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Context and Variation

Context and Variation


Human behavior, evolutionary medicine… and ladybusiness.
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Blogging While Female, and Why We Need a Posse

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Two roller derby teams line up at the start of a jam, each team preparing to best support their own jammer.

Twin City Derby Girls, lining up at the start of a jam to support their jammer. My other posse. Photo courtesy of Alex Wild.

The women in scienceblogging session at Science Online this year was very different from last year. More people were venting, and what they were venting was scary: stalkers, rape jokes, physical threats. It has not been a good year to be blogging while female: Elevatorgate was one of the more frightening events I’ve ever observed, because it exposed a level of hatred, of vicious, violent sexism that before that point I would have said was only believed by the tiniest fraction of men. Elevatorgate ramped up the defensiveness and sharpened the fears of women who speak their mind in the skeptical and science blogospheres.

Even when the threats aren’t physical, the antagonism towards women has been nasty. I have been called a sexist, someone who plays victim, told I should be fired, and worse, personal things that I will not relay here. I have had my writing challenged by brash claims regarding my character or intent without any attempt to build a case with evidence.

And even though I can look at the evidence and my writing, at what I do and what I stand for, and know these claims are ridiculous, each one of these attacks shatters me.

Back at my old blog, these attacks would have had little effect on me. At my old blog my posse would have crowded them out, shrugged their way past them until the attackers were shouting uselessly at the periphery. My old blog was a warm, inviting space where I could take risks because people were willing to take them with me.

I could blame the loss of my posse on the commenting system or the more heavily-male readership here at Scientific American and throw up my hands. But I also know I have not been modeling the appropriate behavior to encourage you to get comfortable in my new place. I have left almost all attack comments up rather than delete them because I worried that getting rid of them would open me up to more attacks, or make it look as though I was silencing my opposition. And so I left them, and waited, hoping someone would come and back me up. Sometimes someone would.

Supporting a female blogger under attack in a comment thread is a very risky endeavor. If you are a male ally, you may be afraid of making things worse. If you are a woman, you may be afraid of drawing some of the attack on to you. The attack may also just feel like it’s not your business. It takes a very brave person who doesn’t mind sticking their nose in to put together a reasoned response and handle the blowback.

By letting the oppressive and rude behavior in my comment threads get out of control, I have put my posse in an impossible position. I have silenced potential commenters, and lost the most valuable part of my blogging.

* * *

Science Online was fun, just like last year. But I also felt raw, and exposed, and put on a pedestal. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that so many of you admire my writing and perspective, that you told me you have started to write, or stood up to an adversary, or followed your dream in part due to me. But I do not write well on this pedestal. It wobbles with my every move and there are spikes lining the fall below.

Blogging is a selfish endeavor, a desire to be heard. Blogging is insisting you have something to say. Blogging is saying come here, come here and respond and tell me that at least some of what I am saying means something to you.

And so I am going to be selfish right now. I am asking you to register on this network. You can register as a pseudonym or Anon371 or under your name and only I see your email address. But I want you to register so that you are more likely to comment and participate in this community, because that’s the only way I can get back down.

* * *

In order for you to have the support you need to come back and rebuild our posse, I am enacting a new comment policy here at Context and Variation. The policy is as follows:

  1. Be decent. Decent people don’t attack character and they appreciate genuine attempts to engage, push boundaries or be allies. They avoid rather than embrace belligerence.
  2. Be responsible. Be intolerant of wrongdoing and oppression. Model the kind of behavior that enriches this community.
  3. Provide evidence. Show, don’t tell. Comments that only tell me you hate my conclusions get deleted. Comments that explain what you disagree with and why it is incorrect get to stay.

The science blogging community – and you don’t need to be a blogger to be in this community – is one that has been held together by the decency and strength of Bora Zivkovic. This community operates more like a meritocracy and democracy than many other areas of science because that is what Bora has modeled and what he has demanded of us. But this community grows larger, and one man cannot be expected to hold together the hundreds of thousands of us who engage with science and science writing every day. With scientific literacy more important to economic and political success than ever, yet fewer newspapers with science sections, readers are coming to us. And it’s on all of us to honor the model produced by Bora, Anton Zuiker, Karyn Traphagen and so many others by being responsible and supporting each other.

We all have different ways of supporting community, and different ideas of civility. I’ve only articulated what I expect on my blog. Clearer articulation and enforcement of these policies in our own spaces will create the spaces we need to maximize our impact and honor our communities.

Kate Clancy About the Author: Dr. Kate Clancy is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She studies the evolutionary medicine of women’s reproductive physiology, and blogs about her field, the evolution of human behavior and issues for women in science. Find her comment policy here. Follow on Twitter @KateClancy.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Comments 122 Comments

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  1. 1. edyong209 6:17 pm 01/24/2012

    Got your back.

    Link to this
  2. 2. chemlily 6:21 pm 01/24/2012

    Delurking and now registered!

    Link to this
  3. 3. Carin 6:41 pm 01/24/2012

    Well put Kate. I think your synopsis speaks volumes to what several female bloggers are currently experiencing, and I admire your candor. I’m looking forward to seeing some great conversations in your comments, and those of others. We’ve all got to make it very clear what we’re willing to engage when it comes to this very personal space.

    Link to this
  4. 4. ejwillingham 6:41 pm 01/24/2012

    Have been registered here for quite awhile (it’s reasonably painless, y’all, so do it if you can!). I understand your discomfort with the pedestal but also note that what you have written here attests to your ownership of this fight and your willingness to engage in it–with backup. So…I will always, always be here for that.

    Link to this
  5. 5. Patrick Clarkin 6:44 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m in your corner, Kate.

    Link to this
  6. 6. MatthewRFrancis 6:46 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m also registered from a while back, so please count me in on your posse.

    Link to this
  7. 7. kclancy 6:48 pm 01/24/2012

    You always do, Ed, and for that I am endlessly grateful.

    Chemlily, a pleasure to meet you!

    Carin, thanks and I also look forward to more conversations in all our blogs on this network, most certainly including yours!

    And Emily, thank you for always being here and being part of this work to eliminate sexism.

    Link to this
  8. 8. anna_lauren 6:49 pm 01/24/2012

    Registered! And thank you for this post … happy to join the posse!

    Link to this
  9. 9. Janet D. Stemwedel 6:49 pm 01/24/2012

    Cosign.

    Sometimes it feels like there’s value to leaving awful stuff up so that we bloggers are not the only ones seeing the awful stuff. However, when the awful stuff just doesn’t advance the conversation we’re trying to have, it’s a nuisance and worse.

    Thanks, as always, for building our community as you advance our understanding of ladybusiness.

    Link to this
  10. 10. thankascientist 6:53 pm 01/24/2012

    done. I like what you say about not having to be a blogger to be part of the science blogging community. I want to support scienceblogging while female however I can.

    Link to this
  11. 11. mgoldstein 6:54 pm 01/24/2012

    Done. Could you please send out a Twitter alert when you need to call in the posse? I don’t usually read comments (and I feel like I live under a rock at the bottom on the sea) so I don’t necessarily know when shit goes ill.

    Link to this
  12. 12. Stephanie Z 6:55 pm 01/24/2012

    I had to register here to deal with my own set of trolls on my guest posts. As Bora said at the time, he knew he didn’t have to worry about my ability on that score. I’m not as involved in comment threads as I used to be, but I’m still happy to lend an elbow when I know one is needed. Just holler.

    I do have to ask, though. Who on Earth thinks someone can do roller derby from a pedestal? ;)

    Link to this
  13. 13. RogerTheGeek 7:01 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m a brother to four sisters and an uncle many times over including grand nieces. I find it hard to stomach so many men who seem to be so violent towards women. It seems like they have a problem with any woman who speaks up or has an opinion. My hope is they see themselves when they read about “elevator guy” or other stories women write about and try to change their ways.

    Link to this
  14. 14. Banksy 7:03 pm 01/24/2012

    Hey, it’s me, Artologica. Can’t remember why I chose this name on SciAm, but anyway, I’m in!

    Link to this
  15. 15. mem from somerville 7:05 pm 01/24/2012

    For a long time I commented on sites in a gender-neutral way, and then realized that it probably wasn’t helping. It made it seem there were no (or few) women in the conversation.

    So I’ve gone more public with my gender and a female icon even if my name isn’t attached. I know it’s hard to ask others to consider that, but I am glad to have done it.

    Link to this
  16. 16. DavidManly 7:08 pm 01/24/2012

    Great post, Kate. I also mentioned this in my blog post, where I gave both you and Sci Curious’ session a big shout out (as well as the tenacity and courage you both have for dealing with horrible comments). You can read it here: http://davidmanlysblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/science-online-2012-post-mortem.html

    And I’ve always got your back, and any time you need me, just give a shout. I’m proud to be a member of your posse.

    I’ve been registered here ever since I started blogging for SciAm, and I’m happy to add my voice to yours.

    Link to this
  17. 17. jbyoder 7:10 pm 01/24/2012

    Reporting for duty.

    I’d pretty much given up on the SciAm comments section after wrangling with the folks who showed up for Jesse Bering’s original “adaptive homophobia” post; my approach to dealing with jerks is to duck out of the room. But leaving folks I like and respect alone with the jerks is kind of a jerk move itself, isn’t it? Sorry about that.

    Link to this
  18. 18. jasongoldman 7:13 pm 01/24/2012

    Here!

    Link to this
  19. 19. Cotesia1 7:30 pm 01/24/2012

    Kate, it was a true privilege to witness you and Emily (+ others) discussing this very topic in that oh so hot hotel lobby. So glad that you took this step. And I will make a point of commenting more; to ask questions and to give support. M

    Link to this
  20. 20. chemjobber 7:30 pm 01/24/2012

    Yeah, that’s doable.

    Link to this
  21. 21. jendavison 7:33 pm 01/24/2012

    I agree with thankascientist; I’m not a blogger but I want to support science bloggers, whether they’re male, female or other. the #bswf session at #scio12 was mind-blowing.

    Link to this
  22. 22. CackleOfRad 7:36 pm 01/24/2012

    CoR represents!

    Link to this
  23. 23. ShipLives 7:43 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m in. Also, I like the idea of using Twitter to give folks a heads up when support is needed.

    Link to this
  24. 24. Kerstin 7:46 pm 01/24/2012

    Hey Kate!
    Here I am . Just call.

    Link to this
  25. 25. CogSciLibrarian 7:55 pm 01/24/2012

    registered and supporting. I think your comment policy is strong and clear.

    Link to this
  26. 26. kristilewton 7:56 pm 01/24/2012

    I was already registered, but in the past I’ve generally stayed out of comments. No longer!

    (seconding the hollering/alerting/tweeting about volatile threads. I’m often unaware until way late)

    Link to this
  27. 27. kclancy 7:59 pm 01/24/2012

    Jeez Louise people. A million times thank you.

    And I think we need to get one of the amazing SciArt folks to make us a bat signal so we can posse up on anyone’s posts who needs a hand dealing with oppressive behavior.

    Link to this
  28. 28. nmtucson 8:06 pm 01/24/2012

    Hi Kate. Saddling up and joining the posse. As a veteran of the women’s movement in the 70s, it does my heart good to see younger women both gaining access to available opportunities like science blogging and shouldering the responsibilities that go with them. Keep up the great work.

    Link to this
  29. 29. sckavassalis 8:08 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m in. I often feel nervous about commenting in troll heavy threads, because I hate drawing the ire my way, but that’s no reason to let other people take it. My commenting anxiety is no reason not to support the bloggers I admire; I’ll have your back.

    Link to this
  30. 30. Denise Graveline 8:10 pm 01/24/2012

    Kate, the posse’s here in force.

    I’m glad you blogged about the session, which was sometimes hard to follow on Twitter. It is no comfort to me to share that the same things happen to women when they speak in public (and that’s not a new thing; see http://eloquentwoman.blogspot.com/2011/07/faceless-bitch-slide-why-women-have.html).

    Requiring registration and moderating comments are just sensible. But don’t take on yourself responsibility for others’ failure to comment–that is theirs alone. We can all do better.

    Link to this
  31. 31. Crazybasenji 8:19 pm 01/24/2012

    Oooh, bats. I like. And one lurker, previously too lazy to register, comes out of the shadows. Even observing SciO12 from afar, on Twitter, has changed my perception. I’m not much of a barker, but can be induced to bite.

    Link to this
  32. 32. lawhite 8:22 pm 01/24/2012

    Another non-blogger who generally stays out of the comments here who is willing to sign up for duty. But I’d also like a twitter-call if possible.

    Lori <- as in female White

    Link to this
  33. 33. DevelopmentalPsychologist 8:28 pm 01/24/2012

    I love your blog and I’m so glad you encouraged readers to register. I’m now delurked! For me, that’s why I haven’t commented since you moved to Scientific American. I already have so many accounts with so many websites, you know? I’m sorry that you’ve felt hung out to dry & unsupported. From here on out – got your back! Please keep the great posts coming.

    Link to this
  34. 34. marynmck 8:44 pm 01/24/2012

    Proud to be considered among your crew, Kate.

    Link to this
  35. 35. scicurious 8:45 pm 01/24/2012

    Eeep! I’m late! Sci reporting for duty, and requesting a position as a blocker on your internet-derby team.

    And I would like to state that Kate has been AMAZING in my comment threads, along with Stephanie, Jason T, and others. I proud to be part of this internet posse, and I’ve got your back!

    Link to this
  36. 36. clearlycriticalthinking 8:55 pm 01/24/2012

    Inspirational and informative, the post above is an excellent example of the importance of blogging with a very specific focus on fine tuning the accuracy of the communication. If accuracy is the priority, excluding all personal attacks, insults, etc. increases the quality of information covered regardless of the subject.

    Link to this
  37. 37. Alex Wild 9:00 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m in too. Sounds like fun.

    Now we just need someone to send over a troll.

    Link to this
  38. 38. mistersugar 9:05 pm 01/24/2012

    Thank you for raising expectations! We should expect each other to treat each other well, in word and in deed. I’m here for you.

    Link to this
  39. 39. infectenthuse 9:06 pm 01/24/2012

    I’m also a lurker, but no more. Thanks for calling me out and giving me the push I needed. I’m happy to help and ride with the posse.

    Link to this
  40. 40. Mammals Suck... Milk! 9:06 pm 01/24/2012

    Signed up and signing in! Also in the process of that I actually read the terms and conditions and turns out that all of us agreed to “not upload to, distribute or otherwise publish through this site any content that (i) is libelous, defamatory, obscene, threatening, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, infringing on intellectual property rights, abusive, illegal or otherwise objectionable”

    Link to this
  41. 41. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 9:08 pm 01/24/2012

    DevelopmentalPsychologist – I really didn’t feel hung out to dry and hope that’s not the impression I gave. Rather, I don’t think I set up the appropriate community by putting you guys in a position where you would have to engage with trolls in order to comment on the blog. That is simply unfair to you all. So, I moderate every comment from here on out and that way you never have to deal with it on your end.

    Link to this
  42. 42. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 9:09 pm 01/24/2012

    clearlycriticalthinking, I agree. That’s why I want to change the tone of the comment thread and get it back to something more constructive. Thanks for commenting!

    Link to this
  43. 43. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 9:11 pm 01/24/2012

    Yes Mammals Suck, interesting how few of my previous commenters were paying attention to those rather important terms and conditions. The most recent comment I deleted on my previous post easily fit into obscene, threatening and abusive, so yay! It’s like comment troll bingo!

    Link to this
  44. 44. David Kroll 9:14 pm 01/24/2012

    I’ve also been registered but have not been as good as I should in coming over to help my friends.

    You send up the bat signal and I’m here.

    Link to this
  45. 45. DevelopmentalPsychologist 9:14 pm 01/24/2012

    Ahhh, got it. That was probably just me reading into it too much. In any case, thanks for the encouragement to register! I always look forward to your posts.

    Link to this
  46. 46. ejwillingham 9:18 pm 01/24/2012

    Kate, when we want to give a vaxfax bat signal on Twitter, we use a hashtag. Cleverly enough, it is “pathogenposse.” Perhaps a similar one when needed in these circumstances? You should have a contest. :)

    Link to this
  47. 47. bjkingape 9:35 pm 01/24/2012

    Registered previously, commenting now, Kate. I support what you are suggesting here. As a woman blogger, I hear you. When I posted one week at NPR a science-based piece critical of some aspects of the very popular paleo-diet, a whole tribe of very threatened “paleo” males came after me, including some who made disturbingly personal comments (some in public, some sent privately to my email). I fear most of us endure this, and we do need to share collective support. I’m ready to offer mine.

    Link to this
  48. 48. unsorted 9:56 pm 01/24/2012

    Registered. – A male ally from India

    Link to this
  49. 49. Peter Krautzberger 10:13 pm 01/24/2012

    done.

    Link to this
  50. 50. KDCosta 10:30 pm 01/24/2012

    Solidarity, Kate. Thanks for taking a stand.

    Link to this
  51. 51. TheCellularScale 10:40 pm 01/24/2012

    I am just getting started in the science blogging scene, and am new to the ‘blogging while female’ discussion. I am here to do what I can though!

    Link to this
  52. 52. Capularis 10:47 pm 01/24/2012

    It’s not only hard on the writer, but also on the reader.I have stopped visiting certain blogs because I don’t want to have to filter through all the hate. All bloggers should be filtering comments using policies such as your own.

    Good on yer!

    Link to this
  53. 53. Fubarchaeo 10:51 pm 01/24/2012

    Long time reader, (very) short time poster here to support. Us anthro gals need to stick together anywho.

    Link to this
  54. 54. luaprelkniw 10:58 pm 01/24/2012

    Dr. Clancy, I have registered, which is against my usual policy. However, I feel strongly that your cause is just and is vitally important.

    Link to this
  55. 55. Melanie Tannenbaum 11:13 pm 01/24/2012

    Ooh, I want to be in the posse! I love posses!

    Link to this
  56. 56. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 11:14 pm 01/24/2012

    bjkingape – thanks so much. Once we figure out our bat signal, any and all women being attacked in gendered ways should be able to use it. So I hope you’ll rally the troops to your NPR work whenever needed as well!

    Link to this
  57. 57. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 11:15 pm 01/24/2012

    Capularis, I agree and this is why I’ve enacted this policy. It’s disheartening for me, but also for readers to have to deal with hateful speech. Thanks so much for registering and commenting.

    Link to this
  58. 58. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 11:16 pm 01/24/2012

    Heh. Melanie, you know you were already in the posse :) .

    Of course, it’s a pretty inclusive posse. It includes anyone able to abide by the comment policy, so my hope is that it only gets bigger.

    Link to this
  59. 59. bugdoc 11:23 pm 01/24/2012

    Long-time, quiet supporter. Thank you for all that you do. I’ve been a part of the #pathogenposse and #friendsofRen, both of which have given me a different perspective re the online community, and how great and strong that community can be. Happy to join you more publicly.
    Judy Stone

    Link to this
  60. 60. barbye 11:40 pm 01/24/2012

    officially not a lurker anymore =)

    Link to this
  61. 61. ascendentphoenix 11:42 pm 01/24/2012

    Just registered. Thank you for working so hard and so publicly against sexism, despite the difficulties you’ve faced.

    Link to this
  62. 62. notanester 11:52 pm 01/24/2012

    Hi! I registered a while ago but I never was in the habit of logging into SciAm. I will do so (and comment!) more often. I’ve been pondering recently how one would deal with things like this (negativity) on blogs esp. if and when you blog under your real name, so this post is timely and yes, an important time for the ladybizposse to come out!

    Link to this
  63. 63. TKNalley 12:11 am 01/25/2012

    Finally delurking too. Thanks kristilewton for passing this along and kclancy for doing what you do!

    Link to this
  64. 64. Nestfluff 12:58 am 01/25/2012

    Registered and delurking. Or hopefully delurking — I’m a chronic lurker since (as you know much better than I ever could) speaking up is hard and scary! But I’ll try to do more of it to support you and others who do definitely deserve more support for exactly that reason.

    Link to this
  65. 65. Shannon Rosa 1:19 am 01/25/2012

    Right here. Following Emily Willingham’s lead, unsurprisingly.

    Link to this
  66. 66. Bora Zivkovic 1:22 am 01/25/2012

    First, I want to thank everyone for registering and commenting. And thanks Kate for rallying the troops to register. As you noticed, “registration” is really a misnomer – it is a simple “login” which just happens to occur on a page different from the blog post itself.

    New commenting system is in the works – it takes some time to implement this on a site that is a part of a site that is a part of a site, each using different software, so things need to be all coordinated, etc., but it will get done and you’ll have options to register/login in various ways from totally pseudonymous to using your real name and identifier you may want to use to gather your online impact.

    Commenting is a privilege, not a right. The Free Speech clause that Americans cherish does not mean that every online space is a free-speech space for everyone in the world. This is a personal blog – this is Kate’s living room so she gets to decide what kind of tone the discussions here will be. If unhappy – start your own blog.

    Well moderated communities have the best discussions. 90% of the people do not comment. They are even less likely to comment if they see that the existing commenters are nasty – why bother mixing it up with such people and getting drowned in the noise? But when the comment thread is cleaned up, and actively and obviously so, more people are willing to contribute intelligent discourse – they see that the blog owner is in charge and will defend them.

    SciAm has had commenting for almost a decade now, so there are many people with registrations. Some of them are here specifically to push their agendas, e.g., anti-vaxx or GW denialism, because this is a prominent science site. Until pretty recently we did not have good moderation practices, so these people felt their oats and felt freedom to troll to their hearts’ delight. It is hard work to reverse this quickly, but bloggers are good at that, so a lot of putting people in place happens on blogs, rather than on news articles. Gradually, the commenting community here will become more constructive – and I hope you all help whenever you can.

    I like to keep my own commenters a little on the edge – no clear rules of moderation, which means I can be capricious. So the rule is: don’t make me mad. Which means – start out gentle and see how far I’ll let you go. I also have different criteria depending on the topic of the post (allowing more heated stuff on some posts than the others), and depending on the blog (remember I run something like 5-6 blogs on the network myself – I am much more likely to be protective of Guest Blog authors, or the students on SA Incubator, than on my own personal blog here).

    Sometimes I invoke the rule of “three strikes and out”. When confronted with this rule, some initially nasty commenters disappear, but others say sorry and continue being good contributors. This seems to work on some people – I have gained, through this approach, some very good commenters (though often disagreeing with me on many issues due to different politics etc) who were uniformly banned as trolls from many other science blogs.

    So, different strategies work for different people – some appreciate getting a nice welcome and a gentle reminder of the standards of my blog, while others understand only the language of force. But it is essential for me to always start the process by reminding myself that even the nastiest commenter is a human being, deserving at least some respect and a second chance (which they have a right to blow). And more contentious the comment thread, more important it is for me to be there, reply, show that I am watching, reading and am in control of my own blog space.

    Yet even I had to go to Twitter to ask for help on a couple of occasions when I got avalanches of trolls – it works. Your online friends will come if you call them.

    When it comes to coming to help other bloggers on the network, I am a little hesitant. It is like having a party and then some neighbors call in the cops because it’s noisy. After the cops arrive, the party is essentially over. As the Editor here, I feel I can be perceived as that cop, and I don’t want to stop the discussion and make everyone too nervous to continue commenting. But I have done this on occasion – either when it was obvious that the cop was needed, or in case of some very new/young bloggers, being unsure how to deal with trolls. Most of the SciAm bloggers are quite experienced and savvy, but not all are and I need to take special care of the people who may not be able to defend themselves as well. But call me if you need me, any time.

    Link to this
  67. 67. archmeg 1:30 am 01/25/2012

    Registered!

    I love the Bat Signal Idea – maybe a silhouette of a troll clubbing the female symbol? (someone else go with it – I’m ideas, not design)

    Link to this
  68. 68. JonathanEisen 3:30 am 01/25/2012

    Kate

    I went to this session at Science Online 2012 largely in honor of a friend – a female science blogger – who recently passed away – and who before that had told me of some of her travails relating to blogging while female. But I was not aware of the depth of the depravity out there until the session. It truly saddened me – and I am still reeling about this. I do not think there is any one specific solution to the problems discussed here and in the session — but what we can all do is offer our support to whomever is attacked, help them respond, and do our best to eliminate the trolls. I have now registered here and I willingly, openly and enthusiastically join up for your posse, and for the posse of anyone else in need of help.

    Link to this
  69. 69. Lucas 3:46 am 01/25/2012

    Kate, thanks for organizing the session at scio12 and writing this post. It really opened my eyes to the incredible hardships women bloggers have to go through. Needless to say, I’d be honoured to be part of this amazing posse that you’ve gathered.

    Link to this
  70. 70. sharmanedit 4:08 am 01/25/2012

    I’ve just registered. I’ve just set up a blog of my own (http://sharmanedit.wordpress.com, about publishing in scientific journals), so it is partly for selfish motives that I join the posse. I have never experienced the kind of sexist abuse online that you describe here and find it hard to believe that I ever will, but if I do I now know where to come for help. And if you choose a hashtag for calling in the posse, I’ll try to heed the call (I don’t generally read Sci Am blogs unless alerted via twitter). Thanks for this post!

    Link to this
  71. 71. Eleanor100 4:34 am 01/25/2012

    I didn’t reply to the idiot comments because I thought it gave them more attention than they deserved. And I hate talking to idiots :( But I can see that it has meant I don’t comment at all end the end.

    Link to this
  72. 72. Djuke Veldhuis 4:52 am 01/25/2012

    Snap to previous comments. Finally (!) registered and also got your back. Time is an issue as always, I should comment more on many of the excellent blogs/stories/features that people like yourself work so hard on.

    Link to this
  73. 73. *sigh*ence 6:34 am 01/25/2012

    Girl Power!!

    Link to this
  74. 74. tobywolf13 9:13 am 01/25/2012

    Also delurking.

    Link to this
  75. 75. Mammals Suck... Milk! 10:03 am 01/25/2012

    Kate and Bora, you guys are awesome.

    Link to this
  76. 76. Southern Fried Scientist 10:04 am 01/25/2012

    Southern Fried Science reporting for active duty.

    Link to this
  77. 77. jdupuis 10:58 am 01/25/2012

    I’m here too.

    You might want to check out the Boing Boing commenting policy: http://boingboing.net/2009/10/01/commenting.html

    They have an interesting policy of disemvoweling inappropriate comments. It simultaneously calls them out as inappropriate while obscuring them and making them easy to ignore but not impossible to decipher.

    Link to this
  78. 78. llewelly 11:09 am 01/25/2012

    “I have left almost all attack comments up rather than delete them
    because I worried that getting rid of them would open me up to more
    attacks …”

    This is like leaving up graffiti on the belief that cleaning it off
    the walls will encourage more of it. The opposite happens. People see
    viciousness, they figure they can get away with a little of it
    themselves, and they join in.

    Link to this
  79. 79. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 11:10 am 01/25/2012

    Eleanor100, you shouldn’t have to respond, it’s not your job! I wanted my posse back because yes, it’s nice to not be the only one dealing with trolls, but mainly because I wanted to have more of a conversation in the comment thread. I was tired of meaningless fights where the trolls are entrenched on their side and never provide rationale or evidence for their positions. So, I just won’t tolerate belligerence or disagreement for the sake of disagreement any more. That way you never have to :) .

    Link to this
  80. 80. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 11:13 am 01/25/2012

    jdupuis, I do love that policy. I considered mimicking it but ended up going with something a little different. I think Boing Boing has a bit more levity and so the disemvoweling works really well for their community. But yes, I do like that policy a lot.

    Krystal D’Costa just came up with her own comment policy at Anthropology in Practice that uses Dr. Seuss: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anthropology-in-practice/2012/01/24/aip-stands-with-context-and-variation/

    Link to this
  81. 81. Alex Merz 11:51 am 01/25/2012

    De-cloaked & present. Forge ahead.

    Link to this
  82. 82. Sandra Aamodt 12:00 pm 01/25/2012

    OK, I’ve registered and followed you on Twitter so I’ll get the batsignal. I’m in.

    Link to this
  83. 83. JeanneGarb 12:25 pm 01/25/2012

    Hi Kate:
    Count me in. I will always stand up for women’s rights. ALWAYS. Thanks for being such an outstanding voice in this movement.
    -Jeanne

    Link to this
  84. 84. sharayurkiewicz 12:33 pm 01/25/2012

    I often rail against blatant and latent sexism in private, but I don’t make it into a public battle. I am grateful for those who do. I am proud to stand behind you.

    Link to this
  85. 85. PaulMcBride 1:55 pm 01/25/2012

    Adding my name to the list and officially lending firm but polite support. It’s great that you’ve taken the stand.

    Link to this
  86. 86. Kadana 2:04 pm 01/25/2012

    Female. Delurking. Don’t know why I never registered before, come to think of it — it’s brighter in the light!

    Link to this
  87. 87. PBandJ 2:13 pm 01/25/2012

    I must start by saying~I am not the usual participant in the blog world. This is a first for me. I love science and the power of evidence based practice and medicine. Kate, find strength in TROLLS let them motivate you to continue your efforts to inform and discuss with your blog. Don’t let the ignorant and those who judge with selfish views diminish your passion. You will always have the BLOWHARDS in a community of debate. Let them drive you to be a force of knowledge to empower others. Stand TALL and be proud of your efforts to have a voice and place value on your courage to put it in writing.
    Just sayin~

    Link to this
  88. 88. afuentes 2:44 pm 01/25/2012

    Thanks for posting this Kate… great turn out in response. Good to see this kind of support.

    Link to this
  89. 89. gerty-z 4:52 pm 01/25/2012

    Kate, I am one of those that has been irritated by the need to register and jump through hoops to comment over here. But you convinced me. I’m here to help–please consider me one of the blockers on the internet-derby team.

    What is the twitter # bat-call? I wanna get a search saved so that I don’t miss anything.

    Link to this
  90. 90. Anne Jefferson 5:10 pm 01/25/2012

    Here I am. Your posse is not silent any more.

    Link to this
  91. 91. gregdowney 5:50 pm 01/25/2012

    .5 of Neuroanthropology here, too, reporting for duty with Y chromosome!

    Seriously, Kate, don’t be afraid to delete comments. I do it frequently. I don’t like people being rude (especially to guest post writers or colleagues — I’m pretty thick skinned), and I see no reason to provide a platform for rank idiocy. I don’t even acknowledge that I’ve deleted comments. Repeat offenders should know that their effort to deface our sites are all a waste of their finite lifespans with zero effect.

    You provide us all a service by writing and sharing your thoughts in a balanced and thoughtful way — don’t let anyone dump on you for doing it. On sites where commenters are allowed to get into slagging matches with each other and the writers and moderators, it can be a waste of our time and energy. As an early career academic, Kate, especially a talented write, please don’t waste your time or energy with it.

    That said, I’d be devastated (devó as we say here in Oz) if you stopped — please keep up with the great Context and Variation. Letting graffiti stay on buildings doesn’t convince other vandals that vandalizing is a bad idea; leaving up awful, personal, vitriolic comments doesn’t persuade people who like that sort of thing that it’s a bad idea.

    To the horses — there’s trolls in the forest!

    Link to this
  92. 92. BrianSchmidt 6:07 pm 01/25/2012

    Delurked and registered. Swamping the trolls is a good idea. My version of this was to crowd-source the screening of abusive comments:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/11/crowd-sourced-screening-of.html

    But a posse might be much easier to pull off.

    Link to this
  93. 93. ewanmcnay 6:13 pm 01/25/2012

    Heck of a posse. Glad to be a member. But I suck mightiy at all forms of skating.

    Link to this
  94. 94. ewanmcnay 6:13 pm 01/25/2012

    …and apparently I need an ‘edit’ button to avoid misspelling mightily..

    Link to this
  95. 95. Odyssey 8:40 pm 01/25/2012

    I’m late. And I can’t rollerskate. But I’m willing to learn. I’m in.

    Link to this
  96. 96. Jennifer Ouellette 11:30 am 01/26/2012

    Count me in too! Enough is enough.

    Link to this
  97. 97. matthartings 1:38 pm 01/26/2012

    In!!!
    You’re the best, Kate. I really appreciate all of your advice and your willingness to chat this past weekend.

    Link to this
  98. 98. grandma 3:06 pm 01/26/2012

    in honor of my daughters, granddaughters, and great granddaughters, count me in.

    Link to this
  99. 99. briannev 3:50 pm 01/26/2012

    I’d already registered but this is my first official comment. I’m in, absolutely.

    Link to this
  100. 100. duffy_ma 5:33 pm 01/26/2012

    I’m registered now, so count me in.

    Link to this
  101. 101. michellespidermonkey 11:57 pm 01/26/2012

    I have now registered and am joining the posse!

    Link to this
  102. 102. Kate Clancy in reply to Kate Clancy 12:12 am 01/27/2012

    Odyssey, roller skating is not a requirement (if it helps, I didn’t know how to skate when I started playing derby).

    Matthartings, I can’t imagine anything I said was the least bit useful, but thank you. You are very kind :) .

    grandma, you seem like a pretty darn cool person.

    To everyone: thank you a million times over. I am overwhelmed and embarrassed. But I am so glad to have my people back. I hope we continue the conversation here and in future posts.

    Link to this
  103. 103. CariRich 11:45 am 01/27/2012

    Always happy to be a part of your posse. Always.

    Link to this
  104. 104. Superbug 5:29 pm 01/27/2012

    Been registered for a bit. ^_^

    Also, no more taking crap from trolls (with or without posse). Don’t feel like you have to leave the hurtful comments up even when it seems like no one is on your side. Active debate is one thing. Being a jerkface is something different.

    <3, MRSA

    Link to this
  105. 105. MarkmBha 2:10 pm 01/28/2012

    Amazing what people write!

    Link to this
  106. 106. CogSciLibrarian 7:36 pm 01/28/2012

    writing again for a few reasons:
    * to thank Bora for articulating his comment policy
    * to say how amazed I feel at all the support offered here
    * to say I vow to write and support more at lots of blogs, when I can
    * to say “count me in” for the bat signal / hashtag.

    Link to this
  107. 107. Glendon Mellow 10:11 pm 01/28/2012

    Sometimes Kate, on posts like yours and frequently on Stephanie Zvan’s, I agree and don’t feel like I can articulate anything supportive or helpful. So I’m too quiet. I spoke briefly with Stephanie about it, and I should speak up, if for no other reason than you know another commenter is here.

    Got yer back.

    Link to this
  108. 108. microdro 11:05 pm 01/28/2012

    Done. ~

    Link to this
  109. 109. MexicoMarti 4:13 pm 01/29/2012

    I’m in.

    Link to this
  110. 110. Liath 9:14 pm 01/29/2012

    I’ve registered and I’m happy to join your posse. Though I really don’t understand what motivates trolls.

    Link to this
  111. 111. wetcoaster 3:35 pm 01/30/2012

    Thanks for the great work.

    Link to this
  112. 112. Physicsgirl 9:25 am 01/31/2012

    I’m here too. De-lurking. Keep it up!

    Link to this
  113. 113. superchkn 1:39 pm 01/31/2012

    You made a lot of great points and the link regarding Elevatorgate was a great read as well. People that haven’t experienced discrimination seem to have a difficult time understanding that it even exists and the destructive effect it has. Or maybe they don’t want to admit that they themselves harbor prejudices; and we all know it’s easier to sweep that fact under the rug than take the effort to make the change. Or maybe it is all down to just an attempt to retain a sense of power over others. Whatever the cause, count me in and good luck as, in my experience, this is going to be a long fight.

    Link to this
  114. 114. Paleoecologist 6:46 pm 01/31/2012

    This is so awesome on so many levels. Can we have t-shirts made?

    I’m Jacquelyn Gill, by the way – this is an old account, though I’m tempted to make a second one with my real name. I figure there aren’t that many paleoecologists in the posse, though, right? Right?

    Link to this
  115. 115. masshistoria 9:17 pm 02/4/2012

    better late than never. count me in for t-shirts.

    Link to this
  116. 116. tom_wise 8:24 pm 02/10/2012

    Registered~

    Link to this
  117. 117. lamcnam 11:11 pm 02/12/2012

    That lovely takedown of John Tierney got me to register. The possibility of being able to back you up – well, that’sjust gravy. Go grrrrl!

    Link to this
  118. 118. WildwoodFlower 11:07 pm 02/28/2012

    Better late than never. Newly registered posse joiner.

    Link to this
  119. 119. mikaelmm 12:36 pm 08/23/2012

    Already registered, always listening/learning, making presence.

    Link to this
  120. 120. anthro_girl 8:13 pm 02/21/2013

    Now THIS is being fashionably late! Still, better late than never.

    Link to this
  121. 121. Moulton 5:21 am 06/30/2013

    Thrilled to be among like-minded scientists.

    Link to this
  122. 122. palabrera 11:22 am 07/1/2013

    Honored to join the posse and delighted with the menopause piece. My mother was a pioneer feminist anthropologist who had the nerve to challenge the racism of Levi-Strauss, in the early 1970s, in Chicago. Her spirit is in your posse, too. Aurora Levins Morales

    Link to this

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