The great thing about the Internet and blogs is that people can connect with other people they've never met. Some of my most interesting relationships are with people that I met online and have exchanged emails or blog comments with for years. The horrific thing about the Internet is that you never know who is reading your work. People know that and sometimes it makes them feel "safe" to say anything they want, even if it's something that should NEVER be said.
Kathy Sierra of the Creating Passionate Users blog has found this out the hard way. In a horrific series of events that outlines the absolute worst tendencies of the underbelly of the blog world, Sierra has found herself the target of numerous death threats and verbal attacks of a graphically sexual nature.
In a thread titled "Death Threats against bloggers are NOT protected speech" Sierra outlines the situation...
As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I'm not. I'm at home, with the doors locked, terrified. For the last four weeks, I've been getting death threat comments on this blog. But that's not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs... blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers.
You can read the full thread, but I'd caution you that it contains disturbing images and disturbing content. The threats that have been leveled against Sierra are appalling. That prominent names in the blog world are associated with those threats is inexcusable.
Sierra is considering closing down her blog. She's already cancelled all of her speaking engagements. According to her, she's afraid to even leave her house.
Can't say I blame her.
The web is a wonderful place, but it can also be a horrible place.
Think about things before you write them. Think about people before you hurl insults. Remember that while you may be anonymous, the words count just as much.
(Hat tip to Lisa at Bruce Clay. I'd missed this since I'm spring cleaning.)
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