Mean Kids errr People Suck

This is what’s wrong with the internet. Or more specifically online communities. Or even more specifically, online communities that don’t moderate themselves or their members. I can’t even believe I just typed that, but it’s true. And it’s why after all of these years I still moderate online communities. Even though I’m the moderator who usually rages against the machine in favor of less moderation, more freedom of expression, looser reins, more trust in the individuals who make up the community.


For the record, I’ve never read anything on “meankids”. I do snark and sarcasm, I don’t do “mean”. Now, I’m playing catch up. Trying to sort out what went wrong and why. Like the always brilliant Shelley Powers, I’m not interested in pointing fingers at any individuals. Kathy can do that, with whatever evidence she has, and let the authorities take it from there if she has that kind of evidence or desire to push it.

I’m interested in what causes this. And how to stop it. Particularly since so much of it seems to be directed at women. And at children.

What gives someone the right to photoshop a kid’s photo. What gives someone the right to put a noose around Kathy Sierra’s neck? What gives someone the right to make sexual comments about a woman? What gives someone the right to degrade and threaten another human being – often a woman?

Patriarchy? Liz titled her post with a rage against patriarchy and I love her for that. It’s so easy to toss that phrase out. I do it everyday. Is it more than that? Is it something else entirely. The culture of the internet, Scoble said today. What’s driving us to create an internet space that looks the way it does today. That feels the way it felt today when I read Sierra’s post and just sat there not knowing what to say.

Nancy White helped organize and lead a small group of folks last year who wanted to discuss “us/them” situations within the Blogosphere and beyond. This is definitely an us/them situation. The problem is, the us/them line is getting more muddled everyday. The attacks back and forth and back again are growing and they’re getting uglier and more dangerous.

Kathy Sierra drew a line in the blogosphere today. I don’t know if it was the right line, but it was a line and I support her right to draw it. I support her right to tell people what she thinks and how she feels. I support her right to fight back in any way she feels is right for her.

Be careful of turning your back on her and on this issue. One day it may be you with a noose around your neck on a blog, it may be you with the death threats – your odds are great, especially if you’re a woman.

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  1. This is incredibly scary. Threats are totally unnecessary and wrong. Creating fear just fosters more harmful things. I’m glad you wrote about this; I think yours is a good perspective.

  2. Wrong on so many levels.

  3. I’m playing catch-up too, This is horrifying and so wrong. And the worst part of it is that there’s no control over what someone else is going to do on the web, so it makes you feel helpless.


  1. […] has a great post asking how we can stop this. She asks: What gives someone the right to photoshop a kid’s photo. What gives someone the right […]