The Kathy Sierra flap

I’m not getting this whole Kathy Sierra thing. Apparently, Frank Paynter set up a blog called Mean Kids where people were encouraged to be rude and childish toward various objects of derision, including Sierra, tech writer of some note. Somehow this derision escalated to death threats, and now we have this:

As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I’m not. I’m at home, with the doors locked, terrified.

The thing is, something must have happened to bring garden-variety derision to the level of death threats. Did Sierra provoke Paynter’s mob? Why did she become the object of all hatred instead of somebody else? And why is she sitting at home with the door locked?

I’m not saying it’s all OK to post vicious personal attacks on people’s blogs, just that there seem to be a few dozen facts missing from the story, and now that the blog has been taken down, it doesn’t look like we’ll ever get them.

One consequence of this is “Kathy Sierra” has replaced “Cathy Seipp” as the number one search on Technorati. The threat of death must be more compelling than the fact of it.

UPDATE: Kudos to Valleywag for calling “bullshit” on this Sierra mess. Sierra is playing the “misogyny” card against Chris Locke, when all he did was call her a dipshit. And it appears that he was right. Dave Winer is also standing up for Locke, and he’s to be congratulated for that.

See Chris Locke stand up for himself. As I initially suspected, there’s a Wellbert connection to this deal: meankids has the flavor of the Well’s flame conference, and Locke used to be a Wellbert moderator.

In any event, it appears that Sierra is seriously overplaying her hand, and as a result she comes across as a whiny little crybaby. Misogyny is a bad thing, of course, but that doesn’t mean that all women are exempt from all criticism. Locke said Sierra is “a dipshit”, which is neither misogynist nor inaccurate.

6 thoughts on “The Kathy Sierra flap”

  1. Hi Richard,

    I wish you’d actually done a little research on this one.

    “Sierra is playing the “misogyny” card against Chris Locke, when all he did was call her a dipshit.”

    Chris Locke and his buddies established two web sites: “meankids” and “unclebobism”. Each of these websites published posts, not comments from readers, but posts, with pictures of Kathy in two horrible, life-threatening situations – complete with comments. We don’t know which of the web site authors actually made these posts, all Kathy said in her blog was that these people celebrated and encouraged this horrid behavior. This has very little to do with Chris calling Kathy a “dipshit”.

  2. I’m aware of all that, and I don’t believe it’s enough to justify her smearing Locke and the others. She did ask to be heckled in any case.

  3. your closing line: “Locke said Sierra is “a dipshit”, which is neither misogynist nor inaccurate.”

    You’re cherry picking those facts that support your conclusion, and ignoring those facts that don’t. In her post, Kathy never even brought up the “dipshit” comment. I suppose it could it be that you never read Kathy’s post, could it be that you read only Chris’s “defense”?

  4. I’d say that you need to learn to make distinctions.

    Sarcasm is different than threats.
    Argument is different than threats.
    Debate and disagreement are different than threats.

  5. I think the threats were sarcastic, but in any event she blamed them on Chris Locke and there’s no evidence he was involved.

    Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that this Sierra character isn’t an honest player.

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