Death Threats, Intimidation, and Blogging

Jeff, if you ever stop blogging I guarantee I’ll find some way to make you pay.

Remember, Google knows where you live!



It’s not that simple. You start a blog because you want to help. You don’t expect anything from anyone, you’re just spending your free time trying to help. Then some idiots start threatening you, call you names and make your blog a misery. So you start to wonder why you’re bothering to spend the time writing. Eventually it becomes too much and you just throw in the towel. What’s the point trying to help when all you get is abuse?

"100 million human beings were murdered in the 20th century."
Yes, but that’s not a significantly higher percentage of the total population than were “murdered” (I’m assuming here you mean died by violence) in any other century.

"How many do you think will get it in the 21st?"
Probably the same percentage.

Death threats are coersion that violates many basic rights. As such it does not fall under free speech, in many cases impares it. Those that take part in the behavior transgress against the social contract and are at war with our society. The only resolution is separate those individuals from society. It is a surrender of free speech if you allow yourself to be influenced by these sick individuals.

"And you’re giving it up for no apparent reason whatsoever."
Well, no reason he wants to talk about. Not sure that’s the same thing.

I think it’s up to the blogger to take these decisions, no matter how much I’d want to read their posts.

I did also read Kathys blog and miss it and I also respect her decision.

Bloggers are often expressing “opinions” in a way that often stir up heat. The thing is that there is a lot of “dangerous” people out there that do not understand that the open discussion is a benefit for all.

It’s like Paul Grahamn puts it

We can all want a perfect world but we have to live in our current one.

nice post - how about pointing us to blogs that are still going and worth reading? I’m sure most people here share the same interest categories - It’d be nice to see what other people are reading online…



On the other hand, every other person exposed in some way to the public has to deal with the same issues, so why should content producers online have any different experience? Granted, celebrities, authors, musicians, actors, politicians and public officials do benefit from what they do and usually therein derive their notoriety, but they still have to deal with remarks, rumors, crude behavior, personal attacks and - often - even various threats.

Everytime one of us contributes to something on the internet - whether it be a service or a website or a blog or a comment somewhere, that is public exposure and you potentially have to take some things that come with that exposure. Obviously some people are a bigger target for that than others.

Of course, compensation is also part of the difference. If you give everything of yourself to a project or a service for no personal return other than interacting with people and you are berated, attacked, slandered or even threatened for it, it’s probably a little harder to take at times than if you’re some rich famous individual who can take solace in having those things in exchange. Not to mention, if you say something critical or harmful about a true celebrity or person of some notoriety, people automatically take it with a grain of salt. If people don’t really know anything about you other than what they see some jerk or nutjob posting about you online, you aren’t usually afforded the same benefit of the doubt.

Here is what I don’t understand. Why just up and disappear? How does posting on the internet make you more vulnerable once you’ve already been doing it? And how does ceasing posting make you safer? Presuming one would need to show an acquisition of some of your personal information (address, phone, etc) to put eight behind their threats, they certainly aren’t getting that from your blog posts. So ceasing them just sounds like a whole lot of “fine, I’m taking my ball and going home”… Unless it is - as in this last guy’s case - just a matter of accumulated frustration overwhelming any personal reward you get out of it.

Personally, I can’t count how many times I’ve gone through bouts of wanting to toss it all in a can. I’ve reached the point countless times where just the idea of visiting my own damn site tied my stomach into knots and I would (and do) avoid it for lengthy stretches. So I definitely understand that aspect of it. But that comes with a lot of other aspects of life. If you’re in a club or a group or organization of some kind. Hell, even your job.

Oh,why are these people going down without a fight (one already down),i just started blogging and i would never consider stopping because some one is making it unbearable.For Dare i would say he should tell those idiotic readers to check his disclaimer .Btw if you read a blog and you do not like the content what do you do …rss…delete subscription .is that so hard to do ? Instead of doing that you hate-post like the plague. To all those friggin’ annoying readers out there i have two for you : SUCK IT!


I agree with you. I’m not one to throw in the towel either, but not everyone is wired that way. For some the threats, crude remarks and other hostility is not worth it, especially when you’re doing it out of the goodness of your own heart.

I collect donations for a Cancer charity and go door to door. I’ve suffered verbal abuse and been threatened. I seriously considered not doing it this year, but I’ve got the envelopes ready and I’ll be off this weekend.

I know that by the end of next week I’ll have come across some idiot who’ll give me a mouthful, tell me that he can’t afford money for himself and probably get abusive. It’ll stress me out and I’ll promise not to do the collection again next year, but I know I will.

When you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart it’s not about safety. It’s about how you feel after the event. That’s why I won’t stop - I feel like I’ve done some good. The idiots who give me abuse limit that feeling, and I can see how easy it would be for one of them to tip the balance. To change it from a mostly positive experience to a negative one. And then I’ll stop. I’ll stop, not because I think I’ll be safer, but because I no longer get any pleasure from it.

I miss Kathy’s blog. I think it was one of the best. For a long time after she left I kept visiting it, hoping she’d start posting again (that makes me sound so sad). I respect her decision to go away though.

I can’t see this blog lasting much longer. Not with you being so popular you take 2 places on the Technorati Popular 100.
85th and 93rd? Maybe your blog is good many folks read it twice?

I must admit I would be devastated if you ever shut down your blog… and of course after this post I may have to call you a hypocrite as well if you do.

Excellent points Jeff Atwood!

Your blog and Dare’s and Kathy’s and many others have made a positive influence on my professional (and personal) life. Opened my mind to different ways of thinking and doing things. That’s why I read these blogs.

Keep on writing!

Since I know everyone involved, I’m not going to comment on the issue with Kathy Sierra, other than to encourage her do what’s right for herself as regards her weblog.

Jeff, you wrote:

It’d be one thing if I was exhorting some poor soul to become a blogger just because I can. You already are one, and a damn good one, too. And you’re giving it up for no apparent reason whatsoever.

This makes you less effective. Which seems insane to me, but different strokes, I guess.

I think Tom had the best response in that Dare’s reasons are good enough for Dare, and don’t necessarily have to be repeated to us. The weblog isn’t working for Dare, we’ll miss him. Maybe someday, he’ll be back. Maybe he won’t.

You know, it’s better to quit when the time is right, rather than drag along, putting out mediocre stuff until you reach a point when you finally do put the weblog out of misery, no one cares.

In the meantime, Jeff, you’re energized by your weblog and it’s a healthy place for you, and it shows in your writing.

There have always been idiots and bullies in the world, and there always will be. I’m not justifying what those morons did to Kathy, but I think it’s important to remember that this sort of thing is not new, and isn’t likely to ever disappear - it just changes form. Once upon a time it was raiding your neighbour’s village - killing his cattle, burning his crops, that sort of thing. These days things have taken a more electronic twist, but it’s all the same thing - morons vs the world.

The morons only win if we let them. The choice is ours, not theirs.

On the one had the internet opens the doors for a wider audience for our discussions. Many people in the world like to discuss and be stimulated by discussions on topics that interest us. The web provides an excellent vessel for such discussions. We can literally open discussion with people we will never meet face-to-face.

Unlike a face to face discussion, we cannot walk away from our blog, and we cannot decide who we talk to and who we don’t. Maybe worse, we cannot decide to only post our ideas for like minded people.

The reality of the world is that there are many people out there who lack the respect for other or the maturity to deal with contradiction in a constructive manner. Because of this we have seen the rise of the “flame-war”. We have seen various forms of anger and frustration and even hate vented on complete strangers because their opinions differ. This is unfortunate, but there is sadly nothing to be done about it.

The only alternative suggestion I could make would be to relocate blogs to a “closed” service requiring accounts for access. In this way site policies can have people banned for inappropriate behavior. This at least would protect the bloggers, though it would lock up ideas.

I think it’s a shame that some people decide to silence the sharing of ideas. Not wanting to deal with this sort of thing is one reason I have never posted my own essays on the software industry.

My thanks go to those who have the courage to share their ideas on their blogs. You are making and often unthankful world richer for it.

@Jeff Atwood

Um, that reminds me of . =_=

Go Kathy!

"I never really understood how that whole Kathy Sierra thing got started. I mean, she must’ve said something to piss these people off, but I have no idea what that might’ve been – any ideas?
Rofa on March 6, 2008 04:21 AM "

My thoughts, it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on!

Life is to short to have to worry if you are going to make someone angry with the words you write. Blogs are opinions! I read this blog every morning, and I don’t agree with some of the items that is written about, however, it is an opinion. If people are so narrow minded that reading something offends them, especially someone elses opinion, then maybe, just maybe, they need to get a life and get from behind the keyboard.

Seems to me that the only way to blog without harrassment or hassle is to cloak oneself in complete anonymity and prohibit feedback from non-trusted sources… More broadly, humans evolved to open up to a few dozen people at most; we’re simply not built to cope with finding ourselves under the immediate gaze of a billion - one per cent of whom are essentially psychopathic anyway, and a few tens of millions more are happy to behave that way under cloak of anonymity.