Women, The Internet, and Trolling


This makes me so sad—a feeling that is enhanced by the fact that there are so many awesome chicks who are part of this community.

I’m not posting this to discourage anyone from continuing to contribute to the degree that you do, as all of you are what makes this community amazing. But it’s also a sobering reminder to be careful in how you present yourself both here and elsewhere online, regardless of your gender or how well known you are (although historically women seem to be a bigger target). We can’t control how people conduct themselves on Twitter or other social media, but we can promise that this platform will never, ever tolerate harassment of any kind.

If you haven’t followed Kathy Sierra or her story, be sure to check out the archive of her Creating Passionate Users blog, which was a huge inspiration for me years ago.


Wow, this article was an eye opener. I don’t really use twitter and don’t have a big presence on the net, but I do know trolling from some of my time playing online PC games. Especially the ones that are viewed as for a more male audience. It makes me sad as well, the length at which people will go to, and the enjoyment they get from it.

Thanks for sharing Matt, as I didn’t know that this occurs in technology communities to this degree.


This is something that I feel really strongly about. I’ve been part of technology communities for over 10 years now and I’ve been harassed a number of times, to varying degrees. The reason that I use HAWK is because it is gender ambiguous. I think it’s important to remember that this doesn’t only happen to women, but I can only speak for myself. People hide behind their anonymity and it is gutless and truly, truly disappointing.


It really is an awful thing.

Face to face harassment is pretty bad- believe me I’ve seen it go further than I ever imagined it could - but I think online trolls are much worse. My online presence is starting to grow and it hasn’t happened yet but I know there’s a chance it will.

The worst online trolling I’ve ever seen was on two different fitness forums. It was brutal! I’m a plus size girl and there are some really stupid people out there, so I’ve been called just about every name you can think of in face to face situations. Usually in places like shopping centres or the gym. At the supermarket, I was called names because I had a packet of corn chips in my trolley- seriously, am I not allowed to take chips and dip to a barbeque?! A guy at the gym took it upon himself to inform me that he felt my “quality of life must be pretty miserable”- cool story, thanks for sharing.

In person I actually find it easier to deal with it because I can just laugh at them and then they get really angry which is even funnier! But online, seeing it in writing and reading it in your head and ‘hearing’ it in your voice is quite awful. I reached out for advice once on one of those fitness forums and got slaughtered by a moderator of all people who swore at me! The other fitness site I used was just filled with other people’s self hatred that it just fed on itself until it spiraled out of control.

It’s NEVER about you- it’s always about them. It took me a long time to make peace with who I am inside and out and they cannot take that away from me.

Thanks for sharing this Matt :slight_smile: This community has always made me feel safe and welcome and I take great pride in welcoming new members here because I know they will have a good experience :slight_smile: