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Considerations For The Online Border Personality

Considerations For The Online Border Personality

Photo by Marcy Climtero

Photo by Marcy Climtero

Part I: Dooce, You Are A Bully

This past Sunday evening, everybody’s favorite mommyblogger, Dooce, confronted one of her many (alleged) online detractors by alerting her 1.3 million Twitter followers to the (alleged) detractor’s Flickr page, which contains the (alleged) detractor’s real name and photos of the (alleged) detractor. Though I was on Twitter at the time that this happened, I was never able to figure out exactly what prompted this, but I would assume it involved another onslaught of hate mail that Dooce had received and posted on the new section of her site, Monetizing the Hate.

Dooce has been flexing her Twitter muscles quite a bit lately. First, she leveraged her Twitter power to get better customer service, and shortly after that, she used Twitter to intervene in the search for a missing person, which sounds altruistic but in reality (allegedly) caused some problems when the Phoenix Police Department was overrun with mostly useless phone calls from Dooce’s 1.3 million followers. Up until this point, Dooce’s twitter habits have interested me chiefly from a business standpoint, because I have wondered to what degree this would impact her online brand, if at all, and I figured that it is hard to have power and not use it, not to want to play with it a little bit, especially if it is new. New celebrities often go through a stage where they are not particularly savvy with how they deal with the media, and public opinion of them often grows as they learn how to set boundaries with the media and rules for how they will use their fame.

Which is to say that I gave Dooce the benefit of the doubt when, in the wake of Maytag-gate, she argued that she is not a bully (as some people have claimed) and that the Maytag incident was a result of exhaustion, and the Bloggess incident was just a misunderstanding. I am willing to accept that having a newborn might make you go apeshit on a broken washer, and even if I was dubious about the apology to the Bloggess, I thought that it was better late than never. Even when she started Monetizing the Hate, it did not bother me, because I figured that Dooce being able to expose and profit from all of her hate mail was kind of poetic justice, even if the site gave me the willies with all the Google Ads and the incorrect usages of “It’s” in the entries. But I must admit that I’ve been thinking we’re watching a public nervous breakdown lately, and the SHINGLES video did not help to silence my fears that Dooce might be in need of some professional help. But after looking at the hate section of her site, and feeling bad, and feeling like I needed a shower, I felt like, yeah, I can see how having that stuff directed at you might drive you a little bit crazy.

That said, after her actions on Sunday, Dooce, if she plans to “own who [she is] and what [she says] and what [she does],” then I expect to see a post from her acknowledging that: 1) she IS, as it turns out, a bully; 2) that she knowingly sicked her readership on three different women on Sunday night (first the woman with the Flickr page, then at least two other people who told her they thought she should stop dwelling on the hate mail); and 3) she did these things because of her own hurt feelings, not to “speak up for other bloggers,” or to demonstrate that she’s intolerant of “woman-on-woman” hate, as she suggested. Because “bullying” is the only way to describe the behavior of somebody in power who tweets this:

sendherhugs

when she knows not only that she has a large and devoted following, but that she has a large and devoted following consisting of people like this:

shitwillrain

or this:

fuckthatbitch

or this

notreproducing

or this:
knickers

Or the people who visited this woman’s blog:
lisamccray

There are so many insane responses, in fact, to that one tweet by Dooce, that I had to create a whole page just to accommodate some of them.

Dooce’s brand has always been about doing her own thing, fuck the consequences. I get that. But if my family were dependent upon the income I made from my online brand, I would stop reading my hate mail as soon as it started making me do things like this. Because the way that bullies are created is by being bullied themselves, and all that bad juju that Dooce gets from reading those sites that hate her and hate her kids and think her husband is gay, et cetera, they are making her into a mean person. And maybe there’s a market for mean people blogs, I don’t know, but it just seems like there is a reason that we don’t read stuff like this from Oprah Winfrey or Jennifer Aniston — it’s not that they don’t get hate mail, or that they are exceptionally good at dealing with it, it’s that they know that they need to hire somebody to go through their mail for them so that they’re not exposed to this stuff. And when I say “hire somebody,” I mean a professional person who deals with this stuff all the time, not your husband (because he is worse), and not the assistant, because she is also too close to you to do this well. There have to be services that exist for this purpose, because all celebrities do it with fan mail and so do high ranking corporate officials. Find those professionals and get their help. Google is your friend, if you let it be.

Part II: The Bitch of It Is, I’m Kind Of a Bully Myself. But I’m Trying Hard Not To Be

Back when I was teaching, I would get angry emails from my students several times a quarter, like clockwork, after turning back a graded paper to them. Inevitably, somebody in the class would feel that I had failed to recognize their compare-and-contrast submission for the masterpiece of rhetoric that it was and, having been inspired by Clueless, wanted to use their stellar skills of negotiation to convince me to give them a higher grade. I despised these kinds of emails, because they were often hostile and almost always necessitated some kind of in-person consultation in which I went through the motions of hearing their points and then, ultimately, decided to keep the original grade anyway. It was part of my job to deal with this stuff, and as an underpaid PhD candidate it made me resentful.

At the time, my sponsor would always tell me that when you get bad news, particularly in the form of an email, you should “take three deep breaths and not do anything.” She would say to get away from the computer and do your best to forget about the email for a while, and then deal with it when you had a cooler head. This is not to say that you should completely ignore the criticism, but rather that you just put off your response until you have recovered from the sting of hearing it. This is good advice, because when dealing with an angry person, the best thing you can do for them is to get angry back: it serves to justify their disdain for you and bolster their efforts to piss you off. And ignoring them will probably make them more angry, and even if it doesn’t, it’s bound to drive you crazy if you’re tasked with ignoring large volumes of criticism, even when it’s not constructive. Whenever you can react to criticism or negativity with understanding — even if it is feigned — you can shorten the disagreement exponentially and possibly even win the person over to your side. And also, you never know when that criticism might lead to your own growth.

Unfortunately, it is very hard to remember that you need to take three deep breaths and not do anything in the heat of the moment. Which is why on Friday night, I was disappointed with myself for reacting to a negative comment on my a post of mine. I think every blogger has their own set of pet peeves when dealing with criticism, and for some reason I am most bothered when the criticism I receive stems from some aspect of my writing that seems unimportant or superfluous to the meaning of the post or my overall gestalt. We can debate the origins of this — not enough tummy time as a baby? who knows — but I bring it up only to point out that by looking at the various times I have been criticized and had an exaggerated reaction, I’ve been able to discern a pattern for things that will set me off.

Why does this matter? Well, for one thing, I consider myself to be an online brand, and so therefore, every interaction I have with a reader is a potential “sale,” in the form of gaining a new reader or losing a subscriber. This doesn’t mean that I need to kiss people’s asses or take crap from someone unnecessarily, but I don’t want to have a business model where I’m being a dickhead to all of my customers and expect that they will just keep coming back because of the cool factor. Because I offer a product, yes, but the quality of my product is only one part of the consumer experience. And social media, like it or not, is about being social and developing connections with people. I cannot do that if I am always angry about some new criticism floating around about me.

So what happened on Friday night was that I read an email from a reader that criticized something totally unimportant to the overall meaning of my post, in my estimation as the post’s author. The thing is — and it took Mr. Right-Click and I discussing this as we waited in line to see Surrogates, which is a craptastic movie, by the way, for me to see the fact that this criticism offered me an opportunity for my own growth. What I finally saw was that what I consider to be relevant to the post is only one factor in the equation, because writing sets off a new set of meanings for each new person who reads a post. I might consider what this reader said to be unimportant, but this is social media, and what she said was important to her, and possibly to many others out there. And most importantly, if I want to be an online personality, to monetize my life and my writing for public consumption, I need those people to have an opinion, good or bad, on what I say and do. That is my business.

I don’t have to deal with the kind of criticism that Dooce deals with, and I can only guess how well I’d handle it. It is easy for me to say that I would be more graceful under that kind of fire, but the truth is that I don’t have any good reason to believe that I would be. But since I’m viewing this behavior from the outside, I can say that I don’t see Dooce’s recent Twitter behavior as being good for her brand. I think that it is turning off some of the more reasonable people in her audience and sticking her with the crazies and the trolls. And even if it’s a lucrative venture to do this, are these the kind of people you want floating around in your universe? Being a brand online presents unique challenges, and those of use who are still building our brand get to benefit from watching Dooce’s experience as she figures out how to negotiate this brave new world. For that, I’m grateful — but I still think you need to get your shit together.

Comments (113)

  1. NUTS, I wish I could get my thoughts out and written like you can.

    That said, I have to respect what Heather B has done with her ‘brand’ up until now. She is one of the pioneers of our Web 2.0 (I hate that term) lives, and for that, she deserves my respect.

    Recently, however, I’ve notice a crumbling in the facade (intentional or not). It’s like the old adage: “With great power comes great responsibility.” When you wield the power she has on the internet and off, you have a responsibility to set an example for your admirers and for your detractors. She has the power to show all of us (those who respect her and those who don’t) what we are capable of doing online. By ‘using her powers for evil’ she’s proving the point of all the trolls and douches and nutters that it’s OK to bully another person with a quick 140-character attack.

  2. E.
    Sep 30, 2009

    Excellent post. Armstrong Media is a company. I think they may have lost sight of that.

  3. Sep 30, 2009

    Oh, I absolutely respect what she has done. I just don’t respect her behavior lately. It isn’t responsible or a good example for the people in her audience who aren’t insane.

  4. Sep 30, 2009

    I think that up until this point, dooce has been able to do things her way and be rewarded for it, which is great. But this is moving into a different realm of celebrity now, and it may be time to get help from people who have experience with this kind of thing.

  5. That Haggard Bitch
    Sep 30, 2009

    As THAT person targeted in Sunday’s attack I can say this: What I did to piss that woman off is as much a mystery to me as everyone else. Did I post a couple rude and inconsiderate comments on her site? Absolutely. Did I sent her “hate mail,” harass her, abuse her, or so much as even AKNOWLEDGE any other woman, mommy or blogger? Absolutely not. Those were all lies made up after the attack to justify her decision to “out” me.

    I don’t have a blog, and I certainly don’t have 1.3 million followers at my disposal to retaliate with. What I DO have is several personal threats, a lot of new-found stalkers, my first and last name all over the internet, and Jon Armstrong accusing me of throwing the N word at someone (the person who did so, I might add, was clearly doing so on dooce’s “behalf,” and while I’m sure she was just as mortified by this as everyone else, Jon’s decision to imply that I would do this to bolster my side of the conflict is insane.)

    Thank you for this article. I’ve said this to Heather and Jon (though you won’t read it on Monetizing the Hate): What I’ve said, I own. Did I leave those comments she’s labeled with my name? Most of them, but not all. Would I say it to her face? You betcha. Did I harass, abuse or otherwise hate anyone, in ANY other way? Hell no. Would I call someone the N word? Never in a million years. The line has to be drawn. She’s officially crossed it.

  6. Sep 30, 2009

    “I think that it is turning off some of the more reasonable people in her audience and sticking her with the crazies and the trolls.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I consider myself to be a reasonable person. I consider my internet friends to be reasonable people. We are all scratching our heads and wondering who is “Dooce” really? I am incredibly turned off.

    Is it just an unhinged persona she is crafting lately for monetary gain or is she in trouble? I wonder. I used to think she was at least pretty real, but I don’t trust this new phase. Is that good for her brand either way? Probably. I know I wouldn’t want the pressure of being anything other than real, no matter how much money came my way. Seems exhausting and I do hope she is okay.

  7. Sep 30, 2009

    I completely agree with you on this one. So well put! I used to admire dooce but given recent events and how she treated me even when I was a fan I have given up reading her site and any other media she puts out there. Truly I think the problem lies in trying to keep work and home separate when you plaster stories and photos about your life all over the Internet. This is why celebrities play characters and keep thier personal lives private. The desparation as of late has really damaged their company’s image and to be honest I am enjoying watching the Armstrong empire collapse.

  8. Sep 30, 2009

    So well put. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been watching this drama unfold over the last few weeks on twitter. Being a follower of both parties mentioned in your post and it’s annoying. I don’t know if one of the individuals is really spiteful, or just having fun. I’d like to think they have a really sarcastic view on life.

  9. Angela
    Sep 30, 2009

    Interesting analysis of what may ultimately be the undoing of a recognized online brand. Thanks for writing it.

    I’ve been a follower of Dooce’s blog since the birth of her first child. What drew me in was the similarity to my own background (conservative church-going upbringing; dealing with the family repercussions of saying, “religion? meh”; impending birth of first child, etc.) written in a funny, engaging voice that made me feel like someone else understands what it’s like.

    Twitter has sort of ruined all of that for me.

    At first it was the bizarre bitchings about Maytag. Multiple times a day. When @dooce tweets used to come along only a few times a month. I sort of felt like someone was mustering an anti-Maytag army to which I did not remember volunteering. Then the Amber alerts. When did I sign up to get these? Then the “let’s send her hugs” tweet which to this day makes no sense to me. And the “monetizing the hate” section of her site: could have been funny, but it just comes off as sour grapes. Like 1.29 million people telling you they love you isn’t enough.

    The whole think has made me reexamine whether I really need to grant this person an audience. I sort of feel misused. Perhaps her brand is indeed evolving, but it’s evolving into something I’m not interested in being a part of.

  10. TheAitch
    Sep 30, 2009

    I think this was well written and I pretty much loved what you have said here. I used to be head over heels with dooce and her letters to Leta made me cry they were so lovely. But something strange happened that made my love for her disappear. We were both suffering from PPD around the same time and while she was getting help for hers I was just recognizing the signs of my own and I reached out to her many times. I never ever got a response. She was the only person I knew who was suffering like I was and I was desperately searching for some kind words or something of the sort, some sort of direction I guess. It never came. Of course I brushed it off, I mean why was I important?

    But then over the course of all the dramas surrounding her the following years it became clear that dooce was always focused on herself, her own negativity and her own world and really in the grand scheme of things no matter how many fans she has or how many people loved her brand she just didn’t care one iota about them. Oh, she acts like she does and she acts like she’s so in touch with reality but she is not. Funny thing is, in the end I actually got a response from a real celebrity about PPD. Someone who took the time out of her world to lend me a word of support.

    The last straw for me and any hope I had for liking dooce was her incident with the blogess. That was the straw. Dooce IS a bully, period. And she just seems to be getting worse. I mean, why is she allowed to attack people like she does? You don’t see John Mayer telling his fans to attack people on their flickr pages, why should she?

  11. Sep 30, 2009

    You are absolutely correct in your summation of Dooce and her behavior. However, this is not new news. Dooce has been known throughout the blogosphere as a bully for quite some time now. What has happened lately is she is feeling a little big for her britches and feels more comfortable doing the stuff she has been doing all along in a more open forum (ie: twitter Tourettes). The truth is she knows her brand is fading and like anything in the media fads change. There are some fantastic “mom-bloggers” out there and they are all developing their own followings and getting recognition; I think this is difficult for her to accept. She has the right to be upset, but sicking her attack sheep on people is not acceptable.

    We have been the recipient of her fantatics and we get horrible comments on our site but unlike the women on twitter who were not positioned to defend themselves, we are. Honestly we get hate mail, we get hate comments and they seriously do not bother us in the least. We signed up for this and we accept all that comes with it, the good ad the bad. They do not deter us from doing what we do, they don’t make us cry or feel vengeful. Honestly, most of the time they make us laugh and we publish each and every one. Our comments are always open to everyone.

    The mistake Dooce made was she closes her comments (or only allows the nice ones) then she takes the comments that are negative and plucks out the bits and pieces that make her look like a victim and put them on her site so she can “roll around naked in the money”. It wouldn’t be annoying if it were just the comments from her site and her email like she claimed they were but the truth is she lied her ass off. She went around the internet to other people’s sites (ours included) and stole comments from those pages (mostly pooponpeeps) then put them on her MTH site claiming they came to her directly. (she will probably come copy/paste this one too! Hi heather!) I think that is pretty pathetic and this victim act of hers is tiresome. That is why we started the doocefans site where we took all the nice things people say about her and all the mean stuff they say to us and others and did the same thing. It was a spoof to show her and her sheep how stupid and ridiculous they are. We also gave full credit to the sites we got them from (unlike dooce).
    Heather made the conscious choice to put her and her family out there for public scrutiny so she cannot be mad at anyone but herself if not everyone likes her and if people dare to criticize the mighty dooce. You know the saying….she made her bed.

    For the record: What we write about Dooce makes up less than 8% of our work and we love what we do and stand behind what we write. We don’t bully anyone but we do exercise our First Amendment Right to publicly criticize a public figure. Renegade Moms will not be bullied and we will be around for awhile.
    Thanks for the great piece you wrote and thank you for the space and time to be heard. See ya’ around in the blogosphere.
    ~Renegade Moms

  12. Sep 30, 2009

    I don’t want to weigh in on which comments were made by whom, because there’s no way for me to know what’s true and what’s not, I haven’t followed this stuff closely enough. But I do think that linking to your Flickr page, whether you made any comments or not, is unacceptable behavior in a leader of a community. They have the ability to sort mail, ban IPs, etc. if the criticism is too much to bear without these kinds of outbursts. I wish they would consider using these options.

  13. Sep 30, 2009

    I do think that things have escalated lately, though some will argue that she has always been this way, built her brand on it. I think the difference is that in the beginning, when she wrote about people and was fired for it, that was an instance of her being bullied, or her thought being censored. Now she’s the one doing the censorship, which is particularly uncool IMO.

  14. Sep 30, 2009

    It’s all become grotesque, hasn’t it?

    (Your title is a wonder. A wonder!)

  15. Sep 30, 2009

    I think that there are boundaries you can set, even when you are writing about your real life on the internet. I try to do that for myself and so far it has worked out OK, and there are many public figures that do the same. Watching the Obamas safeguard their kids from the press sets a good example for this sort of thing, I think.

    I don’t know that the Armstrong empire is collapsing necessarily. But these actions will alter it and its audience irrevocably. And if that’s OK with them, then cool, carry on. But if they want to keep some of the more reasonable folks around, I think that they may have to rethink things a bit.

  16. Sep 30, 2009

    I think that she absolutely has a sarcastic view on life — it’s one of the reasons I’ve been a fan of her site! But it’s important to be conscious of your influence, especially as it grows.

  17. Sep 30, 2009

    Yes, it might be changing, and as you change you lose people and gain others. This might be what they want, I’m not really sure. But I thought I’d just point out that this is what is happening, in case they did not realize it.

  18. Sep 30, 2009

    I think not responding to her emails has caused her some grief over the years. I know her volume of mail is huge, so I hate to judge on that, but it seems like there are quite a few situations out there that might have been diffused by a quick thank-you email or just an acknowledgment. It’s tough to say, though, because she is definitely controversial.

  19. Sep 30, 2009

    Glad you liked the post. I think there are some distinctions to be made between hate mail you receive and the hate mail she receives, namely that it is regarding her personal life, which ups the ante quite a bit. But I really don’t want to get involved in that particular war, it’s not my thing. What I am talking about is more just the marginalization of individuals for sport that I see going on lately.

  20. Sep 30, 2009

    [bows]

  21. Phil
    Sep 30, 2009

    Here’s the thing that no one is talking about-
    Internet celebrity is a new thing- uncharted territory. There is nobody who has experienced it before who can teach them how to deal with it. Heather and Jon are real and human. I don’t agree with everything they do, just like I don’t agree with everything anyone does. They make mistakes. They are however, good, decent people. They are learning how to deal with their level of celebrity as they go along. Celebrities usually have a buffer between them and the people who spew hate. They don’t. I honestly don’t know how they deal with it- the constant hate and criticism. Heather could say the sky is blue and people would find fault with it. I agree that there should be somebody who sorts through their mail, but that wouldn’t solve the entire problem. If she looks at the @’s on Twitter she will see hate. If she has a Google alert for her name she will see hate. It’s impossible to avoid unless she stays away from the computer, which is obviously unrealistic.

  22. Sep 30, 2009

    @phil, absolutely. That’s what I’m trying to say: dooce is a pioneer, I get it, but she is handling it badly. Somebody has to say it to her if she is to find out and try to change things for the better. Because the “hate” people have no credibility with her, and it’s hard to see it from the inside. I am coming from a place of wanting her to succeed. I want her brand to continue to grow and be strong. I like her blog. I don’t like her behavior lately, and I think somebody has to tell her this in a reasonable, calm way. She needs to have filters. There are filters available: she can block IPs, she can hire somebody to go through mail, she can block herself from the hate sites. She can also attempt to engage her most vehement critics in a constructive way — most of them will go away if they just get an email back from her. People are shallow and needy. They just want to be acknowledged. It’s like signing an autograph. She may not have set out to be this kind of celebrity, but she is now and she’s taking the money. If she wants the money to continue and not have a nervous breakdown, I think she needs to reconsider her approach.

    Also, I actually have been talking about the fact that online celebrity is new and uncharted — here, for example.

  23. Jennifer
    Sep 30, 2009

    Very well put. I used to be a fan of the Dooce site, but lately it feels like entering a war zone. As soon as I begin reading I feel I need to pick a side. It feels like there are subtle references in each post trying to get the upper hand on the “haters”. I miss the way she used to write. I started to back away from the site when that strange rambling email was posted (written by a fan). Then, when the Monetizing the Hate page went up the first thing I thought of was the fact that she is a business. If I was a sponsor I would not want my name next to all those horrible messages. THEN, when it became clear that she was taking most of those comments from other sites, I started to worry about her as a person.

    I think it is important to mention Jon’s role in all of this. As you have. I’m assuming that he is the person who filmed the Shingles video and later posted on his own blog with the title “I Like Mine More than a Little Crazy”. If that is the branding you want to go for, I guess it’s their right. I just think it’s sad that a person who has been so open with mental illness, who has helped so many other with the same plight, has a husband who mocks the condition.

  24. TheAitch
    Sep 30, 2009

    Yes, but she only seems to recognize the hate mail. What about those who looked up to her, liked her? Like me a recovering dooce addict? For every 1 piece of hate mail, I’m sure she gets a dozen ones that love her. Why not focus on some of those? I mean you don’t have to post all of them but when someone genuinely is thanking her for something she needs to acknowledge that side for once. Maybe if she were more a positive person she wouldnt be hated so much?

  25. Sep 30, 2009

    Yes, yes, yes and yes. I thought her brand took a hit from the Maytag debacle, and I assumed that the sudden and otherwise unexplainable apology to the Bloggess as well as her new chattiness on Twitter meant that she understood she needed to do some damage control in the wake of being called a bully. But, sadly, she’s bullying it up even more. This might have been the worst time for her to start her Hate site. My theory is that while it is sweet justice to make money from her hate mail, it’s too much for her emotionally. If she’s going to continue with the Hate site she needs to divorce herself from it completely – pay someone to put the content up and never look at it.

    I also think at some point – depending how revenues are going – she might want to do the same with Jon. Phase him out completely. He’s like an irresponsible frat boy egging everyone on with his Tweets. If he is going to continue to be part of the family biz, he needs to take a less public role. Like, a no-public role.

    Despite her happiness with the newborn, she might have a touch of PPD or at least some hormonal peaks and valleys. (I’m not at all suggesting she’s not as happy as she claims with her new daughter, but come on, the lady did just have a baby and she does have a history of PPD. It’s a transition time for the whole household. The same household where she runs her business.)

    I know it’s not directly related, but I feel that the sudden appearance of @ihatemommyblogs on Twitter is responsible for the situation this past weekend.

  26. Fantasyland
    Sep 30, 2009

    Great article. I am a longtime reader of Dooce (since 2003), and feel she jumped the shark when she posted that bizarre email on the front page. I have a great sense of humor – sometimes quite dry – but that letter was just not funny. It was painful to read; it made my stomach literally knot up. Then I started reading through the comments and was dumbfounded by what her followers were saying. Things like “that was the funniest thing I have read ALL YEAR, f’ing awesome, etc. etc. After that, things seem to be spiraling downward. She’ll still have millions of new followers, but many of the early loyalists have probably already left the building. I still read her because I know that in-between the hate shit, there will still be some wonderful writing.

  27. Fantasyland
    Sep 30, 2009

    And by the way, I have received exactly 3 quick emails back from Heather. They were short and to-the-point, but she took the time to acknowledge my notes. And I’m positive she has answered many others.

  28. Angela
    Sep 30, 2009

    I’ve been a long-time, loyal Dooce reader. Maytag Gate raised a red-flag though. As did the missing person incident. It’s just seemed a little irresponsible to wield one’s power that way. But then she added the hate site, which at first I thought was brilliant. You know, make a buck off your haters, great idea. But the more I read, the sicker I felt. The posts literally put me in a bad mood. I had to stop reading. I can only imagine what receiving that kind of negative energy day in and day out must mentally do to her, but I don’t think sharing the hate is a solution. Hates begats hate, and now there’s all this nasty vibe coming from her site. Dooce has always had fierce fans that will probably defend her to the death. But I think “Monetize the Hate” has turned them into witch hunters. It’s sad that I’m fearful to express an opinion about her, lest I be burned at the stake by the Dooce Troops. I dare say they are just as bad as the Haters.

  29. Sep 30, 2009

    One of the things I find interesting is that not all of the more recent additions to MTH are actually all that hateful.

    The latest post, for example, is really just saying that she should rethink the concept of the MTH site. It’s not the nicest message ever, and unsolicited advice is always annoying…but it’s certainly not on par with the ones about her physical appearance or Leta’s clothes or some of the others (which are truly vile).

    One thing I’ve learned in blogging is that when I have someone who’s sending me hateful stuff, I start to look for boogymen. I’ll be dealing with a troll, and a new comment will come, and I’ll be like, “What did he mean by that? Is he calling me an idiot?” And usually it’s just because I have my back up. When you roll around in a little ugly, you start to see ugly everywhere.

    I’m wondering if the MTH site hasn’t made Heather and Jon even MORE sensitive to criticism. That just feeds the beast. I get why they’d be tempted to start such a site (and I’ve fantasized about outing my anonymous haters too), but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything positive for them. If there was a point to be made, they’ve surely made it by now.

  30. Grizzly
    Sep 30, 2009

    That wasn’t heather. She doesn’t respond to her own emails. Trust me.

  31. UNFOLLOW
    Sep 30, 2009

    Can you believe this? Heather and Jon banned my IP address from dooce.com because I asked her twice who the Wii winners were. Remember all of that a while back where she gave away 5 Wiis and was supposed to post the winners’ names the following day or whatever? Well, I asked her in her comments section on two different posts who the winners were and she never replied; just banned my IP address. I’m totally okay with that because I’ve had more than enough of her drama anyway. As a result of banning my IP address, I actually visit bloggess a lot more often now. I agree with a previous poster–it’s fun to watch Armstrong Media collapse, albeit slowly, that’s what’s happening. Her appearance on The Bonnie Hunt Show also contributed to the recent negativity she’s received. (it’s on YouTube, btw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stZnZ9mulD0 )

    I know 5 other women who have followed dooce for the past 3+ years and they all agree that something has definitely “happened” to Heather. I used to like Heather because it appeared she never let hate mail bother her. She used to post her hate mail and mock the people who sent it to her. Now she’s going to great lengths to call people out or “shed light on” the bugs or however Jon phrased it. I have no idea what they’re trying to do, but it’s not good. Perhaps they need to deflate their heads a little bit and step away from the ledge.

  32. UNFOLLOW
    Sep 30, 2009

    Oh, I meant to add, why doesn’t dooce just turn off her comments on her posts? She rarely ever had them turned on in the past and now they are on almost every post. I understand people send her email and they blog about her, but do you really need the gushing from your followers only to moan about the hateful comments later?

    Also, some of the hateful comments are really valid (I’m not saying these things need to be said, but I can definitely see where some of the haters are coming from). Life isn’t all roses; there is criticism everywhere– it all depends upon how you choose to view and handle it. Calling people out and being an internet bully is surely not the best approach. The Armstrongs need to realize what they stand to lose as opposed to what their haters stand to lose.

  33. maddy
    Sep 30, 2009

    I am not a dooce fan.

    I had no issue with the washing machine thing until she asked the Maytag woman if she cared whether she tweeted about her experience to a million followers. Because I think that is a sign that she was acting like an arrogant ass.

    I don’t like her hate page. I don’t like her fans. I don’t like most of what she writes. I don’t care for how she treats people sometimes. I don’t understand her or want to be like her but that is all ok because it makes no difference to my personal life. She is a human being and my policy is to live and let live.

    I find it interesting that you haven’t posted any of the comments that dooce haters have posted. Those comments were intended to hurt a person and to control her actions. They were entertaining themselves with being assholes and this particular group has been doing it for years. They wanted to make her stop what? being self centered? wanted to make her stop writing her blog? wanted to make her stop making money off of fans who may not be discerning or in some cases mentally healthy themselves? wanted to make her stop dressing her daughter in clothes they don’t like?

    It seems like you and others are implying that it is ok for non-celebrities to bully. They’ve been bullying dooce for a long time. And now they are showing themselves to be hypocrites. I wonder how they would have handled the kind of nastiness they’ve been spewing at her if it was directed at them for all these years?

    I wouldn’t do what dooce is doing and I wouldn’t encourage a dialog with rabid fans but seriously, why can’t she call people out when they’ve been intentionally trying to hurt her and pick her apart for years?

    Yes, what dooce is doing may be her own downfall. She may not have a website readership after this. Celebrities are supposed to handle these things with stoicism and grace. But why? They’re human too.

    I cannot imagine how a reasonable person could get so upset about a blogger that they would feel compelled to write some of the things I have seen these women write. Mind you, they have been saying these things openly, tweeting under their own names, over a long period of time, loooong before she called them out about it. What these women have done for so long says everything about them and who they are and what they value. They’ve harrassed other people before. Seriously, the harrassment and name calling has been aimed at one person after another and gone on for years. It is a hobby.

    It is not ok to treat other human beings like garbage just because they are famous and you don’t like them. dooce is not the most empathetic woman on the planet. But neither are the people who treat her like she is not human, who have been doing it for fun. I think they are mentally ill too.

  34. maddy
    Sep 30, 2009

    PS I agree with Kerry that if dooce keeps posting mildly critical messages on the hate page, she is going to turn off and turn away all her reasonable readers.

  35. maddy
    Sep 30, 2009

    Another PS
    dooce’s recent behavior reminds me of that time when she posted about parking on the street in front of a mentally ill neighbor’s house in a space that she knew would upset the woman, and that she danced around in the yard just to get the woman that much more upset.

    This was years ago, when Leta was a baby/toddler. In other words, I think she is having mental health issus of her own right now.

    By the way, when she posted that years ago, even though I felt sorry about her mental health issues, I also lost some respect for her.

    I don’t think hating on her is going to lead to positive change. I don’t think her response to her personal abusers is going to lead to positive change either.

  36. fantasyland
    Sep 30, 2009

    Yes, they were from Heather. (At least 2 out of the 3 were, but all of them were sent way before she had an assistant) Yeah, maybe Jon wrote them, but I sincerely doubt it.

    She and Jon were both incredibly nice when I met them at one of last year’s meet and greets. They spent a good amount of time talking with each person in the line. They’re not bad people, but I do believe the fame has kind of gone to their heads. But I do hope they rethink their strategy when it comes to the haters. She needs to keep doing what she does best, and ignore the trolls.

  37. Sep 30, 2009

    You bring up a good point that I did not entertain enough above, this might all be intentional, it might all be part of the brand they want to build. And if so, I guess it’s working. I’m just a little confused as to why they would invite that into their lives.

  38. Sep 30, 2009

    I’m hesitant to instruct people to look at the positive stuff because I know how hard that is. I personally have a hard time looking at the good stuff and dwell on the negative endlessly. But I know that is one of my weaknesses, it’s not something I try to indulge.

  39. Sep 30, 2009

    Yeah, I don’t know the whole @ihatemommyblogs story, I had never heard of her until dooce sent out that tweet. I’m still a little confused about how the whole thing started, actually.

    It might be worth mentioning that her traffic is up overall, so that supports the theory that this is a set of intentional actions to build her audience. Her traffic is always huge, but her quantcast numbers show a big increase around the time her baby was born, and then it went down a little bit, and then over the past month or so (crazy time) it’s been up, up, up. So this might leave a bad taste in our mouths, but maybe it isn’t bad for business, just speaking purely in terms of pageviews.

  40. Sep 30, 2009

    I don’t read her comments anymore because you have to wade through too much weird stuff to get to anything insightful. I still read her posts, and enjoy them. I didn’t really understand the email thing, it seemed like an inside joke or something.

  41. Sep 30, 2009

    I don’t want to get into a big debate about who writes her emails. If somebody got a response from her, that’s awesome. Let’s not hairsplit over whether she wrote them or somebody else wrote them. I’ve never emailed her so I have no frame of reference for whether she responds to her email or not. It’s just kind of an idea that’s “out there” that she doesn’t respond to emails.

  42. Sep 30, 2009

    I liked the idea of Monetizing the Hate at first, too. But the reality of it sucks. That stuff sucks. She needs to force herself to stop reading it.

  43. Sep 30, 2009

    I think that it totally makes you see everything through a different lens. I haven’t even been over to MTH lately, but if that stuff is showing up in your inbox, then no wonder! But it’s time to do something about it that will result in long term change, as you say.

  44. Sep 30, 2009

    Like I said above, I don’t really want to take sides in any previous disagreements that have happened. I feel like I don’t know enough to offer any valid points on those matters, and it’s too much he said, she said. (Or, she said, she said, I guess).

    I think the hatemail has bothered her all along, but she’s kept it bottled up. And now it’s all coming out, which is why it’s so exaggerated.

  45. Sep 30, 2009

    If this is intentional, I’ll be very disappointed. It doesn’t feel intentional to me though.

    You know, Leta just started school this fall. I wonder if that’s part of the story. My daughter started school this fall as well, and all of a sudden, I’m far more conscious of the fact that she’s out in the world, and that the world has a lot more influence on her. She’s coming home with new sayings and new points of view that didn’t come from us, and it’s unsettling. She’s learning how to use a computer (in kindergarten!), and I’m starting to realize that it won’t be long before she can read everything anyone’s ever said about herself or her family on the internet. For me, that’s not a big deal, but for Heather…well, my god, some of the stuff people have said about Leta…I can’t imagine what it’s like to know your child will see those things. I can roll with it to some extent when people talk smack about me, but if people were talking about my child like that, I’d go apeshit.

    I wonder if Leta’s going out into the real world has driven home the fact that that day is coming, and they’re reacting to that. I wouldn’t blame them for being angry. Maybe their thinking is that the poor kid is going to see this stuff either way, and they need to show her somehow that they tried to defend her, or avenge her, or something.

    I’m not agreeing with the approach…I just know I would not make rational decisions if people were putting some of those things out there with my child’s name on them.

  46. Sep 30, 2009

    Yes Anna I couldn’t agree more with what you’re saying. A brand that you have for yourself is very important. When you have a fan base (if this is the right word) they trust you judgment, and when you abuse your power, you lose the trust of your readers. I myself have very few readers, I’ve been blogging for 2.5 years but have changed blogs 3 times which is probably why, but if do get a large readership I wouldn’t let it go to my head.

  47. Sep 30, 2009

    @Jennifer – I hadn’t realized it but I feel the same way every time I go to her site, unconsciously ready to either pick a side or try to decipher who she’s taking a shot at today. It’s all become very “inside baseball” – I don’t know if someone who hasn’t followed either her site for years or all the hullabaloo on Twitter would be able to follow along.

    I can give Heather a wide berth when criticizing her, since I’ve never suffered from PPD nor am I in her position, the target of such vicious hate, but I have to say that Jon’s behavior is outside the bounds. I’m sure it’s tough to watch your wife be attacked but he picks up his pitchfork with a sort of glee that I find disturbing.

  48. Sep 30, 2009

    Well, she wants to get feedback, I suppose, and a huge amount of her pageviews stem from the comments. So reasonably, turning off comments will cut down her family’s income. And we can’t really judge her for that, because I mean, what would you do?

  49. Sep 30, 2009

    I’m not mentioning this as “proof positive” that she does or doesn’t respond to her e-mails, but at BlogHer ’07, Penelope Trunk (HOLY speaking of crazy) said when she was first blogging and wasn’t sure how to handle really basic situations, she’d call on other bloggers, sort of inconspicuously. When was was wondering if she should answer every e-mail that comes her way, she figured she’d test Dooce. She sent her a brief e-mail and received a very brief reply, so now that’s Penelope’s policy – to answer them all, but not to spend too much time on it. Even back in ’07 Penelope was a big deal (column in the Boston Globe, etc.), so that might have something to do with it.

  50. Sep 30, 2009

    I don’t support the people who have dooce hating sites, nor did I suggest that what they do and are doing is right. I could write a post condemning them, but so many others have already done this. What I am concerned with is an online business and how the behavior of its principals is damaging that brand. And what steps can be taken to minimize that damage. Because telling the hate sites to shut down is obviously not going to work.

  51. Sep 30, 2009

    Right, me either. All of it is bad. And maybe it is the sign that something is wrong. If so, somebody needs to be the one to stand up and say it, because clearly it’s not happening in that household.

  52. Sep 30, 2009

    I agree. Ignore the real trolls, engage with criticism. Try to learn from mistakes, and that’s really all anybody can ask. But if you don’t do that, or if you keep acting out, people are going to eventually get tired of your bullshit.

  53. Sep 30, 2009

    I think we all hope we wouldn’t, and it’s good to point out here that we’re all offering our conjecture, since we haven’t had to deal with what she does.

  54. Sep 30, 2009

    That’s interesting, because I got an email from Penelope Trunk, in response to a comment I made on that post not long ago where she talked about her abortions. It was a very short but very nice email. I was completely shocked, because she has a zillion readers and she took the time (especially on a day when hundreds of people were trashing her for the abortion post). I thought it was classy of her.

  55. Sep 30, 2009

    Ooh, that’s a good point, Kerry. I don’t know. I mean, even just having her read what her mom has written would require, at the very least, a family discussion of some kind and probably some kind of fallout.

  56. Sep 30, 2009

    I think he likes to protect her, but he definitely makes it worse. A lot worse.

  57. Sep 30, 2009

    That is interesting. That was part of why I didn’t want to get into the whole “she doesn’t return emails” thing, because you hear that from people who are sending her negative stuff and that’s not really a fair sample.

  58. Mari
    Sep 30, 2009

    Oh I completely agree about Jon contributing to the problem. I don’t understand why he engages people in ridiculous tit-for-tat arguments on Twitter. I understand he’s protective of his wife, but his actions appear to escalate the negative comments about her. It makes me wonder if Armstrong Media would be better off with an objective employee running the business end of things, rather than Jon Armstrong who has far too much of a hair-trigger temper.

  59. Kate
    Sep 30, 2009

    I really enjoyed this post and agree with your points.

    I’d like to make a point to Phil, who raises an interesting point himself about Heather’s role as a “pioneer” and the difference between “traditional” celebrities (who have a well-established system for dealing with difficult members of the public, or for keeping their professional and personal lives sufficiently separate from each other) and online celebrities (who may be setting off into new territory).

    Dooce is by no means the only blogger out there who writes about her family or personal life and who receives hate mail. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot, posted this year about being harassed by an online bully. She’s mentioned from time to time in passing the disagreement she’s received from readers. Yet her response has not been to lash out at readers or harassers in the way Heather and Jon have–she has conducted herself in a consistently gracious and professional manner throughout. And she’s avoided making herself look like a fool and a bully.

    I don’t feel that the “pioneering” aspect of online celebritydom is sufficient excuse for being a bully or acting unprofessional. The rules of acting like a decent human being–even in the face of hate mail and criticism–are rules you should already know and be able to follow because you’re a grown up.

    I know it must be tremendously difficult to read personal attacks on yourself and your family. But as a capable adult earning a good income, you should be perfectly able to hire an assistant to filter your mail for you, if you find you’re unable to handle the downside of fame in a mature and professional manner.

  60. Sep 30, 2009

    I am new to both blogging and Twitter (I apparently arrive late to parties) and had honestly never heard of Dooce until the Maytag incident blew up, followed by the alert and now the strange mob hunts. As a new observer of her brand, I can tell you that she makes me uncomfortable. I know never to ask her or anyone else a critical question about her, because of the backlash it will quickly spawn. I too saw one of the newest posts on her MTH page, which I thought, while probably annoying, probably brought up some valid points which were dismissed. Apparently, complete loyalty is all that is acceptable. Is that what she wants from those who follow her? Then I will pass, and I bet other “newbies” will as well.

  61. Heather
    Sep 30, 2009

    This was the first I’d read about what happened on Twitter. It scares me. A random person, not even a political figure or someone who has any real importance (it’s not as if she’ll find the cure for cancer or something), can have that much influence over a group of people. All because she writes about her family. It’s not even important information. And what gets me, is that she doesn’t like people spreading the hate, and yet, she basically encouraged it over Twitter. As long as it’s not about her, it’s ok? Is that what I am understand? I don’t agree with the Hate page, just because of what it stands for. It only encourages followers to attack others for criticizing her. So what if that woman hates mommy bloggers? I don’t imagine that woman is a threat to Dooce’s popularity or brand. She was voicing her opinion, as does Dooce does. I’ve found that over time, I am growing less interested in her writing, and with every “scandal” she gets herself caught in, I’m turned off of reading her blog.

    I like when you write posts like this, because I hadn’t really thought about how much “power” one blogger could actually have and the influence they have over such a wide audience and the outcome it can bring. So thank you. 🙂

  62. Sep 30, 2009

    Just unfollow her.

    She is So over rated it is ridiculous. And now she is trying to scare people with her bullying? That is comedy.the only way to teach some one this childish a lesson? Ignore them

  63. maddy
    Sep 30, 2009

    Anna, I wasn’t talking about bloggers or hate sites. I was talking about a running commentary for the past 4 years from a group of individuals who are no longer bloggers. They are known for trying to control and hurt people through harrassment and then making fun of the same people for being upset.

    That Haggard Bitch
    You attacked and bullied dooce many many times before she ever responded to you. You bragged about being on the hate page. You have attacked her in ways you would never stand for yourself. She has not said anything to you even close to as hurtful as what you have said over the months and years. You seem to do this to entertain yourself and your friends. You did it thinking you were protected, which is ugly and sick. You have said things many times that indicated that you felt righteous in doing it.

    Stop minimizing what you did and stop pretending to be the “victim”. Stop lying about what you did. People are not stupid, blind or forgetful.

    You are not more human or deserving of fair treatment than dooce or anyone else.

  64. Sep 30, 2009

    I think that if you are going to write the kind of grotesque things that are on her monetizing the hate section then you deserve to be outed and have that kind of hate mail sent right back to you. I read on her blog before that it says she will out you if you send her stuff like that. So she has given fair warning. People need to take responsibility for their actions and not expect to be able to just hit and run. I will never understand why people read her sight if they dislike her so much.

  65. Sep 30, 2009

    Interesting, Maddy. I don’t know anything about these individuals, which is a big concern because if I don’t know about them, then I kind of doubt it’s a super well-known thing. And justified or not, if there’s some kind of vigilante justice going on, you’d better hope that your audience can piece together why this is happening. Right now, it looks like somebody in a position of power bullying people by using her following. So if the circumstances are different, it seems like perhaps they should expose it in its entirety, rather than just letting little bits escape.

  66. Sep 30, 2009

    It’s one thing to be outed for writing nasty stuff to dooce. It’s quite another to make an innocent comment and find your site beseiged by people calling you the N-word. I don’t support the hate mailers, and I think that was pretty clear in my post. I cannot stand getting negative mail myself, and I get nothing that even comes close to that stuff. But two wrongs don’t make a right, and like it or not, people are going to expect that leaders set an example for the rest of us. That’s the burden of the position, I’m afraid.

  67. Sep 30, 2009

    Thanks, Heather. I really do think that the hate mail clouds judgment. It is dizzying to get that kind of stuff in the mail, and to get it all the time, constantly, must be terrible.

  68. Sep 30, 2009

    Thanks, Kate. I agree. People are, of course, allowed to use their fame and celebrity however they want. But they don’t get to control how we think about them for doing so.

  69. Sep 30, 2009

    Jessica, that’s what it’s looked like lately. I have to say that this is the first I’ve seen of this kind of stuff, but I’ve only been around for a little over a year, so I don’t know too much.

  70. Sep 30, 2009

    But sometimes I think she’s funny! LOL

  71. Heather
    Sep 30, 2009

    I agree with Jill, she gave fair warning about outing hate mailers. That’s fine. It’s her choice to do so. But it’s upsetting that she doesn’t realize/care what her actions are causing. I’ve never once read her reprimanding her readers for attacking other people. Well it’s kind of like Perez. I hate Perez Hilton, and yet, every once and awhile, I like to read the garbage on his site. Call it a guilty pleasure. *lol* A lot of people like to read stuff that pisses them off. I can’t explain it, but it’s true. *lol* Perhaps that’s why she’s posting it? Because she knows people will read it and it ups the page hits? I’m just asking, seeing as we are talking about branding and that. Actually, it amazes me that no one in the media has called her on it. I mean, the Maytag thing, wouldn’t that have been bad press? This recent Twitter thing? Isn’t that bad press worthy as well?

    But it’s also sort of petty isn’t? I mean, why post the hate mail? Why not just delete it and let it go? So some people hate you. Is it really that much of a surprise now? I mean, she’s been getting mail like this for years. And after everything she’s accomplished, does it really still matter?

  72. Heather J.
    Sep 30, 2009

    Hi Anna :). I think you raise some really good points. I’ve read Dooce off again, on again. For me personally, a little Dooce goes a long way, simply because I get a little tired of the hyperbole & capitilisation of words every few lines or so. That’s just a personal taste thing, no hate or actual vindictive judgement intended at all.

    Lately, though, I’ve decided to stop reading altogether because I find the hate site & her recent twitter attacks (especially linking to the Flickr page) repugnant. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to walk in her shoes yet I want to take her by the shoulders & say, “Dude, step away from the computer. Back off slowly, no sudden moves”. She needs time out, I think (but as I say, what do I really know about who she is?) to seriously regain some healthier perspective. She’s losing her mojo, needs a big old time out to find it again.

  73. Julie
    Sep 30, 2009

    Anna, I appreciate your calling Dooce out as a bully. It’s about as apt a description of a person as I’ve heard in all my life. Aside from her husband’s hopelessly bad management of publicity, especially in recent months Dooce does a bad enough job of managing her following all on her own. I’m not sure that just removing him from the equation will do anything at all. She’s got the bad decisions covered just fine.

    Maddy, you commented about how there’s a “particular group” of people who have been “tweeting under their own names” and “bullying” Dooce for years. Can you please provide specific examples of said bullying and enlighten us all as to how you became aware of it? I’m just curious. Because if there aren’t specific examples, it’s all just hearsay and speculation. And I’m also wondering… where are you getting your facts? Because I don’t think anyone has any proof at all of anything. And, that having been said, the “outing” of whoever she’s “outed” is not only an irresponsible use of her power, but I think it also makes her look unstable.

    Does everybody remember when Russell Crowe walked into a hotel lobby and, upset by the information he was given by an employee, threw a phone at said employee’s face? This recent debacle kind of reminds me of that. Dooce heard some stuff she didn’t want to hear and she retaliated against anyone she could, including people who likely hadn’t done a damn thing to her other than post an undesirable comment on her website (where she… um… welcomes comments), disagree with something she said, or argue against her attitude towards something. And I think she did so for the same reason that Russell Crowe threw that phone: because at least as of yet, she doesn’t have the maturity or psychological stability to properly manage her emotions. And at least in the case of Russell Crowe, I don’t think anyone has ever really thought of him in the same way since that incident. He became a different person in the eyes of the public on the day he decided to throw a phone at someone who didn’t do what he wanted.

    I used to really love Heather’s writing. I had a tremendous amount of sympathy for her after Leta’s birth. I cried almost every month while reading her newsletters. She had heart. She was genuine. Her readers loved that. But somewhere along the line, she just started to grow thorns and lose luster. I don’t even know when.

    I haven’t read her site in a long time and only started reading again after the whole Maytag debacle. And oh my holy god in heaven was that ever a show. Was I really supposed to feel sorry for a woman who could afford to have a $1,300 washer, even if said washer were broken for a couple of days? A woman who has the good fortune of having found a way to be home to raise her children, with her husband by her side, without having to worry about any material concern at all? A woman who is lucky enough to be living a life that less than 1% of the world’s population can even dream of? Really? Because I didn’t. I didn’t feel badly that she couldn’t wash a batch of etsy original onesies for a damned day-and-a-half. And no, I’m not jealous of said onesies. Nor am I jealous of her ability to buy them. I’m successful, well-educated, and intelligent. I have a good life and I’m incredibly happy in it. I’ve always been (and still am) impressed by the fact that she has found a way to make a very nice living for her family in such a non-traditional and creative way. Hell, I’ve even stood up for her when other people have talked shit about her money. There’s nothing wrong with her money. That’s not it. It’s just that I refuse to buy-in to a belief system that includes feeling inflated levels of sympathy for and encouraging the drama around the simple malfunctioning of an appliance… or, for that matter, any other of the tiny molehill-sized things that have occurred in the life she’s chosen to make public, out of which she’s made mountains.

    These are things that happen in homes across America every day… in households far less fortunate than hers. And no one has ever made this big of a deal about it.

    Anyway, in watching this whole show for five years and in seeing the way celebrity personalities come and go (very often based upon the way they behave towards their publics), like many others I do believe the blurbodoocery is on a major downward spiral. It’s hard to say how long it’ll take to totally burn out. But one thing’s for sure: people who loved Heather Armstrong no longer love her. The numbers of said people are growing exponentially. I’ve been watching it happen. And you know what? Maybe that’s okay with her. Maybe she’s saved up enough money, achieved enough notoriety, and poured enough of her soul out onto the screens of millions to make this very successful venture complete. Maybe she’s just sick of doing this. And if so, that’s valid. I understand. If that’s what’s going on, then I guess what I hope for her is that she finds a way to leave with her dignity. Because right now it’s compromised.

    Again, thanks for an intelligent analysis of a troubling situation. A lot of people appreciate it. I’m included.

    🙂

  74. faydean
    Sep 30, 2009

    I just have to say I agree with what you wrote and what most of your thoughtful commenters have said. Longtime Dooce reader and fan. And in much the same way many have talked about, found over time that I was becoming less enchanted with Heather, especially of late. And, to be honest, I’m one of the “fallen” ones re: Jon. I stupidly thought I could engage in political debate with him over the past year. We had several personal exchanges…none of which I took very seriously (though I did stand my ground …and if I got too hotheaded, apologized accordingly), but in the end, something about “me” as he viewed it through cyberspace made him block me from commenting on his site. I was shocked…and pissed and a bit hurt to be honest. As a long time fan, I’d done nothing but pretty much be supportive of the Armstrongs. I’d post support, but not feel I couldn’t also tell them, both, when I thought something they’d written was a not my cup of tea. Then the Twitter hell started. I soon found story after story of people being blocked by the Armstrongs etc. Wow and phew…I wasn’t enemy number one after all, lol.

    My run-in with Heather was regarding the missing person thing…I supported someone who had offered maybe she shouldn’t have told a million people the guy was “mentally ill”…you know for privacy reasons etc. Within seconds Heather responded with a basic “fuck that”. I replied that I didn’t mean I wasn’t in support of her plea, just that maybe the mental illness thing with the guy’s name to a million people wasn’t the smartest, ie libel. Again, she replied that I was not seeing it was life or death. I gave up. But man alive, within an hour, all KINDS of people were on my ass about having no heart…being a bitch etc.

    I thought my suggestion was looking out for Heather…ya know, just suggesting she might run into some issue with privacy with that guy later on perhaps once he found out his mental status can now be Googled by millions. She didn’t see it that way and neither did however many of her fans read it. I was getting “hate” response a week later about my tweet.The guy was found and she never mentioned ONE word about him again…to even update the millions she’d Tweeted to about him missing! Hmm…

    Then the monetize thing started. I realized pretty quickly she was pasting the comments and tweeted Jon as much. He blocked me within a day of the tweet! And then the shock of Heather posting that woman’s photo. Wow. My first reaction? “Who the hell does Heather think she is?” What if she was wrong? What is she wasn’t? Who cares? She doesn’t have the right to call for a stranger to be harassed! She could ruin that woman’s business (again, a note of suggestion for Heather to watch out for her actions in terms of legality…she keeps tangoing with those issues and it’s bound to blow up in her face, seriously).

    So, in closing. Old fan. Still trying to like her…and still do in truth, though she can grate on ya, for sure. Jon…well, I can see why they are in couple’s therapy. Their kids? I think they’re both adorable. I worry about their safety from weirdos and the realization of what has been said by their parents and about their parents. Their fame and fortune? I don’t care, honestly. I just want to see them be respectful, tactful and FAIR. Once upon a time they were funny, seemingly normal people. Then they got a book deal, someone mentioned a possible tv show and Oprah called and I began to roll my eyes and expect the worst. Attention from people who can capitalize on you ALWAYS ends up with people becoming assholes it seems.

    When she agreed to do Bonnie Hunt…well, I knew something was horribly wrong, lol!

  75. maddy
    Oct 1, 2009

    dooce never said she received the hate directly. Re-read this article ‘Yo mama said you ugly’
    “Collect all the crap that people say about you, put it on a single page, and then litter the entire thing with ads.”

    Again, I’m not saying I agree, but I think people are re-writing history here.

  76. maddy
    Oct 1, 2009

    ‘marginalization of individuals for sport’ – this is exactly what I was saying the woman dooce outed has been doing for years. Again, she bragged about being on the hate page and said she was enjoying it.

    I get that dooce is a brand but she is also a person.

    I don’t support what dooce is doing, I don’t like Jon’s responses to things, and I think if I were in their shoes, I would either ignore it all or call it quits.

    But there is a resistance even here in these comments to consider that dooce is also a person, not just a brand.

  77. Suzanne
    Oct 1, 2009

    Thanks for this post Anna. I have been following her site for years, I don’t consider my self a fan, but I did keep her in my RSS list up until last week. I consider myself a once reasonable reader.

    Because I didn’t follow her twitter or pay that much attention to the after lash – I missed a lot of the drama that unfolded after the “Maytag-Gate” and “Missing Persons” tweets. I never knew the back story of the other “altercations” with other bloggers. So, when the MTH page went up, my first reaction was – “Isn’t the occasional post of these enough?” My second reaction – after browsing through them was – “is this worth posting these comments about your daughter for more revenue?” I wasn’t sure of the motivation of that page, but overall it bothered me enough to drop her from my RSS. Why allow her advertisers to profile me and help them earn money if I don’t enjoy the product? In short, my “D” magazine subscription – cancelled.

    But, I became curious some more about the hate page and started reading some of the twitter back and forth and started googling “the haters” (how I got to this post, actually).

    Heather has never really had an open dialog with her audience like many bloggers (I rarely remember comments open) and with the “redesign” it became more obvious that “Dooce.com” is trying to be product not a blog . But how long can something like that be sustained as profitable? How many things can you put on Chuck’s head? How many things that YOU have found interesting to buy will people care about? The “Daily Chuck and Daily Style” from the onset haven’t really been daily. Content has to stay fresh for people to be drawn in and coming back. If the site is about “Those Crazy Armstrongs” then they have to be appealing to their readership, old and new. They are in a very precarious position right now, especially with the idea of traffic coming in from first time readers who are curious about her from her appearances. The comments have opened up, I would guess in part, because they have to do some research and/or damage control. Are these posts working? Are they generating enough interest? Will the comments interest the “new” readers? How much backlash are we getting? See, we do value our readers comments…” etc. etc. I don’t fully believe they are about ego stroking.

    If you are going to announce “I’m putting all of this out here because I say and do as I please.” you have to expect that people are going to react to it. Whether it is a devout Mormon defending their religion or people getting in a huff because, well think about it, our social structure is one where the popular kids will always piss off the less popular kids – there will be that rift. I’m sure the attacks on “them” personally come in, but again, they are putting out a site “about them” and the have to be smart enough to realize this would happen. If not then “oh boy”, I agree they are in bigger trouble than I would think – with a breakdown of the line between product and real life. But, I have a hard time buying that. Look at the preface of the Maytag rant. She knows after 8 years a lot of the reactions she’s going to get from her readers when she does stuff that she’s debating to do.

    She calculates the stories but I think she’s starting to have problems with, em, the inspiration for them. The somewhat point of a personal life blog – can I make MY story interesting with a bit of embellishment?

    The stories started out as her madcap life as a single Mormon girl run amok. Then they were of a couple who had problems and issues that more people identified with (money, time, etc). They were struggling and living, and her taking lemons and making “Lynchburg Lemonade” from them kept people interested. As they have found success and a level of celebrity, readers are having a harder time relating to or maybe “believing the story” they are being presented. The “daily style” (ugh) section has been filled with luxury items that a lot of people wouldn’t even dream of affording – yet to hear that “they had a fund” to buy the $1300 appliance (especially after the rumored $40k a month) doesn’t seem very plausible. If she intended to make the post seem like the consumer victim triumphs over the big company she totally missed the mark. The dramatization of the piles of milk and poop stained clothes stinking up the house? Come on – as if they didn’t take them to the Laundromat and let them pile up like that with 3 adults in the house to watch the kids? We’ve heard about her neurotic cleaning habits. The twitter – she might have intended to appear like Wonder Woman – but I think that just adds to the alienation of the audience as they don’t have the power of a million readers and advertising clout to do the same. It all went terribly wrong and I think they are scrambling right now to figure out how to get the content in the “product” back on track and generate buzz and interest again. I’m really feeling that they are trying to stir up a beehive right now and if they are – they are succeeding, people are talking about them.

    I’m just wondering if it’s possible to get the sites content back to a level of real interest. There is a reason that fairy tales about princes and princesses end in “they lived happily ever after” – it’s that the struggle is the interesting part. Telling people how great you are, no so interesting and much more hate inducing. And there are only so many times you can talk about dog poop/vomit or rehash your kid’s early developmental problems before people switch channels.

    I hope they figure it out, and how to be a bit more graceful with their critics.

    And I hope they realize that a side effect is: they have actually made, at least one reader (me) look around at their so called competition and find some blogs that I’m finding much more interesting at this point.

  78. Angela C
    Oct 1, 2009

    @maddy “I get that dooce is a brand but she is also a person.”

    I wonder if that’s the reason behind the reaction people are having to the Maytag rant and link to hater’s Flicker page? It’s certainly reasonable for a PERSON to complain about terrible service and advise their friends to boycott a company. But (in my opinion) it’s not okay when a BRAND does it.

    Yes, it’s important to remember that Heather is a person. But it’s also important to remember that Dooce is a brand. The expected behavior of those two entities is different.

  79. Oct 1, 2009

    It’s tough to agree with you without knowing what you are talking about and where it was spoken. I understand that the woman who was outed has mail attributed to her on the hate page. I get that part. But I don’t know what you are talking about with the four years of badgering, etc. I also don’t really understand how you can bully someone who is more powerful than you are. You can be an ass, make their life miserable, send them hate mail, but it’s not as if she has 1.3 million followers who can be sent to terrorize you.

    I understand that dooce is a brand and Heather is a person. I think I acknowledged that in my post. I stand by my criticism of this behavior, though. You can continue to view it as unfair, but this is the way many people looking in from the outside are going to see it. So now, the question is how to handle it, not to hair split over whether it’s fair or not. Just my opinion, of course.

  80. Oct 1, 2009

    I have to assume that he does it with Heather’s permission. Because it’s inevitable that his behavior is going to reflect on her, and I would assume she would try to clamp that down if it really was totally repugnant to her. But this is all conjecture.

  81. Oct 1, 2009

    Yes, it absolutely has helped her traffic. People might think it’s in poor taste, but that doesn’t mean they won’t read it. It may be that she wants to catch Pioneer Woman on pageviews and this is an easy way to do it, without much extra work? That’s so cynical, though.

    A while back she posted a link on Twitter to a house that she said she “coveted.” Maybe she’s trying to get a downpayment, and that’s why now with all this stuff? I am kind of disgusting myself with this conjecture. But only kind of. 🙂

  82. Oct 1, 2009

    Here’s what I don’t get about that: if your goal is to “shine a light on the rats,” wouldn’t you spell it out? Like, instead of posting some chick’s picture, you’d say, “There’s this chick named Jane Doe. In 2005 she started a site called whatever.com. She said this, then she said this, then she said this. In 2006 she did this. In 2007 she did this.” Because if there was, indeed, a four-year period of constant harassment by a gang, I’d be sympathetic. I really would. In fact, in terms of the stuff I’ve actually witnessed, I’m VERY sympathetic. But this…this is just some nameless person telling me some other nameless people talked some smack sometimes. I can’t get on board until I see specifically what this smack looked like, y’know?

    In pondering this whole thing, I’m wondering if this is maybe the intentional end for Dooce the brand. When you have a job like Heather does, it’s hard to just quit. You don’t go in and give your two weeks notice like a regular person. You feel an obligation to your family, because this is how you feed them, and to your readers (some of them anyway), because they supported you. Plus, you’re a big deal, you’re famous, you’re on Bonnie Hunt (who I’ve never heard of, and whose show I’ve still never seen–who is this chick anyway). It’s hard to quit a thing like that. And sometimes, when people hate their job but feel they can’t quit, they consciously or unconsciously do little things to self-destruct, so that the decision will be made for them.

    I’m no shrink, and I’ve never met Dooce, and I feel a little bad for trying to psychoanalyze these people. But I wouldn’t want her job (even for $40K/month). I’d want out at some point. And really, if you think about it…it has to end sometime anyway. This isn’t like being an accountant; you can’t be Dooce for 40 years and then retire. No pop star lasts that long…and the ones who try get weird at the end (like Michael Jackson, or Madonna, or Brett Favre). So how do you get out? Do you just stop posting? Few people have the balls to do that. If you’re as big as she is, it’s hard.

  83. Oct 1, 2009

    Yes, exactly! When Dooce posted the link to the flickr page, I was like, “Are we going to get some context? Will there be another link, where do I go to find out what happened?” And I don’t know how to find that out. She said something about people “scrambling to hide themselves” and I was like, “Huh?” To feel sympathetic, I need to know what she’s talking about.

    Maybe she is trying to self-destruct. I don’t know. But I tend to think that she’s just kind of operating on the theory that doing whatever she wanted to do has worked for her in the past.

  84. Oct 1, 2009

    She might need a break, it’s true. It’s a lot of work to run a successful blog, even when you have a live-in tech person. And she’s just had a baby, and been on a book tour, etc. That’s a lot of stress.

  85. Oct 1, 2009

    I don’t begrudge Dooce having an expensive washer or being upset that it’s broken. I just think that when you’ve become a public personality, what you can and cannot do on Twitter or wherever changes. And if you don’t change to address that, you will alienate people. As can be seen from the comments here.

  86. Oct 1, 2009

    Interesting. I have only been following Dooce for the last year or two, so I don’t know about the earlier stuff.

  87. Oct 1, 2009

    The thing with a blog is that people grow and change, both the readers and the bloggers. I think it’s natural that people would read a blog for a while and identify along one axis and then find that they don’t anymore. Dooce’s life has changed, people who identified with the money problems, etc. are not going to be as sympathetic now that she doesn’t seem to have as many. But that’s not to say there aren’t other readers who will identify with who she is now.

    Any new industry becomes competitive at some point. It used to be enough to blog a little bit and you’d get attention. Now there are millions of blogs, and Dooce has a huge advantage because she’s been around so long, and has been in the mainstream media consistently. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to work for her position. She may be deciding how to do this, or how far she wants to go, etc. in order to stay on top.

  88. Oct 1, 2009

    Yes, it’s tough because the two things are so intermingled. If I complain about AT&T on my Twitter, nobody really cares because I’m not known well enough to create a big stir. With Dooce, this is different.

  89. UNFOLLOW
    Oct 1, 2009

    Jill, something Heather has done is visited other blogs about her and copied and pasted comments from those sites and passed them off as harassing hate mail on her MTH site. HUGE DIFFERENCE! If Heather doesn’t like it, maybe she should take her own advice and stay off others’ sites. In addition, I have no clue why she would even entertain any of the comments/mail and become so associated with the hate. I’ve read from other people that she’s doing it because her pageviews are down and negative attention is better than no attention. Seems to me it’s a last ditch effort to accumulate as much money as you can before you either run out of writing material or people are sick of you.

  90. It’s an issue of how the meddling of personal & professional are being conducted online in these types of social media. If it were one time then it could be seen as a misstep, but if it continues to occur then it seems to be a way of conducting business. It is not a professional way to handle business, even for bloggers who are more free in how they can conduct themselves. Maybe there is a belief this will get a desired business or personal outcome, but it doesn’t seem legally, professionally, or personally wise to handle it this way. Think about how Kanye has been viewed by his repeated behavior & past public persons who had to mingle personal/professional. Sooner or later the business dries up.

    * Also, for full disclosure. I fell for the “missing person” tweet. I reacted in a fast way toward Superfiona, with a quick tweet. I didn’t think that others would spew hate at her or that my tweet would be one more to the pile, because while it was it was not hateful, it was not necessary at all. I let my emotions on an issue that I have personal experience with overrun a more reasonable response. I had to act like a grownup, realize I was wrong, & admit it. I have to own my own mistakes. Superfiona it turns out is a very gracious person, she accepted my apology, but has still not received one from the Armstrongs.

  91. Autumn
    Oct 1, 2009

    Thanks for writing this! Very well written and insightful.

  92. ilyka
    Oct 3, 2009

    I know I’m just echoing so many others by saying it, but this was a really excellent, considered, thoughtful take on the whole mess. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    I’ve read Dooce off and on since, believe it or not, before she lost her job and “blew up” as a weblogger. It’s been interesting to see how she’s grown and how she and Jon have kind of refined themselves into a brand.

    The last couple of years or so, I’ve really fallen off checking the site much, which isn’t any fault of Jon’s or Heather’s–my tastes changed, their brand changed, we diverged, life goes on.

    When she received the Forbes ranking, I went back to checking in more often. This is what stood out to me on revisiting: (1) her post about being named “number 26” on Forbes’ list of influential women was fabulous, classic Dooce–funny, self-deprecating, great juxtaposition of everyday life with internet fame. Those qualities are what made me a dooce.com reader in the first place, way back when: She just has a beautiful knack for exploring life’s little absurdities. But (2) the Maytag incident, the weird/creepy email, Monetizing the Hate–everyone here has already pointed to these as examples of what is driving them off dooce.com, and I guess they’re driving me off, too. They aren’t relatable to most people, I don’t think, and they also give me an itchy sensation like I’ve got to shower right away. I’m left thinking it would probably do the Dooce team a world of good to pursue some outside-the-house activities, whether that’s local volunteerism or even part-time jobs, before they’re suffocated by their own insularity.

    And definitely hire professionals to deal with the email. Of course such volumes of negativity are overwhelming and shattering. Human beings just weren’t designed to cope well with situations like that. Dispassionate paid professionals, on the other hand, shouldn’t mind it a bit.

    But enough babbling! Thanks again for a great (and SANE, DRAMA-FREE) post!

  93. Fantasyland
    Oct 6, 2009

    No, when she agreed to do Dr. Phil is when I lost respect. That was a complete sell out. (Hey, I seem to remember one of her old mastheads saying something like that.) Did she actually go on Dr. Phil, anyway? I never heard anything more about it. Maybe she realized what a mistake it was and bailed on him? Or maybe she decided not to mention it again?

  94. Fantasyland
    Oct 6, 2009

    SUZANNE, you hit the nail on the head:

    “Telling people how great you are, no so interesting and much more hate inducing.”

  95. Chrysalis
    Oct 16, 2009

    This is such a well written and thought out post, that truly attacks teh PROBLEM, not the PERSON, something that many other sites have failed to do.

    I agree with you about the issue with Dooce’s brand, but I also agree with Maddy, about the fact that Heather is a person, and a mentally ill one at that. I don’t mean that in a cruel way, at all, I mean that it is a part of what makes up who she is and therefore, those issues are going to color some of her behavior in a manner that rubs people the wrong way.

    Her brand, well… I agree that she is damaging herself. I hope she gets it together.

    Thanks for writing about this issue in a respectful, honest manner that doesn’t cheapen or demean you as the author or incite drama in the commenters! Well done!

  96. Oct 16, 2009

    I can’t believe I didn’t see this post until today.

    You know my thoughts on all of this. Ballsy post, lady. Bravo.

  97. Elizabeth
    Oct 16, 2009

    I think a lot of Heather’s problem is her husband. I find it sweet and admirable that a man defends his wife, but Jon takes it too far for my taste. His apparent need to tit-for-tat every perceived slight with a way-overboard response has grown old for me.

    I have found many of Heather’s entries amusing, but their sense of humor has been lost on me lately (the shingles video, the “fan letter”, etc) and with Jon’s behavior, I just don’t have a desire to help support this couple monetarily any longer. I’m probably too old at 39 to be in their target audience anyway.

    More power to them if they can keep this going, and I admit I’m sticking around reading about them out of a curiosity to see how long they can make such a nice living off of this, if there will be an interest over the next decade or whatever.

  98. FoxtrotAlpha
    Oct 16, 2009

    Meh… I kind of agree with you. I’m not a big Dooce fan, I don’t really like kids. Hers are cute and all, kids just are not my thing. I do think Heather is very funny and I enjoy her less kid-focused posts, as I don’t necessarily view her as a strictly Mommyblogger. That being said, I’m also not a Jon fan. I think he’s way too uptight for me to find an interest anything he says. But whatever….My point is, from what I’m reading – there’s a general group of Mommybloggers that shred Heather (and a few others they deem worthy) on a regular basis, with IMO incredibly misplaced hatred, for “exploiting her kids”. Now… I’m no statistician, but if they have blogs covered in ads from which they profit, and the sole purpose of the blogs is to point out all the Mommy and Daddy bloggers that ‘exploit children’ – they are doubly exploiting the children. You can either OWN the exploitation: control it, filter it, regulate it… or become exploited by the other bloggers. And it strikes me that Heather and Jon are basically trying to regain control. I mean, Pooponpeeps exists soley to put more hatred (regardless of how funny she thinks it is) into the blogosphere, and she profits from her site. So, she essentially profits from the very reasons she tears down other Mommybloggers – their children. It’s all so warped.
    While I’ll never stand in line for a Dooce booksigning or anything, at least she is a pioneer, I respect her tenacity. She has completely forged into an area & built a castle where no one else has even dipped a pinky toe. Criticism of the castle is one thing, I’m all for it, but vitriolic hate (have you read some of the sick, SICK stuff people write about her and her children? WTF?) would wear anyone down after a while. Especially when you think about the fact that blog communities are forming around a central core of sharing animosity for Heather and her family. I could see that starting to wear a person down after 8 years of reading it. Life is too fucking short haters- Move On. There’s so much more to find in life than spewing hostility and contempt for a blogger and her readers. If you are really concerned about the children of blogging parents, become a social worker and make a difference. Otherwise, you can look back on your life in 10 years and realize you spent countless nights and days stalking Dooce & her ilk and writing hateful, disturbing comments about a blogger and her family.

  99. Christina
    Oct 16, 2009

    Better be careful what you say about Dooce here. She might lift your comments and post your name on her hate page.

  100. Oct 17, 2009

    Beth, I think that’s the reason those kind of tweet call-to-actions are problematic. It is the responsibility of the person tweeting to think about how big their audience is and how they are likely to react, IMO. And yes, you can decide to say “to hell with it!” but you will get some bad press if you do. The readers are going to react emotionally, because that is how people are.

  101. Oct 17, 2009

    Thanks, Autumn.

  102. Oct 17, 2009

    Thanks, Ilyka, for coming by. It’s interesting to hear from longtime readers of Dooce, in particular, because they have a better sense of changes over time.

  103. Oct 17, 2009

    Thanks, Chrysalis, I am really trying to be fair to all of the sides here. I don’t think it is constructive to just bash either side.

  104. Oct 17, 2009

    Thanks, Maria!

  105. Oct 17, 2009

    Yes, you definitely get a sense that Jon loves his wife and wants to fight for her honor. I think that is something to applaud! But I agree, sometimes I don’t like the form it takes. I think that he gets clouded by emotion as well, particularly when he sees the toll that the criticism has taken on his wife (shingles, etc.).

    I will definitely keep watching, too. 🙂

  106. Oct 17, 2009

    I don’t support the “hate” sites necessarily, either, but this isn’t really the topic of this post. I think all celebrities have their critics, and some are more vicious than others. We all have to kind of draw the line for ourselves on what we are going to participate in and read, and the celebrity has to understand that this is one of the prices of fame. I don’t understand people attacking her children, and I certainly don’t support that kind of stuff here. I think that people tell themselves what they need to, on both sides of this issue, about what they are doing and whether it is right or not.

  107. Oct 17, 2009

    I don’t know that any of these comments have appeared on the dooce hate page. This post has been up a while, and I’m pretty sure none of it or the comments have been reposted, in part because I have been endeavoring to keep the comments fair and balanced. If they do appear, though, then that is the price of me writing on this topic. I knew that going in and will deal with any fallout.

  108. Oct 17, 2009

    Dooce is more than welcome to quote me by name (as long as she spells it right). I mean, I’d have to be an idiot to say stuff in public that I didn’t want associated with my name. I think people who think the internet is anonymous are nuts.

  109. Oct 17, 2009

    Yeah, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, right? I can handle people coming here from Dooce! Just maybe 10% of her readership would be FINE with me. LOL

    And also, yes, I know everything I put out there is out there, forever. It’s always in somebody’s feed reader, or on a cached page, no matter what. And even when you think you’re anonymous, somebody always figures it out. So this is why smart and sane people comment with integrity, to repurpose an already tortured expression.

  110. Oct 17, 2009

    Also, why is this post heating up again? I thought it had already played itself out, but now there’s all these new visits here.

  111. Oct 17, 2009

    I think you got linked in the latest post from The Takedown. That’s probably why.

  112. Jenni
    Oct 18, 2009

    You also got linked on poopsonpeeps (not by the author, but by a commenter, which is how I found you). I’m also a long time Dooce reader, perplexed by the turn her blog has taken. When I realized much of the “hate” on her MTH site was not hatemail or comments on her blog, but copied and pasted from other sites, it blew my mind that she’s actually seeking this stuff out and putting it on her own page, such hateful things about her family and her babies. I think this is what you are talking about…there has been a shift, and it has made many loyal readers uncomfortable. I googled “Dooce” and “hate” when I realized the copying and pasting was taking place and found all the sites she seems to frequent to feed her MTH page. Not good. Not good at all. I just wish her blog would go back to the way it was, but I’m afraid she won’t be able to put the lid back on this box.

  113. Oct 20, 2009

    It seems a lot of people conflate Heather Armstrong and those “fans” that go into loopy attack mode. How can Heather possibly be responsible for what 1.3 million followers on Twitter get up to? Frankly, if that’s part of her job description, she deserves to be making still more money.

    Especially as far as the N-word episode is concerned – that was loopy fans acting independently. She made a point of saying “Ehm, guys, going on a site and calling people the N-word on my behalf? Really not cool.” What more can she possibly do?

    As for lifting comments v. posting hatemail… It’s a tricky thing. People seem to think that so long as they post on the net, rather than directly to Heather, they’re safe, because of free speech and all that, and “it’s not an attack, it’s an opinion”. Heather quotes these comments on her site, adds the authors’ names, but doesn’t link to them, which angers the original writers/owners of the websites they came from and has them complaining about copyright (unrightfully so, but that’s besides the point). I can’t help but think everyone would just be shouting bully again if she *did* link.

    My point is – there are a lot of delicate balances involved in this whole “how to respond to backlash” scenario, Heather is the first to deal with it to this extent, and often times it’s a complete Catch 22. She is a pioneer – perhaps not the biggest blogger out there, but certainly one of the first to have to deal with hate on this kind of scale, and I don’t envy her position.

    I don’t think that Monetizing the Hate is doing her any favours long term, it was a good laugh for a bit, but I hope it disappears after Halloween, simply so the whole website can focus on the good things in life and the good things about Dooce.com again. No matter how resilient you are, I’m afraid that consciously engaging in that amount of hate will have a negative effect on one’s happiness in the long run. I like her enough to hope she won’t have to deal with it for long.

    PS. Can I just say that I love how this whole comment section is an intelligent debate, instead of a slagging off match? Kudos to Anna, it’s rare and remarkable!

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