John Walker's Electronic House

Sigh

by on Oct.13, 2014, under The Rest

I need to put this in one place, to stop myself from having to tweet it eighteen trillion times.

GG got very cross yesterday and overnight with my having written about how much abuse and harassment I received. I mentioned that I’d received thousands of unpleasant tweets. I came to this figure based on an average bad evening of it would see 500+ tweets coming in, and this happened multiple times. Within them were a number of extremely unpleasant and distressing tweets, with demands that I kill myself and so forth. This was one of them (which GG has been desperately trying to declare can’t be anything to do with them because of X, Y and Z, then someone else pointing out he was, and then tweets get deleted, and so on).

Oddly enough, I didn’t keep the rest. Because I’m not crazy. I screenshotted that one on my phone, because it was quite so scary, and when the tweeter promptly deleted it after lots called him out, I was able to repost it. I took screens of a bunch of others, but deleted them since, because I didn’t really like having them on my phone. And, heck, why would I need them?

GG participants are FURIOUS with me, and have attempted to disprove that I’ve received any abuse at all, via various searches. However, they used Topsy, which only stores a month’s worth, meaning it went back only as far as 12th Sept, after the bulk of the abuse I received had happened. Their search also only included that which had the #gamergate tag in it. This also doesn’t work, as the vast majority of the abuse I received came without it. People would send me a tweet saying whatever, and if I replied, they’d then frantically add in the tag to get back-up. This would then bring dozens more in who were following the tag, also insulting me without the tag, and then themselves only adding it in if I replied pointing out they were incorrect, etc.

The reality is, I spent two weeks receiving extraordinary amounts of unpleasant comments, most of them mild, but unrelenting. It was miserable, my wife saw it all happening and it made her miserable, my friends saw it, people argued with these people at the time – it all happened. It’s important that I maintain this, in the face of an attempt to discredit it.

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23 Comments for this entry

  • Becky

    So sorry to hear about the horrible abuse you’ve faced, it’s terrible to see how people will act when given a thin veil of anonymity. Best of luck with getting past it and feeling better.

    becky

  • Helen Beesley

    What a bunch of twats!. I just came across this via a share by @glinner on twitter. I am not a gamer but my sons are and to think that there are such people out there makes me very annoyed for all the decent gamers. What is wrong with them? Take solace in the fact that they are probably very lonely idiots without the backup of friends and family that you have.

  • Joseph

    We were never at war with Eurasia. Eurasia has always been our ally. Any memories otherwise are thoughtcrime, and proof of interference by Goldstein.

  • vinz

    I believe Tyler has a little bit of advice for someone with your unique brand of OCD, faghat. Aah now lets see here…Yes, this is in.
    “Hahahahahahahaha How The Fuck Is Cyber Bullying Real Hahahaha Nigga Just Walk Away From The Screen Like Nigga Close Your Eyes Haha”

  • Jake

    And here’s that tweeter using #GamerGate before anyone starts shouting that this particular one is nothing to do with it: http://imgur.com/LGTIHNT

  • Messofanego

    Wow, that’s messed up. Sorry to hear this abuse you’re getting. Hope it all goes away.

    btw if you want proper screenshotting, use Firfox’s extension “Abduction” and right-click to get “save page as image” which in the right area of a tweet can select it automatically.

  • Simon Jones

    The reality is that you do excellent work along with lots of other excellent people. So there.

  • Sir Fatikis

    Please provide evidence of these “thousands” of hate tweets you claim to have received.

  • Jane Sheldon

    What a horrid experience….there are some evil minded people out there…but also some balanced ones….This is one of the problems with Twitter….the anonymity doesn’t help with accountability …. The perpetrators are usually quite mild mannered in real life. Frustrated and dissatisfied with their lot….but mild mannered. You are intelligent enough not to pay too much heed….but I know it is horrible and hard to swallow. I would just like to wish you strength and happiness….and please know that they are wrong. No one has the right to bully like that. I always find a good workout like, sticking two fingers up on both hands and moving them in a rapid fashion at the computer screen helps…..

    Kind regards,

    Jane Sheldon

  • J

    Whoever that is really hasn’t taken to heart the messages of his avatar and namesake. You do great work and it is a massive shame this situation has been so incredibly toxic, I hope for everyone things improve.

  • Colthor

    John, did you see this Forbes article about internet trolls the other day?
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2014/10/06/internet-trolls-really-are-psychos/
    So while I respect your optimism in trying to reason with these people, it’s doomed to failure: the reason you think they should stop is exactly why they continue. They don’t care about ethics, or games writers, or even games – they just enjoy making you, and anyone else they target under whatever pretense, miserable.

    I hope you start reporting them to the police (the Communications Act 2003 and Malicious Communications Act 1988 look like good places to start). They probably won’t be any use, but maybe a wall of blind indifference will make a nice change?

    Humans are awful. I’m sorry they’re being awful to you. Keep up the good work.

  • Mann Of Pootis

    Poot poot i will kick trolls ingame in your honor :3

  • Farnsworth

    Hello John,

    just a short thank you for the very good article on this yesterday. It is just very, very sad to see this gamergate nonesense. Thanks for trying to keep the tone reasonable, even after all the abuse piled on you, and after had to see the even worse abused piled onto the women in the industry.

  • ysnipes

    Your standing up and not letting gg shit get to you. Thank you for that

  • Ross

    I am not a sociopath and do not therefore agree with death threats and doxxing. Because I am not a sociopath, I do not undertsand what may motivate someone to do so. I do not think mere anger.

    I DO know it is what trolls do, and with a hashtag trending on a major social media site, who knows where they originally come from, or what their motivations are.

    If I got shitty death threats I would get the police involved.

    I do not think people of or against Gamergate support you getting death threats, Nor others, nor our own. It is happening too often and on all sides and it seems almost a first resort which further gets me to suspect outsiders.

    This said, as far as people simply being angry, sure, why not? I mean did you expect they would be happy with a fallacious, dishonest, hit piece that was short on facts and large on speculation?

    Furthermore, as I have said there are 4 people that may post death threats (Troll stranger, victim, anti-gamergater or pro-gamergater) and of all four, gamergaters have the least to gain, and are the first to report, and the ONLY ones EVER accused of death threats and doxxing.

    Never have I seen anyone outside of the gamergaters report that gamergaters are getting death threats and being doxxed nor sympathies given for them. Yet, we do.

    John Walker Your narrative sucks. Your research is weak. Your biases are blind.
    I find it terribly difficult to find sympathy for you. But then hey, maybe I just find it hard to extend a hankerchief when the person I am extending it to, is busy spitting in my face. You get that, don’t you, John. You get why people are not happy too, don’t you.

    I understand you want to fight the good fight and give people like me Hell for crimes and motives imagined, but when you do, acknowledge there will be blowback. A lot of gamergaters are good people. Actually, I have yet to come across a real jerk. (It probably means I am that jerk).

  • Simon Jones

    I wonder whether there’s an entire bunch of people who are emotionally entirely inarticulate, and therefore unable to express their thoughts and concerns in any form other than pure hatred?

    Regardless of the actual merits of their arguments the GG crowd employ such woefully self-defeating strategies that it would be funny if it were not so deeply unpleasant.

    Their desperate cry for ‘evidence’ always sounds so plaintive.

  • Jambe

    You’re imagining this; I can tell by the pixels. The interplay of braggadocio and pseudoanonymous communication couldn’t possibly produce such behavior.

    Inconceivable.

    You’re my favorite crazed Hitlerian soshul justiss wor’yur, you sexless Goebbelsesque misandrist. I will gladly support RPS and refer people to this blog since I now see that you’ve turned them both into antihistorical agitprop clearinghouses.

    — Yours in Spite,
    — Jam Bee Antiphallus

  • TolP

    Yeah, one of the boards I post at has some pro GG types. They claim to be anti abuse, but each time someone reported abuse happening in the name of GamerGate they’d respond by questioning whether the abuse was a “false flag” until the mods stepped in and put a stop to it.

    They’d also post pages of snips from social media showing GamerGaters being harassed when posters critical of GamerGate stated that they weren’t questioning these claims-because anybody on the internet can be stupid and can make asses of themselves, the just went completely tone deaf and continued to insist that it was GamerGaters who were being harassed while people claiming to be harassed by GamerGate were obviously false flags.

    In the same breath they’d claim to be policing their own movement and reprimanding abusers and that it was unfair that the media wasn’t reporting this.

    Self awareness isn’t really their thing!

  • Jambe

    TolP: don’t you see? GGers are by and large so thoroughly and effectively self-aware that the hyperbolic reactions and threats at issue can’t possibly be anything more than temporary outbursts from vocal minorities within the movement.

    Something something motes and beams!

  • Dylan Holmes

    I feel like the individual in question doesn’t really understand the themes and lessons of the show from which his avatar originates.

  • OneDay

    When people gathered to commemorate the death of a young adult by local criminals at night (it happens on a regular basis – such is the inevitable casualties of criminality), the crowd wasn’t homogenous. You had the family and the friends, at the front, the locals and neighbors, following.

    Then a little further away, a small group, closely followed by police forces in semi-riot gear. White supremacists, protesting against what they perceive as a “race”/”civilization” war between caucasians and north-africans/middle-easterners – because this time the aggressors were from the project and targeted a local caucasian. The White Power militants finally agreed to not interfere with the post-funeral march, in return they were promised they wouldn’t be arrested (if they remained calm and silent).

    -

    When organizing demonstrations, against unfair labor laws or the privatization of public services, there’s always a very difficult security challenge. Not because of counter-demonstrations – police forces will often respond (if warned early enough with accurate information) on time to prevent unnecessary deaths among civilians.

    The real challenge to organizers is identifying the rioters – including the agent provocateurs, either from the police forces or political opponents, or even political extremists trying to radicalize the movement.

    That’s why a public demonstration has to be “authorized” (when it’s not just to silence a movement of course): the police forces have to make sure the organizers have the funds and expertise to hire/set up a proper security team within the demonstration, while they have to make sure they have all the necessary ‘troops’ and gear to handle the potential riots/fights that could emerge from the initial demonstration.

    -

    What is happening with the whole #GamerGate “movement” is similar, but this time it’s much harder for authorities (police/justice system, organizers) to have a control over the crowd. Same goes with the anti-GamerGate militants.

    In both “groups”, there were a few individuals (using a few hundreds of accounts on various platforms) harassing either prominent members of the opposite group or smaller less significant members, doxxing and sending death threats to them, their families, their friends and their employers.

    Both groups have a large amount of members strictly against harassment, especially when it involves personal information and threats (a big no-no line, that is also a clear legal line).

    Both groups have a small amount of members very actively trying to police the people speaking in the name of their movement, to try to keep it civil and efficient:

    Some members of the GamerGate movement track down any harassment/threats, report them and try to gather data on the authors of these harassment/threats (to either convince them to stop because it’s only hurting the movement, or identify potential agent provocateurs/false flag militants).

    Some members of the anti-GamerGate will publicly voice their disagreement regarding other anti-GamerGate militants threatening and harassing GamerGate members, saying it’s okay to don’t agree with someone but it’s completely wrong to harass and threaten people.

    Sadly, while in the real world it is possible to identify and arrest people breaking the law/public peace, when it happens online it’s nearly impossible to retake control of rioters and agents provocateurs – no matter how strong is the security structure of the movement.

    Now add the fact that GamerGate is a grassroots movement (no leader, no political structure, no spokesperson) – so you can’t even have a leader excommunicating the rogue cells to force them out of the movement’s name – and you have 100-200 very active extremists monopolizing the attention by doing extreme acts (death threats and harassment over and over), while the other 100 000 members struggle to keep up and police them on all online platforms.

    -

    In your case, J.W., the only way to isolate the extremists (of both sides – they need to be tackled simultaneously to lower the level of violence in the interactions between the movements) would be holding out your hand to the most moderate members.

    Oh I know it sounds crazy, and some skeptics will say “But it will mean they won! We must never do that! Fight to the death!”.

    Yes, there’s always the risk of losing face, of seeing the GamerGate extremists parading it as a clear victory, yada yada…

    But what matters the most, what the extremists of both sides will say, or the safety of your own environment and (maybe) improving your relation with the very large and diverse community of gamers in the future, through difficult but fruitful discussion?

    Do you imagine what would happen if you were openly and sincerely discussing the topic of ethics and standards in gaming journalism – including your own situation – while publicly rejecting the extremists in the anti-GamerGate ranks?

    An awful lot of introspection and debate within the GamerGate movement, leading to a much clearer divide between those who want a violent approach and those who want change through peaceful means.

    But I’m afraid it won’t happen, because you would lose friends among game journos/writers and exgame journos/writers now working at PR positions/agencies, you would have to inevitably criticize the way your colleagues work and that’s just not possible.

    -

    This situation reminds me a lot of the Israel/Palestine issue.

    It’s obvious we need peace in that region, it’s obvious we need a two-state solution (we can’t exterminate an entire population, be it palestinians or israelis, that’s just not humane at all).

    But every time someone on either side tried to carefully move toward negotiations and discussions… A more violent faction launched some attacks (or let some attacks happen to launch some counter-attacks ; or made everything it could for some attacks to happen, by preparing large-scale attacks, to justify retaliation when that initial wave of attack if stopped by a preemptive strike), ruining all the efforts of the diplomats and moderates.

    It’s not even a new thing, it has been going on for decades.

    -

    In the case of the GamerGate issue, whenever a prominent game journalist/writer currently being criticized will open up and try to discuss the subject, you can be sure you’ll immediately have:

    1) Anti-GamerGate militants posting screenshots of threats/harassment “You can’t discuss with these kind of people! They’re completely sick, do you even realize how much they made your friends and colleagues suffer? Please, for the sake of the harassment/threats victims, don’t play their game, you must remain united in that war”. It happened countless times with organizations like The Fine Young Capitalist – they were told to stop communicating with 4chan users, no matter how respectful, moderate and open to discussion many of them were.

    If the journalist/writer still carry on with the public discussion, the manipulative extremists will go on reddit/4chan to stir up some more shit to cover the discussion with fresh new harassment “Told you so – now stop talking, you’re only making it worse – see what happens when you discuss with ‘them’ “.

    2) GamerGate extremists and agents provocateurs (coming from misogynists movements and from anti-GamerGate extremists), sending a whole new waves of threats and harassment, to bring back the controversy to a violent war and shut down the ongoing discussion.

    And if all else fail, extremists will call the moderates “traitors” or “brainwashed useful idiots” and try to claim they’re the only authority representing the movement (GG or anti-GG).

    -

    With that in mind, I kinda understand why little to no gaming journalists/writers tried to speak publicly about it – so much to lose (friends, colleagues, career), and no guarantee you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.

    But be sure, J.W., that if you ever want to talk about this openly and honestly – and I really mean it – I will fully defend you against the extremists of all sides.

  • Jonathon Easley

    You got caught in a bald-faced lie, and now you’re backpedaling. They were “horrendous” before, now they’re just “mild, but unrelenting”? What got your family worried? The volume of messages? What is this, Wayne’s World?

    For a journalist, you sure got flustered when people didn’t believe your word. What happened to independent verification? Did you really think people would take your words at face value?

    You probably heard this before, but again: you’re really full of double standards and hypocrisy, John. You thinking you “got this now” really shows that ethical standards in gaming journalism are really at the bottom of the barrel, if John Walker is a moral authority on them. Ironic, isn’t it?

  • John Walker

    @Jonathon Easley – I think your reading comprehension skills may have abandoned you. I’m pretty sure the words “Within them were a number of extremely unpleasant and distressing tweets, with demands that I kill myself and so forth,” appear above.

    Yup, I’ve double-checked. They do.