I dropped by Jeneane Sessum's blog (Allied) today. I haven't been there in a while. Top of the page is her decision to quit Blogher. Some of her previous posts, shortly after the Kathy Sierra incident, are pretty raw.
Frankly I'm a little ashamed that I haven't spoken up earlier. Instead of defending my friend Jeneane two weeks ago, I stayed on the sidelines. I didn't want to get mixed up in the fight, and I still don't, really.
Some pretty horrible things were said about Kathy Sierra, including things Kathy took as death threats. Misogyny is a terrible thing. So a lot of people rallied to her support, and condemned the folks named in her posting. It became the virtual equivalent of a lynch mob.
Mobs are cruel. Mobs are irrational. Mobs rarely stop to consider the facts.
What's clear now is that the accusations made may be incorrect. Accounts appear to have been hacked, and the malice perpetrated by anonymous hackers.
In the aftermath, Kathy and one of the people accused, Chris Locke, went on television, and published joint statements. Tim O'Reilly proposed a bloggers code of conduct. Kathy posted again, this time about her non-blogging future, and hundreds more people wrote to support her.
While you can't and shouldn't minimize the hurt Kathy encountered, people forget that she wasn't the only one damaged. At one point Jeneane measured the Google search count of her name associated with the phrase "death threats" at over 11,000.
What disturbs me the most is simply this — amidst the handwringing and navel gazing, people seem to have forgotten that the simplicity and accountability of a mea culpe might be the most effective and human thing to do. Instead of blogger codes of conduct, how about beginning with the simple civility of an apology to those who were wrongly accused?