A message to the jerk who tried to ruin my blog

I contemplated for a long time whether or not I should write something about this. After all, the (most likely unemployed and sexually frustrated) man who has been amusing himself by writing dirty comments on my blog is simply seeking attention. Therefore, by writing something about him, I’m probably doing exactly what he wants.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that for whatever reason some jerk has been writing dozens of horribly inappropriate comments on my blog, using either “Dominique Strauss-Kahn” or “Michael Arrington” as his name. Most of you have probably already seen them, but if not here’s a sample of some of the comments I’ve received (nice job hacking and using this IP address and this one*)

 

Now, some people have told me this is part of the job – that being a blogger in the public eye has it’s drawbacks. OK, I agree, after all, Michael Arrington has had his fair share of being called horrible things. And someone went as far as to spit on him. But I highly doubt that any man has ever received these types of comments on his blog.

Quick fix.

It’s not a huge deal and fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix the problem:  I’ve decided to moderate comments on my blog. Therefore, anytime someone wants to comment, I will receive an email and validate the comment before it appears on my site. This does not stop the good old jerk from attempting to post his terrible comments and crowding my inbox, but at least my blog can go back to looking professional again.

No man’s blog.

The sad thing is that this kind of kills my blog (ok, I’m exaggerating, but still…). One of the main features of a blog that distinguishes it from more traditional media forms is that readers can comment and exchange thoughts – in real time. Not only does comment validation mean that I will receive fewer comments (because now people will feel that they need to pay more attention to what they write), it also takes away from the real-time aspect of my blog.

More than lipstick and a pair of shoes.

Yes, it probably sounds a little melodramatic. I’m a girl, a tech blogger and here I am getting digitally harassed by some loser online. Oh boo-hoo. But then again, writing is my job and this blog – no matter how silly it may seem – is how I got my current job.

And I’ve gotten a variety of rather odd/insulting comments from men as a result of my being a female in the tech world. For example, A male classmate of mine last year told me that he “saw me as a man” because I spent so much time in front of my computer. Ha, really? Another time, I was given a demo of a content platform where the entrepreneur thought I would understand better if he used “shoes” as the example for the demo (now that I think about it, shoes have been used to demo several times). Little did he know that my knowledge in shoes is comparable to my ability to speak Chinese – which is almost non-existent. I’ve had people attempt to explain things to me in overly simplified terms as if I wouldn’t understand otherwise – and I’ve also had numerous people tell me that being a girl in tech is not very “feminine”. Um, OK. But I got my favorite comment when I was at a conference in San Francisco: someone told me to quit my job and put my photo on some trashy website! Errr…no thanks.

I don’t really think I’m being hypersensitive; these types of comments aren’t usually that offensive, just annoying.

Not the only one.

People often ask me “What is the point of Girls in Tech ? Is there really a need for this type of organization?” Well, Girls in Tech is NOT a feminist group. I am not trying to say girls are better than boys or any of that nonsense. I’m just trying to help empower women in the tech space, to encourage them and to show them successful examples – and here is a perfect example of why. I know for a fact that there are other women that have had to deal with similar issues. For example, if a female founder raises a lot of money, all of a sudden everyone says she’s sleeping with her investors. I could give you more examples, but I’ll stop here…

Blah blah blah.

Honestly, I just hope that if anyone wants to give me a valid comment on anything, that they will continue to do so despite the fact that I now moderate comments. I promise to post all comments unless they are spam or mature/inappropriate as seen below.

*In the original post, I thought that the comments were coming from a unique IP address (that of Choopa.com) but this is not the case.

PS: I appreciate all the feedback, comments, emails, tweets, etc that I have got regarding this post. Not to worry, this will not become a regular subject. The main reasons I published this post were to 1) shed light on a rather ugly problem and 2) explain to my readers why I will be moderating comments from now on.

TechBaguette launches the Failpage

So, as many of you may already know, Cass Phillips and I are teaming up to launch the first European edition of the FailCon in Paris later this year. It’s a conference that Cass started in the Bay Area so that entrepreneurs could share stories of failure and how to recover/avoid it.

Hot topic.

Failure seems to becoming more and more of a hot topic – and not just in conferences. For example, Failure is this month’s cover story for Wired UK and the April edition of the Harvard Business Review. And just yesterday, the New York Times published an article on a “Facebook class” at Stanford with a few lovely failure stories inside. Failure seems to be popping up left and right and numerous entrepreneurs and investors seem to be popping up to talk about it.

No, you go first.

When I published an article on TechCrunch France announcing that the FailCon would finally be making its way to France, our readers didn’t hesitate to comment that one would have to be very courageous to be a speaker at such an event. But then again, one would have to be very courageous to be an entrepreneur as well, right? Once Gilles Babinet came on board (you can check out his presentation slides here and video here), it was easier to get other speakers to step up to the plate. But I found that it was a little bit like pulling teeth to get some people to actually give concrete, personal examples of failures – big or small – and how they recovered or could avoid it in the future. It was more of a “no, you go first” mindset – which is definitely not the right way to approach the issue, especially as a speaker at such a conference.

Harder than it looks.

Obviously, talking about one’s failures on stage in front of hundreds of people is harder than it looks. And I’ve discussed before how the “You Suck” mindset in French schools definitely isn’t very encouraging for risk-takers. In fact, during one of the panels of the first Failure Conference in Paris in January, someone in the audience sent a tweet asking if everyone on stage could share a personal failure story or take a risk on stage. In retrospect, it would’ve been a terrific way to lead by example but I let comment go unnoticed and the opportunity slip away.

My Failpage

The funny thing is, even if it seems that entrepreneurs and investors are reluctant to grab the microphone when it comes to this topic, they don’t hesitate to share their stories with me. Which is why I’ve decided to add a special page to my blog dedicated to “failure” stories. It’s a sensitive and personal subject, so I’m not about to go broadcasting their stories without their permission. But I definitely think that it can only help get people more comfortable with the subject. I’m going to publish stories that people may or may not already know but I’m also happy to include anonymous tips and stories as well.

Oh yes, you failed.

On a final note, I was recently talking with an entrepreneur that runs a rather large company – something like 500 to 600 employees – and asking a few questions to see if it would make sense for him to speak at the Failcon. I found it rather funny that his first reaction was “of course, but I haven’t failed as an entrepreneur, so I don’t really know what I could talk about.” Seriously? You mean to tell me that your company was an instant success from day one and that building a 600-person company is a piece of cake? Really? I almost wanted to tell him that only such a statement would make him a failed entrepreneur because he obviously didn’t learn anything or take any risks. Of course, no entrepreneur can be called a failure as entrepreneurship is simply about inventing your way out of problems; entrepreneurs are thus problem solvers by definition – the more complex the problem, the better. So to tell me that he didn’t know what he could talk about, well, that was perhaps a good example of a failure…

The un-four-letter-word.

What I realized, is that people are still uncomfortable with the word “failure” because they don’t realize that I’m actually talking about success. I’m obviously not looking for a guy that hit a problem that he couldn’t figure his way out of – but the opposite. I’m looking for the “we did this, it didn’t work, so this is what we did instead” type stories. Stories like why didn’t the first game published by social games developer Kobojo take off? How did they change the model and their approach so that the next games would attract millions of users? Or why did the initial version of Moo.com fail and how did the founders relaunch the site in 2006 and become the success that they are today? So, if you have a story or a tip that you’d like to share (even anonymously), don’t hesitate to send me an email.