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Poison blogging and comments

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday March 27, 2007 )

Give some people a keyboard and a sense of anonymity and they’ll abuse it any way they can. sometimes the abuse will escalate to ridiculous levels as a prominent blogger recently experienced – and that experience has her terrified.

In a previous post, Poison comments and Karma, I outlined a few reasons why people should be very careful about what they write; particularly in regards to inflammatory or insulting posts.

Amongst those points, I mentioned recruiters now perform extensive research on applicants via search engines. Aside from career prospects being harmed, there’s also that thing called human decency to be considered which seems somewhat unfashionable these days. Some people just take their so called “freedom of speech” to extremes. With freedom, true freedom; comes heavy responsibility and accountability. There are also possible legal implications in making poison posts and comments.

Take the recent case of Kathy Sierra, well known blogger and geekette. Some of the things that have been written about and to her are just plain disgusting as she outlines in this post (warning; explicit).

The posts have her so rattled that she cancelled her workshop at the ETech conference in San Diego. I really don’t know much about Kathy, but she doesn’t strike me as the type to be thin-skinned or spook easily – her detractors just went way over the top and I believe she has now involved the police; and more power to her for doing so.

It’s been my experience that many of these blustery types who fail to engage their brains before hitting submit display this sort of behavior because of a lack of umm. how to put it.. let’s just say a lack of something in their lives.

Often when anonymity is stripped away from them or confronted, they reveal themselves to be the snivelling people they truly are or just plain bullies; nothing without their pals to validate their anti-social behavior behavior.

Just as the pen is mightier than the sword, a keyboard can be as potentially deadly and harmful as a loaded gun. When we’re steamed about someone online, we need to think carefully of how we express it and how we pursue it. Why get into slanging matches that escalate? Nothing is achieved and people can wind up getting hurt, prosecuted or sued. As bloggers, we also have a responsibility to rise up above this sort of behavior and set a good example; and to ensure we keep our communities in line.

I do hope whoever was behind those awful public posts is made accountable for them and their identities made very public. It’s one thing to have a dark joke between friends, quite another to broadcast something like that sort of thing to the world.


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