Trouble at the Koolaid Point
October 8, 2014 6:26 AM   Subscribe

 
Kathy Sierra previously. Also, apparently 'weev' is now a full-on nazi with a big swastika tattoo and a post full of racism up at a white supremacist website. (or perhaps he has just taken irony to new levels of not-actually-ironic.)
posted by rmd1023 at 6:33 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


On a more personal note, my god, when I read things like this, it feels like some sort of metaphorical bullet whizzing past my ear. I keep thinking that if I made the wrong post or ranted about my technical field of expertise a bit more openly, I might win the hate-fest lottery and all of that doxxing and harassment and threats to life and limb and employment could very well have been directed against me.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


One of the few fights I had with my last ex (someone I thought was "the one") was about that epilepsy forum attack thing. He acknowledged that it was a bad thing to do, yeah, but still thought it was funny; he actually said it was funny the way a monkey trying to get a handful of fruit out of a jar and getting its hand stuck was funny. He tried to defend himself by saying that the thing that had left the forum open to the attack was a stupid security mistake and they should have caught it and it was their own irresponsibility that had been a contributor.

The cruelty in that mindset just floored me - to my mind, it's similar to the mindset of "she was asking for assault, dressed like that". I got into a major fight with him over that, and it's one of the incidents I reminded myself of to help me get through our breakup aftermath to make me realize I was better off.

I'm confident he would never have actually contributed to any trolling or harassing incidents, but it was a sign that even the people who just sit back and watch may sympathize with the trollers more so than not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [39 favorites]


I always thought of weev as kind of a harmless gnat. (In my defense, I didn't actually know about this doxxing.) An Internet dick, sure, but not genuinely dangerous.

Now, though, I think that he's clearly a very toxic person. So how can people possibly defend him? What is it that they see in him that has enough weight to balance out what he's done to people like Kathy -- and her family?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Are you talking defending him at all, or specifically the trolling/doxxing? Sierra discusses her own conflicted feelings on the AT&T/Apple issue in the post. There's no excuse or mitigating circumstances or anything like that for his behavior, though.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:52 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


On a related note, Anita Sarkeesian's XOXO speech is now available.
posted by gwint at 6:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [27 favorites]


So how can people possibly defend him? What is it that they see in him that has enough weight to balance out what he's done to people like Kathy -- and her family?
He was the subject of a very famous prosecution that was widely seen to be wrong. That makes him a victim of Evil Federal Prosecutors. And federal prosecutors and law enforcement really are pretty evil a lot of the time; they've sort of built a culture of being evil in certain specific ways and circumstances.

Humans want a story with a Good Guy and a Bad Guy. We're built for it, and it gets us every time if we don't actively fight it. Since the federal prosecutors were cast as the Bad Guys in the most widely known story involving weev, that whole mental circuitry turns him into a Good Guy in response. QED.

People in general don't deal well with "they're both bad", let alone "people are complex and do both good and bad things". We can handle that when we're really engaged with a sequence of events, but if it's just something we're following in the news, it's going to get emotionally simplified.

It's probably because we don't have the cognitive resources to deal with too many complex and nuanced cases.

I think that's basically what the original piece said, too.
posted by Hizonner at 6:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [22 favorites]


And it wasn’t even a troll saying it, it was another woman in tech who believed the meme because she believed weev. Because in twisted troll logic, it makes sense. She must have done something pretty awful to deserve what, according to weev, “she had coming.”

I honestly feel like the world would be a better place if we, as people, could just come to the conclusion that other people are capable of being shitbags for no reason. So much hurt is caused by people who just won't accept the fact that sometimes bad shit happens, and it's much better to say "ok lets deal with this bad thing", than to twist reality and blame victims.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]




it feels like some sort of metaphorical bullet whizzing past my ear.
Laws yes. I made the front page of reddit and digg for my marriage-equality activism, and the worst that happened was they called my (now ex) wife fat. Could've been much worse.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


His rage was because, in his mind, my work didn't deserve the attention.

I've started seeing attitudes like that -- such and such a person has undeserved attention -- as (likely) the iceberg tip above a whole lot anger assumptions and a desire to harm or punish. Whether it's directed at Justin Bieber or a random blogger it feels like the leading edge of something dark.
posted by postcommunism at 7:05 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


"Funny" how many of these internet assholes are white men.

Curdled entitlement indeed.
posted by aramaic at 7:09 AM on October 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


I just came over here to post this. This piece and Anita's talk about tactics used to discredit women and Emma Healey's piece in The Hairpin about the alt lit scene and how abusers get away with their abuse are so so important. Women have been talking about this among ourselves for ages, but it feels like we're finally starting to get a bit more mainstream discussion of the patterns involved in the harassment cycle. It's not about what Adria Richards or Zoe Quinn or Kathy Sierra or Anita Sarkeesian or Rebecca Watson or Jen McCreight said or did - it's never about what they actually said or did. It's the systemic hatred towards women with a platform and the systematic ways that misogynists have learned to dismantle and demolish that platform.

This bit from Emma Healey's piece especially struck home in how we deal with these cycles of abuse and harassment:
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past week, it’s the same thing I learn over and over again every single time I see women speaking out publicly against men who have harmed them. It is exhilarating and terrifying and heartrending to watch people tell their stories, to see the changes that can come from that telling. But victims of harassment, assault, rape and abuse deserve, absolutely and in every case, the dignity of being able to do whatever they want with their stories. Right now it feels as though we rely on them to pursue change by putting themselves and their experiences at the mercy of Twitter, Facebook, Gawker, Salon – of legions of strangers who all know they know better.

We consistently fail young women—all women—by tacitly relying on them to learn from each other, or from their experiences, which of the people in their communities they can and cannot trust. We ask them to police their own peers, but quietly, through back channels, without disturbing the important people while they’re talking. We wait for the victims of abuse to be the ones to take power away from their abusers, instead of working actively to ensure that these motherfuckers never get that far in the first place. (emphasis mine)
The sense of a whizzing bullet that rmd1023 describes is real, and it's chilling. How many of us watch our colleagues get silenced and choose self-censorship? There are maybe two dozen people who give a shit what I think on the internet, and I know I've decided not to publish things because I was afraid of the potential backlash from the groups that I was criticizing. It can turn on a fucking dime. One day you're life is yours, and the next day it's not.
posted by Phire at 7:10 AM on October 8, 2014 [52 favorites]


Can someone write a few sentences to explain the full context of this stuff? I can't be the only one who's completely lost.
posted by naju at 7:10 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Geek Feminism has a few links and a broad overview of what they term the Kathy Sierra incident:
In 2013, Kathy Sierra identified weev as contributing to harassment of her, including publishing her home address and social security number, together with publishing fictional abuse allegations concentrating on Sierra's daughters.
posted by Phire at 7:17 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


naju: long story short, Kathy Sierra, Anita Sarkeesian, and Zoe Quinn are three women in the tech world who have recently suffered terrible, sexist harassment online for their work. Disgusting threats of violence, ad hominem attacks, outright misinformation. Kathy Sierra is a long time tech creator, teacher, and writer; some of her most recent stuff is on her site Serious Pony. Zoe Quinn makes video games, including the recent Depression Quest. Anita Sarkeesian makes feminist critiques of media, particularly video games, see her site Feminist Frequency.

There's specific inside-pool stories about the harassers, particularly weev, but what the bullies are saying and doing isn't nearly as interesting as what these women are saying. Unfortunately all three women have been forced recently to talk more about their harassment than the actual content of their work, which itself is a sort of victory for the harassers that makes me angry.

I'm absolutely furious with how these stories have been playing out all summer. I wish I could do more to be supportive of women in tech, both the ones I know and more generally the category. Lately I've been trying to say more directly "this is wrong", which seems self evident and not terribly forceful, but apparently a lot of people don't understand it's not OK to, say, fantasize about the violent rape of a woman because you don't like the video she made critiquing your video games.
posted by Nelson at 7:22 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


Also, I think she's wrong about this:
Typically, the hacker trolls are technically-talented, super smart white men. They’re not just hackers. They are social engineers. They understand behavioral psych. They know their Kahneman. They “get” memes. They exploit a vulnerability in the brains of your current and potential listeners.

How? By unleashing a mind virus guaranteed to push emotional buttons for your real, NOT-troll audience.
That gives the audience too much credit. The bystanders, maybe. But the people who do the actual harassment, by and large, are looking for excuses. The "why we fight" narrative an internet mob groups itself under almost always goes through several iterations (with "for teh lulz" being a catch-all); you can watch it get passed around and workshopped and see various proposals firm up and others peter out, and old, proven narratives get folded in or discarded if they don't fit.

That's not to discount mob leadership and ad-hoc organization, but the people joining in are not, by and large, dupes. After the attack begins they work together to tell themselves stories that keep the momentum up ("the bad thing you're doing to this person is actually brave and noble, because [reasons]" / "the internet/industry/hobby is your turf and now you get to prove it by doing bad things to this person because [transgression]"), but the potential attack is always there, waiting for someone to come up with an excuse.
posted by postcommunism at 7:23 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, apparently 'weev' is now a full-on nazi with a big swastika tattoo and a post full of racism up at a white supremacist website. (or perhaps he has just taken irony to new levels of not-actually-ironic.)

Sadly, Pope Guilty's comment from over a year ago is still relevant.

As usual, Kathy is wonderfully perceptive about the dynamics at play in online harassment, particularly this part:

I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed.

It's probably correct to describe this attitude, as Kathy does, as sociopathic. And the Internet, to say nothing of the cultural blind spots of the elites in tech and media, acts as a force multiplier for such an attitude.

On preview, what postcommunism said.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:24 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


BTW, this essay linked here is reat and I hope Metafilter users read it specifically rather than just responding to the general situation. Sierra has a very keen insight into the dynamics of online harassment, both how it operates and how it silences women. The conclusion that being a visible woman online makes these attacks inevitable is hideous.

The tech community is my community. The people I associate with don't tolerate this kind of sexism. I think even in a place as problematic as Reddit there's enough goodness and valuable discussion that they are valuable. Same for Twitter although as she says, "Twitter, for all its good, is a hate amplifier." We need to make it crystal clear that this kind of hatred and harassment is simply not OK in our community, ever.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


I remember when Kathy Sierra wrote about user interfaces this perceptively on a regular basis. I wish she had the time and energy to devote to that topic again instead of having to deal with shitbags.
posted by immlass at 7:38 AM on October 8, 2014 [29 favorites]


naju: Also look at this old MeFi thread and accompanying article.

What's especially galling about weev is that, as Kathy points out, he's been kinda-sorta rehabilitated in tech circles owing to his prosecution. Which, granted, the CFAA is a dumpster fire of a law, but if the ACLU can defend the likes of the Klan without endorsing their views, surely the tech world can decry weev's treatment by the law without also pretending he has not done horrible things to people and has not, to date, repented of them.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:38 AM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


More than just sociopathy, he exhibits the dark triad, as evident in many trolls...
posted by jim in austin at 7:42 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


We need to make it crystal clear that this kind of hatred and harassment is simply not OK in our community, ever.

Isn't that a part of the problem though? That the harassers are not part of your community and are instead watching from outside, waiting for an opportunity to attack? Waiting outside, in a community/network that is fairly opaque to the rest of us?
posted by Slackermagee at 7:42 AM on October 8, 2014


Cash4Lead: Exactly this, and I was just looking up the history of the march on Skokie because of this.

The chickens will eventually come home to roost on Weev.
posted by scolbath at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think you probably have a point in general, postcommunism, but based on what she talks about right afterwards, I think she's talking about both the active harassers being horrible and the audience being duped into believing that they're not that bad. In this case, the people in the press and online who started discussing the harassment as overblown or pushing the ever-idiotic "there are two sides to this issue that deserve equal hearing" line for no reason other than weev being the golden boy of the privacy movement.

And it's that last part that has me concerned, because it's a noticeable gap in activism around online activities. Take the EFF, for example. Many people consider it more or less the ACLU of the online world, and it has done a lot of work in securing online rights and pushing back against the security state. But unlike the ACLU, who (as Cash4Lead notes) would routinely go to the mat for First Amendment rights for groups like the KKK while simultaneously defending people from being harassed and attacked by those same groups, the EFF seems to be completely silent on harassment and similar activities. The only apparent discussion on their website about trolling deals with patents.

And it's not as if the trolls aren't aware of this either: note how weev was largely successful in making himself out to be the victim by using a completely bogus accusation of DMCA takedowns. He knew that he could discredit Sierra just by mentioning it, by inserting that seed of doubt in the audience's mind while simultaneously burnishing his "hero" credentials. And it appears to have worked, too, and continues to work, as evidenced by the way that the Gamergaters are using Quinn's completely irrelevant sex life as the jumping-off point for "ethics in journalism" or portraying Sarkeesian's work as calls for censorship or criminalization of gamers.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [26 favorites]


I posted this because I remember sadly when Kathy Sierra had to get off the internet back in 2007, and was happy when she finally surfaced a year or so ago. But that happiness turned to ash as she was almost immediately beset by the people who had driven her off in the first place. That weev is some sort of internet folk hero now is just extra salt in the wound.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [18 favorites]


Yeah. This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:56 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


But here’s the thing. I never did that. I never did anything even a teeny tiny nano bit like that. But sure enough, even on my last day on Twitter, there it was again: Kathy did DMCA’s. And it wasn’t even a troll saying it, it was another woman in tech who believed the meme because she believed weev. Because in twisted troll logic, it makes sense. She must have done something pretty awful to deserve what, according to weev, “she had coming.”

This is one of the things that makes me saddest about the internet. Instead of making the same information available to everyone, now nobody cares about veracity. It's enough to have heard she did DMCAs. It's enough to have heard that somebody had sex with a bunch of games journalists. It's enough to have heard he was actually born in Kenya and has a fake birth certificate. Black is white, for real, and up is down, my aunt forwarded me something about it.

And when corrected, people instead just repeat it over and over. Sierra never filed any DMCAs. Rebuttal: But she filed DMCAs. We'll just keep saying it until it's true. Benghazi!
posted by Lyn Never at 7:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [51 favorites]


Sierra provides an excellent rundown of what happens whenever we listen to the people who are given to constantly parroting bullshit along the lines of, "Duh, women, just stop paying attention to them and they'll go away!"
I'm not sure I like comparing trolls to animals (because insulting to animals), but as an animal trainer, I'm painfully aware of the power of operant conditioning. Yes, sure, "don't feed the trolls" has been the standard advice, a bullshit talking point propagated by trolls to blame their targets. "You brought this on. You don't want this? Don’t engage." Except that's not actually true. It's the opposite of true, once you've been personally targeted.

As any parent of a two-year old can tell you, ignoring the child usually leads to escalation. Cry harder, scream louder, and in the most desperate scenarios, become destructive. Anything to get the attention they crave. Simply moving on is not an option for the haters once you've been labeled a Koolaid server and/or a rich source of lulz. Ignore them, and the trolls cry harder, scream louder, and become destructive.
Women who dare to share our work online are often told that we just need to understand these poor trolls are only behaving so obnoxiously to get a rise out of us. We're reminded that we shouldn't take them seriously; sometimes it's insisted that trolls are just so socially isolated and awkward, they don't even know that what they're doing is inappropriate. We're also told that once the harassment gets ramped up to truly unlivable levels, once they start doxxing us, once they start threatening us and our families? Oh, gosh, we should have known that we could have avoided all of it if only we'd ignored them... or not ignored them... or reported them to the police... or blocked them on Twitter... or doxxed them back... or... or...

Fuck that.

Folks who are looking for background on weev and his disciples would do well to read this previously, which reminded me of this excellent article from the inimitable Lindy West, which reads, in part:
I'd wager that the people who are drawn to trolling, for the most part, are people who are used to being ignored. Ignoring them is playing to one of their strengths. So instead of fading away, they're intensifying. And if you disagree with that assessment, you're probably not a woman.
posted by divined by radio at 8:03 AM on October 8, 2014 [34 favorites]


Some tweets from (MeFi's Own) @ftrain on this:

One day the trolls will remember Hans Reiser and then they'll finally have their one true hero. #

Seriously, why no nerd love for Hans Reiser? He wrote a Linux filesystem AND stalked and killed his wife, he's a Hero of Tech. #


*low, mordant chuckles*
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think you probably have a point in general, postcommunism, but based on what she talks about right afterwards, I think she's talking about both the active harassers being horrible and the audience being duped into believing that they're not that bad. In this case, the people in the press and online who started discussing the harassment as overblown or pushing the ever-idiotic "there are two sides to this issue that deserve equal hearing" line for no reason other than weev being the golden boy of the privacy movement.

Similarly, I don't believe everyone under the broad aegis of GamerGate is a piece of shit; a lot of the people are just idiots who like video games and are sorta broadly-worried about "corruption" in "gaming journalism". If you look at some of the people who express sympathy with GamerGate's general thrust, a lot of them aren't full-on moustache-twirling misogynists, and many of them will explicitly say they don't condone harrassment, BUT we should REALLY PRESSURE companies to LOOK INTO CORRUPTION.

Which acts as a larger cover for the really asshole people to do their asshole thing. So yeah, I think there's a huge amount of dupes out there, whose sin is less active malice and more childish stupidity.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I have a few times of late been actually driven to tears by how important it turns out to be that so many of the people I consider the brightest lights of the internet have been coming forward in support of women in tech and on the internet generally. Yes, there are ways that the community still isn't doing enough. But the me who was on the internet in 1996 trying to navigate that space as a nervous teenage girl could not possibly have imagined this. A List Apart retweeted Sierra's blog post. My VPS provider retweeted Sierra's blog post. It feels like there's a tipping point happening, here.

It's a dangerous time to be in, because I think the bad guys know it, too, that they're losing. I think a lot of the people who have supported the trolls, or at least tried to claim they were ignorable, are finally having are-we-the-baddies style moments of enlightenment. But some people are also getting aggressively defensive about it, doubling down. That's terrifying, and I think there is an egregious failure here in Twitter's inability to respond to it, in particular. It's a scary time, but it's also the first time I've really felt like the general public is starting to really get it, that the internet is not actually separate from Real Life, that if you're always spewing hate then you are, as Gawker put it in that link above, "you are just a hateful, bad person."
posted by Sequence at 8:06 AM on October 8, 2014 [28 favorites]


I know it came up in an earlier thread, but Jim Sterling of all people is doing God's work lately defending women in tech and especially video games. It is really great to see.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Her preamble says that she doesn't plan on keeping this piece up. I hope she changes her mind. It speaks truth to power in a very real way.
posted by boo_radley at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


What just makes me want to spit glass, is the way that prosecutors always have interest and funding to go after people like weev if they step on corporate interests, but they don't have the same interest if those same people engage in stalking and make death threats. Why is that behavior never worth a prosecutor's time? How much cash and how much time did the government spend on Kim Dotcom, or Aaron Schwartz? Can we take that amount of money and effort and, just once, make an example of the guy who sends her a note like “here’s a headless corpse and you are next and here’s your address.”
posted by tyllwin at 8:17 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


Physical Assualt: the online attack on the epilepsy forums, where the trolls crafted flickering images at a frequency known to trigger seizures in those with “photosensitive” epilepsy. Think about this. People went to the one safe space they knew online — the epilepsy support forums — and found themselves having seizures before they could even look away. (Nobody was ever charged.)

Good Lord. I never even heard of this incident. Anyone got a link summing it up?
posted by magstheaxe at 8:30 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


It was discussed here at the time.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:35 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a dangerous time to be in, because I think the bad guys know it, too, that they're losing.

Given that the GamerGater assholes were able to convince Intel to pull their ads from Gamasutra and are going after other companies who advertise on sites that publish articles in support of diversity in gaming, I'm not so sure about that. The GG idiots I've seen posting on Twitter and Reddit were very excited and enthused by their success with Intel.

They're now attacking Jake Boxer, a GitHub developer, who pulled the "Disrespectful Nod" site from GitHub, which is how these trolls were organizing their harassment of advertisers. I'm sure it's popped up somewhere else by now, but GamerGaters are so toxic I can't bring myself to search for it.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:36 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Karen's account is a pretty good summation of the epilepsy forum attacks. this was something that happened in 2007; I found this NYT article that mentions it - and weev, and trolling, incidentally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on October 8, 2014






I hadn't seen that Jim Sterling interview before! His change of heart is, well, heartening.
posted by Phire at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2014


Thank you for sharing this. I saw this happen online. I used to be a regular reader of the original blog and for the longest time my old blog would receive hits from a comment I'd once left there, on angry people.

I'm glad to find out that someone I follow on twitter turns out to be someone I used to follow in the heyday of the blogosphere.

Thank you for writing this blog post, and to the OP for linking it here.

I needed to read it today.
posted by infini at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2014


The disconcerting thing I found was the justification I saw from some of weev's prominent former supporters: "Misjudged sincere belief as trolling."

It doesn't matter whether it's "sincere" or not. Harassment doesn't hurt less because the perpetrators "didn't mean it".
posted by kmz at 8:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


I now believe the most dangerous time for a woman with online visibility is the point at which others are seen to be listening, “following”, “liking”, “favoriting”, retweeting. In other words, the point at which her readers have (in the troll’s mind) “drunk the Koolaid”. Apparently, that just can’t be allowed.

From the hater’s POV, you (the Koolaid server) do not “deserve” that attention. You are “stealing” an audience. From their angry, frustrated point of view, the idea that others listen to you is insanity. From their emotion-fueled view you don’t have readers you have cult followers. That just can’t be allowed.

You must be stopped. And if they cannot stop you, they can at least ruin your quality of life. A standard goal, in troll culture, I soon learned, is to cause “personal ruin”. They aren’t all trolls, though. Some of those who seek to stop and/or ruin you are misguided/misinformed but well-intended. They actually believe in a cause, and they believe you (or rather the Koolaid you’re serving) threatens that cause.


This.

This just happened last christmas. Just finished rebuilding life. Knees still scabbed.
posted by infini at 8:45 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


I have been watching the GamerGate catastrophe with more attention than I should, and it is terrifying to see the hate machine ramp up and point itself at female outsiders and academics. Those who engage are punished more than those who ignore. It is very depressing.

Here is how the FPP essay is covered in the anti-GamerGate side of Reddit.

Here is how it is covered in the GamerGate forum at Reddit.

Something is very wrong in the way that online discourse works in the era of Twitter, and it is terrifying that we let sociopaths and 12 year old boys (often the same thing, I think, remembering my 12 year old self) destroy other people for laughs.
posted by blahblahblah at 8:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Its not just in tech that this happens btw. Otoh the troll hangouts are the same.
posted by infini at 8:54 AM on October 8, 2014


It's astounding how shitty people can be either for money or attention or both.

The "don't feed the trolls" line works as long as it's words. When it grows to physical assault, DDoS, doxxing, then it's too much for simple "don't feed the trolls".

Here's one thing that's missing in that set and I'll explain by example. About 20 years ago, I was working on an indy game that was to be based on the work of a cartoonist. I wanted to contact the cartoonist directly after the agency stonewalled me. I did enough research to find everything I would need to contact that cartoonist and I stopped dead, because this is invasion of privacy, even though the artist might be considered to be a public figure.

The missing thing: "just because you can doesn't mean you should".

Weev is like Jack Lucas in The Fisher King except without (apparent) remorse and he has a bigger audience.

And I'm frankly terrified. My daughter has Down syndrome. I'm an outspoken advocate because (1) most people are ignorant to some degree (it's OK - I was too) (2) it's so much easier to pick on a class that can't or won't fight back (if you disagree, do a google image search for "System of a Down syndrome" and then we'll talk). I was not at all shocked that a troll made a meme picture of my daughter. I was shocked at how much it hurt.

And I'm supposed to feel relieved that I got hit by a tiny piece of shrapnel instead of the whole mortar round? I don't think so.

Kathy Sierra, pick your battle then go, fight, win.
posted by plinth at 8:58 AM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


This is an excellent article on a difficult but important topic, thanks for posting!

I'm really glad to see that we are getting some thoughtful discussion of these complicated issues from people who are committed to addressing them head-on with a hopeful eye towards finding positive solutions. I absolutely agree that it's critical that we see more discussion along these lines and hope that this is just the start of actual action to follow up, as Sierra mentions at the closing of her post.

But I can't help but disagree with this example:

Take the EFF, for example... unlike the ACLU, who (as Cash4Lead notes) would routinely go to the mat for First Amendment rights for groups like the KKK while simultaneously defending people from being harassed and attacked by those same groups, the EFF seems to be completely silent on harassment and similar activities.

I can definitely understand this feeling of wanting to see support from one of the main defenders of bad stuff online, but I don't think this is a great analogy.

The offline laws for harassment are much more clearly defined and established, and although the whole state of online discourse in this respect is pretty terrible, that's not really what EFF is there for. EFF works to ensure that rights are preserved as new laws and new caselaw is made for the digital age.

As much as I'm sure they'd love to have the luxury to do so, they (unfortunately) aren't there to also work towards a cyber speech utopia -- they have their hands more than full trying to deal with all the bad laws and bad caselaw that could be made in the absence of a strong legal advocate working in defense of the public interest (like, for instance, defending "a groundbreaking ruling that the National Security Letter (NSL) provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional" -- which will not be streamed live, apologies, but followed on twitter)

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, here are a couple more interesting background pieces on this:

-- from last year: Harassment Hurts Us All. So Does Censorship by Jillian York, EFF director for International Freedom of Expression, responding in part to criticism along these lines reported by the Verge in their expose of the "cult of the angry young man"

-- and from this week: On Weev, Fascism and the Free Internet by Penny Red
posted by KatlaDragon at 8:59 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh god, Weev's reply to her, plus his endorsement of gamergoop (donotlink used)
posted by Theta States at 9:00 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Defenders of Reddit will always point to it's distributed community model, but when it comes down to it they will always come down on the side of someone like violentacres.
posted by Artw at 9:04 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]



The "don't feed the trolls" line works as long as it's words. When it grows to physical assault, DDoS, doxxing, then it's too much for simple "don't feed the trolls".


But threats and doxxing are "just words" too. How does one know when to ignore and when to not ignore? And people have been not feeding trolls since the concept existed, but trolls and worse are still here. At what point do we acknowledge that that tactic doesn't work and never has? That all it seems to have done is provide excuses for people to not take harassment seriously?
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


People using "don't feed the trolls" in this context make me mental. First, because this isn't trolling, it's harassment. But second: don't feed the trolls only works if NOBODY feeds the trolls. Don't feed the trolls works when you have someone repeatedly posting fake serious inflammatory questions on a board, and everyone learns to just not engage with those questions at all. But weev, et. al. come with their own fucking posse. It doesn't matter if the victim doesn't feed the troll, they are being fed by others. It doesn't do any good to not toss fuel on a fire if everyone else in the crowd has brought their own gas can.
posted by looli at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2014 [26 favorites]


Harassment Hurts Us All. So Does Censorship by Jillian York, EFF director for International Freedom of Expression

Ugh. I think I may have just stopped giving money to a cause.
posted by Artw at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


I was in the "don't feed the trolls" camp on these things until I realized something. Maybe everybody else already understood it. I'm sorry if this runs long and seems obvious; I'm collecting my own thoughts here.

It doesn't matter what you do. And these aren't really trolls. They're just thugs.

The original Usenet-era "troll" was "trolling" for a response from the victims, and the victims were their audience. These thugs are playing to a different audience, one they bring along with them. They want to build prestige in their own pack. If they want anything at all from the victim, it's not a reaction; it's to do real harm. They really aren't "trolls" in the original sense at all.

"Don't feed the trolls" was meant to deprive old-style trolls of the audience reaction that was their only reason for being there in the first place. It worked if you were the audience and your simple expression of outrage or annoyance really was what they wanted.

But these thugs don't have that goal, or at least it's not the main one. They don't need the victim's reaction for the "performance" part of what they're doing. The victim is largely a prop in that part. As for the "hurt the victim" part, well, the idea there is truly to hurt them, not just get a rise out of them.

Which means that it's not gonna make a bit of difference how the victim reacts (as long as it's not a total, visible breakdown or direct show of weakness).

Ignore them? That's OK as long as the audience sees how clever the attack was and/or as long as the attacker/audience can reasonably infer that it did hurt. They don't really need your actual reaction, because harm, not reaction, is the goal. And if you actually make them doubt they've hurt you, why, that's a challenge to do more, because they want to do real harm, not just get a reaction.

React in a sane, measured way? Basically the same thing as ignoring them. They're not interested in your opinion at all.

Freak out? Excellent, it's definitely working now! Let's try some more!

Even giving in and disappearing completely or whatever probably just encourages them to go on to the next person... if it makes them leave you alone at all.

So unless the victim can actively HURT the trolls in a way that counts, nothing the victim does is going to make things anything but worse, and probably not even that. And getting a throwaway account yanked isn't hurting them. Law enforcement could hurt them if you could get its attention. Sometimes bosses and the like can hurt them. But a lost Twitter handle is if anything an encouraging sign of success.
posted by Hizonner at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


But these thugs don't have that goal, or at least it's not the main one. They don't need the victim's reaction for the "performance" part of what they're doing. The victim is largely a prop in that part. As for the "hurt the victim" part, well, the idea there is truly to hurt them, not just get a rise out of them.

Yes. And oh what fun we can have when the female might turn out to be a potential terrorist or other more serious insinuations, if ethnic minority as well.
posted by infini at 9:23 AM on October 8, 2014


and from this week: On Weev, Fascism and the Free Internet by Penny Red

Laurie Penny. And that piece is less "background," more "damage control."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2014


From the article:
The more dangerous social-web-fueled gamification of trolling is the unofficial troll/hate leader-board. The attacks on you are often less about scoring points against you than that they’re trying to out-do one another. They’re trying to out-troll, out-hate, out-awful the other trolls. That’s their ultimate goal. He who does the worst wins.
Here's the problem with acting like the attacks on women are even remotely rooted in logic, or that their goal is to "provoke a rise" or whatever. Anita Sarkeesian said, in a few of her most recent videos, that in a patriarchal set-up, the dynamic is not "men vs. women". It's "men vs. men", with women playing the part of the ball.

There is nothing that a woman can do, once being targeted by these attacks, to regain the upper hand. It's not even that they're "on defense" against their attackers — that suggests there is somehow a way that they could prevent the attacks from happening. No, the attacks will continue, and the only thing that could stop them would be if the attackers discovered a new category of target. Which seems less and less likely to happen, because feminism/misogyny has such gravitas to it, such outrage on one side and such hurt on the other, that it makes an immediately appealing battlefield for people who're looking for nothing but the grisliest of carnage.

The perverse thing is, I understand the Kool-Aid Salesperson mentality very well. It's a genuinely frustrating phenomenon, and not a new one thanks to the Internet — "people buying into an 'obvious fraud'" has been a source of individual/social tension since biblical times, as has the targeting and casting-outs of said "obvious frauds" when no such fraud has been taking place. But the Internet amplifies this a considerable amount, partly because it puts things from the past on the same general level as things on the present, so that ideas from 2007 or 1997 or even the 1970s often feel as contemporary and relevant as things which were published just yesterday.

In a lot of ways, that's a good thing! But it means that you might today discover somebody or some social movement that I was huge into in 2008, started questioning in 2010, and in 2012 was thoroughly sick of. When the rediscovery occurs not for just one person but for an entire culture at once, there can be a real frustration and alienation associated with being that out-of-sync with such a large group of people, and watching them lurch, painfully and slowly, towards a conclusion you may have reached an actual decade ago.

When you have two equally powerful circles of people moving in two different directions at once, this tends to occur on both sides at once. My feminist friends, especially the women who have been arguing about this long before I even was aware of their greater societal struggles, are sick and tired of the recurring Feminist 101 discussions with people who each seem to think their personal arguments against feminism are new and entirely unconsidered. At this point, I've started to get weary of them myself. It's an enormous drain to have to fight the same petty fights over and over, against a mass of people who are seemingly interchangeable and who leave as soon as they've gained a modicum of understanding, just to be replaced by the next generic template of Do Not Understand. Misogyny is a Kool-Aid flavor that our society is just about drowning in, at the moment.

And now you have a culture of people raised in a sexist society who are experiencing this Kool-Aid syndrome in reverse. For a lot of them, feminism has been little more than a nuisance, the punchline to a joke, something something women you wouldn't want to fuck in the first place (nevermind that George Carlin made that joke originally about people who protest abortion clinics, it's too easy to take that jingle and turn it around and make it into feminism instead). "How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?" "That's not funny." In the minds of an unfortunate lot of people, feminism was a bra-burning fad that died out in the 80s or 90s or Long Before Now, and now society is pretty much okay, because women can vote! And all the other problems that women face are just mild inconveniences that will be corrected with the passage of time.

Only now these people are confronting the growing movement of feminists, both new and old, who are successfully voicing their concerns in ways that make people sit up and take notice. Feminists who do an awfully good job of reminding their audiences that, hey, they're completely ordinary people! Awesome and smart and funny and cool and proooobably better than most of your friends, let's face it. They're drawing your favorite webcomics and playing your favorite video games and being incredibly likable, in that way that alright people frequently are. And all these people are talking about things that sound, when you have literally no experience with the subject and don't want to even try to understand, kind of scary. Things like "rape culture" and "patriarchy" and, hell, even "misogyny"'s got those two y's right next to each other, that's got to be some kind of pretentious right there. But more and more people are taking all those subjects seriously, and moreover, insisting that a lot of people have a problem with enforcing sexist beliefs even if they would never call themselves sexist. Whaaaat! That shouldn't even be, like, allowed.

I kid, but I do empathize with how unpleasant it feels to have to deal with any enormous cultural movement that you don't understand the appeal of. We've all got our bugbears. Plus I imagine it's even harder when the movement is talking about how your entire gender is suspect and problematic, and how a lot of men believe and do shitty things without realizing it? That's got to suck. Not nearly as badly as, say, being a woman, but on the other hand d'you know who the only people are that're saying how badly it sucks to be a woman? Women! And feminists! Who we're already not happy with because they're calling us all kinds of names. (Well, they're not actually calling us anything, but they might be, behind our backs. And they're probably having sex a whole lot too! Worse horrors cannot easily be devised.)

The problem, of course, is that I'm through the looking glass. I've drunk the Kool-Aid. I can't offer empathy for these people without immediately thinking about how ludicrous their "alienation" is compared to the problems that women have to face — problems often inflicted upon them, as Sierra notes, by these "hurt" and "alienated" men. It's nuts! But I understand them a little bit. As a man, you're not raised to think of all men as terrifying, as literally one of the most dangerous hazards on the planet. You're not taught to think that if you meet a man at night, alone, then terrible things might happen to you. You're not entirely aware of this phenomenon where a man who claims to be your friend inflicts grievous harm upon you, and then all of your friends will back him up, and attack you for daring to accuse him of the crime that he's certainly committed.

To you, feminism might just be an irritating buzzword, like Mumford and Sons only worse, because Mumford and Sons never wrote a song about how you don't get to think of yourself as a complete paragon of virtue just because you don't readily self-identify as woman-hating. Or, if you're a complete tabula rasa and have never encountered any talk of gender imbalance before, you maybe picked up some MRA bullshit on Reddit and now you're thinking that men have it rough, because those 80s and 90s feminists took too many of our rights back in the day and now they're not letting us have them back! At which point you're gonna be a whole long weary slog of a struggle for a handful of feminists to make not-completely-insane again, and you're drinking the Kool-Aid that the other side is so frustrated as hell about.

The only solution, I guess, is to keep having people speak up, and to speak up yourself whenever you have the chance and the strength to speak. Raise the volume, have too many people talking about this to be ignored, keep finding new voices to add themselves to the conversation and say, basically, "this is wrong," over and over and over and over again. And, in the meantime, to recognize that not all rebels are acting out against a cause worth opposing, and to offer what support you can to their numerous victims. I somewhat fear that this will break out into physical violence at some point — at least, there is certainly the potential for it to. I mean, beyond the rapes and assaults that are already far-too-frequent in our society.

2014 seems to be the year that a mass of people have realized that an intersectionality of issues which they thought went away decades and decades ago are in fact still-relevant and, in some ways, not a whole lot better than they ever were before. It has been an unbelievably dark year. But hopefully that seeming darkness is what you get when a lot more people recognize that there are issues than ever realized it before, and hopefully it leads us to actual improvement in the future. I've got to hope so, because jeez, what a terrifying year it's been.
posted by rorgy at 9:24 AM on October 8, 2014 [43 favorites]


Last comment made me realize I need to walk away from this keyboard and go drink some sparklling wine instead with the housemates making cheery noises by the fireside.
posted by infini at 9:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wait - rorgy's comment, mine, or yours?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014


You're not entirely aware of this phenomenon where a man who claims to be your friend inflicts grievous harm upon you, and then all of your friends will back him up, and attack you for daring to accuse him of the crime that he's certainly committed.
posted by infini at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014


Rustic Etruscan, it was too late for the edit window, my own comment, nobody elses..
posted by infini at 9:32 AM on October 8, 2014


Last comment made me realize I need to walk away from this keyboard and go drink some sparklling wine instead with the housemates making cheery noises by the fireside.

I really shouldn't have read this article on a work morning where I have things to be done.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Reading his post, it's like weev missed the memo somewhere that the only way you can pull off that "this is a lone crazy person who thinks I'm out to get them" kind of gaslighting is if you stick with the line that this is a lone crazy person and that you aren't actually sexist/racist/whatever. He's got half of it--some of his best friends are women! But then throws the whole thing under a bus with "actually there's this whole movement of lone crazy people". But I think that kind of comes back to what I was saying--there is no support here that stands up to much scrutiny. There are certainly still some people who will consume said arguments without scrutiny, but "I'm not a misogynist and the only people who think I'm a misogynist are women and they're all crazy crybabies" is not a long-term winning strategy.
posted by Sequence at 9:38 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


oh reddit...
[–]Nemo_Lemonjello
Huh. Self awareness in that blog post = 0. Amusing for the first 30 or so paragraphs, but then it gets damn annoying.
Here's a TL;DR

This month is the 10-year anniversary of my first online threat.

It is the very first line. (after the italicized preamble)

We're dealing with a person who keeps the day they received their first online "threat" marked down in a calender. For ten years. I don't think any more needs be said, really.

posted by Theta States at 9:39 AM on October 8, 2014


Theta States, I read that as "I went into this article looking for an excuse to ignore it, and what do you know, I found one."
posted by skymt at 9:41 AM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Doxing is common on the Internet." -weev
Because a potentially dangerous, invasive practice is "common" does not imply that is ethical or justifiable.
posted by plinth at 9:44 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


weev's thing about differentiating "women in tech" from "women making tech" is just the same tired bullshit as "fake geek girls" and "fake gamer girls". Nevermind that there are hundreds of thousands of "men in tech" who discuss, rather than develop, technology, and that no one ever seems to have a problem with that. We're going to grill you, specifically, woman, on your tech credentials and invariably find them wanting, and your motives impure. You're just in it for the attention. Also you're hashtag #histrionic. (Also I'm definitely not doing any of this for attention, no way.)
posted by naju at 9:46 AM on October 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


Nor is it actually that common. Most folks, even on the internet, do not commonly go hunting for someone else's home address and social security number.

It's only common as an extreme method of harassment.
posted by postcommunism at 9:47 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The offline laws for harassment are much more clearly defined and established, and although the whole state of online discourse in this respect is pretty terrible, that's not really what EFF is there for. EFF works to ensure that rights are preserved as new laws and new caselaw is made for the digital age.

Nope, sorry. If the problem is that the current laws around harassment need work, and EFF is working on improving laws for the our brave new world, then it seems that working on laws around online harassment should be right up their alley. And it's not as if the kinds of harassment are so blurred as to be unworkable. Death threats, rape threats, identity theft, stalking, and invasions of privacy are pretty well-established forms of harassment offline. Just throwing up their hands and saying "it's not our problem" Because NSA Bad is ridiculous. They can reach out to groups who are addressing harassment, but instead they push them away, mock them as advocating censorship, and try to discredit them in their own special way. Which leads me to this:

from last year: Harassment Hurts Us All. So Does Censorship by Jillian York, EFF director for International Freedom of Expression, responding in part to criticism along these lines reported by the Verge in their expose of the "cult of the angry young man"

This is some wishy-washy bullshit. The ACLU has made the case for balancing free speech versus harassment many times without having to resort to the "all speech is free speech" absolutist nonsense York espouses. This is exactly the kind of minimizing argument that Sierra was talking about in her piece, and if anything it's worse coming from someone at the EFF. Not only does she not show any interest in helping victims of harassment, in one of her linked pieces she dismisses harassment as a tool of censorship entirely for no other reason that she doesn't personally feel like it's censoring her. It's that kind of selfish, short-sighted, and just plain wrong worldview that's part of the problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


FFS. This is infuriating and depressing.
posted by homunculus at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2014


Is there where we can say? ... Kathy Sierra, your work is awesome. You're always welcome here. And I will miss reading your insights on twitter, even if I've only been reading along.
posted by typecloud at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


The badness of "doxxing" in troll circles is extremely variable - sometimes they scream "doxx" because someone's posting history got looked up, other times addresses and financial details are posted and they are fine with it.

Guess what the common differentiating factor is?
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on October 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


The Week (of all places): Intel's awful capitulation to #gamergate's sexist thugs
posted by postcommunism at 10:25 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have the possibly naïve hope that once Intel thinks the Eye of Sauron has fallen off them that they will quietly put more ads on Gamasutra.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2014


Could weev be any more of a shitheel if he tried?

(Wait, don't answer that.)
posted by Phire at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2014


Artw: Note that weev defends (in a way) Kathy Sierra's doxxing by pointing to violentacrez'. But the latter didn't include intentionally false information (it was just an outing of his real identity), whereas Sierra's did, right? (I don't know either story that well; my comment is based on what I just read in the OP plus what I remember reading about violentacrez here at Metafilter.)
posted by Eyebeams at 10:42 AM on October 8, 2014


I think there is a difference between a journalist revealing the real name of a person they are doing an article on and a person who has been sending graphic death and rape threats to a person revealing their real name and social security number and home address to a bunch of people also sending rape and death threats to that person. The idea that "doxxing" is the gravest crime a person can commit on the internet is ridiculous.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:45 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


I brought this up at the tail end of the "confessions of a former troll" post, but that was a while ago so I'll repeat myself here. There's a weird thread connecting the Kathy Sierra harassment and some more recent episodes of misogynist freakouts. As she mentions, Sierra's alleged cardinal sin was advocating for comment moderation. Meanwhile, Ed Champion's recent meltdown was apparently triggered when novelist Porochista Khakpour deleted one of his comments from her own Facebook page. And, one of the #gamergate demands is that comments on game review articles should not be deleted and commentators not be banned.

Apparently, in trolls' minds, not only do they have the right to spray paint racist and misogynist slurs on your front door, you don't have any right to paint over their graffiti.
posted by mhum at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2014 [20 favorites]


I feel like every time I actively supported women in my own tech circles, all I did was deliver them to a higher level of harassers.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:52 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


The idea that "doxxing" is the gravest crime a person can commit on the internet is ridiculous.

Is that a fear reaction? Its a 'grave crime' as the actual crimes committed could be traced back to them, specifically, if their actual name and address were ever outed, maybe?
posted by Slackermagee at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2014


People using "don't feed the trolls" in this context make me mental.

God, me too. Read the Monster Manual, people! You got to fight those loathsome creatures with fire, otherwise, they just regenerate.

It's not easy to see it now, mired as we are in like fifty different fights on gender, representation and discrimination in tech, gaming, sciences... But the fact we're discussing the issues with enough seriousness to get the trolls agitated is itself a victory. It's the fire, righteous flaming anger channeled back at those we've been told over and over (by them, of course) to ignore. Don't feed the trolls! Just shut up, don't do or say anything we don't like, and you'll be fine! Nice try, you bridge-dwelling fuck.

I'm glad we're moving beyond those failed tactics. Watching Kathy and Anita and Leigh and Zoe and all these other amazing new voices in tech deliver burn after burn just makes me want to grab my own flamethrower.
posted by Freyja at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Eyebeams, iirc, the ViolentAcrez 'doxxing' was Gawker pointing out that a major portion of the grossness that undergirds a lot of reddit was started and maintained by one particular person who was, to popular acclaim, constantly poking his toes over the line of legality when it came to the porn he was helping collect, disseminate, and otherwise provide a friendly platform for. And here's who that person is IRL. It was closer to identifying the guy behind Is Anyone Up, had he been pseudonymous.

The comparison is maybe disingenuous.

> Apparently, in trolls' minds, not only do they have the right to spray paint racist and misogynist slurs on your front door, you don't have any right to paint over their graffiti.

Recall that one of the GG demands is that game journalists/review sites must give them an "avenue for dialogue" where where no comments to those journalists will be deleted or blocked unless the comment is a threat so serious that they're reporting the deleted material to the police. fr srs.
posted by postcommunism at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's a point that more people need to understand:

And they all seemed to think that it was All Good as long as they punctuated each article with the obligatory “sure, he’s an ass” or “and yes, he’s a troll” or “he’s known for offending people” (which are, for most men, compliments).

My current roommate is an asshole. He makes unnecessary snarky comments all the time for generally no reason whatsoever except that he's trying to get me to move out sooner, as he admitted to me. Being an asshole is not anywhere on the same level as being a sociopathic stalker/harasser. For years, I was internet-stalked and hacked by a female sociopath who allegedly lives in a nearby city. She managed to get into my home networks, destroy my computers, impersonate me online and harass/stalk my friends, and on and on, and ignoring her for years (while upgrading my tech skills) did absolutely nothing to dissuade her. For all I know, she's reading this right now. That is stalking. (By the way, notice how those internet actions had effects on my real life offline?) It's not a case of someone being an asshole (or a bitch). People who dismiss roving mobs of harassers as nothing but run-of-the-mill jerks and assholes are so far removed from the intense feelings of violation from the harassment campaign that I have to marvel at their extraordinary ignorance, luck, and privilege. It's Olympic-level point-missing.

I was stalked in person by a man as well as online by an obsessive sociopath who allegedly lives/lived close to me. Organized campaigns of internet harassment ARE examples of stalking. Which brings me to another quote that I want to emphasize:
But Photoshopped images? Stories drawn from your own work? There’s a creepy and invasive horror knowing someone is pouring over your words, doing Google and Flickr image searches to find the perfect photo to manipulate. That someone is using their time and talent to write code even, about you. That’s not trolling, that’s obsession. That’s the point where you know it’s not really even about the Koolaid now…they’re obsessed with you.

This is a very long way from the favorite troll talking point “Oh boohoo someone was mean on the internet.”

Mean: “You’re fat and retarded and deserve to be raped”. (we all get tons of those, but those aren't what we're talking about)

Stalking: “Here’s yet another creepy and terrifying thing I made for you and about you and notice just how much I know about you…” (1/200)

There is a difference.
Exactly, and online, I can't ignore the crazy sociopathic stalkers as I could in real life. Everything I learned from The Gift of Fear goes out the window. I found my online harassment much more terrifying than anything in person, because in person I could get evidence and go to the police, et cetera. When it's on the internet, you have to live with it, and once your dox is posted for all to read, it will never go away.

I already had PTSD before any of this began. Fuck stalkers and their nauseating cults of personality.
posted by quiet earth at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


“sure, he’s an ass” or “and yes, he’s a troll” or “he’s known for offending people” (which are, for most men, compliments)

For me and the overwhelming majority of men I've called my friends in my life, these are not compliments, but rather said in the same tone as "That was a really bad car crash on the highway today"
posted by waraw at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2014


For me and the overwhelming majority of men I've ...

Can we not #notallmen here?
posted by Lyn Never at 12:04 PM on October 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


"Real name" and "social security number" are so many miles distant from one another that I can't believe anybody would even make the comparison with a straight face. If the internet is the real world, which it is because we are not all just imaginary people, then telling someone that this person who is going by Prince Elvis the Seventeenth is actually named John Smith is not some kind of harmful act, absent something like--I don't know, outing someone in witness protection or whatever. Even as someone who used to routinely have access to people's social security numbers, I never would have dreamed of using it against someone, even if I hated them. When we start using "doxxing" as a catch-all without talking about what was actually released, it seems to become meaningless. "I think this person is being a jerk because they're anonymous, so let's make them less anonymous" is a very different message from "I think this person is being a jerk, so I'm going to make them stop by making sure they're afraid for their health and safety if they continue."

If they're going to insist on calling what happened to ViolentAcrez "doxxing", then what happens to women isn't usually doxxing, it's just straight out threats and incitement to physical harm or identity fraud. It's designed to provoke fear and, if the fear doesn't work, hurt someone. It's terrorism.
posted by Sequence at 12:05 PM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Not to derail too much more on the EFF point, but I just wanted to note:

First of all, York's Medium post, although yes a very extreme and backpedaling from a seriously tone-deaf WaPo blog piece was also pretty clearly a personal opinion piece, so not sure it's entirely fair to extrapolate out from this to EFF as an organization on this point.

I thought that piece was another interesting if sticky facet to a really complicated tangle of questions and ideas about the difficulty of solving the troll problem, as Kathy Sierra addressed really well in the OP. It's interesting that both pieces are ultimately advocating from very different stances for a common goal of more speech, "more options for online spaces" as Sierra puts it.

If the problem is that the current laws around harassment need work, and EFF is working on improving laws for the our brave new world, then it seems that working on laws around online harassment should be right up their alley.

I don't know, I'm not sure that is actually the problem here. Personally I suspect that enforcement of existing laws needs work (see countless examples of women struggling to report online harassment to the police), and support of new spaces and technical solutions from the coding ponies that will facilitate more speech (I can't find this again now but e.g. the system that was designed and/or developed by academics recently to allow people to do small-scale crowdsourced pre-moderation of comments to their social networks to insulate users from the psychological harm inflicted by trolls).

Given that the EFF's work has historically been generally reactive against legal/technological threats to digital civil liberties, I think it's understandable that they apparently want to focus on doing what they do best rather than wade into this quagmire. But I'd say the same about the CDT or Free Press or the ACLU etc, and I don't think providing legal assistance to weev obligates EFF to make sure that everybody is on the same page on understanding that harassment is bad.

However, I do agree that there has been a noticeable gap in activism around this point and hope we see some positive and productive answers, ideas, initiatives etc. ultimately coming out of all of this ugliness. The dialogue seems to have been improving in recent weeks, but it would be a real loss if the momentum around this issue fizzled out until the next particularly egregious incident pops up again.
posted by KatlaDragon at 12:08 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Somewhat related, here is an excellent essay on gamergate by Katherine Cross that gets in to mechanisms of an online attack campaign.
Fully referenced, and really well written.
posted by Theta States at 1:07 PM on October 8, 2014 [19 favorites]


Really great article there.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2014


plinth: "The "don't feed the trolls" line works as long as it's words."

"Don't feed the trolls" works when the "trolls" are driven by boredom, and stops working when they are driven by anger.

Anger is about perceived injustice. As Sierra calls the Koolaid point, that injustice is often that you're talking, and people are listening. And taking you seriously, which in the "troll" mind, you do not deserve, and so it's an injustice. The only way you could stop feeding their anger would be to stop saying anything they disagree with, which is what they want.
posted by RobotHero at 3:52 PM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


How will they find the harassers with so many avenues for anonymity?
posted by yonega at 4:19 PM on October 8, 2014


About the anonymous thing: Mexican Cartel and Anonymous. You can be keyboard warrior all you want but as they say, shit gets real when you decide to pick a fight with people who have resources and don't care about this online rep thing. The trolls feel that there are no real world consequences. In this closed internet world of rapid response and verbal cruelty they are predators but in the real world, well things get all kinds of interesting. Here is the thing, by doxxing you try to create a situation that gets out of hand in the real world and then wipe your hands saying, "it was just words", well words do have consequences, doxxing cuts both ways.
posted by jadepearl at 5:38 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hizonner: Humans want a story with a Good Guy and a Bad Guy. We're built for it, and it gets us every time if we don't actively fight it. Since the federal prosecutors were cast as the Bad Guys in the most widely known story involving weev, that whole mental circuitry turns him into a Good Guy in response. QED.

I think you're letting them off too easy here honestly. I can't think of a single person i heard assume he was the good guy or just do the folk hero thing who didn't also minimize his "trolling" and what he had done. It's like the college football star who got a DUI and punched that lady that one time, or whatever. Everyone goes "Oh yea, that was a thing, but it's in the past".

It's not just the good and evil thing, it's that a hell of a lot of people just didn't see the harassment as a big deal. It's just that one time he was an asshole on the internet, and the internet isn't serious anyways! you can just close your laptop and walk away!

That "internet isn't serious" attitude is slowly changing, and is definitely a lot better now than it was say 10(or fuck, even 5 or 6) years ago, but it's absolutely still a thing.

There's a lot of facets to this. That average people tend to take womens accounts of harassment "with a grain of salt"or as exaggerated or whatever, and also tend to think "you can't have a fight without two fighters" sorts of bullshit. Then there's the internet thing. Then there's the fact that he's a "folk hero" and people like him and think he was STICKING IT TO THE MAN and speaking truth to power or whatever.

When you get them all in one place, it's a lot more than just the good guy/bad guy dichotomy.
posted by emptythought at 6:00 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Elementary penguin: I have the possibly naïve hope that once Intel thinks the Eye of Sauron has fallen off them that they will quietly put more ads on Gamasutra.

I have the probably naïve hope that the gamergate steamroller will approach another huge company(say nvidia, sony, etc) and they'll have the balls to basically go "no, you guys are fucking dumb, fuck off". Like not only decline to pull ads or get involved, but actually publicly go "you guys are wrong, we're not supporting people who are wrong, sorry, bye".

It'll probably never happen, but it would be really awesome if some company did that. I'd go out of my way to give them money too, and i'm sure a lot of other people would as well.
posted by emptythought at 6:21 PM on October 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I figure the message is probably out that kowtowing to these guys is PR poison, that'll take care of the job better than principles.
posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on October 8, 2014


Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory come to life.

My concern with that theory is it emphasizes the bad things about anonymity. That leads to "real name" policies that can be harmful to people who have good reasons to stay anonymous. For instance, women who want to share their viewpoints but aren't as brave as Anita. (I only mean that as a compliment to Anita and not a put down for anyone. I am not nearly as brave as her).

Also, the Facebook comments on any political news article will show that people will still stay horrible hateful things even when using their real name.
posted by Gary at 7:28 PM on October 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


I kind of agree, Gary. There was this massively shitty thing that happened in the scientific blogging community in which a senior editor at Nature, Henry Gee, revealed the identity of a pseudonymous blogger who wrote under the name Dr. Isis (Isis had tweeted something he found insulting). To reiterate, that meant the doxxer was a non-anonymous senior editor at one of the most influential journals in science, tweeting under his own name; in contrast, the anonymous blogger was a woman, a person of color, and untenured.

So the problem is the punching down the power gradient, not necessarily anonymity per se. I mean definitely, anonymity can enable abuses! But conversely, if there are aspects of your profession that are bad and need to change, but you are not in a position where you can afford to weather the blow-back (e.g. if you are a young untenured woman of color in a field dominated by straight men who have a history of getting super touchy about feminism), anonymity can be profoundly helpful not just you but for other people in your profession as well.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:41 PM on October 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


I know that if those threats had been posted against Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton, the dudes in black sunglasses would be knocking on some doors in a day or two. So it is possible to find this stuff, and it is illegal in some contexts.

How about the Obamas adopt Kathy and the others?

Let's see the trollers get hard with the guys who can see their hacking lulz and raise with a waterboarding and special rendition.

We paid for this monstrous spying, torturing and remote killing apparatus - let's beat a few swords into plowshares here.
posted by lon_star at 10:57 PM on October 8, 2014


That Katherine Cross article is fantastic. It starts from the stated goal of GamerGate, a movement to fight corruption in the game industry. Then the article proceeds to dismantle that position, explaining how their rhetoric and tactics completely undermined any value the argument might have had. It's a more highbrow and serious treatment than I've managed, I've never gotten much past "disgusting shitbags".

If you have the stomach for more 4chan rape threats, etc, Adria Richards: Telling My Troll Story Because Kathy Sierra Left Twitter is good reading. It's a collection of tweets, starting with her own words and then with a bunch of documentary screenshots of how 4chan harassment works. I hate to wallow in seeing the attacks operate but there's value in documenting the process.

I think anonymity online has value, but it unquestionably creates a place where awful people can indulge their awful instincts without fear of repercussion. I much prefer Metafilter's brand of gentle pseudonymity, where a small barrier to entry and a persistent reputation reminds people they need to be respectful. Swift moderation helps too.
posted by Nelson at 1:40 AM on October 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


I keep trying to figure out what I can do to help combat this sexism more. NCWITs' Top 10 Ways To Be a Male Advocate for Technical Women is a help for ideas.

Listen to women's stories • Talk to other men • Seek out ways to recruit women • Increase the number and visibility of female leaders • Mentor and sponsor women • Notice and correct micro-inequities or instances of unconscious bias • Establish accountability metrics • Model alternative work/life strategies • Make discussions of gender less "risky" • Reach out to formal and informal women's groups
posted by Nelson at 1:45 AM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]




I was really disappointed by all the weird tweets from gaymerx yesterday (it's a gaming convention). It primarily boils down to the fact that the people tweeting officially weren't/aren't ready to be tweeting as the face of an organization, but a bunch of the sentiments they offered struck me as disappointingly common sentiments in the geek community: "trying to stay out of it," "I can't just dismiss people who want to go to GX3 and also support GG for their own reasons," "by wholly dismissing them it adds fuel to the fire, and we want to increase the peace," "we just said that its unfair to say everyone who supports it is 100% wrong, it just increases tensions"...etc. etc. This, all interspersed with apologies and statements that they totally oppose Gamergate. Seriously? Way to show it. (Then there was also an unnerving comment that there are people who are part of GaymerX and who support Gamergate.) I was just sort of shocked that an organization I would have expected to get it apparently doesn't get it at all. I guess there's more of this out there than I'd like to think.

Even the places we think are safe aren't safe.
posted by wintersweet at 10:29 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So WIRED magazine has decided to re-post this, as-is, with her permission.

Of course, they put the standard comment section below it.

You can imagine how that's going.

WIRED apparently feels we need to hear both sides of constant aggressive harassment so we can form a more valid opinion on it.
posted by Legomancer at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Verge: Stop Supporting Gamergate. Mentions Kathy Sierra and weev specifically.
posted by postcommunism at 12:20 PM on October 9, 2014


wintersweet, there were some now-deleted tweets that even said "gamergate makes some good points" and shit like that. Then their "official" PR person took over, and even she was dancing around it. After enough of GaymerX's constituency was like "uh no we don't feel okay with this" she then played it off with the current remaining position of well now I feel we can be honest, we do not support gooberglot. It was a mess.
posted by Corinth at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2014


It sounded like the person tweeting had been living under a rock and was mostly unaware of GG. Which, uh, do some googling before you take a position from an official account.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:59 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Another article:
The Atlantic: The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women

The comments section is, of course, men worried that the article cherrypicks to support censorship...
posted by Theta States at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Apparently at first some goofy dude was tweeting the worst stuff, then got flustered (TW for suicidal hyperbole) when people responded predictably, which made things worse. Then their official PR person started her job a week early and was too equivocal in her apology for a convention literally catering to women and minorities. (You know, the exact targets of the goombagate harassment.)
posted by Corinth at 1:08 PM on October 9, 2014


From the Atlantic article:
Jillian C. York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is one of many civil libertarians who believe Facebook and other social media platforms should not screen this, or any, content at all.
Yep, off the groups-I'm-willing-to-donate-to list.

(I accidentally scrolled far enough to see the first comment, about how feminist demands are "whiny" and "unwarranted". Lewis's Law…)
posted by Lexica at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I keep trying to figure out what I can do to help combat this sexism more. NCWITs' Top 10 Ways To Be a Male Advocate for Technical Women is a help for ideas.

I read the list and don't buy it. The problem is that an environment that is toxic to women is also toxic to people in general.

I just wrote 2000 words that I just deleted, about a situation where I advocated for a woman in my company to get an entry level tech job, the first woman above the rank of receptionist in our company. But I couldn't post it because it's too horrible. The harassment she got, and that I got for defending her, sounds like I'm trying to make this all about me.

I have said this before: it isn't just the sexism. It's the power differential. People who are in power will exploit everyone underneath them, because they think it's how to maintain their power. Sexism is a tool, not their specific agenda. The rich and powerful will divide and conquer, they will create artificial divisions between people who ultimately have one thing in common: they are being exploited. They should unite and win. I often quote the movie Bulworth, there's a famous line, "Rich people have always stayed on top by dividing white people from colored people, but white people got more in common with colored people then they do with rich people." It's the same with men and women.

Ultimately people won't do a damn thing that isn't in their direct self-interest. So let me get to the point.

CDS's Top 1 Way To Be a Male Advocate for Technical Women

1. Understand that people who are making a situation toxic for women, are also making it toxic for men like you. It's in your own self-interest to defend everyone from exploitation, eeeven women. If you don't, you're next.

I know that is a horrible thing to say. But it's a horrible situation. I believe that most men won't defend women unless they do it accidentally as a byproduct of defending themselves. I don't know how to change that. I tried. I really did.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:47 PM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


A fascinating backdrop to this is the whole 4chan/[certain parts of]reddit libertarian culture. There are a lot of people who see themselves as outlaws but are very moralistic on behalf of an ill-defined code of justice.

And that code has two deeply contradictory sins: 1) doxxing and 2) censoring online content, even if it consists of doxxing.
posted by msalt at 11:12 PM on October 9, 2014


The article posted here is excellent, but that piece in The Verge is not -- it plays right into the arguments of the GamerGate crowd and right-wingers angling to latch onto it (such as this article in Forbes)

Two much better articles:
- Katherine Cross in First Person Scholar
- Eric Johnson at Re/Code
posted by msalt at 12:27 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


No point worrying about the bottom feeders till you fix the thinking at the very top of the tech industry food chain.

The newly installed boss of Microsoft has come under fire for telling women they do not need to ask for pay rises, relying instead on "karma".
posted by infini at 2:23 AM on October 10, 2014


I'm glad I read that Re/Code link, if only because I now understand the GamerGate line about Leigh Alexander being some huge racist, which was just confusing me.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:19 AM on October 10, 2014


Hrrrm... - just got named as an "anti-GG" Wikipedia editor on Reddit.
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on October 10, 2014 [6 favorites]


Wait... Isn't that a doxxing by GG standards?
posted by papercrane at 8:23 AM on October 10, 2014


I was speaking with a friend last night about a different matter, and had the idea that hopefully the fallout of this would lead to stronger cyberstalking laws. But he hadn't heard anything about GamerGate (he's not in the gaming scene) and I started explaining it to him.

He interrupted me about ten sentences in to ask, "but there are cyberbullying laws to stop that, aren't there?" And I had to explain to him that no, there really aren't. The few that are there are so specific as to not be any help.

And this is not a dumb and ill-informed guy. He's an almost stereotypical left-leaning, newspaper-reading, NPR-listening New Yorker, and is even a journalist. And it actually took my explaining some of the particulars of the case to him, including bringing him to his computer and having him look up "Gamergate" on the internet, to get across that no, the cyberstalking laws he thought existed really, really didn't.

And even then, the penny didn't really drop until we were talking about the active-planning-of-attacks element. "Okay, I admit I'm not clear on the distinction," he said, "but I do know that when it comes to First Amendment law, there's a difference between talking about a crime and advocating for a crime to be committed, and actively planning a crime."

"It is a gray area," I agreed. "And the people who do this are using that gray area itself as the shield behind which they hide while they do what they do. And that is why the cyberstalking laws you are thinking of don't work." I think he got it.

But it kind of underscored for me why so many well-intentioned people may not be getting on board with this -they agree that it's wrong, but they also trust that there is a legal system equipped to handle it, when there really isn't one just yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


> just got named as an "anti-GG" Wikipedia editor on Reddit.

Please accept equal parts of congrats and oy.
posted by postcommunism at 8:46 AM on October 10, 2014 [5 favorites]


Wait... Isn't that a doxxing by GG standards?

Doxxing is only bad if you doxx a gamergator. Doxxing SJWs is virtuous.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:48 AM on October 10, 2014


Doxxing SJWs is virtuous a classic SJW false flag operation

ftfy

does sjw duplicity know no bounds
posted by postcommunism at 8:54 AM on October 10, 2014 [8 favorites]


It's basically just what's on my user page and a note that I have a twitter account - so basically a click and a google search. I'm not super worried about it because I'm not the demographic they usually go after, but it's still kind of creepy.

But yes, this goes beyond the sort of thing that has had them screaming like babies in the past, like Quinn looking up who was running TFYC.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Man, the sheer amount of they/us talk in KiA threads.
posted by postcommunism at 9:15 AM on October 10, 2014 [2 favorites]




I soon realized that calling me a “public figure” had nothing to do with describing my impact on the industry or recognizing my achievements within it. Rather, the term “public figure” is solely ascribed to me as part of justifying abuse, harassment, humiliation, boundary violations and invasion of my privacy by anyone — from journalists to anonymous trolls to professional peers.
yup

Article could have it's own FPP, really.
posted by postcommunism at 1:29 PM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's interesting, but I don't think I can do justice to that piece in a way that'll make a good FPP, especially with all of the other internet justice/ SJ posts that have been made recently.

If anybody wants to pick that up though, feel free.
posted by boo_radley at 2:44 PM on October 10, 2014


And now Brianna Wu and her husband have been driven from their homes by GG threats:

@Spacekatgal: The police just came by. Husband and I are going somewhere safe.

Remember, #gamergate isn't about attacking women. http://twitter.com/Spacekatgal/status/520739878993420290/photo/1


At this point, I'm wondering if RICO doesn't need to be invoked for these fuckers.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:56 PM on October 10, 2014 [4 favorites]


The hell of it is that all the Gamergaters are patting themselves on the back for reporting the guy who did it and then saying "see, Gamergate isn't about sexism!"

I note that they didn't do a damn thing to report the guys who made the harrassing memes against her the day before.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:59 PM on October 10, 2014


I suggested on Twitter that a good way to support Brianna would be to buy her game, and have had to block some 50+ accounts. Apparently I AM CORRUPTION IN GAMING. Also it's immoral to profit from victimhood, and also she totally doxxed herself as a marketing strategy. Apparently.
posted by Andrhia at 9:14 PM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Someone should graph the frequency of the mention of the 20 most popular video games vs. the frequency of those people using #gamergate or #notyourshield as tags... My hypothesis is that only a small percentage of people who are into games are even aware of Gamergate. Also, whoever gave their tag the suffix of a major political scandal is overreaching.
posted by larrybob at 12:06 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


> And now Brianna Wu and her husband have been driven from their homes by GG threats: http://twitter.com/Spacekatgal/status/520739878993420290/photo/1

Oh lordy, that disingenuous VJ comment on her tweet. Like Gonji posting the "do not harass Quinn" banner on his blog while he was adding fuel on 4chan and hanging out in the IRC channel and savoring the plausible deniability.

larrybob, you can do that at Topsy. Here's a comparison of @TheQuinnspiracy, #gamergate, and 'Destiny'
posted by postcommunism at 8:57 AM on October 11, 2014


There are probably better hashtags/keywords etc.. I am not good at the twitters.
posted by postcommunism at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2014


My god. One whiney asshole rants about his ex and two months later random women are *still* getting death threats. What the *fuck*, internet?
posted by rmd1023 at 9:23 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wasn't familiar with Brianna Wu so I googled her. Found this great article she wrote for Polygon:

No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry
posted by honestcoyote at 12:10 PM on October 11, 2014


That comment has disappeared BTW.

Yes I screen-grabbed it. I thought I was being a bit weird about that at the time.
posted by Artw at 4:28 PM on October 11, 2014


rmd1023: My god. One whiney asshole rants about his ex and two months later random women are *still* getting death threats. What the *fuck*, internet?

not only that, but there's a multi-pronged push to reframe the story as having started before Zoe Quinn and then bring that in later as like, a background detail. Like that escapist article, which gets picked apart here.

There seems to be an actual noticeable effort to take the fulcrum of this entirely off of one whiny asshole ranting about his ex. that's supposed to be a footnote now, i guess.
posted by emptythought at 5:58 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know, I was arguing with a guy on the Forbes website and he tried to distinguish GamerGate from the "Quinnspiracy". It was completely unconvincing, but that's the clear direction.
posted by msalt at 6:23 PM on October 11, 2014


This article about the Brianna Wu has details about the GamerGate tag starting when Adam Baldwin (the actor) linked to some YouTube videos about Zoe Quinn. So yes, women are receiving death threats because people think a twine game got too much attention. The "movement" is asinine.
posted by Gary at 6:49 PM on October 11, 2014


Actor and Tea Party activist with a large following of anti-gay rights and MRA types, so that tweet marked a meeting place of several kinds of insane and horrible.
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on October 11, 2014


So here's the thing. There really is an ethics scandal in games journalism. Game publishers have far too much financial influence over game publishing outlets. There's been years of scandals of bought reviews, writers being fired for writing something negative about the wrong company, etc. It's a legitimate problem.

It's just the ethics problem in games journalism has nothing to do in particular with women. And certainly not Zoe Quinn or the other women targeted by the monsters. Somehow the question of game writing corruption got conflated with the harassment of women. It's not surprising to me to see some folks trying to drag GamerGate away from the original disgusting sexist origins, it's just a serious mistake. That well is fully poisoned now, they have to start over with new people, ones who aren't sociopaths.
posted by Nelson at 12:39 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


What the *fuck*, Internet?

Actually, I'd say more "what the fuck, misogyny".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 AM on October 12, 2014


It's not surprising to me to see some folks trying to drag GamerGate away from the original disgusting sexist origins

Forgive me if I don't believe that's why they're doing it at all.

I also don't buy the ethics angle, since if you track the trajectory of this entire fuckmess that entire point was brought up not to shift gears, but as a defensive shield to hide their woman hating, harassment, and witch hunting from criticism. Go read the previous threads.

There's not some just reason they want to detach themselves from that, they simply want to be able to harass with no consequences. It's not like some different set of people is trying to clean up the movement now. They just want to have their cake and eat it too. Harass someone until they get bored, then find some new woman to hate. No ones trying to right the ship, its a very advanced battleship and this is part of its countermeasures.

You yourself seem to agree the well is poisoned, but I don't believe that anyone involved in this at any level but an uninformed retweeter ever sincerely cared about ethics of journalism. They just cared about those attention whores getting people to drink the kool aid.
posted by emptythought at 2:13 AM on October 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe so, emptythought, I shouldn't speculate on the motives of bad people, I don't have the stomach to read their shit. You're absolutely right that a lot of the early GamerGate crap was misogynist people piling on Zoe Quinn, then retconning it as some anti-corruption crusade. Doubly so for the response to Anita Sarkeesian, which as near as I can tell is 100% "some girl said mean things about us."

Back to Kathy Sierra, has the GamerGate crowd jumped on her too or is it some other misogynist faction? Sierra used to make games but I think that was years ago for her career. I've been so distracted by the folks rallying around her neo-Nazi harasser I've lost track of the rest of it.

We need something like the Southern Poverty Law Center to track dangerous misogynists. I worry some of the violent rhetoric is going to end up creating another Elliott Rodger.
posted by Nelson at 2:51 AM on October 12, 2014


I know a couple of years ago the Southern Poverty Law Center took a look at the 'manosphere'. they listed some of the more virulent websites.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:44 AM on October 12, 2014




Nelson: "Back to Kathy Sierra, has the GamerGate crowd jumped on her too or is it some other misogynist faction?"

Well, the events she describes predate the GamerGate movement as such, but she does give a "shout out" to the GamerGaters, so I wouldn't be surprised if 1) some of them target her in reaction and 2) she decided to write about it now because some of the patterns of behaviour in GamerGate seemed so familiar to her.
posted by RobotHero at 1:58 PM on October 13, 2014


I would like to point out that Elijah Wood, in an interview with Playboy magazine, called out gamergate as being a group of bullies.
We are all still waiting in bated breathe for the organized boycott and letter-writing campaign against him, announced before the backdrop of everyone burning their LOTR merchandise in effigy.
posted by Theta States at 6:16 AM on October 14, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh and Brianna Wu went on MSNBC to discuss the death threats. (do not read the comments)
Cue the mass tweeting to MSNBC-related twitter accounts as though people were waiting for gg to make legitimate points and set the record straight.
posted by Theta States at 6:18 AM on October 14, 2014


Looks like some people can dish it out but they can't take it - one of the GG people is asking the rest not to suggest she speak in public about Gamer Gate because "it would dox me".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 AM on October 14, 2014


Specifically, the user says that being interviewed by voice would "dox" the user. Which makes me wonder if the user isn't a woman.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:13 AM on October 14, 2014


the user says that being interviewed by voice would "dox" the user. Which makes me wonder if the user isn't a woman.

I gathered as such from the fact that the avatar is female and the name of the user is "GGfeminist".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, yeah, there is that, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:42 AM on October 14, 2014


I'd probably just assume good faith and that they either don't want to be publicly associated with the movement, or that they are afraid of what would happen if they were a public outspoken women in technology.
posted by papercrane at 7:49 AM on October 14, 2014


I'd probably just assume good faith and that they either don't want to be publicly associated with the movement, or that they are afraid of what would happen if they were a public outspoken women in technology.

And my point was that it is deeply ironic for a female gamergater to be afraid of being a public outspoken woman in technology.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


The irony of it isn't lost on me. My response was more directed to the theory that the twitter user isn't a women.
posted by papercrane at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2014


My response was more directed to the theory that the twitter user isn't a women.

?....I didn't know that there was a theory she wasn't a woman; was that in this thread or elsewhere?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:36 AM on October 14, 2014


was that in this thread or elsewhere?

Here.

Specifically, the user says that being interviewed by voice would "dox" the user. Which makes me wonder if the user isn't a woman.
posted by papercrane at 9:43 AM on October 14, 2014


Sorry, that was me. I wouldn't call it anything quite so well-formed as a theory but rather more of a "huh, I wonder". Please ignore me if it's a derail.

The main point of a woman who supports 'gamergate' folks being unwilling to be an outspoken woman in tech, well, yeah. That's some ironic irony going on there.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:17 AM on October 14, 2014


I love how Cathy Young's article is almost entirely about accusations against Zoe Quinn even though the first bullet point is that GG is not about Zoe. You can get bingo just reading that article.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:32 AM on October 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, that was me. I wouldn't call it anything quite so well-formed as a theory but rather more of a "huh, I wonder". Please ignore me if it's a derail

Theory might be a bit strong I suppose. It's not a giant image of text with red-lines. It just seemed to be going towards a path I didn't really care for.

I love how Cathy Young's article is almost entirely about accusations against Zoe Quinn even though the first bullet point is that GG is not about Zoe.

While lurking in the main GG subreddit* I noticed they've taken to calling Zoe 'LW', which is an acronym for 'Literally Who' which is a code word for Zoe Quinn. They have an acronym for a code word for a person, but totally not obsessed with her.

Also, just based on the language and phrasing there I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is a significant overlap between the GG groups and MRA groups.

*That was a mistake, although I've finally decided that I should just delete my reddit account. So I guess not completely unproductive.
posted by papercrane at 10:57 AM on October 14, 2014


While lurking in the main GG subreddit* I noticed they've taken to calling Zoe 'LW', which is an acronym for 'Literally Who' which is a code word for Zoe Quinn. They have an acronym for a code word for a person, but totally not obsessed with her.

I remember a month ago one of the bit imgur defenses of GamerGate after Zoe posted all the IRC logs was that the IRC chatroom had a bot that automatically deleted references to Zoe after a while, which was supposed to prove that they weren't obsessed with her, like how "no urination" signs on a train are a guarantee that train pee is not a big problem.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:04 AM on October 14, 2014 [3 favorites]


Elementary Penguin: Exactly. Or "Drug Free Zone" signs prove that there are no drugs around here!
posted by msalt at 2:29 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, the Twitter hashtag #StopGamergate2014 is trending globally in the wake of yet another death threat to Anita Sarkeesian.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


yet another death threat to Anita Sarkeesian.

The Threats Against Anita Sarkeesian Expose The Darkest Aspects Of Online Misogyny
posted by homunculus at 11:52 PM on October 15, 2014


We Hunted The Mammoth takes a look at the Utah threat letter and finds (unsurprisingly) that much of the phrasing and language overlaps substantially with online blatherings of MRA hate groups.

It's like this is all coming from people who just don't like women...
posted by rmd1023 at 10:00 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


We Hunted The Mammoth takes a look at the Utah threat letter and finds (unsurprisingly) that much of the phrasing and language overlaps substantially with online blatherings of MRA hate groups.

I've seen an MS Paint-treated copy of the Utah Threat Letter highlighting this very same language and using it as "proof" that it was Sarkeesian wrote it herself "because who else aside from feminists would even know about the Montreal shooting?" and such.

Would LOVE to see "we hunted the mammoth" do a similar version with this information.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 AM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


You guys should post those links in the new thread.
posted by postcommunism at 10:08 AM on October 16, 2014


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