Blograge: Harassment


Blograge: The darkness among us
I do not go to many conferences. This is because it is hard for me to get time off work and I usually have to pay for the conferences out of my own pocket. One of the conferences I have and am willing to pay to go to and take vacation time to attend is the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference a.k.a Etech. This year Etech and CATS2007 was scheduled at the same time. That and the fact that my employer paid me to go to CATS caused me to miss Etech this year.

Prominent female blogger getting death threats
Kathy Sierra writes the popular blog, Creating Passionate Users. She was scheduled to present a workshop at Etech this year. She did not go and canceled her presentation due to death threats she has been getting from within the blogging community. These threats have been in the form both comments in her blog and posts on other blogs. The sexual harassment nature of much of these has been so personal and so outrageous she is now afraid to go outside her house. She is not the only prominent female blogger who has been harassed. Prominent male bloggers have been trolled and harassed as well.

Scoble and other bloggers react
A-list blogger, podcaster and SJSU Alum Robert Scoble said, “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.” He said, “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.”

What do we do about it?
As Sierra said, “death threats against bloggers are NOT ‘protected speech.'” This is not the first time Scoble has taken time off due to harassment. He has been the target himself of vicious trolling. As Scoble said, “We have to fix this culture.” There has been talk of a blogger code of conduct. If we don’t find a way to fix this we could loose this. Harassment is not free and protected speech and we cannot allow it to continue.


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