Thoughts on Bad Behavior

I've been meaning to write about Kathy Sierra and the recent death threats that she's received in the blogosphere, but it's been another incredibly busy week and like many things that are important but not immediately pressing, I put it off until now. That's not OK. What Kathy is putting up with is totally unacceptable, and I'm frankly sickened at what she has had to go through.

It is totally unacceptable to make threats to people. Period. Kathy, you have my support. I pray that these threats about you are a bunch of hot air and that you and your family get through this as quickly as possibly, and that this serves as an important lesson to folks who write online to give a second thought before they hit that 'publish' button.

I got a call from Dan Fost at the SF Chronicle yesterday as he was writing a story about the 'bigger picture' around the story, and we had a good 30 minute discussion about the issues as I see them. Dan wrote his story in today's Chronicle. We talked a lot about online anonymity and accountability, which I think are two important issues that have contributed to this story - both in allowing the cowardice to threaten Kathy anonymously, and in the explanations and apologies from a number of the people involved, even peripherally. We also talked about the technology of blogging and the internet itself, and whether the technology was creating new issues and threats. I don't think the technology is creating new threats, but I do think that as we increase the level of accountability (as blogs have done over usenet and chat rooms), we also make the system more self-correcting.

I hope they catch whoever did this, and they punish the person appropriately. If it were my family that was receiving death threats, I'd probably react the same way Kathy has. My thoughts are with her.

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