Mob Response

Let me get this out of the way, Paul Christoforo acted like a self-important jerk in his correspondence with a customer about delivery of an Avenger controller accessory. His self-congratulatory, imperious, dismissive explosion of barely literate correspondence to a customer asking a completely legitimate question touched as much a raw nerve with me as anyone else who has ever had to endure what passes for customer service these days. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that every single person who read the e-mail chain that began with the customer and ended with Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade took vehement exception with virtually everything Paul said.

Though contrite now and quick to talk about how he was having a bad day —- despite the fact the e-mail conversation stretched over the better part of 2 weeks — he presented the gold-standard example of the worst kind of service. But this article is not about Paul. This article is about the response, and how deeply disquieting the sanctioned retribution of the online hit-mob has become.

The people of the internet know no limits to their charity, but neither do they seem to know limits to their bloodlust for abuse, revenge and humiliation. Even a small corner of the virtual universe can focus into unimaginable pressure — just ask GoDaddy, which has been under siege for more than a week after coming out publicly in favor of the Stop Online Piracy Act. Now, like Paul, GoDaddy isn’t exactly a sympathetic figure, but they are a cautionary tale that when the Sauron Eye of an organized internet mob turns to put your indiscretions under the microscope, the results can be devastating.

In truth, what I have taken away from both these incidents is that there is good reason to fear the tyranny and unrestrained animosity of a virtual lynching, for there is no compassion to be had in its almost random punishment.

At times like this my thoughts always turn to Micah Whipple. He was the unfortunate Blizzard employee caught in the storm of angst associated with the company’s quickly discarded idea to require the use of RealID on Battle.net. Micah made the unenviable decision to prove that using your real name on the internet is safe, and the internet seemed to turn as one to squeeze Mr. Whipple and show him the deep error of his ways. Within minutes his private information became the plaything of hundreds of thousands. How his world must have turned upside down for a day. Or a week? Or even a month?

Unlike Paul or GoDaddy, it’s hard to find much reprehensible fault with Micah. Yes, it was probably naive of him to throw himself into the middle of a brewing storm, but the result must have been terrifying not only to him but all those near to him. The level of harassment brought to bear on him is the kind of thing that will wake you up at night in a cold sweat.

In moments like this, here on the safe periphery, it all looks pretty entertaining. Heck, I’ve laughed at a few of the more clever pokes delivered to Paul Christoforo over the past day or two. But, spare a moment to imagine what it must be like to be the focal point of the laser beam. Suddenly you are completely vulnerable, exposed for an angry world with malicious intent to see. For all the good that internet communities are capable of, they have equal capacity for nothing short of unfiltered hate.

Did Paul deserve an angry rebuttal? Yes. Did he deserve to get fired? Yeah, probably. Did he deserve to get inundated with thousands of e-mails, harassing phone calls, public rebuke from hundreds of thousands and even threats of violence against himself and his family — including his two-month-old infant? Does that punishment really fit the crime?

The truth is, I’m frightened of the internet. I’m really troubled by the thought that someday I will write the wrong thing and somehow it will be the thing that locks into focus at just the right place. I have sometimes specifically considered stopping this writing endeavor and getting out while the getting is good. I’ve had as many as a few hundred people really annoyed with me before over things I have written, and that is unsettling enough on its own. I can’t begin to imagine what the pressure of hundreds of thousands or millions must feel like. And, I don’t want to know.

There is a hypocrisy at work here that villanizes people like Paul but takes no issue with the almost criminal response. Yeah, the guy was a complete tool to a customer, but you can’t tell me that’s worse than threatening the guy’s 2-month-old baby. How is that OK? How is it that we didn’t all stop at exactly that minute and turn our holier-than-thou scorn on the people that decided the best response to a guy who provided crappy service is a death threat? Sanctimonious rage, unrestrained abuse and impotent threats of violence are far more troubling to me than that someone acted inappropriately in a communication with a customer.

This is a mob, as sure and as dangerous as if it had formed in the street to throw garbage cans through windows and topple police cars, and now that it's done with Paul it's looking for the next target. And the mob mentality in its virtual form is as terrifying a thing to witness as it would be in the real world. It is remorseless, relentless and without compassion, and to me it is the real story of the past few days.

Comments

Well said.

SallyNasty wrote:

Where are we getting that he is being threatened - from CP? Is he a reliable source? Frankly, I find death threats a bit hard to believe. Harassment, no, but death threats towards a child? I don't believe it.

I dunno, played a game with pubbies recently? While I doubt the threats would actually be serious, I wouldn't have a hard time believing that some idiot teenager would say something hateful - and if you're on the receiving end, it would be just as scary.

Of course, it also wouldn't surprise me if the guy was lying. *shrug*

Let's just address the elephant in the room, shall we? Threatening something this guy held dear sure got through to him, didn't it?

Is it justice? No. Is it fair? No. Is it right? NO! But if you want to know why people make death threats against the innocent loved ones of jerks on the internet, there it is.

Ironically, but not so much, Time Magazine has annoucned The Protesters as the Person of the Year.

My theory on this goes back to one of my lifelong beliefs -

Free speech is necessary, but anonymous free speech serves little positive purpose.

This applies to both sides in this case. If "Paul" had been an anonymous customer service agent who was able to hide under some employee number or a fake name, there may not have been any repercussions to his actions which were - in light of his position and employment - reprehensible. I worked customer service for several years, at a place where that wouldn't have been possible, but I am sure there are outsourced customer service firms in the US that don't provide the levels of control we had to.

The other side, though is the response.

I feel that Gabe (Mike) was absolutely fine in galvanizing his community against this kind of treatment. He is proud and defensive of the gaming culture in general, and he wanted to protect them from what he perceived to be a potentially serious wrong. This happens all the time - if you've ever been part of an automotive club online, you know that shops will fold almost overnight if they have even one major instance of intentionally screwing a customer.

I'm okay with that, because the group that may suddenly pull all endorsements and cash flow from an auto tuner is the same group that was sustaining it with loyal business before "the incident". You live or die by your service to the community you belong to in any kind of specialist industry.

The problem for me, then, is not that Mike posted the string of e-mails or the contact information. I don't think there was an issue with the commentary he provided, or his participation in the interaction.

The issue for me comes from two things - one, there was no direction given from Mike for the community interaction. Yes, there is some pleasure in Paul's "please make it stop" e-mail. I won't deny that - in fact, most of me loves it. But objectively, I think Mike probably should have posted the e-mails, and then asked people who wanted to act to write letters and make immediate phone calls. Cancel pre-orders. Re-post the exchange. But to hang it out there with no guidance causes a problem because of the second issue.

The internet allows people to get "vengeance" with complete anonymity, which isn't okay, in my view. People can downrank the product without having ordered it (I really, really doubt that all those reviews that happened overnight are people who all legitimately own the Avenger). People can send legitimate notes of displeasure, or threatening e-mails, and with a minimum of research they can make themselves almost completely undetectable. This is how Anonymous thrives - hit and run and unless the cops come to your house you can get away with it forever.

What happened in this case was probably just. This guy's name is now plastered all over the internet, and any reasonable company that wants to hire his firm can find his own writings that he sent to a customer. It's not like he'll never find work again, but despite his claims I think his time as a PR rep is probably over.

But the means were pretty shady. An overnight campaign of irate letters and order cancellations is one thing. Because this guy Paul is clearly a liar, I think we'll have some problems determining whether any of the threats against this guy or his family were real, but we've all dealt with enough Internet Tough Guys to know it's absolutely possible. Downranking a product without a good reason is, quite simply, libel in my book. All of this and more probably happened because of the anonymity allowed by the internet.

For me, the take away is that there isn't anything wrong with a community taking to task those businesses which claim to serve them but don't live up to their word. In an age where virtually all communication can become anonymous, though, it's important to establish a clear standard by which these actions will occur. Saying, "I didn't tell them to do that!" with an impish grin on your face is a pretty poor defense if something bad did end up happening to this guy. I love Penny Arcade to death, and I'll keep visiting their site and buying their books. But I would hope that for their sake, in the future, when they participate in this kind of stuff they'll be more direct in what they ask the community to do, and what they tell them not to do.

There's a great line in a Terry Pratchet novel that says that the intelligence of a mob is the intelligence of its dumbest member divided by the number of people in it. By that standard the internet's intelligence is nonzero, but only just. It's why I quit Twitter and will never join Facebook; the incentives those sites put in place encourage basically turn them into a "worlds biggest jackass" competition.

I agree that Paul got mishandled by the internet mob. Nobody deserves to have their families harassed and threatened because some idiots on the internet decided they were out of line.

GoDaddy, on the other hand, pretty much got what they deserved. SOPA and its Senate counterpart are horrendous breaches of liberty and if they thought they could buy clemency by supporting it then shame on them. They deserve to lose all the money they lose when customers go to someone who doesn't think the government should be able to shut down a web domain because somebody at Righthaven claims a copyright infringement.

A few things:
1) I have no issue with what Mike did (well maybe it depends upon what the supposed phone number was marked as, if that was the publicly listed contact number for the guy (the PR firm is his (small) business right?) then I have no reservations.
2) Generally the only thing that will stop a bully is a bigger bully. Usually the bigger bully is some form of authority (school officials &/or the police), but everyone once in a while the bully turns out to be a private third party. Ralph Nader, Greenpeace, the UN, ACORN, the NRA, Occupy Wallstreet and many others have filled that role at various times over the years.
3) Physical threats against him and any type of threats against his family should be prosecuted.

Yes the internet is a fearsome beast, it is like Yamamoto's attributed quote about waking a sleeping giant, or more appropriately the supposed quote about having just kicked a rabid dog.

TL:DR be nice to the internet and it usually is nice to you. Be a jerk and it will kick you in the nuts constantly for a few days.

Maybe I've been playing too much SWTOR, but the big picture question here feels to me like a classic "Do the ends justify the means?" Bioware dilemma, and yes, I'm deliberately painting this as a very black/white/refuse decision.

Jedi Master, what should I do?

  • Remain calm and send polite emails to Sith Lord Christoforo, explaining that he should turn to the light side, knowing however that this will almost certainly not save your young padawan Dave.
  • Alert your Jedi army to the evil at hand, knowing that the response will not necessarily be appropriate to the original offense, but will almost certainly save your padawan.
  • Decline to help a member of your community.

Do you really believe that this PR idiot would have listened to a reasoned, polite campaign of letter-writing? No, I think it's pretty clear he'd have responded with derision and probably a few choice obscenities. Does that mean option 2 was "right"? Does the end justify the means? [and +100 light side points to Sean]

Elysium, thank you for posting this. I have to admit you crystallized some of what I have felt watching this unfold. I am still deeply troubled by this.

This is a slippery slope of madness that is leading us into a place that is not good.

Did Christofo deserve to face serious consequences for his actions and poor customer service?

Absolutely.

Exposing his personal information and threatening him and his family is way over the line. This smacks of gang members threatening the families of the jury pool or witnesses who might testify. Yes, I feel this way. A threat is a threat.

Mike @ PA knew exactly what he was doing. By posting this information he was giving the green light for members of the PA cult to do the dirty work. You don't think that Mike could have worked behind the scenes and resolved the issue with the appropriate consequences for Ocean Marketing?

I agree completely with what GameGuru posted in our original thread... what if someone wants to smear you with false information? Think about it.

At the end of the day, I'd like to play some games with friends and good people. I'd rather not face death threats over games. It just seems absurd that this is what it has come to in some cases.

Now, the reputation of a small business in the gaming world is taking a beating from an unchecked mob whose only purpose is destruction. Of course, Christofo got the fate he deserved and so much more. The only "winner" may end up being the person who ordered the controller in the first place - and that may be short lived if this company can't recover from this hit to their reputation.

I don't like bullies. Bigger and badder bullying is not the answer.

Vengeful, anonymous and dangerous people who act, react and think this way need to be eradicated from our collective community.

Once again, the Greater Internet F**kwad Theory comes to mind (ironically). As a community, we are gazing into the abyss. It's looking back right at us and threatening to release legions of anonymous miscreants bent on destruction.

Frankly, I'm disappointed and scared.

CrawlingChaos wrote:

I don't like bullies. Bigger and badder bullying is not the answer.

"Hatred never ceases by hating, but by not hating. This is an eternal truth."

That's about as close to religiosity as you'll find me veering, but in this case, it's the point that sprung to mind when I first saw Mike's note on PA, and it's still what I'm thinking of now. The ends don't justify the means; none of us help the greater cause, whatever we may think it is, by becoming the thing we want to stop.

(Double post.)

Timespike wrote:

Let's just address the elephant in the room, shall we? Threatening something this guy held dear sure got through to him, didn't it?

Is it justice? No. Is it fair? No. Is it right? NO! But if you want to know why people make death threats against the innocent loved ones of jerks on the internet, there it is.

Sophistry is alive and well I see.

Cod wrote:

I'm deliberately painting this as a very black/white/refuse decision. ... Do you really believe that this PR idiot would have listened to a reasoned, polite campaign of letter-writing? No, I think it's pretty clear he'd have responded with derision and probably a few choice obscenities. Does that mean option 2 was "right"? Does the end justify the means?

But the unpleasant thing is, in reality it is in fact a stark black and white decision. People keep trotting out trite advice about how "the answer to bullying isn't to be a bigger bully", but as far as I can see nobody has actually suggested a concrete, practical, specific course of action that Dave and/or Mike could have taken that might have led to a better outcome. In the real world - as distinct from the fantasy dream world where you can win battles just by being a nice guy - the only possible responses to bullying are to be a bigger bully or be a doormat.

I'm not claiming that what happened to Christofo was good or desirable in any positive way. But I certainly am claiming that it was the lesser of two evils. I agree that vigilante justice sucks, for all the obvious reasons that have been enumerated here. But it's still better than no justice at all.

bennard wrote:

This event has prompted me to do some serious self-googling and see what it turns up. I've found that there are quite a few items where I thought I had closed an online account of some sort, only to find it still open, or other issues where I had shared some photos, and had them set to public rather than "friends only". I'm trying to go through and clean up some of this stuff, so that any googling of my name doesn't turn up private, family type things (unfortunately, as a consequence of my work, Google turns up a lot of hits on my professional life that I can't easily clean up).

This is something that I do a few times a year. Thankfully, my real life name is also that of a Christian rock star, so I'm pretty good to go for at least another decade or two as far as the front page search results of Google go. Beyond that, I'm not on Facebook, I regularly check up on my company's social media policy, and make sure that everything I say online I'd be happy saying to my mother while she's drunk and filled with rage (see you Saturday, ma!).

To Rabbit's point that our lives are online now and out of our control, that's not my truth. At a moment's notice I can pull a Conspiracy Theory, light those fires on my way out the escape hatch, and vanish from the internet, cancel a single credit card, and my life will go on uninterupted. I may have a few pizzas I didn't order delivered to my door, but I doubt much else would happen that a few calls to the actual police wouldn't solve.

I would recommend that you all have an exit strategy from the innertubes.

I think that Mike was just as irresponsible as Paul, perhaps more so because clearly he's not a total moron. He put a lot at risk posting the string of emails, wading into a tawdry debate with an idiot. The line about burning it all down? That's a bit megalomaniacal in my opinion. There's a lot of wrongs in this world Mike, ya gonna fix 'em all?

That being said I know that weird ish happens in the real world and plan accordingly. Don't be a remorseless douche hopped up on illegal drugs. You should be good to go and better prepared to deal with the consequences of the life you choose to lead.

I doubt you'll find anyone on GWJ that would support threats of violence against the man or his family. Outside of that kind of behaviour, I was quite happy to see the big stick of internet justice fall upon him. Also, as quick as the Internet will turn on you, the Internet can also be quick to forgive. But if you read Paul's twitter feed, you can see that he still doesn't really think he did anything wrong. His apologies are suffixed with excuses or more attacks on PA, other outlets, gamers, even his clients. A humble apology with a genuine promise to change his ways and this would pretty much be over by now.

TheWanderer wrote:
Spoiler:
bennard wrote:

This event has prompted me to do some serious self-googling and see what it turns up. I've found that there are quite a few items where I thought I had closed an online account of some sort, only to find it still open, or other issues where I had shared some photos, and had them set to public rather than "friends only". I'm trying to go through and clean up some of this stuff, so that any googling of my name doesn't turn up private, family type things (unfortunately, as a consequence of my work, Google turns up a lot of hits on my professional life that I can't easily clean up).

This is something that I do a few times a year. Thankfully, my real life name is also that of a Christian rock star, so I'm pretty good to go for at least another decade or two as far as the front page search results of Google go. Beyond that, I'm not on Facebook, I regularly check up on my company's social media policy, and make sure that everything I say online I'd be happy saying to my mother while she's drunk and filled with rage (see you Saturday, ma!).

To Rabbit's point that our lives are online now and out of our control, that's not my truth. At a moment's notice I can pull a Conspiracy Theory, light those fires on my way out the escape hatch, and vanish from the internet, cancel a single credit card, and my life will go on uninterupted. I may have a few pizzas I didn't order delivered to my door, but I doubt much else would happen that a few calls to the actual police wouldn't solve.

I would recommend that you all have an exit strategy from the innertubes.

I think that Mike was just as irresponsible as Paul, perhaps more so because clearly he's not a total moron. He put a lot at risk posting the string of emails, wading into a tawdry debate with an idiot. The line about burning it all down? That's a bit megalomaniacal in my opinion.

There's a lot of wrongs in this world Mike, ya gonna fix 'em all?

Spoiler:

That being said I know that weird ish happens in the real world and plan accordingly. Don't be a remorseless douche hopped up on illegal drugs. You should be good to go and better prepared to deal with the consequences of the life you choose to lead.

/RANT ON!

I really really do not like sayings such as this. Yes there are a good many problems in the world, the solution however isn't to simply not fight them due to their number but to fight them for as long and as often as you can. I have dedicated a large portion of my life to fighting the wrongs of the world, much to my own detriment. There are still problems in the world but I do not feel that my efforts were in vain.

/rant off.

I found the other story about the threats over a damaged jeep (linked over there) much more disturbing.
Although, in this (more justified) case, I found the glee and enthusiasm a little unsettling right off the bat. In that way I find the mob mentality just as disturbing as Elysium describes.

On the other hand, saying that the threats are crossing a line, isn't that the same as objecting to people getting stabbed? It's already a criminal offence (in my country, under certain conditions, YMMV). Yes, death/rape threats are bad. No real debate about that.

momgamer wrote:

The problem is there is a fine line between your stance and deciding that anyone this happens to is at fault and can solve it by just shutting up and taking it. Replace this guy with what happens every time Leigh Alexander tries to talk, or what happened to Kathy Sierra and this solution isn't nearly so cool.

That's why we have to have something else to bring an end to it. I wish like heck I knew what.

Oh good heavens, this. I cannot be the only person who saw this unfold on PA and hearkened back to the "Dickwolves" fiasco.

I would like to also mention that the guy is neither contrite or repentant about his actions against his customer. Also, from other stories on the INternet he has a history of abusive behavior towards customers. He is sorry that he got called out publicly & even during his interview with the local TV station he apologized to Mike instead of the customer. He is exactly as Mike describes him a Bully who met a larger bully & now can not take the chops.
Now he is the only one who says he got 'threatening' emails regarding his family & frankly I will not believe a single thing which comes out of his mouth. If indeed it is true then obviously its a disproportionate response.
However, I ask the author the question what would be a 'proportionate' response? Firing him. ha he is the President of his so called company & he is not going to fire himself. People not buying their controller?As I understand it that is completely different from this guy's company which did the marketing. What can one do except send him email telling him how wrong he is or respond to him on Twitter (within the bounds of decency obviously). This action would still be a mob action & frankly nothing less than he deserves.
The Internet is a collection, there are good people on it & bad people. People will use it to protest reasonably or they will use threatening behavior. By stating that 'the Internet' is a collective entity with a mind of its own is kind of silly IMO. The people on the Internet are just as diverse as you will find in real life. In Real Life you have actual crimes committed by people for various reasons but majority of the people still do not commit them.
Similarly, on the Internet most folks would have sent that idiot a tweet saying he is an idiot & a few chosen idiots would have said threatening emails/tweets regarding his family (frankly I still doubt this as this guy claims). He is NOT a victim & I have no sympathy for him.

CaptainCrowbar wrote:

People keep trotting out trite advice about how "the answer to bullying isn't to be a bigger bully", but as far as I can see nobody has actually suggested a concrete, practical, specific course of action that Dave and/or Mike could have taken that might have led to a better outcome. In the real world - as distinct from the fantasy dream world where you can win battles just by being a nice guy - the only possible responses to bullying are to be a bigger bully or be a doormat.

Private email from Mike. Guy still gets fired, without the theatrics, and without taking a dude who is clearly not in a good place -- people in good places don't behave like this -- and driving him further into whatever hole he's in.

It doesn't have the gratification of a public lynching, or the "justice" of getting back at a bully as an adult to compensate for whatever negative things happened to Mike/Dave/whomever as a kid. It would not have led to the same sense of schadenfreude. Nobody could talk about righting the wrongs of the world because a private, "that's out of line, and you're not welcome to continue to do business with us" was sent. But it might have been more humane, more dignified, and more representative of the kind of people that are pleasant to share this planet with. At least for me, that's the Good Fight that I'm interested in, rather than self-assured vigilantism.

SallyNasty beat me to the point, but I did want to raise the question of how we know threats were made against Cristoforo or his family. I don't doubt that the community is capable of behavior like that, but if our only source is someone who appears to be a chronic liar and has shown a willingness to impersonate others, perhaps a few grains of salt are merited.

Mike and Jerry have done a ton of good for the gaming community through the years, but I definitely get the vibe (from Mike, mostly) that they sometimes feel that everything they do for the community is inherently good - that they're simply incapable of making bad choices when it comes to the gaming community at large. Thinking you're infallible should always be a huge red flag, and leads almost inevitably to poor outcomes.

InspectorFowler wrote:

Free speech is necessary, but anonymous free speech serves little positive purpose.

I'd love to have a conversation on this point in more depth, if you'd care to create a P&C thread.

[Edit: because grammar difficult]

Sonicator wrote:
SallyNasty wrote:

Where are we getting that he is being threatened - from CP? Is he a reliable source? Frankly, I find death threats a bit hard to believe. Harassment, no, but death threats towards a child? I don't believe it.

I dunno, played a game with pubbies recently? While I doubt the threats would actually be serious, I wouldn't have a hard time believing that some idiot teenager would say something hateful - and if you're on the receiving end, it would be just as scary.

Of course, it also wouldn't surprise me if the guy was lying. *shrug*

Prederick wrote:
momgamer wrote:

The problem is there is a fine line between your stance and deciding that anyone this happens to is at fault and can solve it by just shutting up and taking it. Replace this guy with what happens every time Leigh Alexander tries to talk, or what happened to Kathy Sierra and this solution isn't nearly so cool.

That's why we have to have something else to bring an end to it. I wish like heck I knew what.

Oh good heavens, this. I cannot be the only person who saw this unfold on PA and hearkened back to the "Dickwolves" fiasco.

That's the one I thought of first. I know those threats really happened. I personally know some of the people who were on the wrong (though correct) end of that mob action. That was absolutely not OK.

I'll put this out there: The internet is a medium for communication. We're all by now fairly well aware of the dangers that come along with the wrong information being communicated. I certainly would rather that many if not all of those dangers didn't exist, but in reality there are strong ramifications to what we post online. One of the ramifications is that some entities, be they irate or bored, human or crawler, malicious or greedy, may (and, given time, one will) use information in a way that hurts another. Mike doesn't do much direct damage in posting private conversations or information, but by now it must be easy enough for him to guess what will happen once he posts such things.I don't know if there's a tort out there that fits it, but I believe that, given the predictability of this reaction, he needs to be much more responsible about what he posts and how.

As for the mob action against this man and his company, I get that "public shame" is a valid response as a means of warning anyone who might otherwise try and interact with Christofo. But I don't believe that any form of abuse is valid. I don't think it's our prerogative to "teach him a lesson" any more than we should use our cars to "teach" a jaywalker to use a crosswalk.

The reason we route punishments through government or other authorities is largely because we believe that punishment, like any other hurtful act, should be applied cautiously, justly, and in a manner commensurate with the crime. What has been done to Mr. Christofo was none of those things.

I don't think it's our prerogative to "teach him a lesson" any more than we should use our cars to "teach" a jaywalker to use a crosswalk.

This is where I keep landing. People keep talking about an apology like they are owed one. Some people are unapologetic -- you've just got to get over it or else it's not their problem. It's yours. You can spend your life waiting for some people to stop being the dicks they basically are, and in the end you'll have a big box full of disappointment and frustration. Here's a tip, even if Paul says he's sorry, he's not. He's never going to be. He think he's the victim here, and nothing (Nothing!) you say can change his mind. You could have a scholarly dissertation on why he's wrong and it wouldn't convince him. It ain't never going to happen, so stop waiting for it.

My point: none of that entitles anyone to abuse him. Even just a little bit.

Apparently the best thing to do when you've dug yourself into a hole is to keep digging.

Escapist Magazine posted the latest bullying effort by Christoforo, but this time the target is N-Control itself. Moisés Chiullan has been tasked with damage control for N-Control, and last night tweeted that Christoforo was holding N-Control's various email and social media accounts hostage.

In an interview Moisés stated,

I've been trying to get him to give up the access to these things he's been holding hostage (email accounts, Twitter, etc) by asking nicely for a couple of days. The gloves are off now.

Paul told me on the phone two hours ago that "Eight months ago, I locked down all this stuff so they wouldn't be able to f*ck with me. If they don't give me what I want, it's war." His demands include a contract written on his terms and substantial compensation, both immediate and for as long as the company continues to exist. He flaunted the PR debacle he created as proof that he "made the company a success", citing all the media and public attention as the "best thing that ever happened to Avenger".

He didn't count on the fact that I anticipated all of this and have been a computer hardware and web tech since I was 14.

The thing we did have is control over the AvengerController.com domain. It was transferred away from its original account, which Paul has complete control of. Because of how GoDaddy works, that old account retained all of the email addresses and their master control settings (forwarding and so on). He has continued to respond to customer emails from his personal GMail account and lied to me repeatedly about doing so.

I tried to play nice, and Paul played stupid, acting like he didn't have access to this master account, blaming his "Indian outsourced tech team" being on vacation. I gave him two days to give over N-Control's digital property.

He finally leveled with me tonight that he knew I wasn't that stupid and that he was lying about his access to all these accounts. That's when he issued the above-mentioned threat. He reiterated that he had the hosting, email, and everything on lockdown.

This guy is sure making it difficult to pity.

Running Man wrote:

This guy is sure making it difficult to pity.

I've had plenty of experience with bullies, and I'm generally enough of a Denis Leary to have fought back most of the time. Here's what I've learned: Bullies don't stop bullying because you stand up to them—they just stop bullying you. Punching a bully's nose will not make them pause to reflect on their life choices or the way they treat others. It will only make them choose a different target.

Not to get even more preachy, but ...

MLK wrote:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Prederick wrote:
momgamer wrote:

The problem is there is a fine line between your stance and deciding that anyone this happens to is at fault and can solve it by just shutting up and taking it. Replace this guy with what happens every time Leigh Alexander tries to talk, or what happened to Kathy Sierra and this solution isn't nearly so cool.

That's why we have to have something else to bring an end to it. I wish like heck I knew what.

Oh good heavens, this. I cannot be the only person who saw this unfold on PA and hearkened back to the "Dickwolves" fiasco.

Nope, you certainly are not. It's why the idea that PA "just posted the info, they didn't actually say to do anything" strikes me so hollow--they knew what would happen. They're just fortunate this guy happened to be a horse's ass.

Running Man wrote:

This guy is sure making it difficult to pity.

That is where I come down on it. I get the whole big picture "the internet goes crazy, it should be more careful!" argument - and frankly, I for the most part agree. But if you are standing behind this guy in order to stand behind an idea of fairness, it just seems you are choosing shaky ground to stand upon.

Elysium wrote:
I don't think it's our prerogative to "teach him a lesson" any more than we should use our cars to "teach" a jaywalker to use a crosswalk.

This is where I keep landing. People keep talking about an apology like they are owed one. Some people are unapologetic -- you've just got to get over it or else it's not their problem. It's yours. You can spend your life waiting for some people to stop being the dicks they basically are, and in the end you'll have a big box full of disappointment and frustration. Here's a tip, even if Paul says he's sorry, he's not. He's never going to be. He think he's the victim here, and nothing (Nothing!) you say can change his mind. You could have a scholarly dissertation on why he's wrong and it wouldn't convince him. It ain't never going to happen, so stop waiting for it.

My point: none of that entitles anyone to abuse him. Even just a little bit.

QFT!

In many ways the "internet mob" is the only power the public has anymore. Look at the actions taken with Amazon reviews on games that have overly restrictive DRM or any one of a dozen other "protests". It is the only way we can affect corporate decisions and even then, it is a relatively limited tool.

I'd be perfectly fine if this guy didn't exist anymore, but yes, threatening someone and their family over something like this would be wrong. But the correct action, as someone stated in the other thread, was taken by PA (and others) by revealing the poor business practices to the light of day. And because this guy is an unapologetic douche, he will be harming his family for the forseeable future because the second a future employer googles him, he won't be hired. And that is how it is supposed to work!

While I agree that the mob mentality can tip over to scary really fast in this case I can't help but think that this guy deserves it.
The way I read the emails he threatened with it first:

Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am .

Looks like the tables have been turned this one time and I can't help but think it got the right guy for once!