On the Kathy Sierra thing

Recently there was a big furor in the blogosphere about some hate mail that Kathy Sierra received. She cancelled a scheduled conference appearance as a result. Obviously it’s sad and disappointing when anyone receives hate mail, but why is Kathy’s case any different? I’m pretty sure that people receive hate mail all the time (and lots of comments on blogs around the web this week seem to confirm that).

I don’t often agree with Dave Winer, but I do today:

People aren’t going to like this, but it’s true — when a woman asks for a riot she gets one, and almost no one comes to the defense of a man who is attacked. Who’s more vulnerable? Well, honestly, it’s not always a woman.

Those who provided the riot Ms Sierra asked for, unknowingly, I’m sure, attacked at least one person whose health is pretty fragile. I wonder how y’all feel now that you know that. I wonder how you’d feel if that person died in the midst of the shitstorm. Someday if we don’t change the herd mentality of the tech blogosphere, that is likely to happen. I don’t want to be part of the herd on that day, that’s why I won’t join herds.

Hundreds of people (perhaps thousands) have posted about Kathy’s situation and how they think it is awful. How many of them actually mean it? I don’t know, but I think there’s a pretty large echo in here. Especially among the so-called A-listers this week, it definitely seemed to me that speaking out against the hate mail was simply the “in thing” to do.

I never intended to post anything about this topic. I certainly wasn’t about to follow Robert Scoble’s lead and stop blogging for a week. I don’t think Kathy’s case deserves any special treatment. I didn’t want to contribute to the useless echo. In the end I decided to post this simply for my own future reflection.

Here’s some related stuff if you want to find out more:

  • Yesterday, Tim O’Reilly posted a blogging code of conduct. It was created as a result of the Kathy Sierra…