Kathy Sierra – A Tipping Point?

I was tempted to not write anything about the Kathy Sierra death threats, after all the entire scandal is covered in a huge number of blogs (crossing over to political blogs as well, Instapundit linked to it last night). However, to stay quiet under the dislaimer that “well I don’t know Kathy but I do read (and have linked) to her blog,” is to be complicit so I feel the need to add my voice to this raging debate, which of course is pretty one sided because no rational or sane person can excuse the behavior that led to this.

Let’s be clear about one thing, the person that made these postings on the blog in question is troubled. There are no jokes that can be made about this serious episode, what was written about Kathy reflects the inner workings of someone who has really serious issues and I hope he/she gets help before prison. It doesn’t take a psychologist to see that this is a person full of rage who is hanging on by a thread.

Many blog posts are commenting on the concept of anonymity in the internet of 2007 and beyond. Personally, I think it’s a concept that has outlived it’s utility but I also understand, and accept I guess, that this is not something that can just be taken away. Anonymity has a place, no question about it, but it’s not just applied where that utility is valued but rather as the norm.

For years I have posted comments on other blogs and in forums under my real name because I figured that attaching my name to my online identity kept me honest. In other words, I wouldn’t say things to people online that I wouldn’t say to their faces when my real name and email were being exposed. Anyone who writes a blog with even limited exposure has experienced flame comments in the threads, and mark my word when I say that they are always posted under a pseudonym. What does that tell you?

If you are as disturbed by the Kathy Sierra threats as I am, then do something about it. Practice not anonymity in your daily web travels, practice legitimate identity. Let’s start a trend where there are two communities in the blogosphere, those who operate in the bright sunshine and those that hide in the dark corners. There are legitimate scenarios for anonymity but let us take responsibility as a community for making those cases exceptional rather than the rule.

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