Gonzo Marketing:Winning Through Worst Practices The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
re Kathy Sierra's allegations

Valued Readers,

Well, the shit has hit the fan this time to be sure. Those of you who plan to read what I've written here should first go read this post by Kathy Sierra.

As you can guess, I've been getting "interesting" email since that was published yesterday, along with a number of requests for comment from various journalists. One of these was from Liz Tay with Computerworld Australia, who asked some good questions. With her permission, I have included her mail below with my answers interpolated and highlighted in red. I'd like to think this is the last of this awful business, but I know it won't be. Perhaps I should have said nothing at all, but it seemed to me that if I kept silent, I'd be assumed guilty by default -- as indeed I've already been judged by the angry mob out there. If I'm going to be lynched, I'd at least like it be somewhat clearer what I'm being lynched for.


Hi Chris,

I'm a journalist at Computerworld Australia and am reporting on Kathy Sierra's reaction to online threats of physical violence against her. In a blog post documenting the attacks and announcing her resignation from the blogosphere, Kathy has named you in relation to an abusive site purportedly owned by you: unclebobism.wordpress.com

I would love to know your side of the story. Could you please address the following -


First off, I need to preface this by emphasizing that if Kathy Sierra was receiving "death threats" in *anonymous* comments to her blog, they did not come from me or, to the best of my knowledge, from anyone I know. That she would make such an inference based on no evidence whatsoever is outrageous, no better than the comments she so forcefully objects to that were made about herself. And *none* of the statements or graphics she quotes were made by me, as I'm fairly certain she already knows. However, as a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto -- which she explicitly refers to twice -- I guess my relatively high profile suited her purposes better than the truth.

Since she brought it up, let me add that in that book I pretty explicitly told the top management of the Global 2000 that they were full of shit. Plus, I am widely known as RageBoy online. Ergo, most people don't usually mistake me for a sensitive New Age guy. I'm not. However, most people also don't mistake me, as Ms. Sierra seems to have done, for a homicidal maniac. I'm not that either. But given a headline like "Kathy Sierra v. Chris Locke" on ValleyWag, and given the lede there...

"Kathy Sierra... has made a complaint to the police, and has pulled out of a speaking engagement, after what she says were death threats against her on a website"
...I've already been tried and found guilty in the none-too-bright court of public opinion, which, if this incident is any indicator, takes anything it reads on the Internet as Gospel. God help us all.
1) What is your take on meankids.org? Why did it exist, what was the appeal and the purpose of the site?
A month or two ago, I posted a comment on Tara Hunt's blog -- a sort of footnote about Henry Ford, as he was used as an example in a book she was reviewing. Tara repeatedly said that my comments were irrelevant to the discussion. Several people weighed in to say no, what I was saying was not irrelevant, etc. Long story short, it got pretty absurd. Tara several times referred publicly to these people as "the mean kids" -- though most of us said nothing remotely mean. Personally, I was the very antithesis of RageBoy. Very polite. Oh... except for telling one *guy* he was "an ignorant slut" -- an old Saturday Night Live line. (But he was a banker, so does it really count?)

Anyway... some of us thought afterwards that it would be amusing to formalize (and goof on) the "mean kids" slur, so we set up a blog by that name. It was a lot of fun, and if anything, I again erred on the side of being far too mild mannered. Due to administrative considerations not under my control -- and yes, some tasteless posts (though they were not mine) -- the site was taken down.

2) What was the purpose of unclebobism? What was your role on the site?
With Mean Kids gone, I thought I'd have another go at it. After all, we were mostly having fun posting totally surreal stuff about nothing particularly relevant to anything or anyone. But again, there were a couple posts -- the ones Kathy mentions in her post -- that were over the top. I didn't think for a minute that they were "threatening" -- and again, they were not my doing -- but when I saw mail from her objecting to them, I nuked the entire site rather than censor any individual.

I was a conference host on the Well 15 years ago where the core ethos was acronymized to YOYOW -- You Own Your Own Words. This has remained a guiding principle for me ever since. I will not take responsibility for what someone else said, nor will I censor what another individual wrote. However, it was clear that Sierra was upset, so it seemed the best course to make the whole site go away.

3) Why was Kathy Sierra targeted (even if playfully, at first) on these two sites?
Evidently, there are some people who don't much like her. The same could be said of myself or indeed of anyone who blogs much. It comes with the territory. I was certainly not out to "target" Kathy Sierra, to whom I have never given a whole lot of thought until today. (However, see full disclosure of what I did write, below.)
4) How do you feel about the attacks, and Kathy's response?
I found some of what was written on the meankids and unclebobism sites in extremely bad taste, yes. And as I said, I immediatetly took down the site when I saw Kathy's understandably strong objections. I think her response, as it pertains to anything I personally wrote, was unjustified -- but highly effective -- character assassination. As a result, I'm sure I'll be explaining for years to come that I'm not really an ax murderer and child molester. Nice work.
5) A number of bloggers have blamed the situation on a generally acerbic, misogynistic atmosphere in the IT industry. Do you think this is the case? Is this a problem to you, and how can this be resolved?
I don't have that much truck with the IT industry per se these days, so I can't really comment on the state of things in that quarter. Surely I've seen hateful stuff about women online, and when it is directed at women *because they are women,* I am disgusted by it. I have a 17-year-old daughter whom I love very much and I would not ever want to see her subjected to such Neanderthal views and behavior.

However, given that half the human race consists of women, it should not come as a newsflash that some of them -- in about equal proportion to men -- are stupid, venal, dishonest, or just generally annoying. Expressing such an opinion may be distasteful to some and vehemently argued by others, but last time I checked, having a negative opinion of a public figure was neither a federal offense nor an expression of misogyny.

I did write two comments on the "Bob's Yer Uncle" site, which I am happy to repeat for the record: 1) "Kathy Sierra is a hopeless dipshit."; and 2) "The only 'passionate users' I know are crack heads." I do not like Kathy Sierra. I like her even less after her post of Monday. If she is waiting for me to apologize for something I did or said, she is going to have a very long wait.

Please also feel free to add any further comments that you deem relevant.

I'm looking to publish a story by tomorrow so it'd be great if you could please get back to me as soon as possible.

Many thanks,

Liz Tay
IDG Online
88 Christie Street, St Leonards NSW 2065
t: +61(02) 9901 0737
e: liz_tay@idg.com.au
skype: liz.tay

3:16 AM | link |

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"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.

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