Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Defining Blogging Down

Today is a very sad day. One of the best writers and nicest people in the blogosphere, Kathy Sierra, has been attacked and threatened online to the extent that she has canceled all of her upcoming speaking engagements and her blog will remain silent for the foreseeable future. I had the pleasure of meeting Kathy at SXSW last year and she was incredibly kind to contribute an essay to The Blogging Church. She writes the most consistently interesting and helpful blog out there: Creating Passionate Users.

Kathy shares horrific details of what has been posted about her recently, including death threats that are being investigated by the police. I would hesitate to read it if for no other reason than to keep such hatred and verbal violence from spreading further into our minds and souls. Kathy has suffered immensely and largely alone during the past weeks.

No one should be silenced by bullies, especially someone like Kathy, who has so much of value to say. In this case, the behavior is criminal, but isn't it the case that we have grown increasingly tolerant of cowards who use every forum possible to attack, debase and incite?  I've seen discussions, debates and entire sites shut down by a few determined, anonymous people filled with hate for anyone who is different or disagrees. And those of us who have been able to watch these attacks from the safety of our obscurity secretly wonder if we may one day be a target.

At some point, it has to be enough. There has to be a moment when anonymous cowards espousing hatred and bile are shunned, ignored, blocked, and no longer tolerated. They will always find outlets for their anger and arrogance, but there's no reason for them to be in our online homes and neighborhoods.

Scoble has a terrific post on this subject. He's taking the rest of the week off out of respect for Kathy and simply to digest what the online world has become. I think it's a good idea. In fact, I think the blogosphere as a whole should choose a day and go silent to show our solidarity and to make a commitment to turn the page, raise the bar, and set a new standard for civil conversation.

My heart goes out to Kathy and her daughter, and I pray that she will be protected, healed, and somehow renewed through this awful experience.