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Death Threats In the Blogosphere

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the way-over-the-line dept.

The Internet 487

Several readers have written in about the death threats and threats of sexual harm that have been directed at tech blogger Kathy Sierra. She is the author of a number of books about Java and a popular speaker at conferences. She has now stopped blogging and cancelled her appearance at eTech. She names the names of four prominent bloggers who are backers of two sites on which the threats were posted. Others in the blogosphere like Robert Scoble and Tim Bray have posted publicly in support of Sierra. Scoble in particular emphasizes the streak of misogyny that is still all too evident in the tech world. The Washington Post is also grappling with the issue of vile comment posts that flirt with illegality. One commenter on Bray's post summed it up: "The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."

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Being Anonymous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503561)

Sometimes you should just remain anonymous on the internet.

yay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503563)

first post?

simply unacceptable (5, Informative)

yagu (721525) | about 7 years ago | (#18503565)

Head First Java and Head First EJB are two of the first HF books I'd read. Kathy Sierra is one of the co-authors of these, books in what I consider an amazing series both in its approach and its enlightenment of what can be tediously dry material. Anyone who contributes to the technical community with that credibility is a superstar. Unfortunately superstars end up in the less sane miscreants' crosshairs.

The blogs and comments posted threatening Kathy are unacceptable, and look to be very illegal. It's a pity there are those who are disturbed enough to post such garbage. Normally I shrug off the garbage I see, but I think Kathy is making rational choices, albeit drastic ones.

I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person. It's a crime this happens to the good guys.

For those in the slashdot community with any knowledge of who might be making these posts, it is incumbent upon you to bring forward that information. For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them.

I hope Kathy sees and realizes enough support from the community and can regain some semblance of self.

(Aside: I don't think the internet has become the war zone the article describes. I do think the internet has made it much easier and maybe too easy for the disturbed to wreak personal havoc on the unfortunate targets. There may be a case to be made here against anonymous non-traceable postings, but for the most part the internet community seems (so far) to be self-policing. Hopefully that holds true for Kathy, and they find the posters, and prosecute.)

Re:simply unacceptable (5, Interesting)

photomonkey (987563) | about 7 years ago | (#18503781)

I read the posts suggesting ill of her, and find them disturbing, but childish and prankish.

I feel really bad that she is "afraid to leave her yard", but that really only feeds into it. We all have the capacity for malicious action, but nearly none of us ever act on it. This seems like a 'who can be more extreme' pissing contest that went way too far.

Unfortunately, this will probably only fan the flames for IDing each and everyone connected to the internet.

I really do feel bad for her. I just don't think any of it was intended to become true, nor will any of it become true. Bullying exists across all demographics. It's just that once you grow up, you're not so afraid of losing your lunch money, so the threats become greater.

Re:simply unacceptable (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18503801)

Very few death threats get carried out.
Less so on the internet.

"For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them."

yes, vigilantes are well known for making things better.

Re:simply unacceptable (5, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 7 years ago | (#18504063)

Very few death threats get carried out.
Less so on the internet.

Yeah, I stopped displaying my email address here after a certain quantity of threats from morons; on sites where I still provide it the morons continue to threaten. That's just how the Internet is. I'm a lot more concerned about being hit by a car than I am that some over-invested loser means his threats seriously.

Which isn't to say that I blame Kathy Sierra for being freaked out, but Scoble's comment that "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." seems like classic blogonarcissism. That's just how the Internet is, even for low-low-level blogocelebrati.

get bent (0, Flamebait)

Ender Ryan (79406) | about 7 years ago | (#18503855)

For those in the slashdot community with any knowledge of who might be making these posts, it is incumbent upon you to bring forward that information.

No, no it's not.

For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them.

Now that IS definitely illegal. I don't know that the supposed death threats are really illegal; they appear to me to be jokes, admittedly offensive, inappropriate and mean, but jokes nonetheless.

It's not for me to say, or anyone else on /. to say either.

Re:simply unacceptable (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | about 7 years ago | (#18503905)

Yes, this is unacceptable. However, it does happen, and it will continue to happen as long as people can continue to be essentially anonymous. It's that anonymity that changes a probably normal person into a blathering, vile fucktard.

But I think this woman is overreacting a tad. Maybe this is the first time something like this has happened to her. The chances of one of these assholes hunting her down and doing that stuff they so eloquently described in their posts to her is probably about as high as her chances of being hit by a meteor. I'd hate to think she's somehow milking this for the PR value, but her "OMG I have to sequester myself at home with my dog and a shotgun" is a bit too much. Not that the behavior that led to this is acceptable at all, but still.

I do find it ironic though that the very community that considers online anonymity to be so sacred can turn around so quickly and demand that these people - again, vile fucktards - be "brought to justice". But then I guess we all have our double standards.

And you're not a woman (4, Insightful)

anomaly (15035) | about 7 years ago | (#18504145)

Neither am I, but I know that I can't understand what it's like to maintain constant vigilence - because women can and are abused by men. They are statistically smaller and weaker than men, and easily victimized.

Ever walk to your car in a dark parking lot? When you do, do you give thought to being attacked? I don't, but almost every woman I've asked says she does. I recently heard that 10% of high school senior girls report having been raped. These are girls under 18.

I have an acquaintance who was in her work parking lot and rolled down her window to chat with a coworker who smiled pleasantly as he reached in the window to fondle her breast. This was most certainly unwelcome and abusive! Has that ever happened to you? Do you think she will *ever* consider rolling down her car window on a warm day without thinking of that event? Do you ever think "Will my coworker sexually harass me?" I doubt it.

You mock the blogger's fear as overreaction. Try thinking like a more vulnerable person, and then perhaps you'll respond more charitably.

Re:And you're not a woman (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504215)

Rape is down to 10%? In the early 70s the militant feminists insisted that every woman had been raped. I guess we've cleaned up a lot in 30 years.

Re:simply unacceptable (2, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 7 years ago | (#18503963)

I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person. It's a crime this happens to the good guys.

That's why "retreating" is the absolute last thing she should be doing. It will do her more emotional harm in the long run; its more than likely that no threat is actually intended, it's just meant to terrorize her and make her submit, anyway (why issue a death threat if you're planning to carry it out?).

Re:simply unacceptable (1, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18503977)

I know I'm going to get modded to hell for my posts in this thread, but whatever. I think there is more than enough navel-gazing going on in this and other threads on this topic, so we can afford to consider other opinions.

Yes, she needs to regain some semblance of self. Based on the couple of comments I saw which were incredibly disgusting and uncalled for, I can see that she would be offended. But really. She needs to get a hold of herself. She calls it mysogyny because someone posts "fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob" on a couple of blogs? Is she new to the internet or something? Name a blog out there that hasn't had even worse repeatedly posted on them. Even directed toward specific individuals? Liberals, conservatives, religious people, atheists, people of different ethnicities and sizes and colors and shapes and views and backgrounds and opinions have things like that said to them online all the time. They don't immediately cancel all events and lock themselves in their home for fear of their life like this person claims she is doing.

I've had people completely lose it on my site. Seriously, I have witnessed people have flat out breakdowns over the last nine years when I've banned them. They'll return with dozens of accounts and post the most shocking and creepy things. They've made vile and repulsive threats. One of them has been doing this for FOUR YEARS across the internet and via email and myspace and various false accounts AND THEY ARE STILL DOING IT! All over having their account banned!

But still.. it's the internet. If this stuff were being sent via the USPS or voicemails or phone calls or something, I'd say it should be taken more seriously. As it is, ban the account and the IP and move on. If you waste your life on every skinflint like that, you'll never have time for anything else.

And by the way - what the hell is with labeling the entire tech industry as a bunch of misogynists because of this guy? The internet is anonymous. How do we know this guy isn't a burger flipper somewhere or a school teacher or a lawyer? Just because he's posting on a tech related blog doesn't mean he's some industry insider somewhere venting his sickening Freudian rage toward women or something.

Seriously, does nobody think guys like Dvorak and Malda and many others haven't had to put up with this stuff? I'm sure it happens all the time. They just don't have a nervous breakdown over it.

mod up parent -dont feed the trolls (4, Insightful)

crabpeople (720852) | about 7 years ago | (#18504123)

I guess she never heard the expression "don't feed the trolls". This is exactly the crazy overblown reaction that I am sure makes this particular troll giddy with attention happiness. He even made slashdot now.

By trolling standards, this is a complete and utter success. Trolls only want attention people, and shes played right into its hand.

Re:simply unacceptable (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18504047)

The blogs and comments posted threatening Kathy are unacceptable, and look to be very illegal. [...] I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person. It's a crime this happens to the good guys.

I agree wholeheartedly with both points, but I agree with the second statement ("I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person.") for reasons which probably differ substantially from yours.

The reason I hate that is because no one should be such a coward that some death threats that almost certainly mean absolutely nothing should cause them to withdraw into themselves so completely.

People have made all kinds of threats against me, but none of them have been carried out since high school. If I took them seriously then I would never do anything but hide in my house and check up on the status of various police reports I'd made.

I hope Kathy sees and realizes enough support from the community and can regain some semblance of self.

I hope that Kathy sees how ridiculous she is being, what an overreaction she is making, and gets on with her life. Again, I agree that it is wrong, and pathetic, and inexcusable for people to do such a thing. But I think it's also pathetic that she is now afraid to go out in public because of something someone said on the internet. People make bullshit death threats every day on the internet, probably moreso than through any other medium of communication! I think that John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [penny-arcade.com] is the gospel truth. For those who don't want to clicky, the upshot is that normal person + anonymity + audience = total fuckwad. It's not true of everyone but it is true in a disturbing number of situations. The result is that you must consider that people will say things they would never say elsewhere and in most cases don't even believe simply because they feel they can get away with it, and in many cases they can.

One more time: I THINK WHAT THE PEOPLE DID IS WRONG. But I think that this woman is quite frankly unequipped to deal with the real world. An internet death threat generally means jack shit. If she's that upset by THAT non-event, what does she do when someone flips her off in traffic? Pull over to the side of the road and have a good cry?

Re:simply unacceptable (1)

sharp-bang (311928) | about 7 years ago | (#18504253)

People have made all kinds of threats against me, but none of them have been carried out since high school

Big deal. The situation is different for 1) women, 2) attractive women, and 3) public figures.

Re:simply unacceptable (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 7 years ago | (#18504053)

Illegal? Where? How? Who is there to enforce any sort of "rules" for use of privately created web pages on the Internet?

There is no "right of free speech" here - there are no rights (or wrongs) at all. No authority except that which comes from the power to delete.

People know there are no consequences whatsoever for whatever they do on the Internet, so they are emboldened to do anything they want. No behavior, no matter how extreme, seems to have any real world effects connected with it. And, most of this stuff is anonymous anyway or with unverified identities.

This means that any female is a legitimate target. Haven't had any in a while? Chase down some female "in cyberspace" and rape her, figuratively speaking. Don't like what someone has to say? Out-edit them or shout them down. Delete them. Flood their email. Whatever. It is all fair game.

This is all about anonyminity and the side effects of knowing you can get away with anything.

Re:simply unacceptable (2, Insightful)

Irvu (248207) | about 7 years ago | (#18504125)

or those in the slashdot community with any knowledge of who might be making these posts, it is incumbent upon you to bring forward that information. For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them.

Definitely a bad idea. Vigilantism, as cathartic as it may be is never never a long-term solution. It's often disasterously bad in the short term as well.

In the short term any information collected by such means would be inadmissible in court and probably lead to violations of other laws. Secondly said information may not be that meaningful in the court of public opinion. Coming down like a ton of bricks on abusive people often tends to a) increase their own hatred and willingness to make and carry out threats, and b) drum up some twisted support/sympathy for them.

In the long term it creates a show that adds fuel to the Great Firewall argument of mandatory online id's and
registration of posts both to prevent such threats, or at least identify the guilty, and to stop the vigilantes who either break things in the process of their attack or can be painted as being just as destructive as the original threats. At the end of the day all it would be is a turf war between would be online police and the vigilates and the original threats would be ignored.

This is not to say that they shouldn't be vilified. I think that the process of condemning the attackers should also involve condemning the bloggers who started said site and who, by omission or commission, allow the posts to stand and attack. Christ Locke and others must deal with this or they should be sidelined from all future public involvement. It isn't as cathartic in the short term but it is effective.

Re:simply unacceptable (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18504203)

I'd like to reference her objects IF U KNOW WHAT I MEAN heh heh heh

I wonder if she likes it in the back end, or front.. Her java apps, that is..

heh heh heh

too many double entendres

Re:simply unacceptable (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 7 years ago | (#18504231)

It's just a reality on the internet that people will make outrageous threats toward people they don't agree with. And internet or any other medium, if you piss off certain people they'll resort to physical threats...I sold off the last of my guns when I was 20, and bought the first of a new set after I someone my journalist wife pissed off started harassing us...The truth can be a weapon, and some people will treat it as such.

It's the way of the world, and it's unfortunate, but it's a fact of life. If you're afraid of death threats, possible harassment, and (unlikely) serious danger, don't do that sort of job. It's well and good to say that "This sort of thing should never happen" but it always has, and I'll bet it always will.

It's a Tradeoff (1)

eggman9713 (714915) | about 7 years ago | (#18503589)

In any case, if you put yourself out there in the world, cyber or otherwise, and develop a following, there is always going to be an asshole or two or three that want to harm you because they have nothing else better to do. Why do you think George W Bush has bodyguards?

Re:It's a Tradeoff (5, Funny)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#18503625)

Why do you think George W Bush has bodyguards?

To stop him from running with scissors and to keep his fingers out of electrical sockets?

Re:It's a Tradeoff (1)

CheddarHead (811916) | about 7 years ago | (#18503843)

Why do you think George W Bush has bodyguards?
To stop him from running with scissors and to keep his fingers out of electrical sockets?
You forgot about the need to apply the heimlich maneuver when he's been eating pretzels.

was that a threat? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503949)

was that a threat against the president?

Are you implying you will STAB THE PRESIDENT with scissors?

hmm (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | about 7 years ago | (#18503607)

I dont know about the Internet being a war zone. But I though programmers were more rational than to be making death threats on the internet.

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18503891)


You mean the people who wrap themselves up in things soley to look important?

Look at any flameware. What are programmers really fighting for? to hold onto some stupid opinion, or that there product is better for them, therefore it's better for everybody?

Programmers are no different then anyone else.

Re:hmm (1)

FMota91 (1050752) | about 7 years ago | (#18503959)

Being intelligent alone doesn't make you moral, sociable, or even wise.

I personally find this situation disgusting and hold sympathy for Kathy Sierra. I know how someone changes after being abused verbally like this, and I wish I didn't. It's a crime, and if it isn't, then it should be. I believe we should find those responsible and bring them to justice. Anything short of ruining their careers and social lives (if they have any) is probably not enough.

Its a matter of numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504239)

But I though programmers were more rational than to be making death threats on the internet.

Millions upon millions of people use the Internet. Statistically speaking, there simply must be some dangerous or otherwise crazy people using it.

Also, remember the diversity of age groups that use the Internet. The apparent immaturity of the people who posted these threats may be due, in part, to actual physical immaturity. They may just be kids who don't realize the full significance of their actions.

It is a shame that it happened, but this sort of thing is bound to happen sooner or later. That doesn't make it ok, but it does make it a practical reality of our day. I think that she may have overreacted a bit. Taking legal measures against these posters may be warranted, but living in a state of fear as a result of a few thoughtless posts on the Internet is not.

That's what I think.

A War Zone (1)

Ian McBeth (862517) | about 7 years ago | (#18503633)

Yea, its a war zone,

I got a Death threat on one of my blogs Yesterday.
WTF is wrong with people. The stupid part was it was a
response to a complaint I posted about the Business
Practices of Electronic Arts Inc.

Me: EA suxxors


Blogosphere = ??? (5, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | about 7 years ago | (#18503639)

The blogosphere has turned into spam, flamewars, threats, and general kookery. Welcome to the new Usenet.

The Meow Meow clan must return! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504199)

Meow meow meow mew meow meow meow!

Miu? Miu meow meow. : o

Meow meow meow, meow; mew mew meow meow mew mew... Meow meow meow! >^o^<

This sort of crap sickens me (5, Insightful)

ScytheBlade1 (772156) | about 7 years ago | (#18503645)

People are people. People have the right to express their opinions about someone else.

So where, as far as the law is concerned, is "too much"? If it is one person's opinion that another person should be shot and raped, does that person have the right to express that opinion?

My personal opinion is that death threats and rape threats are far beyond the free speech line, simply because they infringe and threaten another person's right to life. Which, in my opinion, is a rather important right. I support her fully, and personally think that the posters of said comments need to have charges brought against them.

But to what degree do the law books say too much is too much? Where is the line as far as the books are concerned?

Just honest curiosity.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18503757)

Regardless of how vile people can be (as I mentioned my own experiences in another post here), it's still the internet. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to take a threat on the internet serious. My information is completely publicly available and I've had people who I've banned for their behavior on my site spread offensive rumors about me on the web and even threaten to cut my head off. But what are you gonna do? It's the internet. Going to spend a few months of your life with the police and a lawyer hunting down some skinflint who's all bark and no bite?

When these things have happened to me, I didn't even bother to post about it on my site or elsewhere. Why would I? Who cares about it? So while I have sympathy for this person's situation, I also think there is a bit of attention-getting going on here. Look at me getting' threats and mean comments from nutcases! Poor me! Give me some attention intarweb!

Now, I'm sure this person in question is a talented, kind, decent person. I'm not saying they deserve any of the comments or threats they've been getting whatsoever. But really... dude... it's the fucking internet.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503993)

So what happens when some nutjob that just so happens to live within 100 miles of you decides to cyber-stalk you?

You know there's a line. Are death threats, made from letters cut + glued from magazines and left in your mailbox just as acceptable as annonymized email death threats?

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (2, Informative)

bigtangringo (800328) | about 7 years ago | (#18503997)

Interstate? I'm not sure, but in Arizona [state.az.us]:

A. A person commits threatening or intimidating if the person threatens or intimidates by word or conduct:

1. To cause physical injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another; or...

The law continues. Anyway, if the proverbial "reasonable person" would feel threatened, then it's probably a threat in the eyes of the court.

CAPTCHA: hostage

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

etymxris (121288) | about 7 years ago | (#18503875)

"I hope you get..." = not a threat.
"You should get..." = not a threat.
"I will..." = a threat.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 7 years ago | (#18503919)

not according to the law.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

etymxris (121288) | about 7 years ago | (#18503967)

not according to the law.

Ok, do you have something to back that up? I was under the impression that everything except calls to engage in imminent illegal activity were protected speech.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504077)

Using that logic ... so when the two goons come into your shop and say:
"Nice business you got here. Hate to see anything 'happen' to it."

That's *not* a shakedown, but is instead just two fellas genuinely concerned in your success as a businessman.

Good to know.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (2, Insightful)

djan (121552) | about 7 years ago | (#18503897)

People have the right to express their opinions about someone else.

This is true, but a lot of people don't realize that you need to bear the consequences of expressing your opinions.

If you are in the record business and spout off a la Dixie Chicks about GW Bush, expect to suffer backlash in the form of fewer record sales from people that disagree with you. If you threaten to kill someone, expect to have law enforcement to become very interested in having a talk with you.

Free speech is great, but prices are paid for the execution of it.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | about 7 years ago | (#18503987)

But to what degree do the law books say too much is too much? Where is the line as far as the books are concerned?

Well the first amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It doesnt say but no advocating harm to someone else, or your inciting a riot, or your yelling fire in a crowded building, or peaceably assembling without a permit or in defiance of the police. Yet you can be arrested for every one of those things. Why? Because judges thought these infringements on the 1st amendment were reasonable. The constitution is amendable for a reason, and amending it is supposed to be the only way to change it. For that reason I would say these things are technically legal despite what any judge says, the framers of the Constitution certainly thought so, and so do I.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | about 7 years ago | (#18504045)

The problem is that context is just as important as what was said. Sure, people said some shit they probably shouldn't have. They didn't actually do those things, though, and being the Internet, it's unlikely they have any plans to do so or actually believe that these things should be gone through with. People talk shit on the Internet. People say things just to be dicks on the Internet because they can be fairly certain it's not going to result in the ass kicking they probably deserve.

In this case specifically, these "threats" look like 90% of the arguments I see on the Internet. As far as I know not one of them has resulted in any of those suggestions occurring. This is what happens on the Internet.

If it is in fact believed that a person intends to make good on such threats or wants to believe they will (whether they actually can/will or not), well, we've already got that covered. [findlaw.com]

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 years ago | (#18504081)

But to what degree do the law books say too much is too much? Where is the line as far as the books are concerned?

Saying you think someone should be shot is legal. Saying you are going to shoot someone is a crime.

Telling people in a position and with a will to shoot someone that someone should be shot can be considered illegal as it is inciting someone to commit a crime. But telling people with no history of violence that someone should be shot is probably not a crime.

It all depends on how good your lawyer is...

As for a picture with someone next to a picture of a noose, that frankly doesn't mean anything. It could be suggestive of their own hanging, or it could be suggesting that they perform hangings. Now, if you put the noose around her neck and provide a caption saying "I'm gonna hang the bitch", that's actionable.

Re:This sort of crap sickens me (4, Funny)

FSWKU (551325) | about 7 years ago | (#18504211)

Disclaimer: The usual "I Am Not A Lawyer" applies here.

While I'm not a lawyer, I have studied media and mass communication law. One of the things we had drilled into us from day one was the full text and meaning of the First Amendment. What we started getting drilled into us from day two, was that your rights under the First Amendment end where someone else's rights begin. That is to say, freedom of speech gives you a wide berth to say what you want, but as soon as you cross the line into threatening someone or directly impacting their safety or well being, you are no longer protected.

I haven't read the comments, but it sounds like they may be walking a very fine line. Saying things like "you should die" or "you should be beaten with a riot baton" are, while vile and nasty things to say, protected speech. However, if they were to say "I am going to kill you", or "I am going to fuck you until you see things my way", then that is NOT protected speech. Bottom line is that threats carry with them the reasonable expectation that they will be carried out, even if they are made anonymously via the internet.

If the comments were made to walk the fine line between protected and unprotected speech, yet with the intent to cause emotional or psychological distress, then the law would most likely point to the comments being unprotected, as they are harrassing in nature. If Ms. Sierra has reason to believe that those comments could lead to actual physical harm, then she is taking a (sadly) prudent and necessary course of action.

While I have not read any of her work, and have formed no opinion of her, there is no excuse for the comments that have been aimed her way. While I don't believe the internet is a war zone, I do believe that anonymity tends to override people's better judgement, and can result in cases like this. For a summation of this last paragraph, I ask you to refer to John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. [penny-arcade.com]

Is this because of the word "blogosphere"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503651)

I don't like the word blogosphere either, but I'm not going to kill anyone over it.

Close (5, Insightful)

toddhisattva (127032) | about 7 years ago | (#18503655)

"The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."
The universities became shopping malls and war zones. The Internet merely reflects the decay.

Re:Close (1)

lbbros (900904) | about 7 years ago | (#18503799)

I think it's more than that. It shows how on the Internet people can abuse the lack of personal presence to the extreme and say many disturbing things and get away with them (or so they think). This is an extreme example of this situation.
Already it's impossible, on certain forums, to have heated but *polite* debates, and very often one of the two sides will steep low and say slimy things.

Apparently, we have reached a new degree with death threats and such, as this story outlines.

There's an old saying that applies ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503663)

... ``if we did a better job of protecting the Internet from children then we wouldn't have to protect children from the Internet.''

Once upon the time the Internet had a very high barrier of entry. Now the barrier is quite low. Not only is it easy to get access, but it's easy to get quasi-anonymous access at multiple points. Gone are the days when an email to root@.??? could get an account pulled or at least result in a user getting a stern talking to. Consequently, users have need of taking defensive measures.

But as far as I can tell, there's no way to fix it. So long as there will be asshats, there will be asshats on the Internet. Eventually gated communities of various sorts will begin to flourish again as they did in the old BBS days, but those communities have their own drawbacks. For the Internet itself, there just isn't any good way to go back.

Life's Tough All Around (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 7 years ago | (#18503665)

I've had members of my site become brutal and rather scary after I've had to ban them for fraudulent and other unacceptable behavior against other users. On more than a couple occasions, they have done things like dig up my phone number and make threatening phone calls. Call police in my state and make various absurd false reports. Spread insanely ridiculous things about me on the internet, email me and post to my website the most vile, disgusting, threatening things you can imagine.

But what can you do? Are you going to lock yourself in a bunker the rest of your life to keep yourself safe from mentally imbalanced teenagers and idiot, vindictive, insane adults?

I've had people flat out threaten to hunt me down and cut my head off if I didn't restore their banned accounts and I've had one post things across the web that are among the most vile and disgusting and insulting things you can claim about a person. But I'm not out there asking everyone to stick up for me or... well.. even wasting two seconds on it. People are dicks. Life is hard. A lot of people say a lot of shit and don't follow through. Either grow a spine or go away. There's no sense being a big baby about it because someone hates you. And if someone really has you fearing for your life, then do something about it besides blogging about it and trying to manipulate other people into sticking up for you.

Yea... (5, Funny)

koreaman (835838) | about 7 years ago | (#18503677)

First the internet was a tree. Then it was a painting. THen it was a mass of shitty analogies...

Re:Yea... (5, Funny)

Jaqenn (996058) | about 7 years ago | (#18504237)

The internet exists as a method to deliver car analogies. It's like those 18-wheelers that carry other vehicles.

PC Backlash (2, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | about 7 years ago | (#18503683)

When you can't say intellectually controversial things in public, on TV, in print, or anywhere else that repressed need eventually bubbles out from somewhere. Unfortunately, when it's on the internet and self-authored and published, the respective screening (getting beat up, losing your license, reputation flushed down the toilet) leaves and we're left with a river of hateful slime.

Like Ghostbusters 2. Only more serious. I suppose this makes this post controversial, as well.

Re:PC Backlash (3, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | about 7 years ago | (#18504057)

I assume you use "PC" as short hand for "politically correct". In which case you obviously don't know what being politically correct is all about. It has nothing to do with saying intellectually controversial things, unless you think something like "Jews rule the world and control the government" is somehow intellectually controversial.

Political correctness is about not making stupid comments that hurt minority groups or other groups in society when there is no

So, in summing up, I think you are wrong, and also possibly stupid. Politically correct is only ever used as an insult by right-wing conservatives who want to be able to insult "niggers", women (who should be staying at home bare foot and pregnant anyway, not actually being real people), and similar groups in society who have little power anyway.

Care to apologize?

(The Wikipedia article seems vaguely alright just now. At least the introduction does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness [wikipedia.org] )

The Pain of Celebrity (5, Interesting)

Friedrich Psitalon (777927) | about 7 years ago | (#18503689)

While I respect anyone in the public limelight, I think Kathy is being a tad bit naive. As a mildly well-known member of a gaming community once upon a time, I came to realize that some people really do get their rocks off on simply making vile threats. (Yes, I know, the scale is very different, but the concept is much the same.)

Odds are very poor that many of them are serious, and in the case of the incredibly slim few that are, most of them are so functionally disturbed that they wouldn't be able to make a trip to a convention anyhow. They're too worried about the peanut butter covering their sidewalk or the time cubes floating in front of the bus station.

Part of being a celebrity on any level for any topic means accepting that you gain both fame and infamy in parts. Refusing to continue doing good because of the threat of others doing evil against you is (while perhaps the most understandable kind) simply cowardice.

I'm a schoolteacher. I *KNOW* because I'm a teacher who connects with kids, and has a knack for reaching troubled kids that my odds of being the target of an angry, weapon-holding students are *GOOD*... someday, I'm going to stare at that terrifying situation. I still teach - I know that I do good things, and I will not live in fear of evil ones.

Kathy should recognize that her acts do far more good than the risk of harm merits and go on. Courage of the unknown is a tough thing, but an important thing - it is what makes (most) of the greatest humans great.

Re:The Pain of Celebrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503931)

Seriously, anyone who's browsed 4chan's /b/ knows shit like this isn't a real threat: "fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob". This person is a victim of her own naivety.

Re:The Pain of Celebrity (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | about 7 years ago | (#18503937)

I'm a schoolteacher. I *KNOW* because I'm a teacher who connects with kids, and has a knack for reaching troubled kids that my odds of being the target of an angry, weapon-holding students are *GOOD*... someday, I'm going to stare at that terrifying situation. I still teach - I know that I do good things, and I will not live in fear of evil ones.

Interestingly, I think you're encountering another aspect of our new-ish non-local culture.

Consider: Kathy's problem is one of communication. Those sickos who have developed an interest in her due to her degree of public figure status would be out there regardless (stalkers being nothing new), but the internet allows her to see them which, quite naturally, terrifies her.

You, likewise, are being made fearful by our non-local culture. You see a couple of school shootings a year spread out nationally, but since each gets attention and, as an attention-getting item, is reported nationally in the same way that you might expect a local incident to be covered. As such, you've come to the expectation that school shootings are in fact commonplace enough that you're expressing the absolute certainty that you will, someday, "stare at that terrifying situation".

Both of your fears seem to have the common root, and it's something I find interesting. I wonder if that's a problem that has a solution -- after all, reasonable people look for things that threaten them, and mass communication's only going to get easier... Maybe eventually we'll all life either in fear or blissful intentional ignorance.

Re:The Pain of Celebrity (1)

Howserx (955320) | about 7 years ago | (#18503995)

"Kathy should recognize that her acts do far more good than the risk of harm merits and go on."

Do far more good? It's not like she's a crusader for the homeless or human rights. She blogs and writes about Java.

Re:The Pain of Celebrity (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 7 years ago | (#18504219)

you say you "may" be assaulted for doing your job, I actually have been. I have seen my own blood pool on a tile floor for being who I am and if there was any way I could reduce the chance of having that happen again I would do it in a second.

To say that someone should risk their life simply so YOU can get another book out of them is horribly selfish. Calling someone a coward because they wont risk being raped so they can sign your book is selfishness in the purest form.

you say you are "going to stare at that terrifying situation", those are just empty words until you actually have had someone come at you with a knife or copper pipe.... trust me, speaking from personal experience, that bravado of yours means jack squat when it actually happens. When you actually have had someone threaten your life, someone who was fully capable of doing it, had the motive, means, and opportunity, if you can tell us then that you would not take even the most remedial protective measures then you can criticize her

Right, this is a total change (4, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | about 7 years ago | (#18503709)

Yeah, back in the day you never would have seen this sort of thing on the web, assuming that by "back in the day" you mean "the time between when Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web but before he told anyone about it".

Not to say this sort of thing is all right, of course, but while this is almost certainly a sad byproduct of the culture of the internet, there's nothing in the post she pointed to that I find disturbing or even all that unusual. As she noted, you get everybody online and give them anonymity, this sort of thing happens.

This doesn't mean, however, that it's happening *more* than it would have back before the internet, just that now it tends to be visible. Public figures, even minor ones, have always run the risk of attracting sickos, especially when they're decent looking women. Going so far as to suggest this is something new that's being caused by the internet just seems ridiculous, and trying to paint it as a byproduct of the culture of men in software development is even moreso.

I know it must be disturbing to realize you're the focus of this kind of thing, but let's try not to make more of it than it is.

Re:Right, this is a total change (5, Insightful)

sharp-bang (311928) | about 7 years ago | (#18504155)

there's nothing in the post she pointed to that I find disturbing

Maybe, but you are not her. Different people have different comfort levels with threats of bodily harm. I am not sure that your post reflects an appropriate standard for all victims, and I suspect that you would change your tune fairly rapidly if you, yourself, (or, worse, someone you loved) were the target.

Going so far as to suggest this is something new that's being caused by the internet just seems ridiculous

I don't think anyone familiar with Usenet thinks this is anything new, but it must be acknowledged that the Internet has greatly facilitated this sort of anonymous abuse. What's different from Usenet in this situation is that it is entirely within the ability of individual bloggers to stop this sort of abuse by their participants.

trying to paint it as a byproduct of the culture of men in software development is even moreso.

I wish I could say that I agree with you, but I work in information security and have responded to a number of internal online sexual abuse cases over the years. Your assertion does not completely correlate with my personal experiences with software developers. As with any male-dominated culture, there's a certain percentage of men who think that behaving rudely, crudely, and threateningly towards women is just fine. This is true in any culture; what's important is the group's tolerance for repellent, abusive behavior towards a female minority, and a principal sign of a lack of cultural maturity in this regard is for those not directly involved to sit back, as you just did, and say, "oh come on, it's not so bad, she just needs to get a grip", which is really just a backhanded way of condoning such behavior.

This is coming from a chick (-1, Flamebait)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | about 7 years ago | (#18503767)

And we all know that chicks tend to be WAY oversensitive about this sort of thing - they perceive EVERYTHING as a threat. Case in point? PJ from groklaw. She considers just about everything to be a personal threat against her.

Re:This is coming from a dick .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | about 7 years ago | (#18503915)

Having people come round to your home, post images and sneering references to your religion does not constitute WAY oversensitive. You yourself, are a prime example of what's wrong with online forums.

was .. Re:This is coming from a chick

mod parent down. WAY DOWN. (1)

david_bonn (259998) | about 7 years ago | (#18504139)

Did you actually read the posts made about Kathy Sierra? They were pretty outrageously vicious. I can't imagine anyone saying garbage like that face to face without there being hell to pay.

I'm Worried about "Mob Justice" (5, Interesting)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 7 years ago | (#18503789)

I'm a big fan of Kathy Sierra; I own several of her books, and have evangelized for her for a long time.

But right now, I'm worried about mob "justice."

I've seen that, several times, "Joey" has said, "This is a big misunderstanding," and "please, let's talk about this."

The response? "We've seen all the evidence we need-- shut up, you're in big trouble."

Have they seen all the evidence they "need?" Need, for what purpose? I agree that they've seen disturbing, gruesome pictures. But is it all connected up right? I'm not so sure-- did e-mailed death threats really come from Joey & Co.?

But there is something that I'm sure of: Due process is not happening here. We're witnessing a dog pile. I'm sure that a great many of these people are hearing Kathy's story, seeing the pictures, and then calling "Get a rope."

I read the story. It's disgusting. I know how the wanna-be vigilantes feel. But this is no way to do things, and I find the popular response disgusting, as well.

If some of the people responsible are willing and ready to talk, and have a side of the story, it's everybody's duty to give it a fair hearing. We should be encouraging conversation right now, not discouraging it. I'm sure Kathy & Joey & all can have a conversation, and work this out, and make a follow-up announcement.

Re:I'm Worried about "Mob Justice" (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 7 years ago | (#18503951)

I'll kill you for advocating due process!

You are absolutly right, due process must always be observed by all parties.
The facts need to come out, then justice can be served rationally.

Re:I'm Worried about "Mob Justice" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504235)

"mob justice" seems appropriate for anonymous little slime molds who get off scaring girls.

You want to help these sick puppies? The best way is out them. They'll behave better after they learn actions can have consequences.

WTF? The internet has *always* been a war zone (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 7 years ago | (#18503835)

Before there were blogs there was usenet, that pristine unadulterated source of helpful ideas and good manners.

Some people just have no idea...


Re:WTF? The internet has *always* been a war zone (0)

SpaghettiCoder (1073236) | about 7 years ago | (#18504021)

That is very true. Whoever thinks Usenet didn't have the exact same stuff or worse, simply wasn't on the internet (and using Usenet) in the early to mid 90s. The internet was never a "university", and the implication that it was somehow more genteel in the past is just wishful thinking. I can't believe all these so-called "tech" writers who think there is something called "blogging", and it's something new.

Thoughts (3, Insightful)

LarsWestergren (9033) | about 7 years ago | (#18503839)

I've been following this today, on and off. I feel really sorry for Kathy Sierra. What is scary is the number of bloggers (mostly female) who describe being subjected to similar things, some even worse. Most of the bloggers mentioned by her have apologized for participating in such a site though, even if, as they claim, they did not do any of the objectionable content.

I think Don Parks [docuverse.com] summed up how I feel about this best. With reality TV the tolerance of bullying has unfortunately been increased. If something good can be said to come of this, it is that a few online bullies are getting their well deserved come-uppance. I think it was Chad Fowler who wrote [pragmaticprogrammer.com] that the net never forgets, and building a reputation becomes ever more important. The stuff you write may come back to haunt you for a long time, and never forget that there are real people with feelings on the other side. Even if you disagree with them they deserve to be treated as human beings.

Aaaaaaand off to prison (1)

Denial93 (773403) | about 7 years ago | (#18503851)

If whoever did this - at least some of them - were stupid enough to leave traceable IPs, they'll go to prison. And they deserve it. And if it is because some trolls simply didn't see that somewhere beyond the limit of decency was another limit, a legal one, they deserve to learn the hard way.

I'm angry. Not angry enough to be happy with the various means of online surveillance that law enforcement has appropriated, but angry enough to hwant to see them used, fast.

I don't get it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18503881)

Why are these morons threatening this young woman? As to the death threats and such, yeah I've been a recipient as lately as last week, just for posting an honest opinion. The opinion was in a Chicago Tribune "Julie's Health Club" article; blog, I guess, since there is a moderated comments section. The topic was child care, I opined that one parent should stay home while one won bread. I didn't say mom should stay home, mind you, but ONE PARENT.

Of course, some crazed misandrist feminazi (I never used that word before now, but thanks to the strange woman from the internet it will become a beloved part of my vocabulary now) emailed me to say that I was a ceve man who should have his "balls cut off" before I bred.

Threatening to cut a man's balls off is worse than a death threat, as the 95% of you who are men well know.

I had death threats back when I got too popular at K5, too (yes, it's the "Paxil Diary" guy mcgrew here). That, ironically, was over a joke that some gays didn't get; one of them was an admin, Pete Jongular, who made the site so annoying for me that I left. Is the asshole still there? If not I may go back...

But anyway, my empathy goes out to this poor woman. I know how she feels, even though I'm too damned stubborn and ornery to let a few death threats and threats of castration keep me off the net.

-mcgrew (sm62704 at /., now at work and w/o my /.pw)

Whingebag.. (-1, Troll)

SpaghettiCoder (1073236) | about 7 years ago | (#18503917)

.. going for the sympathy vote because some anonymous jerks have said nasty things to her? This is ridiculous, and I wonder whether she's just taking the opportunity to increase her profile among her peers, and her MARKETABILITY to publishers. Or maybe she wants to become a feminist pinup? So she's written a couple of tech books - so what? Does everyone now have to come up with a few dozen ways of saying she has some authority on the subject of Java? Why is that such a big deal anyway?

This is the internet. I've had nasty things said to me too. As for threats to kill, you just report them to the police and don't make a song and dance about it. If such threats have any credibility, the culprits will be nicked. You just ignore it and move on, IF you have any 'character'. This is what's expected in adult life. Maybe she just had a very protected or cosseted upbringing, and can't handle cyberspace. If she can't even handle minor things like that, I don't find her impressive at all.It's all about LIFE SKILLS.

Re:Whingebag.. (2, Insightful)

cbradshaw (1061110) | about 7 years ago | (#18504103)

This is the internet. I've had nasty things said to me too.

Right, but are you a public figure? Speak at Conferences? Author books? You seem to have spent enough time trivializing her situation, without giving a thought to what it might be like to receive a death threat - knowing all well that the world has easy PHYSICAL access to you.

Think about what you are saying... what good will reporting these threats to the police do? Are they going to be able to track down the bad-guys? It's doubtful.

The way I see it, you are either; a.) A Karma Whore looking for that "+1 insightful", or b.) Have way too much time on your hands, and not a whole lot of common sense. Either way, perhaps you should hang out at "Digg" where you peers are...

Re:Whingebag.. (1, Redundant)

SpaghettiCoder (1073236) | about 7 years ago | (#18504305)

Actually yes I was at one time a relatively public figure and I have published articles too. I have had all sorts of abuse thrown at me, including people accusing me of attention-seeking, blah blah blah just like you.

You fail to realise - if I'm posting here because I've got too much time, then what are you doing responding? How can I be attention-seeking, if I am anonymous (like now). This tech writer real name Kathy IS attention seeking. FACT. She can't handle life in the spotlight. FACT. She can't handle hecklers/scorn. FACT. Because the experience "changed" her so much she considers herself a "different person", she loozes and she got pwned. FACT (sad but true). She is not entitled to my sympathy or anyone else's. FACT.

You've got nothing on me because I'm anonymous here. FACT. You're a deluded sucker who sees a "damsel in distress". FACT. Wouldn't want to be you mister looza in shining armour. FACT.

Re:Whingebag.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504117)

and you, sir, are a JACKASS.

open source extremists? (2, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 7 years ago | (#18503923)

The first thing I thought of when reading this was, "how are these people making the threats any different than the people issuing fatwahs against 'enemies of Islam'? I thought of a friend blogger, Anarchangel, who's had a fatwah [blogspot.com] issued against him.

His solution? Tell 'em off and make it known he's packing pistols. Over a year later and he's fine. I'd suggest she do the same, for her own safety. And don't back down, for goodness sake! That's what they're after - terroristic behavior is done to make you back down and give ground.

Apparently there are some folks out there who really don't like Java. I mean, I dislike the damn stuff myself, but I'm not crazy about it or anything...

Re:open source extremists? (1)

N8F8 (4562) | about 7 years ago | (#18504317)

One difference is targeting who you are instead of what you are. Not that it matters much.

True (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 7 years ago | (#18503947)

"The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."

That's the truth and one of the first casualties of that war was Civility. Free speech ends at the door of death threats and threats of physical violence. That is not unique to the internet and perhaps a new and open media requires a new type of law enforcement. It doesn't have to be invasive or Constitutionally questionable. A few of the worst offenders making headlines going to trial, and a couple of the worst overseas offenders extradited here for trial, would likely be all it would take to end most of the silliness. There will always be those few, desperately in need of therapy, who push the bounds. But we do have to respond. Just like real serial killers usually start out torturing animals, real acts of violence start by giving voice to the desire.

Funny, but I see more of what I could classify as hate speech on right wing web sites. Death threats, suggestions for snipers to take out some imagined offender and many along the lines of, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" And this from people counting themselves among the religious right. Shame. Tactless comment coupled with faithless religion.

Besides, why would anyone want to threaten a JAVA programmer? .NET or C++, that's understandable. But JAVA? The humanity!

This is new? (4, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 7 years ago | (#18503957)

I remember getting quite a share of death threats and hate mail from lots of folks back in the mid-and-late '90s. It came with the territory when playing around in alt.flame and trolling other USENET groups for fun... back when trolling was actually an artform (and even educational if you did it right)- not the crude and obvious idiocy that we see today. Got lots of hate in my inbox as a result (and even more mailbombing attempts, etc etc... procmail was my bestest friend in those days...) IOW? Yeah, I was stupid.

That said, the cure for such threats was rather easy: Post the thing verbatim, along with every ounce of information you could dig up on the person. Odds were good that a sharp admin could figure out who sent it, email the ISP (back when they actually paid attention to the inbox of abuse@...), and humiliate the punk online.

Of course, back then, there were lots of advantages: it was easier to track people back then, and I'm a guy with a passion for hunting and target-shooting. I also lived in a state that had some very loose laws considering the disposition of trespassers and those who would threaten bodily harm to persons or property (Arkansas). A few simple public postings in the source's favorite newsgroups w/ all evidence, a letter to his/her ISP w/ all the evidence, and the threat-maker was gone. I had never seen anyone dumb enough to actually try for it, in spite of my (admittedly reckless habit of) publicly calling them out. Most simply went away and stayed gone. But it was a whole other Internet back then.

I suspect that OTOH a woman, who doesn't really make a hobby of pissing people off like I had, and catching crap in an Internet that has now become swamped with a cornucopia of anonymizing tools and techniques? Prolly not so easy for her to simply post and humiliate.

Props to her for posting them verbatim, though... and it's a very good start to name and shame the sources that can be found. Let the bloggers who host such stuff publicly deal with the fallout.

Though this will sound trite, I'd take such postings with a block of salt... the vast, vast majority of idiots who post such garbage don't have the nerve, transportation, or means to pull off anything that they threaten. I daresay that they're little boys who managed to squeeze off something that makes them feel big n' bad when mommy wasn't looking at their monitor.


Feeding the Trolls (-1, Troll)

giafly (926567) | about 7 years ago | (#18503983)

The article [washingtonpost.com] is hilarious and will be widely mocked. The offensive comments are from tards who amuse themselves by posting racist, sexist, homophobic and generally illegal content for the lulz. This doesn't mean they are racist etc - they generally aren't - just that it's very funny to troll against politically-correct idiots who don't "get it". And wow have they succeeded in this case!

They are my personal clowns, so I'll not break rule one. The complainants should lurk more and not feed the trolls.

Prosecute them (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 years ago | (#18504011)

If those "prominent bloggers" are connected, send them off to the big house for threatening her and harassing her. Do something with the existing laws now to make a case against new laws in the future.

Quite frankly, if I caught up with someone who wrote about my wife like that and threatened her so viciously, I'd have a mind to pistol whip them until they could recite the entire series of Emily Post etiquette materials.

Wider effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504019)

Often blog/forum comments are censored when the irony or shock-humor value is lost on some uptight group or individual. I blame the fucking jews, the mormons and the Jackson 5, we should gas them all. Seriously, death threats are probably some overweight geek kid sat at home in his underpants.

The WP has a different problem entirely but does freedom of speech really need to suffer? User moderation works well for some sites, rarely should it be necessary to delete a comment. In the UK PC once stood for police constable, political correctness now sees us policing each others words and thoughts. What wider effects will censoring web comments have on the use of irony and sarcasm in written language?

Proving once again. (1, Redundant)

AltGrendel (175092) | about 7 years ago | (#18504039)

There have been studies about this. Annominitiy on the Internet emboldends people to be stupid and say things they might otherwise filter out. It's a real shame that people can't be mature about differing points of view.

Gabe and Tyco said it best. [penny-arcade.com]

The war on bloggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504051)

If you run away, the bloggers win.

Cut the hype.. (3, Insightful)

Wes Janson (606363) | about 7 years ago | (#18504059)

Calling the internet a "war zone" is idiotic hype. If you want to see what one actually looks like, go to Iraq, or Somalia, or any number of other low intensity conflicts around the globe. A far better metaphor would be calling the internet a playground filled with shouting, arguing children who sometimes say threatening or stupid things.

sounds like the bitch needs her midol (-1, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18504079)


u know what i'm talkin about


(aw come on the story was just askin for it)

Re:sounds like the bitch needs her midol (0, Troll)

Ingolfke (515826) | about 7 years ago | (#18504289)

Oh you beat me to it... the issue is serious, but at the same time... there are so many jokes.

Threats are not acceptable? (1)

sehlat (180760) | about 7 years ago | (#18504105)

When did that happen? After all, the RIAA has turned them into an art form.

really? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504119)

"fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob"

that is not a death threat.

Sick photoshop images are not a death threat.

Sick comment are not a death threat.

I didn't see any examples that qualified as a death threat.

Locking your self in your home will not stop jack. Go to yor conferences and schedule yourself not to be alone if you must, but your fear is what they want. Only you can give it to them.

Sexual threats are not about sex, they are about control.
Don't let them control you.

Posting AC because of the huge vigilante attitude that has grip /.
SO called thinking people reacting emotionally.

The more things change... (5, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 7 years ago | (#18504159)

>The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone.

It's *ALWAYS* been a war zone. There were flame wars escalating into death threats on usenet in the '80's. My college suspended a kid for posting violent rape fantasies to email lists in 1986. The only difference is that now enough people know about the internet that stories about it sell newspapers. Anyone who thinks it used to be all nice and safe is either delusional or wasn't paying attention. If you have a forum where governments can't track down and kill political opponents, you have a forum where nice people can't track down and hold liable nogoodniks who froth hate. That sucks for the nice people, but I think our need for widespread, anonymous communication outweighs their discomfort.

"war zone" rhetoric is so lame. (3, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | about 7 years ago | (#18504165)

Pampered western journalists whinging and grizzling about other people's use of free speech is not a "war". People being so cowardly that they can't function if someone threatens them is not comparable to being carpet bombed because you happened to be born in the wrong place or have the wrong religion.

Win the "war on terrorism"; stop being afraid!

People are such cowards these days. It's NAUSEATING.

foxy lady (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18504251)

i think i love you...

kathy sierra is smokin!!!11eleventy
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