Wednesday, March 28, 2007

 

Miscreants

I was reading through my blog feeds last night and happened to find a post on Seth Godin's blog about Kathy Sierra, who has the Creating Passionate Users blog. His post linked to hers and gave readers fair warning that what they would find would not be pleasant. Not only was it not pleasant, it was downright scary. Kathy has been receiving death threats through her blog. Her post, which is not for the faint-hearted, makes me shudder at the thought that there are people out there who are so vile that they would do such things. Not only are these miscreants vile, they are cowardly too, as they do this under the veil of anonymity. The whole incident has been so upsetting to Kathy that she is hiding out at home and is not sure she will ever blog again.

Here's where I have to take a deep breath. You see, the handful of evil ones inhabiting the internet are mucking things up for the rest of us and it's making me afraid. As a writer, I want to take credit for my words, using my own name, not an avatar. I want to be able to write openly, without pussy-footing around things. Yet, if I do so, I may become a target for sickos. On some level I've always been conscious of this. I won't name my husband or children or pinpoint my exact location. I was thinking about posting a photo, but at this point, I'm not going to be using a head shot. (Most likely it'll be a shot of my feet.) The internet may feel like a vaporous world, but what happens here is as real as anything else.

For the above reasons, soon I'll be switching off the feature that allows readers to leave anonymous posts. I may also turn on comment moderation. Sorry about that for all of you faithful commenters. It very much feels like caving in, which I hate to do, but a girl's got to be careful.

As for Kathy Sierra, I very much hope the people who did this to her will be caught and that she'll get up the courage to blog again. I wonder if there are any support groups for those who've received death threats? How did Salman Rushdie and the Dixie Chicks get through this?

For my readers who have their own blogs, how do you decide how much personal information to reveal online?

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