Women and the backchannel

Yesterday Drew and I were fortunate enough to be invited down to take part in the 12 hour marathon that was the live recording of the 200th Boagworld podcast. It was a brilliant day, great people, a lovely friendly atmosphere down at The Barn, and lots of interesting people coming on the show and talking about a wide range of subjects. Many people on Twitter and in the chatroom on Ustream commented on how the day was just like a free web conference, and it really was a good day. I believe that the full 12 hours was recorded and will be released by Boagworld in the half hour segments in the weeks to come.

For those who weren’t following along, at The Barn was an impressive set up of mics and webcams so the whole show could be streamed live as video, in addition to the audio recording. The show was going out live using Ustream, which also has a chatroom displayed under the video so that the room can join in with the show – something that seemed like a great idea as Boagworld is so much about the community around it. There were hundreds of people watching and a good number commenting given the speed the chat would scroll up off the screen.

Early in the day the chat was very positive. A few moans whenever any technical glitch happened, but generally people were enjoying being part of the show. It was quite difficult in the “studio” to really respond to the chat questions because there were so many people commenting and they would scroll off our screen very quickly. There was a really funny moment at the beginning of our section on eCommerce where somehow the camera that was pointing at me was playing a mooing jingle. We couldn’t hear this in the room at all, so people in the chatroom are complaining about this mooing, pointing out that it was in fact me that was mooing, and we were none the wiser as to what was going on.

Drew and I took a break for lunch as Jeremy Keith and Anna Debenham showed up to do a segment, and then came back to chat a bit about the Joel Test. That was our main segments done but as we weren’t on a deadline to get back we hung around to chip in on various things and generally just to enjoy the atmosphere at The Barn.

I’d noticed the odd stupid comment on the chat earlier in the day, I’m pretty thickskinned about personal comments, and so chose to ignore them. However from this point in things started to get really quite unpleasant. During the afternoon Relly Annett-Baker, Sarah Parmenter and Inayaili de León were all doing segments, on copywriting, iPhone design and CSS3 respectively. All three are established professionals in their different fields, with lots to offer, they did excellent segments on the show. Ah yes, and they happen to be women. As Relly later said on Twitter:

Play the #bw200 chatroom drinking game. Everytime someone says ‘it’s a girl!’ in the chat, take a swig of gin and weep for our industry!

I’m not going to repeat any of the things that were said in the chatroom here, but there were a number of comments that basically suggested that the only reason certain women were invited to be on the show was because of the way they looked, there were comments more suited to an AOL chatroom with regard to what people may or may not be wearing. If the room didn’t like what a male contributor was talking about the comments would be that it was boring or arguing against their point of view, for the women there was this idea that they were only there due to their physical appearance.

We, as a community, need to stamp out this attitude whenever we see it.

I believe that women in any industry should be there due to their own merit, and the same for men who wish to follow a traditionally female career path. That is what feminism has given us, equality. We should stand or fall on the contributions that we bring to the industry and as web designers, developers, scientists, systems administrators etc. our physical appearance is not part of the package.

What frequently happens in traditionally male industries is that women who want to be part of that dress down, become like “one of the lads”. What message does that send out to young women who are interested in careers in IT? Are we telling young women who are interested in looking good, in clothes and shoes and taking care of their appearance, that if they want to succeed in web development they will need to make sure they don’t look too good, as otherwise they will not be taken seriously? This is potentially hugely damaging to the cause of getting young women to consider our industry as a career path, and once they are here to get them to consider speaking at conferences, something which we discuss again and again.

The chatroom on the Boagworld show was essentially a backchannel, and similar issues have happened in conference backchannels in recent months, I believe this is something that needs to be addressed in two ways. Firstly, the community need to be ready to stamp on this kind of behaviour as soon as it is seen. If you are in a channel that starts to go down this line make sure you are not contributing to it, and speak up against it. Can you help to turn the general mood to something more positive? Or offer constructive criticism? I’m certainly not suggesting we shouldn’t be able to disagree with a female speaker! Quite the opposite, we should be dealing with everyone in exactly the same way, I’m not a fan of positive discrimination either.

Secondly I think there are technical solutions to some of this. If you have a live chat or backchannel, people should not be able to post anonymously, or behind nicknames that do not link back to a real person. As a thought perhaps we could have a system where everyone has to sign in with Facebook Connect? Facebook is about real names, real people. Would yesterday’s commenters have been happy for their comments to go out next to their photo, real name and the company they work for? In a conference situation the organisers usually have all those details, so a system can be created that ensured that comments only go out on a live channel that are identified to individuals. There are some people who will quite happily stand behind unpleasant comments but I would suggest they are far fewer than those who switch personalities when they can hide behind an anonymous nickname.

If we are serious about encouraging young women into our industry then we need the women already in the industry to be visible, and for them to be seen as normal. If the female role models are only of a certain type (the stereotypically geeky type for example) then a young woman would be justified in thinking that you need to be like that to be accepted. This is then reinforced by the sort of comments we saw yesterday when young women who do not fit that stereotype were speaking. As a community we need to ensure this behaviour is called out as wrong, every time we see it.


Grant Vandersee February 13, 2010 Reply

Well said Rachel. I noticed a couple of the early comments before I had to retire for the night, but it obviously got worse. This is indeed a great shame.

I really admire the work that you and Anna & Relly & Molly have done (haven’t learned much about Sarah & Inayaili yet, but I’m sure they are awesome too – or they wouldn’t have been on the show to discuss it all!) and many other people too – male and female.

I am so sick of gender stereotyping in jobs from both sides (what IS it with the name “Male Nurse” – I mean aren’t they Nurses like the others!)

Positive and Negative discrimination have no place in the workforce, or indeed anywhere.

Keep up the excellent work.

PS. I really enjoyed the earlier segments with you and Drew.

Tomaz Zaman February 13, 2010 Reply

Amen to that. But you also need to realize that speakers on the boagworld are also role models to some of the young geeks that apparently don’t know how to behave. It’s best just to ignore all the hormones speaking out of them.

Oh and Relly, Sarah and Inayaili, you should take comments like those as a compliment we all know how boys mostly react to the girls (women), we like 🙂

James Stiff February 13, 2010 Reply

It’s disappointing to hear that your enjoyment of the podcast was spoiled by the ignorant, cowardly, sexist comments of what I imagine was a small minority of webchat participants. I agree that the only way to stamp out such behaviour is to bar anonymous posting. Make people accountable for their comments and suddenly they start acting like rational human beings.

Aaron Witherow February 13, 2010 Reply

I agree that this needs to be stamped out, our industry is a very male dominated environment and we need more women to be a part of it.

I didn’t get to see too much of the live feed as I am in Australia but I got to see some of it including your segment on the joel test. I felt at the time that some of the comments were inappropriate and made me cringe. For the first time I realised how hard it is for people in our industry to put themselves out there and be in the firing line for these types of comments.

Comments got a little nasty, not only for the female guests but for many of the male guests who had given up their time to be there. Even Pauls wife was spoken about in a derogatory way which I though was not on.

Generally our industry is quite positive, everybody is free with information and tries to help each other out but most of the comments were not even remotely on topic.

I commend all the guests that gave up their time and made a great episode of Boagworld and I think it needs to be said loud and clear that it is not acceptable.

Tom February 13, 2010 Reply

Unfortunately this is something that plagues not only our industry, but as you say we have the advantages of having the skills required to restrict these people’s anonymity thanks to technology.
These people are only limiting the diversity of our community and the difference points of view that variety brings, be it from an attractively dressed man or woman, straight or gay, single or married, with or without children.
I agree completely with disallowing anonymous users, let people at least take responsibility for their opinions and be picked up for them in person if they are out of line.

Scott Jordan February 13, 2010 Reply

As a male participant in yesterdays chat stream, I would just like to say I totally agree with Rachels post.

Some participants acted like they were silly boys in the school playground.

Over my many years in the IT industry (30+) I have seen an increase in the numbers of females entering the industry, and they have brought a much needed breath of fresh air (sometimes literally) to the profession.

Peter Barnes February 13, 2010 Reply

Followed boagworld tweet to your post …

This beggars belief, it really does.

Maybe third party services are way forward as you can report abusers and perhaps get them kicked off Twitter etc, as well as embarrassing them publicly. I’ve not come across this issue on conference Twitter backchat yet, but if I do some sorry soul is gonna get a roasting! If the abuser was in the same physical room, I’d challenge them to dare repeat their comment to my face …

Emma Boulton February 13, 2010 Reply

Excellent suggestion Rachel. I wholeheartedly agree that this has to stop. We were discussing this at the recent CardiffGeekGirl event which is a supportive group for women in the tech/online/media industry. 30-40 normal, smart, funky women in a bar discussing their industry made such a refreshing change!

Comments about appearance of either gender certainly shouldn’t be allowed on the backchannel and your solution seems a good way to stop the cowards.

Peter Barnes February 13, 2010 Reply

In case my previous comment seemed a bit aggressive – I should also say a polite/positive approach is the best approach to avoid poisoning the general mood, but then zero tolerance towards those who don’t take the hint … Not surprised you’re moderating comments 😉

wanyax February 13, 2010 Reply

Great post. I totally agree with the sentiment expressed here.

One of the most attractive features of the Boagworld community is that people generally tend to be very friendly, helpful and, most importantly, mature. It’s almost uncanny how the forums have managed to steer clear of flame wars and general churlish behaviour. I was therefore deeply disappointed when I logged on to the stream last night only to find a bunch of immature comments messing up what was supposed to be a civilized gathering of mature people. Granted, there are many teens and pre-teens who get into web design these days and there were probably a couple online at the time. However, I have a nagging hunch that many of the less than flattering comments were from people beyond their teens. Maturity isn’t just about age.

The beauty of the web is that it’s free for all. Granted, “free” is a relative term. However, juvenile behaviour of this nature will probably lead to the erection of new barriers to entry. What makes it worse is that the people who are behind this nonsense are supposed to be the very architects of our digital future!

I believe the only true way to create a fun, safe and open playing field for all it to play fair. If you can’t have a stranger say something about your mother or your sister or anyone near and dear to you for that matter, don’t say the same about someone else. At least not in a setting like this one. It’s as simple as that. If you really must vent some venom, there are places online set up specifically for that purpose. Seek them out and be as lewd as you please. (Personally, I’d recommend going to a shrink, but what do I know?)

Rant aside, it was really good to have a meetup where we all could participate for free from wherever we were in the world at the moment. I hope to see the adoption of this approach (with better technology) across the web through this and the coming years.

jen strickland February 13, 2010 Reply

Rachel, thank you! As someone who is relatively new to communicating with other web designers, I’ve been really surprised at the ways in which the two sexes have been communicating and the things that I see no one speak up about. I actually recently wrote to Eric Meyer asking if there were any women-oriented groups or conferences, where we might network and share knowledge about dealing with the unique challenges we encounter. Perhaps even warn each other about certain situations or predators we should avoid.

We also need to take responsibility for the image that we put out there, a lot more than the men do. We have to wonder, “Will this be seen as flirtatious” I honestly do see some of the professional women in our field presenting their work in a sexualized manner and I think it should not be encouraged. Presenting CSS or JavaScript or any content strategy as SEXY??? — that’s just pandering and disrespects the women in the field. We need to call out those women, take them aside and tell them to knock it off. Tell them to use their brains to create something compelling that doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. Conference organizers need to not book those presentations. This is important, particularly, because so many of our male colleagues are the stereotypical nerds who have no idea how to think about or speak with a woman. How many events do I go to where a man won’t make eye contact with me, unless I make a real effort to make it clear that I’m a clown or something? Too many! There are very very very few men in our field who are mature enough to treat women as equals.

Tell off anyone who dismisses a woman’s success as rooted in her attractiveness. And demand that we are respected for talents and knowledge.

We must take responsibility for what we put out there. Too many talented women have flirty or even suggestively naked Twitter avatars, for example. Think, ladies!

We’ve come a long way, baby… But we can slide right back so quickly.

Shaun Hare February 13, 2010 Reply

Wholeheartedly agree Rachel,
Excellent stuff from you and Drew yesterday, fortunately for me I was unable to access chat most of the day (network restrictions at work).
I like your technical solution, Glenn Jones backnetwork worked well in the past I thought as a solution to draw an identity out of the web – that was voluntary, but the weakness I suppose was it depended on whether you provided the hooks for his social interogation code to do it’s stuff. I think we do need to promote all comers to the industry regardless of sex,age or experience. Those that have not got the maturity and responsibility to behave other than this though deserve no encouragement.

Tim Print February 13, 2010 Reply

I didn’t listen to the show live but I’ve seen this sort of thing reported before and it is totally out of order. We’re all supposed to be professionals here. We’re not in a 70’s sit com.
I think Making people sign in with a real traceable name is a really good idea. It might not stop it completely but it will definitely make them consider their words more carefully.
My daughter is coming up to 15 and I don’t want her to have to put up with this kind of crap when she starts work. I want her to have the same opportunities her male peers have and be judged on her abilities.

Luke Franklin February 13, 2010 Reply

Totally agree. However, your point about preventing anonymous comments I slightly disagree with. We live in an age where more of us are leaving a digital shadow that can be tracked back to our real identity. I fear, after studying this topic at Uni, that this will restrict on the free speech dynamic that the web is so praised form, if anonymity is taken away will we have the same free speech?

I now refer to a clip featured in my Uni course materiel which was somewhat of an eye opener for myself: http://vimeo.com/2435099

Rich Quick February 13, 2010 Reply

I’ve been a web designer for over a decade and I’, a community leader on the Boagworld forums- and I’m honestly shocked.

OK, I know the world’s not perfect, but one thing I’ve alway loved about our industry is that actually, we’re often a little bit nicer – and perhaps naive (in a good way) – than everyone else.

Other industries, for example, don’t have the openess that the web design industry does.

I know a lot of web designer and developers and I can honestly say that I don’t know one person who I would consider sexist – and certainly not the kind of moron who would go on a chat and say things like that.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I can also say that this doesn’t represent the boagworld community either – certainly not as represented in the forums.

I can only hope that the people making these comments on live podcast were actually teenage boys who need to grow up than actual men in our industry.

The fact you’ve seen similar things on conference backchannels worries me though, because those people AREN’T teenage boys.

Whoever they are, it’s very, very sad – or rather they are very, very sad.

Lee Theobald February 13, 2010 Reply

I was there in the chatroom for a lot of the time but I missed Relly’s & Sarah’s pieces. I did catch Yaili’s segment though. And the comments in the chat were pretty poor at times.

I’m a regular Boagworld listener and I also help to keep an eye on the Boagworld forums. So I know the community around the Boagworld a little. However, the comments coming from some people caught me totally by surprise. It’s normally such a well balanced place. I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve seen a sexist comment or any other bad word said against someone else on the site or forum. So please don’t anyone think badily of the community. I think it was a case of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.

Judging by the people that were posting, I’m personally putting the blame done to a few young lads that just didn’t know better. It’s no excuse I know but at least there is time for them to re-educate themselves before they step out into the real world. During the day, many of the web professionals would have been working and just listening, not commenting in the chat. At least I hope no “professional” was in there and saying those things.

I agree that something needs to be done next time. UStream has the functionality to add moderators which might have been an idea. Having times when the chat was slowed down might have also helped stemmed the tide. But this was the first time of doing this. Lessons will be learned and hopefully the next time we won’t have this trouble.

I really enjoyed watching you & Drew speak Rachel. Thanks for taking part in it all. As a listener, it was a great event.

Paul Downey February 13, 2010 Reply

Crumbs that really saddens me deeply and hope it didn’t knock the shine off your day.

One small nit: whilst I agree that anonymity does introduce issues, especially in crowds, but tackling those issues is rarely solved by demanding real identity, and can introduce other issues for some people. So I don’t think requiring logging in with a real name traceable to a real person is the answer, but logging in with an identity which has a reputation the person cares about maintaining certainly would. People can be jerks on Facebook, especially when they think they’re in a crowd of like-minded people, but are less so on Stackoverflow ..

Joel Hughes February 13, 2010 Reply

A very thought provoking article which does touch on the broader issues with the back channel.

I believe that all “events” should clearly indicate what is and what is not acceptable on the back channel – “rules for the road so to speak. Quite why some people need to be told this is beyond me but there we.

It does amaze me that people will say comments, publicly on Twitter which they would not say face to face with the person.


Apologies for any typos, on my BB

Jade February 13, 2010 Reply

Well Said Rachel…. Your absolutely correct, I agree whole heartedly, and believe the back channel needs tracability. I was really suprised at the boag back channel yesterday, I really expected more of a personal community feel considering all that Paul and Marcus do to foster that community week in week out.
On a brighter note… Well done to all involved in the 200th, it was a ground breaking show, I felt like I was witnessing another leap forward in our ‘wonderful world of web’

jamie knight February 13, 2010 Reply

Well said racheal, i left before it started getting ugly, but for the bits i saw BW200 looked awesome!

Just as a quick thought, i’m all for making people more responsible in chatrooms and the like by stopping anonymous posting, but i would worry about using facebook connect for this, as not everyone (including me!) has a facebook account! I have just completed work on a project using facebook connect and we found it to be a bit flakey and there were no log in options which did not require Javascript 🙁

Hope that helps,

Jamie & Lion

Zeberdee February 13, 2010 Reply

While I do agree with what you and Sarah Parmenter are saying, no one should have to put up with any prejudice of any kind in any industry, I do think that there has been an over reaction.

I do not think this is a reflection of the industry, I think this is a reflection of the internet.

If you create a chatroom on the internet where the majority of people are anonymous, male and young, you are going to get some ridiculous comments. I would wager that most of the people in the room were males of a certain age, so obviously there will be schoolboy mentality. Most of them were probably schoolboys!

On the whole the room was good all day, some good comments, some good banter, but unfortunately some idiots too.

Anyway, I’m just trying to say, don’t feel that there’s something seriously wrong with the industry as a whole. I work in IT Strategy for a large American credit card company and the split of male to female is 50/50. Sex does not come into anyone’s mind, it’s how good you are at your job.

Don’t think that all is lost, just maybe avoid schoolboy chatrooms in the future…

By the way, yesterday was brilliant and all the guests were fantastic. Massive well done to everyone involved.

Amber Weinberg February 13, 2010 Reply

I agree with you Rachel. I was I’m the chatro when those nasty comments started showing up.

I’ve experienced something similar. It really gets annoying and offensive. You wouldn’t believe how many times I get comments from new clients – all males from respectable web agencies – about how they can’t believe I’m a woman who codes and they’ve never met one in their entire lives….I feel like replying “And?…” as I don’t see how that is relevant to business. What if I had said “I can’t believe you’re black! Or I’ve never seen a Mexican code before?”

Wouldn’t that offend them?

Kevin Dees February 13, 2010 Reply

This should be a call for more developers and designers to work harder on social interface. It is a shame that so many people have little self control.

However, this is only a very small part of the boagworld community. With 100000 downloads a month very few comments were given in comparison.

I’m not saying it’s ok, only that boagworld is awsome and it’s a shame a few bad eggs can make something look bad.

Alex Pilon February 13, 2010 Reply

“without race, gender and looks the Internet is a place where ideas are shared and evolved upon in a manner where the important attribute of a contributor is the mind”

Kimberly Blessing February 13, 2010 Reply

Rachel, was this called out during the podcast? I think that would have been most effective — confront the issue in real-time, head on. Far too often the concern of how women are treated in any area where they are underrepresented is dealt with in a reflective manner, outside of the mainstream or offline. I would have liked listeners to have heard everyone on the show confronting the problem.

Scott Barrett February 13, 2010 Reply

It’s a shame that a few assholes can create such a ruckus. I say to ignore them completely. Hope this doesn’t stop everyone from having these get togethers in the future.

Doug S. February 13, 2010 Reply

I’m sorry that a few morons ruined it for you. I’m a Boagworld forum frequenter and I can tell you that sort of sentiment does not make it into the forum and would not be tolerated if it were. There are a number of girls who do frequent the forum and their opinions are judged based on their abilities, not on their sex.

Please don’t think too bad of the Boagworld community just because a few pig-headed neanderthals decided to share their ignorance.

Unfortunately, I missed the live show but I plan on listening to it in it’s entirety in the coming days. I look forward to your section and hope you join the show again in the future!

Rich Quick February 13, 2010 Reply

One thing I think does need to be said.

These people AREN’T part of our industry.

Their comments were sad and pathetic .. but just bear in mind they had time on a Friday afternoon to go online and post abusive comments on a chatroom.

I’m guessing this isn’t something Rachel, Paul or any of the other guests on the show would have had time to do if they weren’t appearing. Why? Because they have clients and paid work to do, which keeps them busy.

Who in the industry has time to spare on Friday afternoon to go on chatrooms and post sexist comments about women they’ve never met?

Those morons were probably kids or unemployed. They’re certainly not working for a company .. so the only way they could really be in the industry is if they’re self employed but don’t have enough clients to keep them busy 40 hours a week – which pretty much says it all.

There are a tiny minority of idiots .. they’re not representative of the industry and at best they’re on the outskirts of it .. probably not even in it at all.

Dave Robinson February 13, 2010 Reply

I am very sorry to hear this happened. I only managed to catch a few hour’s of the show. But due to the chatroom moving so fast i decided to ignore it.

I would have to agree that the people doing this are usually hiding behind anonymous screen names. They aren’t the idea’s of the majority, and I’m disappointed that such views would be brought up in a forward thinking industry.

I hope it hasn’t affected any of the female speakers or viewers of the podcast about their roles in the industry. And choose to ignore the trife and embrace the positive!

Mal February 13, 2010 Reply

I suspect it had more to do with the choice of platform TBH. Boagworld had a lot of viewers, so it was highly ranked on ustream’s viewer list. This probably attracted a lot of kids etc, resulting in YouTube-style comments. I could be wrong, obviously.

Still, it was a great show. Being from a developer side, I hadn’t heard of Boagworld up until a week or two ago (via TWIT). This episode was like a free version of FOWA.

I’m attending a two-track conference soon, which weirdly doesn’t let you switch tracks. Most of the material covered on this show will be on that inaccessible, opposite track, so I’m now happy.

James Duecaster February 13, 2010 Reply

I watched a good portion of the show and was there for some of the shenanigans in the chat. If you’re going to allow anonymous commenters in chat, not really moderate with IP bans after warning on one or at the very most two out of line comments by an individual, plan on getting some amount of garbage spewed forth. I participated in an Unreal Tournament gaming community 7-9 years ago. Wide array of players w/ages ranging from 15-50yrs, had all kinds of fun playing the game and it was very competitive. Unfortunately with the fun, came the grief. There’s one type that existed in this community, and it had a name: ‘griefer’ ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Griefing ). They made nasty comments in game, on boards, in chats, you name it, to get as much of a reaction as possible from other players just trying to have fun. From what I saw, the few yesterday were minor-league griefers and should have been sent on their way. And I’m all for free speech, but if you want anonymity to shoot your mouth off in a negative, off-topic, non-productive way, particularly in a forum like this, then at least own up to it by registering an account w/email address so you can be known for the troll you are, or simply buzz off. Sorry that happened with the women yesterday, but also thought comments made about Andy Clarke were pretty pathetic too. But enough about the 2.11% negatives(the chatroom, the video dropping, and my Flash plugin crashing every 15 minutes)… kudos to Boagworld overall for a wonderfully produced show and a job well done.

Dennis Deacon February 13, 2010 Reply

Thank you, thank you, thank you for getting this message out. I too was appalled by the behavior of some of the apparently male chatters during the show. These women who presented were obviously very smart, skilled and knowledgeable. No women should have to be on the receiving end of this type of behavior. And as I communicated to Paul Boag only moments ago, might this be a contributing factor as to why more female web professional aren’t in the limelight, sharing their knowledge and opinion.

Thanks for allowing me to vent. I hope this event might lead to improvements in the near future to increase the diversity needed in our industry.

Lewis Walsh February 14, 2010 Reply

I stopped watching because I found it hard to ignore the chatroom. I’ll watch the segments at a later date without the offensive and childish commentary.

I’m a 30yo male with a ‘live and let live’ attitude but there were times when I was pretty disgusted, so I voted with my feet. Shame a few had to spoil an otherwise fantastic effort.

jen Strickland February 14, 2010 Reply

I use ClickToFlash for browsing, so I just kept the chatroom unclicked for the majority of the webcast. People in chatrooms are typically moronic, imo.

Wladimir February 14, 2010 Reply

Firstly well done to all the speakers, I was able to listen to the odd half an hour and really enjoyed it.

I guess its a shame having to talk about this but at least I feel some positive is coming out of this I.e. better ways to control anonymous postings.

Its the same as a mob mentality and being able to hide. As someone said above, no comments would have been posted if a real identity had to be logged.

To all the speakers, I wouldn’t worry (not that you are 🙂 We run an online demo for our ecommerce software and sometimes get the odd person posting rubbish on it.

Just because we are this industry doesn’t mean there wont be any idiots around. Better ways to control them is the way forward.

DAZ February 14, 2010 Reply

I think it’s great that you’re bringing this to people’s attention and it is a shame that such moronic behaviour went on unchecked, but I have to disagree with your ‘solution’ to use Facebook connect. There are a number of problems with this:

1. Not everybody has Facebook.
2. It’s not a given that you can use Facebook to ‘see a real person’. I don’t have my photo on my FB profile, or any workplace details.
3. People could set up FB profiles just for the purpose of sending nasty messages. And I can’t see FB being in a rush to kick them off the service – there are already far more offensive things on FB that don’t get taken down.
4. The ability to post anonymously makes things quicker and encourages more people to do it. If you got rid of this, you’d also lose a lot of the good postings.
5. Freedom of speech and people’s privacy are both important principles. Sometimes it’s worth tolerating a few idiots to maintain these principles.

I think the answer is to have better moderation of comments and to call people out on it sooner. Explain that there behaviour is offensive.

Dan W February 15, 2010 Reply

I liked the solutions for backchannel rudeness used at the last FOWA. Anyone being unpleasant on the backchannel were asked to stand up and show who they were. This quickly solved the problem.

Simon Bingham February 15, 2010 Reply

Well said Rachel. As with society at large it’s often a small number of idiots that spoil it for everyone else.

I would be surprised if the people posting the negative comments in the chat room had even heard an episode of Boagworld before and, quite possibly, they were not even web designers.

Architela February 15, 2010 Reply

Hear hear! Kudos.

Deborah February 15, 2010 Reply

Unfortunately, this is the 3rd time I’ve encountered this type of talk in backchannel of online conferences in the past year.

It’s disappointing, frustrating, and detracts from the wonderful and amazing 200th episode of Boagworld.

Yes, Kimberly, the nastiness was called out during the podcast.

Thank you Rachel for sharing your response, and offering some solutions. I look forward to future online conferences and podcasts, without the degrading comments in the backchannel.

Leave a Reply