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

I'd raised the possibility that Cristoforo is/was lying about the threats he'd received in my first post to this threat, but given the still-recent history of the Dickwolves fiasco I don't doubt for a moment that some members of the PA community have made threats (there's a good timeline for that saga here, for anyone interested).

Jerry[/url]]Apparently, there are people who imagine they’re doing us some kind of a favor being jackasses and saying terrible things to critics of the site. Well, I’m a big boy, and I can handle my own sh*t. If you’re a reader, and not somebody just out for a scrap, if you love me at all you’ll put an end to that kind of bullsh*t. When someone believes something about you that isn’t true, the optimal strategy isn’t to prove to them time and time again that they were actually right all along - that you may be dismissed out of hand, that you have no merit. I assume that’s the opposite of what you want.

Can we all agree that threatening to kill someone’s wife and children, as happened yesterday, has no place in any f*cking society?

Written ten months ago. Mike also wrote a "That's enough" post, though neither of them attempted to reign in the mob until two days prior. Immediately after telling the @DickWolvington account to knock it off, Mike received death threats (several women who were publicly objecting to the Dickwolves had been getting death threats for months at this point).

I have a very hard time believing that Mike didn't know that portions of the PA community would behave badly towards Mr. Cristoforo - especially given that he's about as great at playing the role of bully as anyone you could get out of central casting. However, even though he's an unrepentant ass, it doesn't mean that any punishment the community chooses to dish out is automatically appropriate/deserved/likely to "teach him a lesson".

For the folks who think that Cristoforo needed to be taught a lesson, do you think he's learned the one you intended? From what Moisés Chiullan said about the domain/email transfer, it sounded like he didn't start complying until lawyers got involved - not when hundreds or thousands of fans ganged up to abuse a convenient proxy for their childhood suffering.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

For the folks who think that Cristoforo needed to be taught a lesson, do you think he's learned the one you intended? From what Moisés Chiullan said about the domain/email transfer, it sounded like he didn't start complying until lawyers got involved - not when hundreds or thousands of fans ganged up to abuse a convenient proxy for their childhood suffering.

If he didn't, does it matter? Does something have to have a 100% success rate otherwise it shouldn't be attempted?

CheezePavilion wrote:
Dimmerswitch wrote:

For the folks who think that Cristoforo needed to be taught a lesson, do you think he's learned the one you intended? From what Moisés Chiullan said about the domain/email transfer, it sounded like he didn't start complying until lawyers got involved - not when hundreds or thousands of fans ganged up to abuse a convenient proxy for their childhood suffering.

If he didn't, does it matter? Does something have to have a 100% success rate otherwise it shouldn't be attempted?

Well played. The answer to the questions you asked is of course "no", but there are several points in play here.

First up - regardless of efficacy, threatening people with escalatory violence is not the way to resolve a conflict. There are times when violence (or the threat of it) is necessary to protect yourself or others, but sh*tty customer service is a large ways away from that threshold.

Secondly - the refrain I see (here and elsewhere) from folks who think Cristoforo deserved everything he got is "I was bullied as a child, and it stopped when I punched the other kid". As TheHipGamer pointed out upthread, strategies which are effective or appropriate in childhood should not be the benchmark for moral and ethical decisions in adulthood. Using past suffering at the hands of another as justification for abusing an entirely different person is shaky ground at best.

From Mr. Cristoforo's responses, it seems very likely that there's some pathology involved on his part. Even from the email thread, I would have expected him to write off the internet smackdown as a fluke, rather than an opportunity for penitence, self-reflection, or behavior change. What Moisés Chiullan said about the domain/email transfer is about what I would have expected (that Cristoforo would cave when confronted in an adult manner).

Don't get me wrong - Cristoforo sounds like a wretched excuse for a human being. But that doesn't mean he deserves abuse.

Framed another way: behavior that isn't okay doesn't magically become okay when it's directed at someone you don't like.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

I'd raised the possibility that Cristoforo is/was lying about the threats he'd received in my first post to this threat, but given the still-recent history of the Dickwolves fiasco I don't doubt for a moment that some members of the PA community have made threats

I myself have great doubts that is the case. Either that or Paul is just insane.

Dimmerswitch wrote:

Don't get me wrong - Cristoforo sounds like a wretched excuse for a human being. But that doesn't mean he deserves abuse.

Framed another way: behavior that isn't okay doesn't magically become okay when it's directed at someone you don't like.

I think you're talking about two things here which need to be distinguished and aren't just two ways of framing the same thing. One is that wretched people don't deserve abuse. The other is that this is okay because it's someone we don't like.

This is beyond just someone we don't like. This is someone who, like you say and it seems we're all in agreement on, is wretched. There's a difference between people we don't like just because of a personality conflict and people we don't like because they are objectively wretched.

I think it's important because there are two reasons to fear the mob. One is they will act wildly and their response to wretchedness will be so out of proportion it will be abusive. The other is that the mob's wretchedness detector cannot be trusted. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, and sometimes the mob will direct their behavior at someone who has done wrong. Sometimes, though, it will be someone the mob just doesn't like for some subjective reason like momgamer brought up. I remember reading about a lot of that stuff in connection with a particular internet controversy.

I feel like maybe some of the lack of focus in this discussion is because those two are being mixed together. Over in the other thread someone brought up how we need a definition of 'bullying' because not all retaliation is bullying.

I would have brought it up but I feared being bullied with cries of "you're just arguing semantics" so I just left it at noting the similarities between this and discussions of extrajudicial executions over in P&C : D

CheezePavilion wrote:
Dimmerswitch wrote:

Don't get me wrong - Cristoforo sounds like a wretched excuse for a human being. But that doesn't mean he deserves abuse.

Framed another way: behavior that isn't okay doesn't magically become okay when it's directed at someone you don't like.

I think you're talking about two things here which need to be distinguished and aren't just two ways of framing the same thing. One is that wretched people don't deserve abuse. The other is that this is okay because it's someone we don't like.

It may be a typo, but the bolded part above is the actually opposite of my stance. I don't agree that the distinction you're making between "the fact that Cristoforo is a wretched excuse for a human being doesn't mean he deserves abuse" and "abuse is still abuse when it is directed at someone you don't like" is an important one for the argument I'm making, but you're welcome to it.

(I'm avoiding the use of the word "bullying" for reasons similar to those expressed in the other thread - "inappropriate behavior" is awfully long to keep repeating, so I'm using "abuse" as a shorthand.)

Mr GT Chris wrote:

Either that or Paul is just insane.

As this drags out, that seems more and more likely to be the case.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Dimmerswitch wrote:

Don't get me wrong - Cristoforo sounds like a wretched excuse for a human being. But that doesn't mean he deserves abuse.

Framed another way: behavior that isn't okay doesn't magically become okay when it's directed at someone you don't like.

I think you're talking about two things here which need to be distinguished and aren't just two ways of framing the same thing. One is that wretched people don't deserve abuse. The other is that this is okay because it's someone we don't like.

It may be a typo, but the bolded part above is the actually opposite of my stance. I don't agree that the distinction you're making between "the fact that Cristoforo is a wretched excuse for a human being doesn't mean he deserves abuse" and "abuse is still abuse when it is directed at someone you don't like" is an important one for the argument I'm making, but you're welcome to it.

My mistake: I got what you were saying and it was a miscommunication on my part. It should be "The other is that this is NOT okay because it's someone we don't like" to keep things clear about your stance.

edit: sorry, forgot this part. I think it's an important distinction because in one case you can avoid the mob just by not being a jerk. In the other you have to fear expressing an unpopular opinion.

Elysium wrote: "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 doubt he fears writing something Santorum-esque and having Dan Savage...savage him. Or that he'll pepper spray some protestors and wind up being the next Officer Pike. Or a comment on a podcast going as viral as "it's a food product, essentially."

The fear sounds more to me like...more like Jade Raymond where she didn't even *do* anything but be female in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Maybe in the end we'll conclude it's all wrong, but I can't see the discussion being as productive as it needs to be without recognizing the complexity of the problem.

(I'm avoiding the use of the word "bullying" for reasons similar to those expressed in the other thread - "inappropriate behavior" is awfully long to keep repeating, so I'm using "abuse" as a shorthand.)

It can get messy when the consequence looks too much like the violation.

It's kinda like how if you kidnap someone, they'll put you in prison for it. We punish the deprivation of someone's liberty with...a deprivation of their liberty! Or a fine for stealing--think about that one for a second!

CheezePavilion wrote:

It can get messy when the consequence looks too much like the violation.

It's kinda like how if you kidnap someone, they'll put you in prison for it. We punish the deprivation of someone's liberty with...a deprivation of their liberty! Or a fine for stealing--think about that one for a second!

I know you're being flippant, but I trust you're not seriously arguing that law enforcement and mob justice are meaningfully equivalent.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

It can get messy when the consequence looks too much like the violation.

It's kinda like how if you kidnap someone, they'll put you in prison for it. We punish the deprivation of someone's liberty with...a deprivation of their liberty! Or a fine for stealing--think about that one for a second!

I know you're being flippant,

No, you don't. ; D

but I trust you're not seriously arguing that law enforcement and mob justice are meaningfully equivalent.

That's actually along the lines of what I'm talking about. The same act can be judged very differently depending on who is doing it and what their reason for doing it is, and we should keep that in mind.

Maybe a better analogy--see the problems they cause!--would be firing someone who threatened to fire someone else for wretched reasons.

CheezePavilion wrote:

Maybe a better analogy--see the problems they cause!--would be firing someone who threatened to fire someone else for wretched reasons.

That doesn't strike me as a controversial outcome, and if you're not being flippant about comparing law enforcement to mob justice I'm not sure there's much of a conversation to be had.

Spoiler:

Yes, your next post will be "I didn't say I wasn't being flippant". I know you enjoy playing with ambiguity, but I'd like to suggest you're capable of being a good enough communicator for silliness like that to be easily sidestepped. :)

Dimmerswitch wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

Maybe a better analogy--see the problems they cause!--would be firing someone who threatened to fire someone else for wretched reasons.

That doesn't strike me as a controversial outcome, and if you're not being flippant about comparing law enforcement to mob justice I'm not sure there's much of a conversation to be had.

Spoiler:

Yes, your next post will be "I didn't say I wasn't being flippant". I know you enjoy playing with ambiguity, but I'd like to suggest you're capable of being a good enough communicator for silliness like that to be easily sidestepped. :)

Actually...

Spoiler:

I wasn't being flippant at all and I don't actually play with ambiguity--it may seem that way, but I don't. I appreciate the idea that I'm too good of a communicator to allow that to happen, though ; )

I brought it up because of how much discussions like this remind me of certain ones in P&C, so those examples were on my mind. Like a lot of the talk here about that word 'bullying' reminds me of the discussion of the word 'execution' that was had over there. A lot of the talk of fear of a mob with no self-discipline reminds me of that surrounding a government with no requirement of due process.

I like the idea that just because most of us are too adult to follow childish logic that the people around us are. Doesn't always work, but hey, it's a nice idea. I'm also not saying that massive harassment and threats are appropriate, either. Personally, I've been threatened enough by people willing to actually follow through that a few blowhards on the intertubes aren't enough to make me pause while deleting the email.

And maybe that's the big perspective disconnect here. I've lived in enough terrible places that the bullying didn't really stop at childhood. Hell, I've had my life thoroughly wrecked by a bully that I'm still trying to recover from. I'm all too well aware how little effect the rational response has.

So, you had a bunch of people flood your email, and twitter. As poor an excuse as "wait for it to stop" is, there is stuff you can do to mitigate it. Doesn't mean he totally deserved it, but I'd have a hell of a time feeling any pity at all for the bully that got himself bodyslammed. Less justice, more social Newtonian physics. Gravity, as teeming mobs, are heartless bitches. And really, reasoning with 10,000 angry, self-justified sociopaths is about as reasonable as thinking that you can sweet-talk gravity into letting you float.

Kannon wrote:

I like the idea that just because most of us are too adult to follow childish logic that the people around us are. Doesn't always work, but hey, it's a nice idea. I'm also not saying that massive harassment and threats are appropriate, either. Personally, I've been threatened enough by people willing to actually follow through that a few blowhards on the intertubes aren't enough to make me pause while deleting the email.

One of the things I was thinking about earlier in the thread was a crime of passion. No one will say they're capable of the worst, but there are pressure points that will make people do bad things, but they happen by everyday people. People don't get stormed by internet mobs every day, so I think this is just a perfect storm where the right buttons were pressed to set it off.

doubtingthomas396 wrote:

As my father, student of history, frequently said: In the early 1900s little French children were taught to be nice and kind and nonviolent. Little German boys were taught to be hard and aggressive. Then came 1930, and those little German boys rolled over those little French boys in 30 days.

I don't think we really need to be taking our cues for how to function in society from Germany in the 1930s.

CheezePavilion wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

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.

We don't, though. Certis doesn't need a judicial order to Fire someone--at least I think not! We apply punishments outside of government authority *all the time*.

We do. Certis and Elysium are the authorities at GWJ. We joke about their authoritarian power, but we only stick around because we trust them to wield that power responsibly.

I think Elysium and others decrying the most extreme elements are making a mistake by declaring the whole to be flawed and unacceptable because a minority is bad.

It smacks of the fear of Islam since 911. Hundreds of millions of god-fearing Muslims who are as peaceful and kind as the very best Christians you ever met are profiled as though they were Bin Laden devotees.

I think this kind of electronic protest/movement whatever is incredibly good for the world as a whole. I also think threats of bodily harm should be actionable by the authorities, and anyone threatening personal harm should be arrested and prosecuted.

But massive, public exposure of fraud and abuse should definitely continue. The extreme fringe exists in every group. They don't define the group, however. I think we should denounce the extremists, but without blindly denouncing the whole.

duckilama wrote:

It smacks of the fear of Islam since 911.

That's a very interesting comparison. Allow me to continue that line of thinking. Inasmuch as internet mobs are like a religious group, I don't believe either should be wielded as a means of punishing others, especially because there will be fringe elements that take things too far.

wordsmythe wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:

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.

We don't, though. Certis doesn't need a judicial order to Fire someone--at least I think not! We apply punishments outside of government authority *all the time*.

We do. Certis and Elysium are the authorities at GWJ. We joke about their authoritarian power, but we only stick around because we trust them to wield that power responsibly.

Ah, I did misread you. Thing is, that's not why punishments are routed through them--that's why as you point out, we stick around. The reason why punishments are routed through them is because they own this place. We route punishments through who has authority. How do we determine who has authority? Well, sometimes it's based on holding someone to standards like the due process you were talking about of "cautiously, justly, and in a manner commensurate with the crime"; sometimes it's based on who owns something, as in the case of lawns.

The most disturbing thing that I've read since this whole thing began is that the father of "Welcome, Perverts!" does not feel the unanimous and unjudging love of the entire internet. If even he cannot be secure, who can?

Dimmerswitch wrote:

I have a very hard time believing that Mike didn't know that portions of the PA community would behave badly towards Mr. Cristoforo - especially given that he's about as great at playing the role of bully as anyone you could get out of central casting. However, even though he's an unrepentant ass, it doesn't mean that any punishment the community chooses to dish out is automatically appropriate/deserved/likely to "teach him a lesson".

After the dickwolf fiasco there is no way that Mike didn't expect this to go bad. If he'd put up a few terms of engagement, for example 'Here are the details, let's try keep the rape and death threats under control' I would be a lot more comfortable with these events.

But Mike knows the nature of some of those that follow PA and knowingly set them on Christoforo and his family. Christoforo really is one of the world's biggest assholes, so the people who threatened rape victims and feminist writers with violence are only going to be worse towards him and his family.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
Dimmerswitch wrote:

I have a very hard time believing that Mike didn't know that portions of the PA community would behave badly towards Mr. Cristoforo - especially given that he's about as great at playing the role of bully as anyone you could get out of central casting. However, even though he's an unrepentant ass, it doesn't mean that any punishment the community chooses to dish out is automatically appropriate/deserved/likely to "teach him a lesson".

After the dickwolf fiasco there is no way that Mike didn't expect this to go bad. If he'd put up a few terms of engagement, for example 'Here are the details, let's try keep the rape and death threats under control' I would be a lot more comfortable with these events.

But Mike knows the nature of some of those that follow PA and knowingly set them on Christoforo and his family. Christoforo really is one of the world's biggest assholes, so the people who threatened rape victims and feminist writers with violence are only going to be worse towards him and his family.

I seriously doubt Mike intended "let loose the dickwolves" on Christoforo's family. The only information he posted was the business contact info. Also, has there been any substantiation that Christoforo's family was truly threatened? To my knowledge, all we have is the word of the guy who knows the Mayor of Boston personally.

Nevin73 wrote:

Also, has there been any substantiation that Christoforo's family was truly threatened?

I keep seeing this question. If the PA mob threatened non-asshole rape victims and their families, I have a hard time questioning whether they would do the same or worse to a bully.

CheezePavilion wrote:

The reason why punishments are routed through them is because they own this place. We route punishments through who has authority. How do we determine who has authority? Well, sometimes it's based on holding someone to standards like the due process you were talking about of "cautiously, justly, and in a manner commensurate with the crime"; sometimes it's based on who owns something, as in the case of lawns.

Certainly that's how they got the position, but I'd bet that the community here exists only because they've used their power justly.

wordsmythe wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

Also, has there been any substantiation that Christoforo's family was truly threatened?

I keep seeing this question. If the PA mob threatened non-asshole rape victims and their families, I have a hard time questioning whether they would do the same or worse to a bully.

Exactly this. It won't stand up in court, but past behaviour of the mob leads to the obvious inference.

And Mike would have to be a moron of galactic proportions to not expect the same or worse. It's easier to believe that the unleashing of the dickwolves was deliberate.

Though on a different scale, it was this post back in 2004 that encouraged me to stop reading Penny Arcade and seek out more civil forums. Also, GwJ had a better Chromehounds community.

wordsmythe wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:

The reason why punishments are routed through them is because they own this place. We route punishments through who has authority. How do we determine who has authority? Well, sometimes it's based on holding someone to standards like the due process you were talking about of "cautiously, justly, and in a manner commensurate with the crime"; sometimes it's based on who owns something, as in the case of lawns.

Certainly that's how they got the position, but I'd bet that the community here exists only because they've used their power justly.

Right, but that's not relevant.

Every conversation about this dude ended with some f*cking millennial using the phrase 'white knight' to describe anyone with an ounce of perspective. That's the attitude I find reprehensible. Calling people out for being nice is some fin de siecle sh*t.

MrDeVil909 wrote:
wordsmythe wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:

Also, has there been any substantiation that Christoforo's family was truly threatened?

I keep seeing this question. If the PA mob threatened non-asshole rape victims and their families, I have a hard time questioning whether they would do the same or worse to a bully.

Exactly this. It won't stand up in court, but past behaviour of the mob leads to the obvious inference.

And Mike would have to be a moron of galactic proportions to not expect the same or worse. It's easier to believe that the unleashing of the dickwolves was deliberate.

I'm going to have to say this again. The assumption that everyone being a "dick" on this was a PA wolf is sadly in error. That customer threw that email to the winds, and Reddit, Destructoid and Kotaku (particularly Reddit) were the ones who we can prove by their public posts did the digging for his personal life, and they were doing it before PA posted his business contact information.

I'm not in any way suggesting that there were no PA forum-ites involved, but the assumption that they all were from there is a problem. You cannot just say, "if Mike shut up, this wouldn't have happened." He was far from the only person talking, and Crescente and and the rest of them have posses of their own to do their own vigilante digging and pitch-forking.

This did not happen because one guy cried havoc. As I said in the other thread, this problem has roots way back under the wall, and they split many times before they got out into view. PA was only one of those roots. If you want to dig this one out, you have to go after them all.

momgamer wrote:

You cannot just say, "if Mike shut up, this wouldn't have happened."

I haven't seen anyone in either thread say this. The folks who take issue with Mike's choices are (fairly consistently, to my reading) arguing that he contributed to the problem and that those actions on his part are not okay.

Dimmerswitch wrote:
momgamer wrote:

You cannot just say, "if Mike shut up, this wouldn't have happened."

I haven't seen anyone in either thread say this. The folks who take issue with Mike's choices are (fairly consistently, to my reading) arguing that he contributed to the problem and that those actions on his part are not okay.

Exactly. I take issue with the "Whoa, he just posted this stuff, he didn't say say to do anything" narrative, because he'd seen what his community was capable of before, and I think he's smart enough to know it would happen again. I don't even think he shouldn't have posted the info, necessarily, it's the disingenuous attitude that pisses me off--it's a bit insulting.

The thing with PA is that it has clear figureheads, and one clearly attached themselves to the 'cause', and sites like reddit/kotaku/destructoid, less so. When people are discussing something, they love to be able to attach a convenient label or figure to it to personify it.

Then you're not reading. Malor starts it off on the other thread, and four posts above mine MrDeVil909 is claiming that Mike's post "released the dickwolves". In this thread alone, disobedientlib, Nosferatu, Crawling Chaos, Prederick, TheHipGamer all have couched the discussion in those terms. ClockworkHouse is all over page two and three of the other one.

Here's a fairly plain example:

ClockworkHouse wrote:

...Because, so far as I can tell, Penny Arcade is ground zero for this....

This whole discussion is riddled with it. Heck, you came close to it earlier in this thread.

I'll turn your question right back on you. So, say I agree that anyone who gave this thing high visibility is to blame and should be vilified. Then I want to know why you give Crecente (in case you didn't know, that's the Kotaku guy) a free pass on this. He not only helped drop this whole mess into the pot there, but has continued to stir up page views by posting subsequent "summaries". But I'm not hearing a word about how he shouldn't be doing that from you or anyone else here.