Doc Searls says…

by Frank Paynter on March 28, 2007

From a current post at Doc Searls Weblog:

This morning I recieved an email from Alan Herrell, who has blogged for many years as The Head Lemur… [full text of the letter here]

This is the communication I’ve been waiting for. Alan appeared to have been the source of some (or perhaps most, or all — I’m not in a position to tell) of the offending posts on MeanKids.

I’ve known Alan for the better part of a decade. He has been a good friend — the kind you call on when something bad happens and you really need help. And he has delivered. Yes, he can be tough on people, especially when defending a principle. But that’s one reason I believe him.

From the beginning of this sorry affair, the default assumption by many people has been that Chris Locke or Alan were behind at least some of the viscious postings against Kathy Sierra and Maryam Scoble. Also from the beginning I’ve believed that these postings were not in the character of anybody I knew — but were in the character of trolls.

Trolls don’t just flame. They bait flaming. And they’ve been doing it since long before most of us were on the Internet. Sometimes very effectively.

If Alan is right, everybody on this giant thread has been taken for one of the oldest rides in the park.

For what it’s worth (and it’s a lot), we still don’t know who did this.

My reaction? My blog has been hammered by hackers the last few weeks, but I thought it was just comment spammers trying to get in the door. I can believe that someone figured out a way to hack Alan and spoof his identity. I’ll believe him because he has always been truthful to me and he is my friend.

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{ 15 comments }

vaspers the grate March 28, 2007 at 12:36

Yeah, the postings did not sound like The Head Lemur or Chris Rage Boy Locke, though I’m the shy and timid blogocombat type.

I am petrified of debate and flames. I attack with more ferocity than all of them put untogether.

Up With Decoinstruction!

Anonymous March 28, 2007 at 12:47

As an outsider looking in, I’d like to believe it but I’m skeptical - Maryam & Kathy were months apart…how could you not know you’ve been hacked for so long?

And the hacker’s purpose was to terrorize bloggers via MeanKids? I know you’re friends and all, but something really doesn’t add up here…

Charles Follymacher March 28, 2007 at 1:16

Frig, well now I’m just embarrassed I said anything at all. Jesus, when will I learn!?

Did he post as Alan/THL or as “Joey?”

Charles Follymacher March 28, 2007 at 1:19

p.s. don’t you guys talk to each other? Didn’t anyone ask, “hey, alan, wtf?” Right away you’d all know there was a scoundrel afoot cuz Al would say, “wuzzint me!”

I mean…sheesh!

Barry March 28, 2007 at 3:19

Oh you mean it’s all just a big misunderstanding? I’m sorry I just don’t buy it. I looked at the archive.org copies of Alan’s website and he gets good and nasty in there, and if he felt so strongly about his innocence he wouldn’t have taken down his blog so quickly.

I don’t buy this ‘hacked’ business as much as a cop won’t believe that the weed in some kid’s pocket belongs to his friend. I mean are we really expected to swallow the idea that a vitriolic group of bloggers didn’t push themselves too far across the line of decency, but instead that their behavior had reached a crescendo pitch *just* when the hackers swooped in. Right. That’s what happened. It’s all a big co-inky-dink.

Don Park March 28, 2007 at 4:42

One question, Frank. Who wrote the Maryam post? Alan’s identity thief or someone else? Joey’s comment to the post mentioned “Frank”.

OpenAllNight March 28, 2007 at 6:41

FP, I lost track somewhere.
- Why did meankids.org close down? Was it because a anon hacker made posts to Kathy from there?
- An then the UncleBob site was opened by Chris, and the same anon hacker made posts to Kathy from that site too?
- Also an another anon then hacked Alan’s, email, wordpress, and typepad accounts, and used his identity on the UncleBos site to post there?
- Chris then deleted all the UncleBob posts?
- Then yet another anon sent the threat email.

Is that even close?

xian March 28, 2007 at 7:31

I thought Alan was saying he’d been hounded offline since Kathy’s accusations. Is the implication now that the Rev ED character *was* his “avatar” on the Bob’s site but that someone highjacked it to write the “slug” posts?

If that’s the case (and I admit I’m not sure I’m following all the twists and turns here), didn’t anyone notice it was out of character and wonder what might have come over him, or did he, as Charles above says, reach out some other way to say “Hey, that’s not me, can you please lock down my account?” or something like that?

I don’t know the Head Lemur, but I trust you, Frank, which is why I’m posing this question.

Charles Follymacher March 29, 2007 at 7:39

I used to pop in on meankids from time to time. Not regularly, just every now and then, but enough to get a sense for what the scene was about, the vibe, the smell, the ambiance.

From what I saw, of the stuff I actually got, it was in the spirit of satire, tongues-in-cheek goofin an spoofin. Lots of inside jokes and, well, clowning around.

I assumed, just as with Kat Herding, that after a time most of the participants where an open secret. If you were familiar enough with their styles of writing, the subject matter, etc, you could fairly guess who wrote what. I saw the “masks” not so much as an attempt to hide, but more playing with alter-egos. Y’know, I can dig that.

Were I considered vibacious enough to be extended an offer to join the party, I think I might’ve clapped my hands in glee before returning the secret handshake. That said, my targets would’ve been a lot different as the babblings from, say, Kathy, Tara, Maryam et al don’t inspire more than a pursed-lipped shrug outta me. I would certainly add some “diversity” to the target selection.

So on the day I popped in to see that someone had posted something about how they were going to put some “Joey” character in the hole (temporary banishment from the site), for some “inappropriate” comment or the other, I jumped in and made some snideish remark without really thinking or checking into it.

I mean, how embarrassingly ironic is it that the meankids would be locking the door on someone for bad behaviour! So I said something without thinking or looking. I’d seen enough banter in there and read comments from “Joey” before — how bad could it have been, right?

I’m now lamenting that decision, because it may’ve been one of the truly nasty, uncalled for bits that’ve been talked about ad nauseum of late.

I should have peeped into the situation before shooting from the lip and I’m trying not to repeat the same mistake. Not so soon anyway.

So a few of us are gathered here Frank, toes tappin, fingers drummin on the table waiting, hoping, for a few more scraps, some basic answers to some basic questions (as posed in the above comments in this thread).

This story is turning too far to the weird for my liking. Will you help us piece this together or do you remain mum because of potential legal issues (which we can perfectly understand, but does she really have a leg to stand on)?

Charles Follymacher March 29, 2007 at 12:08

McD! Where’ve you been good man! Not like you to be so reserved (if you run now, you can still catch the sunset).

Anyway, of course Frank’s good people. A mensch among menschs in fact. But. On the editing tip, I’m suspecting that not everyone was on the same page re what it was all about and/or what direction it was to turn after the initial Hunt for a raison d’etre.

I’m not sure if Frank was a host host here. Y’know, the person responsible for making sure everyone has a coaster for their drink, a smashing good time and a safe ride home (“bye bye, y’all! come back real soon!”).

Sounds more like he was just the guy in the gang who called around and slapped his credit card down for the best/cheapest bingo hall for the bash. Which naturally leads to more questions that I will stifle for the nonce.

Peace be with you, Mr. Paynter. We (I) will wait.

bmo March 29, 2007 at 4:05

I’m so biting my tongue.

Frank Paynter March 29, 2007 at 5:34

bmo!

Charles Follymacher March 29, 2007 at 5:41

“Oh, please,” begged Charles, weakly pushing back from the table. “Not another Winer, I’m stuffed.”

“No more self-serving claptrap, dear?” asked his mother, Whinona, pushing her horned-rimmed spectacles further up her broad, ill-suited nose.

“I’ve gotta dump. Right away.”
“There’s a fresh newspaper in the stand by the toilet.”
“No, that won’t do. Where’s my laptop?”

Dave’s not a devil to dance with Frank. I’ve been here and there saying much of what Winer’s been saying, but I’m still uncomfortable with these latest dangling threads. In a way, I kinda prefer the one where one of youse done did the deeds, instead of some zorro-hacker moustachioing up the place(s). I’m a sucker for closure I suppose; I’ll take the ending with the palpable close every time.

You’ll tidy up the loose ends when the time is right. I trust. No panic. Time for me to unplug.

Dean Landsman March 29, 2007 at 5:51

bmo, doesn’t that hurt after a while? Stop doing this immediately, or I’ll post a threat on this comment thread. Then fp will have to take it down, and go back to Sandhill. Oops, I am not from Spain. Scratch that.

Charles Follymacher April 3, 2007 at 3:29

Yeah, yeah, bmo. I’d be adding “diversity” in quality too — that is, my craptacular writing skillz would allow the others to shine a little brighter. Still counts. Does too.

Where’s my steenkink writing coach?

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