Snow, Blood and Cookies

December 09, 2011
CSSquirrel #90: Snow, Blood and Cookies

Today’s comic features Opera’s viking doing some nasty, brutal stuff. Because if a public community representative of Opera acts out of line, and the company doesn’t call them on it, they might as well be endorsing it. Luke Wroblewski also stars as the stand-in for well-meaning folk who are trying make peace at the expense of correcting bad behavior.

Buckle up.

I’m going to throw myself on the grenade and be the curmudgeon.

You don’t have to like what I’m about to say, but I think you need to read it.

We are, as a community, allowing ourselves to be abused. We’re Kevin Bacon in Animal House, bent over in our underwear and thanking someone for beating us. And, like any sadist with a free pass, they’re continuing to hit us again, and again, and again.

I get it. It’s the holidays. We’re stressed out by end-of-year deadlines, driving on icy roads and getting our Christmas shopping completed and hoping that at the end of the day we can kick back an egg-nog and just be merry. We don’t want the stress of confronting and condemning bad behavior, so we’re trying our damnedest to shrug it off.

Additionally, most of us want to be liked. And we want our friends to like each other. Whether it’s in our neighborhoods, in our Facebook profiles, or in our professional circles we just want people to be friendly and think highly of one another, but especially us. So when a flare-up starts between two peers we’d rather put our fingers in our ears and hum the Benny Hill theme song than owe up to the fact that there’s a problem.

But I’m here to be the bearer of bad news: there is a problem. Not only that, we’re responsible for it.

When I was growing up, my mother made it clear that certain behavior was not acceptable. Among other rules of childhood, I couldn’t go about tossing insults at people. Not my parents. Not my siblings and not friends. Heck, I was expected to maintain at least some decorum around the kids I disliked.

Going outside the bounds of socially acceptable behavior carried with it a penalty. Maybe soap in the mouth, or a spanking, or being grounded in my room, or at the bare minimum no desert after dinner. It was unpleasant. I was a pretty big crybaby, so any sort of punishment or chastising resulted in a waterfall of tears and a sniffling cry that would last for hours. I guarantee my mother hated having to deal with it. She probably would have enjoyed her evenings much more pretending I didn’t doing anything wrong, instead of listening to me cry and sniffle in my room as she desperately tried to read a book in peace.

But she did it anyway. As a result, I learned the difference between right and wrong and stopped doing the bad behavior. It didn’t mean that I stopped thinking ill of kids I disliked, or devising a choice insult for my brother when he provoked my ire. But it did mean I knew it was unacceptable to act on those thoughts, and it made me consider my words before I said them. If, after a good hard think I decided it was worth provoking my mother’s wrath, I’d still take the risk of insulting someone.

I did, however, think first.

In a pattern that goes back probably for quite some time but for certain seems to have flared up this week we’ve been permitting ourselves to be subject to bad behavior. We’d rather read our books in peace, so we are ignoring the misdeeds of an entitled few in the hopes that it will all go away.

And it’s not going away.

There’s literally thousands of amazing, talented developers and designers currently involved in making the Web a better place. A whole lot of them are like me, working hard for a very modest living in a small design firm that doesn’t get awards or fancy big-name clients. A great many also work as embedded Web people in a large corporation or other entity, thanklessly fighting the ignorance or misinformation of their bosses and co-workers while trying to apply their awesome skills to making their corporate site a better, slicker place to visit.

Then there’s the superstars, Web folk that work as community representatives and star developers for the big Web companies that take leadership roles (by fiat or by standards) in developing and proselytizing the advancement of the very technologies we use to make awesome Web stuff.

These people don’t just speak at conferences, they speak at dozens of conferences. They don’t just make cool web projects. They make amazing, cutting-edge projects that push forward the meaning of “good Web design”. They talk a lot about community participation and self-learning and being involved.

They’re intelligent, creative and successful people.

Sometimes, they can be utter dicks.

Anyone can be a jerk. From the drug-addled homeless man currently shooting up in the alley down the street from my office to the richest men in the world. Every person is capable of forgetting those lessons in basic decency that their parents (hopefully) taught them as children and slip up from time to time.

When it happens, it’s usually considered acceptable to say “Dude. No.”

The worse the bad behavior, usually the more stringent the chastisement should be. Action. Consequence. It’s a no-brainer, right?

But what happens when thought leaders, community representatives of important companies in the industry, and superstar talents start to repeatedly engage in or endorse bad behavior? It usually goes something like this.

  1. The superstar does something socially unacceptable. Like refer to a recent article by the owner of a small design firm as drug-enduced bullshit. (original was deleted, here’s a retweet).
  2. Individuals call the superstar on the behavior, noting how unacceptable an action it is. Especially for a community representative of a major player in our industry (although, really, it’s just unacceptable period).
  3. The superstar sort of apologizes. Usually in the vein of “I’m sorry for using strong language” or “I’m sorry you got upset”.
  4. The individuals (rightfully) insist that’s not an acceptable response, and demand a genuine, public apology.
  5. The superstar does so.
  6. Supporters of the superstar retaliate by calling the original individuals the curmudgeons in this situation. They in essence defend the bad behavior by shaming them for “bullying” the superstar, say the “crap” they’re saying is undeserved.
  7. The rest of the community, straining to retain a smile, do everything in their power to bury the “firestorm” under a (likely well meant) pile of hugs and cookies universally handed out to everyone involved, including those that defended the bad action and the superstar that did it in the first place. All are pardoned, nobody is wrong.
  8. The superstar states how tired they are of the drama… seemingly ignoring the fact that it was their own behavior that caused it.

This is all sorts of messed up. Nobody’s learned a lesson, because as a community we’re too concerned about “drama” that we’ll do anything to quash it instead of uniting as a community to call down the person who started the drama with their attack in the first place. We’re sending such a mixed message of supporting the peace or the person without collectively condemning the behavior.

Anyone who ever raised a kid or was a kid knows exactly where that will lead. To more bad behavior.

I’m not calling for punishment. But the launch of a pro-community “make the web better” website (which I will not be linking or mentioning by name for reasons I’ll make clear below) should have been a source of joy in the holiday season. Instead, two individuals tied to that effort have engaged in either passive/aggressive sniping or outright insulting of individuals and their efforts in this week alone. And according to people in the know, this isn’t the first time for some of those involved. And what kills me, what hurts me is how highly I thought of these people prior to now. But how can I promote the work of people who engage in socially abusive bad behavior?

I can’t. No matter how much I agree with the message of their product, I cannot in good conscience promote their goods and services when they’re behaving in a fashion that I know to be wrong. And as near as I can tell, they’re not sorry for how they’ve behaved. They’re simply sorry they were called on it.

The only way we’re going to improve as a community is to grow up and realize we can’t hide everything under soothing hugs and cookies. People messed up. Worse yet, people who are well known and respected representing companies with power or social clout messed up. If they are protected for their behavior, they will continue to abuse us, the community. And many of us will, over time, mimic that behavior in a misguided attempt to become as successful as they are.

Shame on you, Divya. Shame on you, Paul. You’re grown adults. You know better.

Next time you want to blame the drama, stop for a moment and think about who actually started it.

And to the rest of you, I’m sorry. I don’t want a cookie. I want it made clear that this behavior should never have happened, and can’t be allowed to keep occurring.

Happy holidays.

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18 Responses to “Snow, Blood and Cookies”

  1. I think that a lot of people have trouble with the idea that an otherwise decent and intelligent person can make a big mistake that calls for genuine contrition and apology. They have difficultly reconciling two facts:

    1. Being otherwise decent and intelligent (or famous) does not mean one should get a free pass when one has done a bad thing.
    2. On the other hand, doing a bad thing thoughtlessly from time to time doesn’t suddenly mean one must be branded as a bad person.

    Unfortunately, this means that, by and large, it’s hard for many to admit to mistakes. They react with defensiveness, because if they admit they were wrong it’s like they’ll be a wrong person forever.

    This happens in pre-schools. It also happens in politics. I wonder if we ever really grow up!

    Well, anyway, I’m with you on this. Although I personally still want a hug and cookie.

  2. @uscareme – Well said. I feel, unfortunately, that there’s been a lot of free passes handed out lately, which is the root of the problem. I also feel there’s no genuine contrition. If I felt there was genuine acknowledgment of their error that exceeded the minimum sweeping under the rug, I’d be more inclined to forgive and forget.

    Nobody’s irreversibly shamed by their actions here, but until patterns change I can’t see any way to support them and their works without supporting their behavior.

  3. Like many people in this industry, even though I know Divya and Paul and think they are sweetiepies, I have been trying to ignore the.. um.. recent events. But this is not cool.

    When Divya wrote her article for Smashing Magazine and received tons of abuse from many of the same maligned parties you quote above (in the vein of https://twitter.com/#!/Malarkey/status/145174970484527104, case any of us already forgot), you drew a cartoon about how dangerously wrong she was. And then people continued to say insulting and belittling things – not only about her ideas, but about her as a person – and we didn’t get any cartoon about how you should respect your peers and learn to debate with them constructively instead of making character assassinations. Many people behaved themselves badly in response to an opinion piece about semantic tags that had nothing to do with them personally, but no reprimand was forthcoming. Therefore, it seems disingenuous to attempt to claim the high ground for those people now and defend their current bad behavior with this lecture about our collective responsibility to enforce good behavior.

    If you want to pick sides, that’s your prerogative. But doing so under the guise of objective #realtalk, fueling the drama as you’re decrying it, is dishonest.

  4. @garann – My cartoon regarding Divya’s Smashing Magazine piece was critical of the article, not her. It also never implied that she was abusing drugs or compared the quality of her work to manure. I also never once characterized her article as dangerous. I disagreed with her piece, and strove to file my grievances with the article’s talking points.

    Please, when characterizing my work, stick to what I actually said. If we’re going to speak of dishonesty, let’s start with not putting words in each other’s mouths. I’m human and err often enough, if you want to chastise me for something there’s plenty of material that I actually wrote that you can use.

    I admittedly don’t recall the nature of the criticisms fielded her way by Andy Clarke or the others, or the word choice. If I had to guess, Andy was on the cantankerous end of things. If they did cross the line in the same fashion that Divya had today, then this comic and post for today apply to them as well as to her and Paul.

    My post wasn’t defending Andy, by the way. It was condemning the tendency of people to give free passes to people (especially popular people) for horrible behavior based on how they usually are. I don’t care how nice I am, if I kick a puppy, it’s wrong. You don’t get to pretend otherwise just because I usually am much nicer.

    Despite calling her out, this post applies equally to anyone, including Mr. Clarke, who cross that line. Divya had the misfortune of being the straw that broke the camel’s back, a problem exasperated by the responsibility someone in her community role has. For all his popularity, Andy represents himself. If he’s a tool, he’s only shaming himself. Divya represents something much larger, and with it comes a bigger need to think before she speaks.

    There’s nothing disingenuous about saying enough is enough. The fact is that the Web community has become increasingly more acrimonious lately. And we have a responsibility as a community to condemn socially abusive behavior when it occurs. Regardless of who it is. Nobody gets a pass.

    This isn’t an issue about sides. It’s an issue about behavior. What Divya did was wrong, regardless of who the messenger was that called her on it.

  5. @Kyle – I only mentioned your cartoon as part of a timeline – my point wasn’t that you’d personally been abusive. Sorry for the confusion. If you were only aware of your own response to the article and overlooked those that took a decidedly less constructive stance, however.. well, I don’t know how you managed that.

    At any rate, I continue to disagree with you. Condemning bad behavior is one thing. Saying that bad behavior nullifies your right not to be personally abused is ridiculous. Addressing a wrong with further wrongs is not to the benefit of this community or any other.

  6. I’m sorry, but I fail to see why Divya’s personal opinion is somehow more wrong than the personal opinions of others as expressed. Her Twitter account is just that: Hers. It mentions her role at Opera one time. Her username isn’t @OperaDivya or anything like that. It doesn’t purport to represent anything but her personal opinions, and I don’t see why anyone would take her personal opinion to represent that of Opera or anything like that.

    Was the tweet inappropriate? Apparently she thought so, as she removed it. You’ll note that you had to find a retweet of it to verify that it happened, because she apologized, and regardless of how insincere you may find it to be, there are several attacks that have been issued against her that had no such repeal.

    Your description of Andy Clarke as “cantankerous” feels like you’re excusing his behavior somehow. His assault on Divya after her SM piece was nothing short of vitriolic and disgustingly unprofessional, well worse than calling an article bullshit. He did apologize for parts of it as well, but if Divya’s apology isn’t enough, his likely isn’t either.

    Additionally, the drug euphemism is common enough in pop culture that to refer to it as an implication of drug use is kind of ridiculous.

    At the very end of your post, you call out Paul Irish, without also calling out Zeldman, whose response was also wholly inappropriate, and far and away much worse than the one sentence in Paul’s post.

    I agree with the overall message that we need to learn to be nicer to each other, but frankly, it sounds like you’re very much on one side here, and this comic and post seem to only be stoking the flames.

  7. Kyle,

    In Paul’s original post, he said that he didn’t like that Zeldman didn’t promote Paul’s new project, but instead promoted selling some buttons. How does that make Paul deserving of a “shame on you” in your conclusion? Is he not entitled to an honest opinion about what should and shouldn’t be promoted?

    I completely understand why you think Divya’s tweet was socially unacceptable, but can’t for the life of me see why you would characterize anything that Paul said as socially unacceptable. If you’re referring to something else Paul said publicly, then please explain, otherwise I don’t think you are right to lump him in with this.

  8. Posting a comic where someone is characterised as an axe-wielding serial killer as part of a long rant about how this person is a drama-causing “superstar”? Allow me to take your own advice: shame on you. This is wrong.

  9. This thread is devolving into somewhat of a flame war, sadly. One of the most distressing ideas I found in this comment thread is the idea that because drug euphemisms are popular in language today, it’s ok to say: “What drug gives one power to write such bullshit?”

    Language, web design, human endeavors move forward and get “better” as people reach a consensus on the ideas that make the community better. Web Design got way better when Zeldman, Meyer, and Co, decided to evangelize standards-based design. People cried foul then too, they complained about the work required to convert their sites, but in the end, a standards-based website has become an industry standard. Why can’t we do that with language and our jokes? But that gets us off topic a bit.

    To defend Kyle’s use of the viking slaying someone, he is using a comic convention of exaggeration to point out the wrong someone else is committing. He is not suggesting Divya goes out and kills people. Divya, however, was suggesting that the real Owen was on drugs. Kyle is not trying to insult Divya, he is asking her to try for more harmonious behavior, or at least constructive criticism. If she doesn’t like the ideas, fine and dandy, but she has to explain herself, not call someone a druggie.

    The idea of musical intervals as a way of relating design elements has been around since the printing press, and as Owen explains in the article, scientists and philosophers across centuries have noticed these musical proportions. Divya isn’t attacking some outlandish idea that no one has ever heard of so her offhand dismissal requires even more scrutiny.

    That, I believe, is what Kyle is asking us to think about. Not about who insulted whom, and who needs to apologize to whom. He is asking us to look at ourselves and make a commitment to behave better towards one another, and to call each other out, as colleagues do, when we act like assholes.

  10. Divya was wrong, but she did not go on and on as you and others have been doing all day.

    You guys should give your ego some rest – really!

    And I’m no supporter: https://twitter.com/#!/divya/status/145192573508665345

  11. “I can’t. No matter how much I agree with the message of their product, I cannot in good conscience promote their goods and services when they’re behaving in a fashion that I know to be wrong.”

    your whole post is basically arguing against ad hominem attacks, but you can’t endorse a project because of person/s who are behind it? if a cause is worthy, what does it matter who is behind it? it is either a good thing or it isn’t.

    that’s like saying “i can’t stand for painting, Hitler liked to paint”..

    (also, please don’t make this into a bigger drama than it needs to be by dragging Opera into this. any sane person should be able to distinguish between Divya as a (fallible) person, and Divya as a spokesman for Opera. if you can’t, that your problem. or are you saying that she is wholly owned corporate property, and thus unable to have a personal opinion, right or wrong)

  12. @garann – My memory is a notorious beast without links, but I’m not going to deny that some people crossed the line. Most of the commentary I saw was targeted at the article’s content and addressed it with counter-points. If other, more hostile commentary was present, then it was both unconstructive and unacceptable. I regret not saying so at the time. I do not believe, however, that I have wronged Divya in my post. I address her bad behavior, acknowledge it as unacceptable, and suggest that as a community we have an obligation to acknowledge it when we see that going on. I’m not sure how that qualifies as “doing her wrong”.

    @Brian Arnold – Divya is a community representative for Opera and her twitter feed is marked accordingly. As a public representative, her words carry the legitimate risk of being taken as a viewpoint of her employer. She is entitled to free speech as an individual, of course. Including mean-spirited or hateful statements. But if she’s going to go that route, she should at least mark her profile as not representing her employer’s views (instead, it only mentions her employee title).

    Andy “is” crantakerous. Like Divya, he also has the right to say mean-spirited or hateful statements. As a self-employed man he’s immune to the issue of misrepresenting a company, but I do not attempt to say he gets a free pass at being nasty. If he does so, then just like her he’s being a problem for the community and not a blessing to it. I did not catch all his commentary on Divya’s SM piece, but I bet that he did cross the line. I regret not saying something about that. Right to be badly behaved aside, it shouldn’t pass without notice.

    Zeldman’s language to Paul was hostile and profanity-laced, but it also represented the last straw of a man that was constantly being snubbed, belittled and insulted by Irish in public while he was offering the man opportunities and assistance in private. As politely worded as Irish’s statements in his post were, they were still a divisive “calling out” of Zeldman, in public, during an announcement meant to bring the community together. Bad form. Maybe Zeldman should have used different words, maybe he should have used a private venue. But anyone who is being repeatedly attacked and belittled has the right to refute lies that are being told about them and has every right to be very angry at being treated so poorly.

    @Louis – Paul’s comments were part of a long-lasting trend of attacks and snubs on Zeldman which were uncalled for, even as Zeldman consistently reached out to him with opportunity and offers of support in private. The tone of his latest action was mild, but it was clearly a snub and divisive action, and additionally contained untruths.

    @Colin S – My comic featured a viking, not Divya. It intentionally used a generic adversary as a corporate mouthpiece. It’s artistic license that’s well within the cultural context of comic-based commentary on hot-button topics. It was also a metaphor. I don’t think Divya is a bearded, bloodthirsty warrior who murders people, and the attached blog post doesn’t even come close to implying otherwise. But, Divya is a superstar in the Web world, and she did cause drama.

    @Thierry – I’m a humorist and cartoonist of the Web community that uses this blog to discuss hot-button topics of the day and provide my own view on them. I don’t think addressing the long-standing issue of bad behavior in the Web community lately through the lens of Divya’s recent example of that behavior on the very day it occurred is “going on and on”. I suspect by next week I’ll be discussing HTML5 element drama or poking fun at Chrome.

    @tom jones – Unfortunately one of the biggest currencies in our community is attention and acknowledgement. I’m not going to stop supporting painting, to use your metaphor. I’m going to not support (publicly) the wall she painted. Although, honestly, why the hell did we bring Hitler into this thread? That means we’re officially off the rails and down to just throwing crap at each other.

    I am not trying to drag Opera into this. I am, however, saying that as a community messenger for Opera she very badly needs to mark which of her communication channels are personal opinion. Right or wrong, corporations can are held accountable for what their spokesmen say unless we have a clear filter between opinion of hers and opinion of theirs. Bruce Lawson’s material is marked as such, and so the issue has never come up with him. We know when he’s being ranty, he’s on his own.

  13. Kyle, looking at Divya’s Twitter account, this is what it says in her profile:

    “Web Opener at Opera · Open Web Vigilante · HTML5 Boilerplate · HTML5 Readiness”

    That is it. It specifies her job title and her employer, much like my profile (and I’m sure hundreds of others). Her position is one wherein she interacts with our community, but her Twitter feed is not marked as anything like one of the @ComcastWhoever type accounts, wherein it is very clear that “This person is representing the company”.

    You say that she should mark her profile as not representing her employer’s views, but I seriously doubt that would have made any difference here. I’m confident that Andy Clarke still would have called for her to be fired, which is a ridiculous response to an offhand and off-color tweet that was very quickly removed and repeatedly apologized for, and being “cantankerous” does not excuse that behavior, regardless of employer.

    Also, you mentioned that Zeldman was, to quote, “constantly being snubbed, belittled and insulted by [Paul] Irish in public while he was offering the man opportunities and assistance in private”. Obviously the private communications are unverifiable, though I would assume that they did happen. However, I have been following both Zeldman and Irish’s blogs and tweets for years now, and I have not seen any public instance of snubbing, belittling, or insulting, at all, outside of the one paragraph on the MTWF blog post, which has since been archived and removed.

    I did some searching about via Google and various site searches, and I can uncover all of one mention of Zeldman’s name on Irish’s blog. It was far from belittling or insulting. Can you (or Zeldman) produce any evidence of any of these accusations? If not, it seems way more slanderous of Paul Irish than anything said about Jeffrey Zeldman.

    I suppose that one could make an argument that since Irish has not contributed content to anything ALA, perhaps that is a form of snubbing, but those communications seem to have been private, and so we can’t really infer anything there. Paul has not once said anything in any public form that I can find that is negative against Happy Cog or any ALA type properties.

    If you genuinely regret not saying something about Andy Clarke’s bad behavior, or Zeldman’s, why have you not edited the original post? The web is not set in stone. I suspect you could very easily add in Clarke and Zeldman to your callouts to point out that there was negative behavior on both ends. By not being fair and balanced in that fashion, you’re handing out some of those free passes you seem to dislike, and really just making things worse.

    Additionally, you say you’re not trying to drag Opera into it, while in the same post you acknowledge that you intentionally illustrated a murderous viking and clearly call it “Opera’s viking” with an approximation of their logo on its hat? Do you not see how incredibly conflicting these statements are?

    Divya’s comment stirred up some drama, but she did what she could by quickly repealing it and repeatedly apologizing to various people. By creating this comic, and repeatedly defending your seemingly weak position, not only are you adding more drama into the mix, but you are taking it well above and beyond any appropriate context. It was a tweet that was very clearly of a personal nature and it was quickly removed, and that should have been the end of it.

    The past week has generally just been quite awful for negativity on the ‘net, and frankly, this comic just proceeds to fan the flames. It also seems from your various replies that you seem to think that it’s okay to be a jerk to people if you’re freelance, which makes little sense.

    I lost a lot of respect for people I held in very high regard this week, but I’m not going to call them out on it in any public fashion like this, because that helps *nobody* and only makes it worse, as arguably demonstrated by this very comment thread.

    I feel like this post and comic would have better served our shared community if it hadn’t directly called out anyone by name, but simply pointed out the amounts of negativity going around this week, and called upon us all to treat each other better.

    Really, it shouldn’t matter who anyone works for. There’s no reason for us to be jerks to each other. Ultimately we all want the same sorts of things. Divya cleaned up her negativity. Paul did too. Will you? I hope so.

  14. very good piece of propaganda, well done :)

  15. @Brian – In Divya’s case, she’s an Opera Web Opener. The position is part of their Developer Relations Team and among other responsibilities “…involves providing support for Web developers, Opera’s developer customers and its internal engineers through community evangelism, developer outreach, and networking”

    I’m thinking that if your job includes community evangelism, outreach and networking, and that if you use your social networks to undertake these job-related tasks that it would be at least prudent to note which social channels represent you and not them.

    If she chooses not to do so, so be it. But at that point I think it would become problematic for readers to know to what extent she’s speaking for Opera, or by extension, knowing how much of her view Opera condones.

    I’d say it comes with the job of being an evangelist.

    It’s my opinion that suggesting she be fired for her statement is extreme. I personally don’t think that needs to occur here. I do believe, however, having that opinion is a valid response for some people to have. She didn’t make an off-color statement. She made a public, callous insult.

    After she apologized I saw no further such calls. Which seemed appropriate.

    With the Irish/Zeldman issue, I chose to take Zeldman’s statements at face value. I don’t believe there’s any reason for him to lie in such a situation, nor get away with it if he did, and Irish had multiple opportunities to refute that and did not (he only instead refuted the character of his snipe at Zeldman during the post in question). I don’t believe that a negative result in Google/Bing searches  refutes Zeldman’s claims, although it obviously doesn’t support it either. However, if evidence appears that indicates that Zeldman is lying, I’ll publicly apologize for believing him. I doubt I’ll need to, though.

    Regarding editing my post: I believe that people who visit the site later will benefit from viewing the conversation that it created from start to finish, and see the rebuttals and changing views as they occur in the order they appear. The commentary, as attached, is part of the post from here on out and quite accessible to anybody that comes along.

    Regarding “dragging Opera into it”: Divya dragged them into it, by making such a publicly offensive statement on an account that indicates her relationship to them. Others on Twitter and elsewhere then continued that connection by commenting on how they felt her action reflected on the company. My comic and post reference those connections. It’s a commentary on what occurred with my opinion. Ignoring the Opera connection that was already well established would have been ignoring a large part of the situation that I was commenting on.

    The position of yours that genuinely confuses me is your assertion that Divya was in her rights to brutally insult someone, but then state that I don’t have a right to comment on her behavior with a nuanced response. Furthermore, it wasn’t inappropriate for her to say what she said but it was inappropriate for me to comment on it? And she gets to choose when things started (by beginning the whole affair with an insult) but also gets to decide when it ends?

    I’m sorry, there’s something very inconsistent with that stance.

    I believe she and I have every right to say as we feel. However, I believe she crossed the line of propriety by saying what she said. And I don’t believe it was wrong to state that it was improper.

    She publicly called someone’s work out as drug-induced bullshit. By failing to publicly rebuke that sort of behavior, or worse yet by defending it as somehow acceptable, we effectively endorse it.

    If you think that rebuking her behavior makes me a dick, then so be it. But if you won’t defend me for being a dick, I see no reason for you to defend her. She was far more insulting than I, furthermore with no logic or explanation to her reasoning.

    For the record, I don’t think anyone should be a jerk, regardless of who they work for or if they work for themselves. I do believe that people with elevated importance should think more carefully about their words due to the much larger audience they have and importance given to what they say. Whether it’s Divya, Andy, Jeffrey or Paul.

    But I don’t apologize for calling people out for being jerks. Everyone wants everyone to be nice and positive, but the fact is that the drama didn’t spring out of the ether with no source. People caused it through their actions. And if it’s wrong to rebuke that behavior, I don’t want to be right.

    @Shi Chuan – Thank you for your constructive contribution.

  16. Seems that we basically should agree to disagree, and I’ll be moving on after this, but as a few clarifying thoughts:

    Proving that Zeldman lied isn’t something that I’m looking to do, and arguably, not really anything that can be done. I’m just saying that such claims on his part should really be backed up, and taking anything like that at face value is a bad idea. Unless presented with a public example, I struggle to believe that Irish has said a single negative word about Zeldman in a public forum, outside of the one post, which since been cleaned up.

    Regarding the tweet specifically, I am not defending it, and I suspect Divya would not either at this point, given that she’s removed it. I’m defending her right to say personal things on her personal account that does not saying “I am speaking for Opera on this account”. This is one of those “agree to disagree” points, where I don’t see her personal account as a representation of her employer, even given her evangelism role.

    Also, you are misinterpreting my position. As presented, you would be correct. That would be very inconsistent. Here would be a summary of what I have been going at here.

    Your approach here is well within your rights, and I have never stated otherwise. This is your blog and comic. You pay for your hosting. You have freedom to say what you want. However, as an individual with some status in our community, publicly shaming individuals is in very poor taste, and has only served to exacerbate the situation.

    For all I can see here, it seems like you’re simply stirring shit and making it worse, and that’s the issue I take with it. You were not the slandering party or the slandered party in either case. You’re a third-party observer who could have used your soapbox to try and push positivity, but instead, just added more negativity into the mix, which helps absolutely nobody and only serves to further divide. If your goal is to somehow stop drama or negativity in the community, this comic and post has failed miserably.

    I would also argue that your portrayal of her employer as a homicidal viking is far more offensive than a statement regarding one’s work as drug-induced bullshit, but like pretty much everything here, that’s just another opinion of mine that is different from yours.

    I am all for stopping the drama. I just fail to see how this comic or post helps anybody out or does anything good for our community.

  17. Hi,

    Regarding “[if ]the company doesn’t call them on it, they might as well be endorsing it,” could you please update your comic to include the logos of Google, Happy Cog, Clearleft and whatever company you work for? In my opinion all these other individuals are acting like children and need to be lumped in with Divya.

  18. @Brian Arnold – You’re right in that we should probably politely disagree at this point. But I do appreciate your attempts to make your opinion understood.

    Regarding Zeldman/Irish: It would probably have been wiser for me to not involve myself at all instead of taking one party at his word without discrete examples to validate his statement. I believe he is being truthful (at least in that he believes what he is saying), but I admit that without more substance, that doesn’t leave a lot to examine.

    Regarding the tweet: I do feel evangelists are given more attention due to their position, and should have more care in speaking as a result. I’ll agree to disagree on how much burden she should have on separating her forms of correspondence.

    Regarding my post: My intent was that I felt (and still feel) that 3rd party bystanders in the community have a responsibility to rebuke bad behavior when we see it, instead of defending it simply because of the voice. I understand why some would feel that rebuking furthers the drama, and would prefer it simply be dropped. I can only say that I feel that when people are rushing to patch things up, they can’t equally paint the original offender with the same brush as the party attacked or the people who called the offender on their actions. There’s different levels of responsibility. My post was negative, because I was very mad at this trend, and I didn’t think we could fix it by simply white-washing. I acknowledge that it stirred things up and made people more upset, but I can live with that.

    Regarding the comic: It’s not Divya. It’s a viking. It’s a metaphor for a way that people behave and not a specific person. It’s an Opera-marked character because it’s my opinion that people need to think about who they represent when they talk. It’s also not accusing people of murder, it’s a metaphor for hasty antisocial behavior. I also don’t believe that Jeff Croft is literally a werewolf, or that Hixie actually called Lary Masinter a cannibal or that Elliot Jay Stocks is a gun-toting vigilante who shoots people up. I understand your objection, and I’ll politely agree to disagree with interpretation of intent.

    Regarding drama: I didn’t expect my post to stop the drama. I knew I was writing something that people might take offense at. I just wanted people to think, and for better or worse that did happen. But I’ll agree with you that less drama is better than more, and I’m grateful that you took so much time to express your reservations about what I said and how I said it. If you thought I was crossing a line, then I encourage you to call me on it (and you did).

    @Frank P – I don’t think all the logos would fit on the helmet. I chose a generic entity (the viking) to represent any “child”, and included a corporate logo to make it clear that I felt that our actions do reflect on our employers. Opera got the honor because Divya’s tweet was the motivating comment that got me fired up to write the post. I’m sorry you feel I was acting like a child, but thanks for being honest with me.

    @Everyone – I’m going to close this thread since I think the post and commentary have served their purpose. It’s not my intent to get the last word in, or stop people from talking. If you want to continue to talk with me in private you can email me via my contact form (which is on the bottom of my About page). If you want to publicly respond, feel free to write your own blog post and point it back here.

    But all that said, I’m going to take a cue from Brian and wrap it all up. This conversation has survived well past the event that sparked it. And although I feel like it was a good discussion to have, it’s likely a good time for us to move on.