Warning for quoted ableism, and harassment and malicious behaviour towards people with a disability.
Kathy Sierra has published a video about online harassment and malicious behaviour:
I haven’t seen a transcript anywhere else yet, so hopefully this is of use in making it widely accessible. I’ve altered the text of Sierra’s slides very very slightly in a couple of cases, adding punctuation for clarity where the slide layout was originally providing information about which words were in different sentences.
All spoken words here are spoken by Kathy Sierra. Unless otherwise indicated in the transcript, bold text indicates white text appearing on a plain black background, unspoken.
[Slide: “Real Names” are not the answer to bad behaviour online.
The video cuts to a head-and-shoulders shot of Kathy Sierra, who is nearly always on camera throughout the video when speaking.]
Sierra: I think probably anyone who’s been online for any period of time has had their experience with some online jerks…
[The face of an angry man fades in briefly beside Sierra.]
Sierra: … trolls, griefers, haters. What drove me to want to talk about this was not what happened to me. [Transcripter’s note: see Kathy Sierra incident.]
[Slide: In March 2008 online forums at the Epilepsy Foundation were attacked.
Slide: Screenshot of an online Wired article featuring a smiling face at close range and a headline Hackers Assault Epilepsy Patients via Computer. Transcripter’s note: the full article is available.
Slide: Malicious code inserted into posts generated flashing images at frequencies designed to trigger seizures.
Slide: People had seizures before they could turn away from the screen.]
Sierra: People called it hilarious.
[Screenshots of comments appear beside Sierra’s head.
Posted by: lasercats. LOLOLOLOLOL
Posted by: tootles 1092 days ago. thats effin hilarious. :)
Sierra: They thought it was so funny.
[The heading Comments on Wired fade in around the above comments.
A moving screenshot of a comment appears with a wired.com URL in view. Anonymous. I had nothing to do with this. That being said, I lol’d.]
Sierra: I don’t think that there’s anything that we could do about the assholes that did something like this.
[Slide: A brief shot of a man in profile, screaming at a laptop.]
Sierra: But we can do something…
[A comment appears under Sierra’s chin. Anonymous. Haha! This made me laugh out loud! I hate epileptics!]
Sierra: …for the people who may be either on the fence or otherwise good people who get sucked into this environment. Because we’ve created this environment, online. We have taught people how to behave online. The behaviour that you reinforce gets repeated.
And if we look at the behaviour that we reinforce online, through Reddit comments, through Digg comments, through Youtube comments, I mean, let’s see, the big buzzword today is gamification, and this is perfect gamification in action. It may not have an actual concrete leaderboard but it’s very clear to everyone, the escalation of I’m gonna wanna outsnark the person before me. Pretty soon it’s not just snarky, it’s actually really mean…
[The angry face of a woman grimacing appears next to Sierra briefly]
Sierra: …the next thing you know it’s really cruel, uh, the next thing you know it’s threatening, and where do you go after that?
Uh, when I looked at the comments after what happened on the epilepsy forum it was clear, the, the people didn’t actually even understand what they had done.
I have epilepsy. Maybe even just one person who joined in on the happy high-fiving comment-fest after the uh the attack on the epilepsy forum maybe just one of you is watching this and I want you to understand a little bit about what it’s really like.
[Slide: 3 million people in the U.S. have epilepsy. 50 million worldwide.
Slide: roughly 2 million of those with epilepsy have seizures triggered by flashing visuals.
Sierra appears again, beside her text reads 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S.]
Sierra: I think people don’t think about epilepsy it’s a disease that kills people.
[Slide: This year, more will die from epilepsy than breast cancer
Sierra appears again, beside her text reads SUDEP Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy]
Sierra: The SUD, sudden unexplained death. I am at um a much higher risk. I lose consciousness and have convulsions.
[Slide: More people have epilepsy than cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s combined.
Slide: A still photo of a young boy almost in profile, holding a baseball cap. Words fade in: 90,000 US children have seizures that cannot be fully controlled.]
Sierra: I mean, when you know that you’re going to lose consciousness you could be anywhere. When this happens there’s obviously a a fear that you know that you might not wake up. It comes with this sense of dread, this absolutely overwhelmingly powerful sense of dread, that you feel like you’re going to die. I start saying that one thing that I want to say just in case I never get another chance. And this is a physiological um condition.
[A blue monochrome detail of a human brain appears beside Sierra.]
Sierra: We’re not able to to think our way out of this, this is part of the brain’s way of saying “something is going completely wrong”.
[Slide: That was a glimpse of what causing a seizure can mean]
Sierra: The people who do these things, I don’t think we can do anything about that. But what we can do is change the culture and practice right now for what’s reinforced. Because you might say you know “yeah OK that was kind of nasty comment” or “that was really a mean thing to say, that was really a personal attack but you know I deserved it and it was actually pretty funny” but it’s when we’re looking at comments that are against people we don’t like and we don’t support or we don’t approve of, that’s where it matters. So think about what you’re reinforcing. Think about it before you vote up that comment. And that will make a huge difference. But it has to start with all of us.
[Slide: We can do this
Slide: Just pause, think, and moderate comments
Sierra appears again, smiling broadly, with text reading Stop the Assholes beside her. The text is replaced with (keep the pseudonyms) and then If you have epilepsy TalkAboutIt.org]