reason to threaten somebody. A simple, this conversation is over would’ve been sufficient.

    Stay Safe Bro!
    Rohit

  3. @John

    I see you’re still on the ‘how do we know you’re you” kick. When it comes to systems that do not require an account, I agree with you.. there’s not a way to know.

    However, my initial proposal for screening out webmail services that can’t be tied to a person (hotmail, yahoo and the like) was in response to a post about Digg. Digg and in fact any system that requires one to create an account in order to participate can, in fact, work. Simply require the new signup to confirm by clicking a link sent to the email the specify. Does that prove that they are, in fact, that person? Not 100%… but it does prove they have access to that email account. It ups the ante and, by screening out email services that don’t tie the email account to an identifiable person, it will likely make the person signing up think a bit.

    Will this solve the issue 100%? Of course not… but I don’t agree with the stance that something has to fix the problem completely or it’s worthless. The simple step of having account based systems disallow non-identifiable email systems does two things.. 1) it gives pause to anyone who gets that they can be tied to that email address and 2) if someone does something criminal, it gives police an identifiable person to go after. Even if the poster and the account holder are not the same person, they’re likely to be related or tied somehow, shortening the investigation.

    None of this addresses comment systems that don’t require an account… But I think we’re going to start seeing more and more people adopting commenting systems that DO require some signup. Sad, as that will introduce a barrier to commenting.

  4. @John

    I see you’re still on the ‘how do we know you’re you” kick. When it comes to systems that do not require an account, I agree with you.. there’s not a way to know.

    However, my initial proposal for screening out webmail services that can’t be tied to a person (hotmail, yahoo and the like) was in response to a post about Digg. Digg and in fact any system that requires one to create an account in order to participate can, in fact, work. Simply require the new signup to confirm by clicking a link sent to the email the specify. Does that prove that they are, in fact, that person? Not 100%… but it does prove they have access to that email account. It ups the ante and, by screening out email services that don’t tie the email account to an identifiable person, it will likely make the person signing up think a bit.

    Will this solve the issue 100%? Of course not… but I don’t agree with the stance that something has to fix the problem completely or it’s worthless. The simple step of having account based systems disallow non-identifiable email systems does two things.. 1) it gives pause to anyone who gets that they can be tied to that email address and 2) if someone does something criminal, it gives police an identifiable person to go after. Even if the poster and the account holder are not the same person, they’re likely to be related or tied somehow, shortening the investigation.

    None of this addresses comment systems that don’t require an account… But I think we’re going to start seeing more and more people adopting commenting systems that DO require some signup. Sad, as that will introduce a barrier to commenting.

  5. John, I continue to say that it’s quite wrong to be so explicit about violence on this thread, of all places.

    I’m aware of what’s in Leviticus and the excuse you think it gives you to curse God and your fellow man, each as selfish and violent as the other. But looked at through the eyes of Jesus, who is the perfect expression of God’s love, praying for the Father to forgive those nailing him to a cross, thereby ending all curses, on any of us, you’ll find you no longer have the excuse – but then you might also experience the astounding love that is the whole point of the exercise.

    It depends which part of the story you choose to focus on, in other words, even with the bible. And here. And on the net. And in all of life.

    I repeat. From the moment you came onto this thread you made us focus on explicit violence in a way that is quite wrong, given the circumstances. I don’t want to be desensitized here and I don’t want others to be. That’s a big part of the problem Kathy is having to deal with. I’m giving you my opinion on that. I thank God that I have such freedom to do so.

  6. John, I continue to say that it’s quite wrong to be so explicit about violence on this thread, of all places.

    I’m aware of what’s in Leviticus and the excuse you think it gives you to curse God and your fellow man, each as selfish and violent as the other. But looked at through the eyes of Jesus, who is the perfect expression of God’s love, praying for the Father to forgive those nailing him to a cross, thereby ending all curses, on any of us, you’ll find you no longer have the excuse – but then you might also experience the astounding love that is the whole point of the exercise.

    It depends which part of the story you choose to focus on, in other words, even with the bible. And here. And on the net. And in all of life.

    I repeat. From the moment you came onto this thread you made us focus on explicit violence in a way that is quite wrong, given the circumstances. I don’t want to be desensitized here and I don’t want others to be. That’s a big part of the problem Kathy is having to deal with. I’m giving you my opinion on that. I thank God that I have such freedom to do so.

  7. John(373), I said that they were profound issues. But I’ve also now clicked on the site you chose to link your name to and read the following words, presumably written or approved by you, concerning Kathy’s proper reaction to this threat:

    “Knives aren’t the answer. Your right index finger slamming into their left eye at the tear duct is.”

    There is more, as you know. Horrible and squalid it is too. But also illogical. How can any of us know for sure whom to ‘deface’, as you so beautifully call it, before it’s too late?

    If you read it, you chose to read it as “RANDOMLY ATTACK PEOPLE”, that is your choice. Of course, i didn’t say that she should react to this threat that way. However, nice job of implying I did. But since I was obviously not clear enough for you, let me restate that: “If you are physically attacked, rip their fucking face off and urinate in their skull”. If you had bothered to read further, you’d see it was a reply to V’s recommendation that she strap a knife to her leg.

    Translation: You’re only as powerless as you chose to be. The idea that women are unable to deal with physical confrontation is the stupidest, most dangerous idea ever put forth, and it is a large part of the problem. “Act tough and capable, but when you get even the slightest pushback, run and hide, because you’re a woman, and after all, if a man attacks you, you’re helpless”.

    Feces. Bullshit.

    How deeply inappropriate your involvement on this thread is, given what it’s about, and the gentle person who’s suffered hurt.

    So when someone physically places your life or person in danger, the “appropriate” response is to what? Tell them “Oh, i’m really a gentle person, this is quite inappropriate”?

    See how well that works for you. Funny how all “womens” self-defense classes have that whole physical component. It’s not the ONLY response, but it’s not invalid either. Maybe if more women were taught that self-defense is not only a right, but a responsibility, that they are not just entitled to fighting back when attacked, but that they are fully able to, this inane “women r teh helplussss” meme would die.

    But hey, that no doubt proves your point. Get used to real life, Kathy, Robert and all. Merciless violence, from those you do not even know, is all that there is.

    Oh bullshit. Stop with the hand-wringing. Physical defense is not random violence, and you can find no where in that post where I said “Go and physically attack everyone who gives you the hairy eye”. But when someone lays hands upon you, you have every right to commit mayhem upon them without regret or guilt. They chose to physically attack you. Whatever happens to them are the consequences of that choice.

    I’m sorry, but the idea that because you have two X chromosomes, you’re at the mercy of every man on the planet is stupid. Not just wrong, but stupid.

    “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.”

    So even the bible is saying you’re right? No, the whole of that story, in Genesis 6, and the rest of the book, is about human beings, taking sides with the ‘god’ whose purpose as creator even entitles your site, making something better.

    Oh you are NOT quoting the Bible in this case. Please, I don’t even need chapter and verse. Leviticus will show that God, at least as portrayed in the bible is all down with the violence, as long as it’s in his name. Even Jesus was willing to get uppity, or do you think he politely asked the moneychangers to please leave the temple in a quiet peaceful manner? Note that God’s reaction to all who displease him tends not to be patient teaching and gentle remonstration but FIRE AND ROCKS FROM THE SKY, DROWNING EVERYONE, oh, and threats of ETERNAL TORMENT. Fear is indeed a great motivator.

    Using Christianity to promote non-violence? HI-larious.

    That includes right here, in this blog, and across the net, wherever possible, given human freedom. And we never know how far that can go, because it always depends on the free choices of others. (Which is the point of the irony about proving the wisdom of what Kathy might choose to do next.)

    Sorry if such concepts, even in the light of what Kathy has suffered, are only worth ridicule. But thanks for the stark illustration of the fight, the choice each one of us has.

    You know what? I agree with Malcom X here on a few points:

    “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

    “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

    “It doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time, I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”

    You can be sad and bemoan the people in the world who take delight in attacking others, or you can recognize when someone attempts to take away your power, it is their fault, not yours. It is their problem, not yours. You are only helpless if you choose to be helpless. If you choose that, then sit in your house and be quiet, for that is the fate you wish upon yourself, but stop expecting everyone else to defend you, and make the world safe for you.

    If you choose not to be helpless then you will have to sometimes defend that. Usually, it is with words, or body language. Surprisingly, I’ve been in very few physical fights in my life. Well, it’s not surprising to me, but some people would be. I refuse to be helpless in the face of adversity. My self-esteem? My safety? My sense of self? Those are my responsibilities. I take those responsibilities quite seriously.

    If you expect the world to reform itself to suit your needs, if you require that everyone else work overtime for your safety and personal well-being, then not only are you delusional, you are an emotional and psychic parasite.

    How you choose to defend yourself is up to you, but the idea that it is wrong to do so? That we should submit to force and pretend it is power? That is far more obscene than my suggestion that you should make attacking you as painful as possible for the attacker.

  8. John(373), I said that they were profound issues. But I’ve also now clicked on the site you chose to link your name to and read the following words, presumably written or approved by you, concerning Kathy’s proper reaction to this threat:

    “Knives aren’t the answer. Your right index finger slamming into their left eye at the tear duct is.”

    There is more, as you know. Horrible and squalid it is too. But also illogical. How can any of us know for sure whom to ‘deface’, as you so beautifully call it, before it’s too late?

    If you read it, you chose to read it as “RANDOMLY ATTACK PEOPLE”, that is your choice. Of course, i didn’t say that she should react to this threat that way. However, nice job of implying I did. But since I was obviously not clear enough for you, let me restate that: “If you are physically attacked, rip their fucking face off and urinate in their skull”. If you had bothered to read further, you’d see it was a reply to V’s recommendation that she strap a knife to her leg.

    Translation: You’re only as powerless as you chose to be. The idea that women are unable to deal with physical confrontation is the stupidest, most dangerous idea ever put forth, and it is a large part of the problem. “Act tough and capable, but when you get even the slightest pushback, run and hide, because you’re a woman, and after all, if a man attacks you, you’re helpless”.

    Feces. Bullshit.

    How deeply inappropriate your involvement on this thread is, given what it’s about, and the gentle person who’s suffered hurt.

    So when someone physically places your life or person in danger, the “appropriate” response is to what? Tell them “Oh, i’m really a gentle person, this is quite inappropriate”?

    See how well that works for you. Funny how all “womens” self-defense classes have that whole physical component. It’s not the ONLY response, but it’s not invalid either. Maybe if more women were taught that self-defense is not only a right, but a responsibility, that they are not just entitled to fighting back when attacked, but that they are fully able to, this inane “women r teh helplussss” meme would die.

    But hey, that no doubt proves your point. Get used to real life, Kathy, Robert and all. Merciless violence, from those you do not even know, is all that there is.

    Oh bullshit. Stop with the hand-wringing. Physical defense is not random violence, and you can find no where in that post where I said “Go and physically attack everyone who gives you the hairy eye”. But when someone lays hands upon you, you have every right to commit mayhem upon them without regret or guilt. They chose to physically attack you. Whatever happens to them are the consequences of that choice.

    I’m sorry, but the idea that because you have two X chromosomes, you’re at the mercy of every man on the planet is stupid. Not just wrong, but stupid.

    “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.”

    So even the bible is saying you’re right? No, the whole of that story, in Genesis 6, and the rest of the book, is about human beings, taking sides with the ‘god’ whose purpose as creator even entitles your site, making something better.

    Oh you are NOT quoting the Bible in this case. Please, I don’t even need chapter and verse. Leviticus will show that God, at least as portrayed in the bible is all down with the violence, as long as it’s in his name. Even Jesus was willing to get uppity, or do you think he politely asked the moneychangers to please leave the temple in a quiet peaceful manner? Note that God’s reaction to all who displease him tends not to be patient teaching and gentle remonstration but FIRE AND ROCKS FROM THE SKY, DROWNING EVERYONE, oh, and threats of ETERNAL TORMENT. Fear is indeed a great motivator.

    Using Christianity to promote non-violence? HI-larious.

    That includes right here, in this blog, and across the net, wherever possible, given human freedom. And we never know how far that can go, because it always depends on the free choices of others. (Which is the point of the irony about proving the wisdom of what Kathy might choose to do next.)

    Sorry if such concepts, even in the light of what Kathy has suffered, are only worth ridicule. But thanks for the stark illustration of the fight, the choice each one of us has.

    You know what? I agree with Malcom X here on a few points:

    “Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery.”

    “Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”

    “It doesn’t mean that I advocate violence, but at the same time, I am not against using violence in self-defense. I don’t call it violence when it’s self-defense, I call it intelligence.”

    You can be sad and bemoan the people in the world who take delight in attacking others, or you can recognize when someone attempts to take away your power, it is their fault, not yours. It is their problem, not yours. You are only helpless if you choose to be helpless. If you choose that, then sit in your house and be quiet, for that is the fate you wish upon yourself, but stop expecting everyone else to defend you, and make the world safe for you.

    If you choose not to be helpless then you will have to sometimes defend that. Usually, it is with words, or body language. Surprisingly, I’ve been in very few physical fights in my life. Well, it’s not surprising to me, but some people would be. I refuse to be helpless in the face of adversity. My self-esteem? My safety? My sense of self? Those are my responsibilities. I take those responsibilities quite seriously.

    If you expect the world to reform itself to suit your needs, if you require that everyone else work overtime for your safety and personal well-being, then not only are you delusional, you are an emotional and psychic parasite.

    How you choose to defend yourself is up to you, but the idea that it is wrong to do so? That we should submit to force and pretend it is power? That is far more obscene than my suggestion that you should make attacking you as painful as possible for the attacker.

  9. John(373), I said that they were profound issues. But I’ve also now clicked on the site you chose to link your name to and read the following words, presumably written or approved by you, concerning Kathy’s proper reaction to this threat:

    “Knives aren’t the answer. Your right index finger slamming into their left eye at the tear duct is.”

    There is more, as you know. Horrible and squalid it is too. But also illogical. How can any of us know for sure whom to ‘deface’, as you so beautifully call it, before it’s too late?

    How deeply inappropriate your involvement on this thread is, given what it’s about, and the gentle person who’s suffered hurt.

    But hey, that no doubt proves your point. Get used to real life, Kathy, Robert and all. Merciless violence, from those you do not even know, is all that there is.

    “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.”

    So even the bible is saying you’re right? No, the whole of that story, in Genesis 6, and the rest of the book, is about human beings, taking sides with the ‘god’ whose purpose as creator even entitles your site, making something better.

    That includes right here, in this blog, and across the net, wherever possible, given human freedom. And we never know how far that can go, because it always depends on the free choices of others. (Which is the point of the irony about proving the wisdom of what Kathy might choose to do next.)

    Sorry if such concepts, even in the light of what Kathy has suffered, are only worth ridicule. But thanks for the stark illustration of the fight, the choice each one of us has.

  10. John(373), I said that they were profound issues. But I’ve also now clicked on the site you chose to link your name to and read the following words, presumably written or approved by you, concerning Kathy’s proper reaction to this threat:

    “Knives aren’t the answer. Your right index finger slamming into their left eye at the tear duct is.”

    There is more, as you know. Horrible and squalid it is too. But also illogical. How can any of us know for sure whom to ‘deface’, as you so beautifully call it, before it’s too late?

    How deeply inappropriate your involvement on this thread is, given what it’s about, and the gentle person who’s suffered hurt.

    But hey, that no doubt proves your point. Get used to real life, Kathy, Robert and all. Merciless violence, from those you do not even know, is all that there is.

    “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.”

    So even the bible is saying you’re right? No, the whole of that story, in Genesis 6, and the rest of the book, is about human beings, taking sides with the ‘god’ whose purpose as creator even entitles your site, making something better.

    That includes right here, in this blog, and across the net, wherever possible, given human freedom. And we never know how far that can go, because it always depends on the free choices of others. (Which is the point of the irony about proving the wisdom of what Kathy might choose to do next.)

    Sorry if such concepts, even in the light of what Kathy has suffered, are only worth ridicule. But thanks for the stark illustration of the fight, the choice each one of us has.

  11. > Why don’t bloggers adopt the digital signature that has been around for several years now as a means of authenticating who’s posting comments on the various blogs.

    Because it doesn’t and can’t address the demonstrated problem.

    According to Searls blog, at least one of the worst “offenders” claims that his computer was the source of some of the attacks while under the control of unknown others. In other words, his id was used, but he wasn’t involved (hence the quotes around “offenders” – offense happened, we just don’t know who did it).

    Assume for the purposes of this argument that he’s correct.

    “His” comments weren’t anonymous. How would openid have made any difference?

    And, FWIW, very few of the attacks were on Sierra’s blog, so it’s irrelevant whether she allowed anonymous comments on her blog. However, an argument that depends on anonymous posts on her blog tells us something about the arguer.

  12. > Why don’t bloggers adopt the digital signature that has been around for several years now as a means of authenticating who’s posting comments on the various blogs.

    Because it doesn’t and can’t address the demonstrated problem.

    According to Searls blog, at least one of the worst “offenders” claims that his computer was the source of some of the attacks while under the control of unknown others. In other words, his id was used, but he wasn’t involved (hence the quotes around “offenders” – offense happened, we just don’t know who did it).

    Assume for the purposes of this argument that he’s correct.

    “His” comments weren’t anonymous. How would openid have made any difference?

    And, FWIW, very few of the attacks were on Sierra’s blog, so it’s irrelevant whether she allowed anonymous comments on her blog. However, an argument that depends on anonymous posts on her blog tells us something about the arguer.

  13. I’m shocked at this, but sadly not surprised. I’ve only been online a few years, but I’ve come to discover it can be a scary place.

    We all need to take a stand against this IMHO.

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I post regularly on another site and am also taking the week off (next week) in protest of this. It’s sickening.

  14. I’m shocked at this, but sadly not surprised. I’ve only been online a few years, but I’ve come to discover it can be a scary place.

    We all need to take a stand against this IMHO.

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
    – Martin Luther King, Jr.

    I post regularly on another site and am also taking the week off (next week) in protest of this. It’s sickening.

  15. John(373), I’m not proposing banning anonymity on the internet. So we’re agreed on that. As you don’t seem to have considered my questions, apart from that misrepresentation of them, it looks like we’re done.

    That’s your choice. But unless you care to be more clear in your statements, don’t pull a princess two-step because people aren’t divining your true meaning. You’re also pushing the anonymity thing as though it’s the real problem. As though if no one could be anonymous, this problem would go away.

    That idea is, quite frankly, delusional. What happened with Kathy would not have been prevented by OpenID. OpenID only means you can trace a name back to an OpenID entry. Unless you care to show me how OpenID entries cannot be faked at all, they’re simply a stumbling block.

    Yet, you keep nattering on about anonymity like there’s some cure for it. Yet no one really thinks you can actually bell the cat, so this line of thought falls into the “Well, at least we’re talking about it.”

    Sorry, but wasting time on diversions instead of the actual problem? You have fun with that.

  16. John(373), I’m not proposing banning anonymity on the internet. So we’re agreed on that. As you don’t seem to have considered my questions, apart from that misrepresentation of them, it looks like we’re done.

    That’s your choice. But unless you care to be more clear in your statements, don’t pull a princess two-step because people aren’t divining your true meaning. You’re also pushing the anonymity thing as though it’s the real problem. As though if no one could be anonymous, this problem would go away.

    That idea is, quite frankly, delusional. What happened with Kathy would not have been prevented by OpenID. OpenID only means you can trace a name back to an OpenID entry. Unless you care to show me how OpenID entries cannot be faked at all, they’re simply a stumbling block.

    Yet, you keep nattering on about anonymity like there’s some cure for it. Yet no one really thinks you can actually bell the cat, so this line of thought falls into the “Well, at least we’re talking about it.”

    Sorry, but wasting time on diversions instead of the actual problem? You have fun with that.

  17. John(373), I’m not proposing banning anonymity on the internet. So we’re agreed on that. As you don’t seem to have considered my questions, apart from that misrepresentation of them, it looks like we’re done.

  18. John(373), I’m not proposing banning anonymity on the internet. So we’re agreed on that. As you don’t seem to have considered my questions, apart from that misrepresentation of them, it looks like we’re done.

  19. @John C. Welch(366):
    “So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.”

    Well, I have thought about it, for many years. I have not once entertained the notion that the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards.

    Then why are you so in favor of banning it in blogs?

    2. Would it be morally wrong for her now to ask posters to her blog, perhaps just for a temporary period, to use their real names and to supply an email address at which they can be reached?

    Prove the name attached to this post is the “real” name of the person posting it, while completely disregarding the fact that I’m telling you it is. Prove, without a shadow of a doubt, the identity of the person who typed this, objectively and completely.

    3. Would it be wise to do so? (Please prove your answer to be true, from first principles.)

    Prove it’s possible first. Prove it’s possible to, without a complete loss of privacy, show, without doubt and perfect accuracy, who typed a post. Hell, not even perfect. 90% accuracy will work for this exercise.

    Put simply, anonymity allows mind games to be played that are far from helpful. The bigotry of current net culture in regard to an absolute and universal right to anonymity can lead many to be blind to such abuses. That is what I, for one, am saying.

    Vague and ineffective attempts at ending anonymity on the Internet, and let’s be honest, that is what you are advocating, because you can’t “sort of” end it, any more than you can be “sort of” pregnant, will not stop, nor even really slow the idiots down. But it will create a culture where people are afraid to use the internet if they, for whatever reason, wish to protect their identity and personal information.

    As my old wiki friend Keith Braithwaite and I once agreed, in a memorable telephone conversation, anonymity is like carrying a gun. It’s one thing to do that openly. It’s another to conceal the fact (ie use a pseudonym without letting on). All of the above can no doubt be justified in certain situations. But they are significant moral choices and they are sometimes, clearly, evil ones.

    Wait, so now anonymity leads to evil? Oh please.

    OpenID and the like should be seen as tools to increase the freedom of certain net users, in certain situations, to decrease the likelihood of, or the cost of discovering, identity deception by others. They are tools to increase freedom or they are nothing.

    We want to put cameras on every street corner and monitor everything you do. If you have nothing to hide, why would this bother you?

    Funny how a little fear leads people to happily hand over silly things like privacy and the right to not be ID’d every time they do anything.

    As our daily use of credit cards shows, such a system doesn’t have to be watertight to be of some value.

    Credit cards don’t require the kind of background check that even 90% success at ending anonymity on the internet would require. You can’t even tie a post to a person. The best you can ever do without requiring film of the person typing, is tie it to a machine. Again, with 90% accuracy, prove the identity of the person who wrote this post without taking their word for it.

    You do know that credit cards don’t always require ID , right?

    The worst pain, I think, is caused by those that one considers friends but turn out to be something less or even opposite to that.

    And how, pray tell, would a ban on anonymity fix that?

    Anonymity and the misuses thereof are a distraction.

    There’s really a simple way to solve this. Stop blogging. If no one ever writes anything on the web again, then what happened to Kathy cannot ever happen again. Oh sure some legitimate bloggers would get shut down, but surely, such an obvious solution to the problem of people threatening people in blogs cannot be ignored, right?

  20. @John C. Welch(366):
    “So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.”

    Well, I have thought about it, for many years. I have not once entertained the notion that the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards.

    Then why are you so in favor of banning it in blogs?

    2. Would it be morally wrong for her now to ask posters to her blog, perhaps just for a temporary period, to use their real names and to supply an email address at which they can be reached?

    Prove the name attached to this post is the “real” name of the person posting it, while completely disregarding the fact that I’m telling you it is. Prove, without a shadow of a doubt, the identity of the person who typed this, objectively and completely.

    3. Would it be wise to do so? (Please prove your answer to be true, from first principles.)

    Prove it’s possible first. Prove it’s possible to, without a complete loss of privacy, show, without doubt and perfect accuracy, who typed a post. Hell, not even perfect. 90% accuracy will work for this exercise.

    Put simply, anonymity allows mind games to be played that are far from helpful. The bigotry of current net culture in regard to an absolute and universal right to anonymity can lead many to be blind to such abuses. That is what I, for one, am saying.

    Vague and ineffective attempts at ending anonymity on the Internet, and let’s be honest, that is what you are advocating, because you can’t “sort of” end it, any more than you can be “sort of” pregnant, will not stop, nor even really slow the idiots down. But it will create a culture where people are afraid to use the internet if they, for whatever reason, wish to protect their identity and personal information.

    As my old wiki friend Keith Braithwaite and I once agreed, in a memorable telephone conversation, anonymity is like carrying a gun. It’s one thing to do that openly. It’s another to conceal the fact (ie use a pseudonym without letting on). All of the above can no doubt be justified in certain situations. But they are significant moral choices and they are sometimes, clearly, evil ones.

    Wait, so now anonymity leads to evil? Oh please.

    OpenID and the like should be seen as tools to increase the freedom of certain net users, in certain situations, to decrease the likelihood of, or the cost of discovering, identity deception by others. They are tools to increase freedom or they are nothing.

    We want to put cameras on every street corner and monitor everything you do. If you have nothing to hide, why would this bother you?

    Funny how a little fear leads people to happily hand over silly things like privacy and the right to not be ID’d every time they do anything.

    As our daily use of credit cards shows, such a system doesn’t have to be watertight to be of some value.

    Credit cards don’t require the kind of background check that even 90% success at ending anonymity on the internet would require. You can’t even tie a post to a person. The best you can ever do without requiring film of the person typing, is tie it to a machine. Again, with 90% accuracy, prove the identity of the person who wrote this post without taking their word for it.

    You do know that credit cards don’t always require ID , right?

    The worst pain, I think, is caused by those that one considers friends but turn out to be something less or even opposite to that.

    And how, pray tell, would a ban on anonymity fix that?

    Anonymity and the misuses thereof are a distraction.

    There’s really a simple way to solve this. Stop blogging. If no one ever writes anything on the web again, then what happened to Kathy cannot ever happen again. Oh sure some legitimate bloggers would get shut down, but surely, such an obvious solution to the problem of people threatening people in blogs cannot be ignored, right?

  21. @shimmershade(365):
    “Blaming Internet anonymity for unacceptable conduct will not lead to a solution. The tired only-cowards-use-anonymity analysis is widely insulting and often duplicitous.”

    @John C. Welch(366):
    “So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.”

    Well, I have thought about it, for many years. I have not once entertained the notion that the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards.

    @Julius O(354):
    “Do YOU really want to authenticate your identity for every single website and service you use on the Internet? I don’t think so.”

    No, I’d much prefer not to have to.

    Still, let’s look on the bright side. I am not among the two billion on the planet without electricity. Their access to the internet is being outrageously limited, compared to mine, do you not think?

    Economist and humanitarian Hernando de Soto further argues that it is a lack of legal identity, and thus basic property rights, that keeps over one trillion dollars of assets held worldwide by the poor inert and useless.

    Millions are literally dying to get to the point where they have your or my kind of identity problems, in other words.

    Keeping them in mind as we rail about such profound issues might even moderate the tone we use on each other, you never know.

    And the issues raised are profound, requiring incisive questions to be asked. The two above seem far too simplistic or sweeping. Here are some more difficult ones that spring to mind:

    1. Has Kathy Sierra allowed anonymous posters to her blog in the past? Has she indeed rejoiced in the Internet’s freedom in this regard? Is part of her profound sense of shock in the last few weeks to do with what she has been discovering of the downsides to this apparently benevolent culture?

    2. Would it be morally wrong for her now to ask posters to her blog, perhaps just for a temporary period, to use their real names and to supply an email address at which they can be reached?

    3. Would it be wise to do so? (Please prove your answer to be true, from first principles.)

    4. If Kathy did ask for this, would it morally wrong for someone to use what seemed like a real name but that turned out not to be one?

    5. What about if such a person gradually began to launch subtle, then more and more disturbing attacks on Kathy, including questioning her sanity, from what had become a well-respected pseudonym, before it was discovered to be such? At what point would such behaviour become morally reprehensible?

    5. To what lengths would it be ethical for Kathy to go to try to find out the identity of one of her current anonymous attackers?

    6. Would it ever be right for someone to build a pseudonym to pretend that he/she was Kathy’s friend when they were in fact one of her original attackers?

    Put simply, anonymity allows mind games to be played that are far from helpful. The bigotry of current net culture in regard to an absolute and universal right to anonymity can lead many to be blind to such abuses. That is what I, for one, am saying.

    As my old wiki friend Keith Braithwaite and I once agreed, in a memorable telephone conversation, anonymity is like carrying a gun. It’s one thing to do that openly. It’s another to conceal the fact (ie use a pseudonym without letting on). All of the above can no doubt be justified in certain situations. But they are significant moral choices and they are sometimes, clearly, evil ones.

    OpenID and the like should be seen as tools to increase the freedom of certain net users, in certain situations, to decrease the likelihood of, or the cost of discovering, identity deception by others. They are tools to increase freedom or they are nothing.

    As our daily use of credit cards shows, such a system doesn’t have to be watertight to be of some value.

    The extreme positions (‘make it a legal requirement for every internet click to be linked to a torturable body’, as Craig Hubley memorably put it on Kathy’s blog, vs ‘all forms and uses of anonymity and pseudonymity are fine, in all circumstances’) get us nowhere. Which is course the other name for utopia. How nice.

    The worst pain, I think, is caused by those that one considers friends but turn out to be something less or even opposite to that.

    Kathy, Robert and Maryam have clearly been struggling with that terrible thought this week, in more than one direction at once. I ask that they are given moral clarity and peace as they do so.

  22. @shimmershade(365):
    “Blaming Internet anonymity for unacceptable conduct will not lead to a solution. The tired only-cowards-use-anonymity analysis is widely insulting and often duplicitous.”

    @John C. Welch(366):
    “So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.”

    Well, I have thought about it, for many years. I have not once entertained the notion that the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards.

    @Julius O(354):
    “Do YOU really want to authenticate your identity for every single website and service you use on the Internet? I don’t think so.”

    No, I’d much prefer not to have to.

    Still, let’s look on the bright side. I am not among the two billion on the planet without electricity. Their access to the internet is being outrageously limited, compared to mine, do you not think?

    Economist and humanitarian Hernando de Soto further argues that it is a lack of legal identity, and thus basic property rights, that keeps over one trillion dollars of assets held worldwide by the poor inert and useless.

    Millions are literally dying to get to the point where they have your or my kind of identity problems, in other words.

    Keeping them in mind as we rail about such profound issues might even moderate the tone we use on each other, you never know.

    And the issues raised are profound, requiring incisive questions to be asked. The two above seem far too simplistic or sweeping. Here are some more difficult ones that spring to mind:

    1. Has Kathy Sierra allowed anonymous posters to her blog in the past? Has she indeed rejoiced in the Internet’s freedom in this regard? Is part of her profound sense of shock in the last few weeks to do with what she has been discovering of the downsides to this apparently benevolent culture?

    2. Would it be morally wrong for her now to ask posters to her blog, perhaps just for a temporary period, to use their real names and to supply an email address at which they can be reached?

    3. Would it be wise to do so? (Please prove your answer to be true, from first principles.)

    4. If Kathy did ask for this, would it morally wrong for someone to use what seemed like a real name but that turned out not to be one?

    5. What about if such a person gradually began to launch subtle, then more and more disturbing attacks on Kathy, including questioning her sanity, from what had become a well-respected pseudonym, before it was discovered to be such? At what point would such behaviour become morally reprehensible?

    5. To what lengths would it be ethical for Kathy to go to try to find out the identity of one of her current anonymous attackers?

    6. Would it ever be right for someone to build a pseudonym to pretend that he/she was Kathy’s friend when they were in fact one of her original attackers?

    Put simply, anonymity allows mind games to be played that are far from helpful. The bigotry of current net culture in regard to an absolute and universal right to anonymity can lead many to be blind to such abuses. That is what I, for one, am saying.

    As my old wiki friend Keith Braithwaite and I once agreed, in a memorable telephone conversation, anonymity is like carrying a gun. It’s one thing to do that openly. It’s another to conceal the fact (ie use a pseudonym without letting on). All of the above can no doubt be justified in certain situations. But they are significant moral choices and they are sometimes, clearly, evil ones.

    OpenID and the like should be seen as tools to increase the freedom of certain net users, in certain situations, to decrease the likelihood of, or the cost of discovering, identity deception by others. They are tools to increase freedom or they are nothing.

    As our daily use of credit cards shows, such a system doesn’t have to be watertight to be of some value.

    The extreme positions (‘make it a legal requirement for every internet click to be linked to a torturable body’, as Craig Hubley memorably put it on Kathy’s blog, vs ‘all forms and uses of anonymity and pseudonymity are fine, in all circumstances’) get us nowhere. Which is course the other name for utopia. How nice.

    The worst pain, I think, is caused by those that one considers friends but turn out to be something less or even opposite to that.

    Kathy, Robert and Maryam have clearly been struggling with that terrible thought this week, in more than one direction at once. I ask that they are given moral clarity and peace as they do so.

  23. Pingback: 3pointD.com
  24. @Chuckle (213):
    I don’t know what specifically you meant by that, but to most of the world, “smack” is physically hitting someone. That’s not the same as physical self-defense. That’s saying “Any time you say something I don’t like, I’m going to smack you upside the head, and you’ll just take it, because I’m a woman, and men can’t hit girls”.

    Perpetuating the stereotypes much?

    My bad and I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Where I am, *smack* includes verbal actions. There is, in fact, a whole escalation strategy included in that word that ranges from withering looks to hitting someone with a sledge hammer.

    And secondly: here a man suffers no social stigma if he reacts in kind to anything a woman does. Here men can hit women (not girls, though, children of any gender are taboo), provided the woman hit first. And vice versa, of course.

  25. @Chuckle (213):
    I don’t know what specifically you meant by that, but to most of the world, “smack” is physically hitting someone. That’s not the same as physical self-defense. That’s saying “Any time you say something I don’t like, I’m going to smack you upside the head, and you’ll just take it, because I’m a woman, and men can’t hit girls”.

    Perpetuating the stereotypes much?

    My bad and I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Where I am, *smack* includes verbal actions. There is, in fact, a whole escalation strategy included in that word that ranges from withering looks to hitting someone with a sledge hammer.

    And secondly: here a man suffers no social stigma if he reacts in kind to anything a woman does. Here men can hit women (not girls, though, children of any gender are taboo), provided the woman hit first. And vice versa, of course.

  26. (whistle softly…)

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings
    These are a few of my favorite things

    (Louder and louder…)

    When the dog bites
    When the bee stings
    When I’m feeling sad
    I simply remember my favorite things
    And then I don’t feel so bad

    I hope our singing voices can travel far, far away across the galaxy. Don’t let the loud thunder storms and lightning kill our passion about Technology.

  27. (whistle softly…)

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings
    These are a few of my favorite things

    (Louder and louder…)

    When the dog bites
    When the bee stings
    When I’m feeling sad
    I simply remember my favorite things
    And then I don’t feel so bad

    I hope our singing voices can travel far, far away across the galaxy. Don’t let the loud thunder storms and lightning kill our passion about Technology.

  28. Hi Robert,

    This is truly awful. I am sure we can come together and come up with answers.

    PS, you are a good guy. I apologise for being annoyed by you on Twitter. I was ignorant of your goodness :)

    San

  29. Hi Robert,

    This is truly awful. I am sure we can come together and come up with answers.

    PS, you are a good guy. I apologise for being annoyed by you on Twitter. I was ignorant of your goodness :)

    San

  30. Maybe the only way to partially prevent this from happening is to ban anonymous comment posting from all blogs ? After all, if you don’t have the guts to own up to a comment, is that comment worth reading ?

    Ah, this one still lives. So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.

    Maybe OpenID can offer some sort of solution to this problem – mandatory registration, verifiably trackable, before comments can be posted….

    I’m sorry, wait, now, just to comment on a blog, I have to allow you to do a background check? Because that is the only way you can verify someone’s ID, really and truly. You’d have to expand OpenID to include background checks. Um…no?

  31. Maybe the only way to partially prevent this from happening is to ban anonymous comment posting from all blogs ? After all, if you don’t have the guts to own up to a comment, is that comment worth reading ?

    Ah, this one still lives. So the only people who value anonymity are gutless cowards? Think before you answer.

    Maybe OpenID can offer some sort of solution to this problem – mandatory registration, verifiably trackable, before comments can be posted….

    I’m sorry, wait, now, just to comment on a blog, I have to allow you to do a background check? Because that is the only way you can verify someone’s ID, really and truly. You’d have to expand OpenID to include background checks. Um…no?

  32. Blaming Internet anonymity for unacceptable conduct will not lead to a solution. The tired only-cowards-use-anonymity analysis is widely insulting and often duplicitous.

    I always hope that the malicious leave identifying tracks. Many do, many don’t. But what about persons who would enjoy keeping some privacy? What about those who create a name, or choose to use no name, for perfectly innocuous purposes of self-expression or art? What about whistleblowers? What about those in repressive regimes? What about those who want to avoid predatory behavior, and even those who want to avoid the many risks and hassles that can come with being too well known, or with being confused with someone else? What about the kids who use online social networks such as myspace.com and xanga.com?

  33. Blaming Internet anonymity for unacceptable conduct will not lead to a solution. The tired only-cowards-use-anonymity analysis is widely insulting and often duplicitous.

    I always hope that the malicious leave identifying tracks. Many do, many don’t. But what about persons who would enjoy keeping some privacy? What about those who create a name, or choose to use no name, for perfectly innocuous purposes of self-expression or art? What about whistleblowers? What about those in repressive regimes? What about those who want to avoid predatory behavior, and even those who want to avoid the many risks and hassles that can come with being too well known, or with being confused with someone else? What about the kids who use online social networks such as myspace.com and xanga.com?

  34. No technology can ever solve the ills of society like what has happened to this poor lady.

    WRT the blogosphere, we either leave the floodgates open for people to post comments freely and at will for the opportunities of increasing readership and popularity, or we decide to close them and require either by best practice or legal mandate that people participating must identify themselves, even while acknowledging that these online identities could very well in fact, be false.

    The latter choice brings a false sense of security and greatly curtails our civil liberties. Do YOU really want to authenticate your identity for every single website and service you use on the Internet? I don’t think so.

    The best thing to do is to stay united, stay strong, condemn these horrific statements, and hope that these cowardly, obtuse, and uneducated degenerates are found and prosecuted.

  35. No technology can ever solve the ills of society like what has happened to this poor lady.

    WRT the blogosphere, we either leave the floodgates open for people to post comments freely and at will for the opportunities of increasing readership and popularity, or we decide to close them and require either by best practice or legal mandate that people participating must identify themselves, even while acknowledging that these online identities could very well in fact, be false.

    The latter choice brings a false sense of security and greatly curtails our civil liberties. Do YOU really want to authenticate your identity for every single website and service you use on the Internet? I don’t think so.

    The best thing to do is to stay united, stay strong, condemn these horrific statements, and hope that these cowardly, obtuse, and uneducated degenerates are found and prosecuted.

  36. I, like other “z-list bloggers” am trying to get my head around just WHAT Kathy has done to invoke the kind of response she has received.

    My first reaction on hearing of it, here in the technological backwater that is Australia, was to think “Come on, Kathy – suck it up and get on with life”. Then I read more of the comments from others and the true gravity of the situation became apparent.

    There *really* are low-life loosers out there who are capable, and WILLING, to carry out these threats !!

    My wife suffered the same thing 9 years ago when she worked at a Government department as a “debt collector” – the loonie that threatened her was capable of carrying it out, and we lived not in fear but in what I (now laughingly) called DEFCON5 for about 6 months until the woman (!!) was caught by the Police.

    This involved me driving her to work every day (we lived less than 2k across a golf course from her office !) and not letting her out of the car until the carpack door had locked behind us and the ARMED SECURITY could escort her to the office.

    I was also (legally) armed as well – and we have no “right to bear arms” here in Australia – THAT’s how serious it was !

    I really REALLY feel for Kathy, but she should not back down – these idiots need to be identified, caught and prosecuted for the protection of the whole blogosphere.

    Maybe the only way to partially prevent this from happening is to ban anonymous comment posting from all blogs ? After all, if you don’t have the guts to own up to a comment, is that comment worth reading ?

    Maybe OpenID can offer some sort of solution to this problem – mandatory registration, verifiably trackable, before comments can be posted….

    Dunno – is gonna require some more thought…

  37. I, like other “z-list bloggers” am trying to get my head around just WHAT Kathy has done to invoke the kind of response she has received.

    My first reaction on hearing of it, here in the technological backwater that is Australia, was to think “Come on, Kathy – suck it up and get on with life”. Then I read more of the comments from others and the true gravity of the situation became apparent.

    There *really* are low-life loosers out there who are capable, and WILLING, to carry out these threats !!

    My wife suffered the same thing 9 years ago when she worked at a Government department as a “debt collector” – the loonie that threatened her was capable of carrying it out, and we lived not in fear but in what I (now laughingly) called DEFCON5 for about 6 months until the woman (!!) was caught by the Police.

    This involved me driving her to work every day (we lived less than 2k across a golf course from her office !) and not letting her out of the car until the carpack door had locked behind us and the ARMED SECURITY could escort her to the office.

    I was also (legally) armed as well – and we have no “right to bear arms” here in Australia – THAT’s how serious it was !

    I really REALLY feel for Kathy, but she should not back down – these idiots need to be identified, caught and prosecuted for the protection of the whole blogosphere.

    Maybe the only way to partially prevent this from happening is to ban anonymous comment posting from all blogs ? After all, if you don’t have the guts to own up to a comment, is that comment worth reading ?

    Maybe OpenID can offer some sort of solution to this problem – mandatory registration, verifiably trackable, before comments can be posted….

    Dunno – is gonna require some more thought…

  38. I’ve gotten pornographic emails from someone who sent me a picture of a woman with clothespins all over her nipples. Yes, it is disturbing and it does scare you. When someone makes sexual comments like that or goes and does something like this women have every right to be concerned, and to speak out against it. And thank goodness there are men who will too.

    I hope Kathy finds out who did this.

  39. I’ve gotten pornographic emails from someone who sent me a picture of a woman with clothespins all over her nipples. Yes, it is disturbing and it does scare you. When someone makes sexual comments like that or goes and does something like this women have every right to be concerned, and to speak out against it. And thank goodness there are men who will too.

    I hope Kathy finds out who did this.

Comments are closed.