Kathy Sierra: Death Threats Ballyhoo

I’ve been a little surprised at the furore created the Kathy Sierra story. Kathy received “death threats” from a deranged poster, over reacted (in my opinion) and pulled out of ETech. She then blogged about it, posting up the fotos (photoshopped with bondage thing on) herself, posted up copies of the emails (which were disgusting) and called for the blogosphere to control the speech of wierdos. Scoble has come out in support. BBC has reported on it. Traffic to her site has increased.

What to do? Grab IP address (MAC if you can), email the ISP that manages it, notify the police, ignore it. If they show up on the doorstep treat it as real, otherwise, trust me, it’s just a freak. I’ve let them get as far as calling me on the phone before notifying someone, but that’s my choice.

What not to do? Post up the nasty emails and forum postings and fotos. It gives the perpetrator what they are seeking – attention. Use the situation to attack other Web 2.0 personalities. Valleywag here. Create a situation where being “politically correct” is more important than thinking the issues through.

Kathy’s pulling out of the ETech conference disappointed everyone (except for the perpetrator who was undoubtedly ecstatic) and is unprofessional. Why unprofessional? Because if you are in the public eye, and representing a public issue, these things will happen. And what I don’t understand is, is this the first time this community has received this kind of attention? It sounds as if it is, and it’s surprising.

If you can’t cope with the fact that wierdos and perverts also have access to easy-to-publish technologies, it’s time to quit. Too harsh? No. I mean it in a kind way. People who are sensitive to abuse need to reconsider opening up dialogue with unknown people – and publishing a blog with comments enabled and speaking at conferences definitely attracts all types. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t go near the kitchen. We discuss all the time that companies have no control over what is said about them on the ‘net; for bloggers it’s no different.

Ok, I’ve had hundreds of death threats (from my work in games and forums) and I’m immune. They can email me, post about me, send me goat-se style pictures, and so on, because on the ‘net, it’s easy to do. Only once did they cross over into “real life” and ring. I do differentiate between online wierdos and real life situations – not that they are remarkably different, just in intensity. Inworld threats rate a 1, real life rate a 10. Read A Rape In CyberSpace by Julian Dibbell for an alternate argument. So, for me, this sort of drama diminishes the important issue of women being stalked in real life. Not by pixels. And a friend if mine had a real situation develop from an online forum by a real life stalker who physically hung around her physical door. Now THAT was scary.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

3 thoughts on “Kathy Sierra: Death Threats Ballyhoo

  1. “Ok, I’ve had hundreds of death threats”

    Wow, take a trophy!

    Unprofessional, maybe, but sometimes personal safety comes first, for the sake of family. Some Net threats have come close to reality, it’s not really for you to judge how she reacted to it. I’m not convinced she was doing it for a traffic rush.

  2. “it’s not really for you to judge how she reacted to it”

    Actually that is exactly what Kathy was asking… why else post up forum/pictures/email scum and comments, with a call to arms? Surely she was asking for a response? I read the information and formed my own opinion and made a comment on it. *shrugs* it may not be politically correct but it’s my response.

    And truncating my quote really takes things out of context doesn’t it? I must remember that trick…

    I’m not convinced she is doing it for a traffic rush either. I think she was doing it to shut up MeanKids. And I think it worked, beautifully.

  3. Which seems poetic don’t you think?

    I mean I’m all for free speech but you have to wonder just what the “top tech bloggers” aims were when they created Meankids and Unclebobsims.

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts