Threats In The Blogosphere

Blogger Kathy Sierra cancelled her appearance at an ETech workshop earlier this week after receiving not just hate mail but outright death threats on her blog. What makes this even more interesting is the players involved, like Cluetrain co-author Chris Locke (who responded here). The site that really caused a lot of the havoc,, no longer exists (at the moment). Responses from tech-blogging big names like Shelley Powers and AKMA are certainly worth a read, especially AKMA when he speaks on the anonymous nature of the threats and the damage they can cause:

In this way, anonymity cuts more directions than one: It enables a mysterious assailant to terrify Kathy, but it also provides the grounds for Kathy suggesting that Frank, Chris, Jeneane, and Allan are complicit with a would-be murderer.

Dangerous indeed.

Unfortunately, this is a trend that’s rearing its ugly head more and more in the blogosphere (and, on some level, was brought up at the RVA meet-up earlier this month). While it may appear only to pop up in tech or political blogs, many blogging trends start in these areas and unfortunately see themselves spread to the rest of the blogging topics and community. How to best approach this and deal with it is really up in the air and something that will evolve as blogging itself does. But Shelley Powers provides a great reminder about the power of words:

When people write about you with loathing, for good or bad, you’ve touched their life. They don’t have power [over you] — you have power over them.

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