Death threats forces blogger to stop

Blogging for me has been 99% fun one with just the odd nutter and one cyber bully. For Kathy Sierra, a respected American blogger, it has turned into the most horrific nightmare after she was issued with in a series of death threats which have forced her to stop writing.

The threats resulted in a picture of her next to a noose, you can read Kathy’s nightmare story here, and her post had a staggering 1084 comments at the time of writing, such is the shockwaves this has caused. She is now a prisoner in a home, remaining behind locked doors. 

Kathy’s blog is not controversial, she is a tech writer and focuses on social media, I cannot imagine why she has been singled out for this horrific abuse. She believes it is because she is a woman. Other bloggers have temporarily suspended their blogs in a show of support, including ace blogger Robert Scoble. 

It is unclear who the authors of the threats are. but Kathy is particularly disturbed that some of them were hosted on blogs that are authored by or owned by a group that includes some prominent bloggers. If that is the case, is it not possible to track down the source of the links? We must surely have the technical resources and expertise to locate these faceless cowards.

Kathy is obviously deeply shocked and needs to take a break. I hope she won’t give up blogging because of a few anonymous bullies, that their identifies will be discovered and they will be named and shamed and prosecuted – and, even worst, reviled in blogosphere.  We need a successful prosecution here to act as a warning to other cyber bullies, we need to make an example of them so they know they can’t get away with it.


  1. Good point from EK there I think perhaps we are pretending an old problem is a new problem

  2. Jim does have a point – we were aware of some posts on a chatroom that were sexually offensive to PR women. After discussion, it was decided to do nothing about the site (which was hard to track down as posts and linkages were all anonymous). However, a few people had an idea of who was behind it and I understand some quiet words were said behind closed doors. Also, most of us said the best thing to do was to ignore the site and let it wither away without oxygen.

    What is most disturbing in this case is the supposed intelligence of people involved and their justification for some comments which aren’t as innocent as the writers think. Even calling someone a “slut” is unacceptable – and I think too many of these people are inadequate bullies who need to learn how to engage in robust debate without personal insults.

  3. I wonder if there is actually any real threat (rather than just perceived)? I believe a lot of these “bullies” are just a class of attention-seekers and the best policy maybe simply to ignore them and don’t react to them in any way until they get bored and move on to someone else. ‘Reaction’ is what they crave, I believe.

  4. What a frightening story, Ellee. I cannot imagine how terrified the poor woman must feel. As NM says, it’s easy to find people and you can’t blog honestly without giving out some personal detail, however careful you try to be. Even I feel there are some subjects I can’t risk writing about.

  5. electro-kevin

    The blogosphere widens your circle so increases the odds, obviously. The anonymity thing gives certain people the freedom – and they would say the right – to be abusive. Of course it ought not to be so and normal politeness should be the same because the internet is real life too.

  6. That’s a scray story. Thanks again for the ticket to Al Gore, it was fantastic and I will be blogging about it soon! Michelle

  7. Glad I wasn’t hallucinating due to bizarre clients or something. I know she has a bigger problem than she admits publically. Good she can laugh it off though.

  8. Joe, I did see that post, and as you say, these pople have social problems. Anyone who makes threats and hides behind anonymity is a coward.

  9. Ah.
    She’s replaced it. Ignore the last comment.

    Anyway, most of them respond to a warning. Most of them are social inadequetes.

  10. I can think of at least one blogger we both know Ellee who has a stalker problem. Check out Miss Smack’s post tonight. http//

  11. My paremeter is that I cannot put myself at risk because as a mother I have a responsibility for the continuing care of my two sons, I hope I am never placed in this situation. I think not knowing who is stalking you with these threats makes it all the worse.

  12. Rather than suspending blogs in support, it would be more sensible to do what you do, Ellee, and carry on posting, and in particular publicise it to show it is ‘business as usual’.

  13. Bit of a Blog about blogging I supppose Ellee but I find this quite interesting. There have been a number of example of deaths and crime starting on blogs and chatrooms and I notice myself how emotional people sometimes get.

    It isn`t hard to find people , it would take five seconds to find me and that is why ,paranoid though it may be , I will have nothing to do with people of whom I have any reason to suspect violence is possible .

    These people might be religious nuts or plain nuts . I also fear the possibility of a maliciously motivated prosecution. Did you see that Mumsnet was actionable for its comments ? Scary stuff considering all the strange folk you get around here

  14. There seems to be an increasing amount of this going on. Even some really nice blogs seem to attract the odd nutter. Mercifully, it is relatively rare in the more genteel side of the bloggosphere, but I have seen the abyss that can beckon…

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