He’s a Sexist AND a Sockpuppet!


Why, this is adorable!

This comment appeared today on my open letter to Nature regarding that loathsome bit of sexist dumbfuckery known as “Womanspace.” It’s under the handle “Disappointed.” Observe how it appears to be a supporter of the author:

Amazing: someone writes something whimsical, which pokes fun at middle-aged men, and suddenly it becomes about stereotyping women?  Really??  You don’t think that possibly, just possibly, the author was attempting satire?
Ah, well – turns out I like the other two stories held up as being “problematic”, over on Contemplative Mammoth.  That HAS to label me, too.

Actually, Ed, it’s your comment’s metadata that labels you – as the bloody stupid author hisownself.

Sock puppets aren’t loved round these parts. But I’m loving it. I’m loving the fact you couldn’t come right out and defend your own story, but felt you had to drum up “outside” support. It’s precious.

And now I will turn you over to the tender mercies of my readers and my fellow Freethought Bloggers, who shall now do what they will.

Have fun, my darlings. No need to be gentle. He is, after all, wearing a sock.

Comments

  1. says

    If you’re going to play the sockpuppet, can’t you at least play something nice on it? A little Sinatra, maybe.

    (Hey, this is my first post on ETEV at its new home! *breaks out the virtual Tequila and tries out a few HTML tags… none of which work except bold and italic. Bah. …at least the preview doesn’t suck.*)

  2. says

    You could also identify him from the fact that his gravatar is the same as the picture on his Twitter account @edrybicki. Given that this would make him the world’s most incompetent sock-pupper, I decided to give Dr. Rybicki the benefit of the doubt in this instance…

  3. says

    You could also identify him from the fact that his gravatar is the same as the picture on his Twitter account @edrybicki. Given that this would make him the world’s most incompetent sock-pupper, I decided to give Dr. Rybicki the benefit of the doubt in this instance…

    Well, probably a typically incompetent sockpuppeter who might not appreciate that the internet shares you. I was thinking it’s possible, though. His reference to “the author” would still make sense, and I guess the “That HAS to label me, too” also makes sense that way. But it all works as a pitiful attempt at sockpuppeting as well.

    I’m not surprised he’d write such a clueless comment. He doesn’t understand what satire is. Also, the story contradicts itself. Just above where it discusses the alleged “profound differences in strategy between Men Going Shopping and Women Going Shopping” (“In any general shopping situation, men hunt: that is, they go into a complex environment with a few clear objectives, achieve those, and leave”), he describes their shopping trip:

    And so it was, that after a most satisfying comparison shop of iMacs versus the rest, and a cruise through rock nostalgia in the shape of special-offer CDs, we found ourselves in a large supermarket, trawling for girls’ knickers.

    So these alleged hunters, in a situation in which they have a single clear objective, first dawdle around browsing electronics and CDs on sale, and then fail to look for a sign or approach a salesperson or customer service counter immediately to ask where the girls’ knickers are. Indeed, they have to be approached: “So there we were, looking for knickers, and a rather wary woman asked if she could help, given that we looked lost and hopeless.” And by this time it’s too late to buy them. Some hunters.

    • John Morales says

      But it all works as a pitiful attempt at sockpuppeting as well.

      Perhaps it was intended as deniable plausibility, but if so, it only achieved undeniable implausibility.

  4. JennieL says

    Ha, SC, I just made the same observation over on B&W.

    One might almost conclude that he didn’t take ‘buying underwear for his daughter’ to be his objective in visiting the store, hey?

    And heh. Looks like his sock-puppeting skills are about as well developed as his skill in managing very basic everyday tasks. Which in turn are somewhat better than his skill at ‘satire’.

  5. says

    Until reading this, I had been under the impression that the densest matter in the universe was neutronium. In the space between Rybicki’s ears, I think we have a strong contender for a new claimant of that title.

  6. badandfierce says

    Aw, he’s here? And failing at the internet? Hello, awkward little dudethor. Since I know you’re about, here’s something I’d have liked to point out, were we to be, I dunno, introduced at a pool party.

    Humor works principally by upsetting expectations, and subversive humor, such as satire, hinges pretty much entirely on the powerless winning out over the powerful. We laugh when the guy who works in the mailroom uses all his wiles and resources to topple his tyrannical boss. When the tyrannical boss does the same to the mailroom guy, that’s not upsetting out expectations or changing the balance of power. It’s just mean. And kind of pathetic. And betrays awfully unsavory things about the author.

    Let us evoke the most famous example of satire, as selected by people who are called out for not knowing what satire is or how to write it. I’m speaking, of course, of “A Modest Proposal.” The author is, if you assume that language has no meaning but the literal, extolling the rights of the powerful to prey on the powerless. He does this, as anyone who’s ever taken high school English can tell you, so as to bring to light the innate cruelty and inhumanity of the powerful. If he’d written on a similar subject and every word suggested he was giggling behind his hand at how awesome it was to be powerful versus powerless, he’d be considered a monster, not a master. (See, Machiavelli.)

    Somehow, I doubt you see what my point might be.

    On another note, I’m really confused as to when “edgy,” a word that once had a fairly distinct meaning dealing with the magnificently daring, came to mean, “I really enjoy espousing opinions that were ridiculed as reactionary when my parents were children.”

  7. Rebecca says

    I read the story, was amused by it, and moved on – until I stumbled on the outpouring of vitriol it occasioned. So I went back and read it again. Nope, still not offended.

    What I was turned off by was the above-mentioned outpouring of vitriol, of the sort that really should be reserved for, say, child-abusing baby-eating rapists, or anyone who attends Westboro Baptist. This guy wrote a story you didn’t like; it’s not the same quantum level of offensiveness, people. And applying the same level of viciousness to his sister is beyond the pale. In my opinion, FWIW, you should be ashamed.

    • John Morales says

      I read the story, was amused by it, and moved on – until I stumbled on the outpouring of vitriol it occasioned. So I went back and read it again. Nope, still not offended.

      Just because you aren’t offended doesn’t mean it’s not offensive to many, only that it’s not offensive to you.

      What I was turned off by was the above-mentioned outpouring of vitriol, of the sort that really should be reserved for, say, child-abusing baby-eating rapists, or anyone who attends Westboro Baptist.

      Oh, you sensitive little thing, you.

      Just because you are turned off by this, doesn’t mean it turns many off. ;)

      The point: here you are complaining about others complaining about something, purely on the basis that you find no complaint with with it, but you do not address the basis of their complaint.

      (Weak, that is)

      • Rebecca says

        *sigh* Rebecca is my real name, and I am not related to or even acquainted with Ed Rybicki, nor with his relatives or acquaintances. If I were, you guys would label me a sockpuppet. Since I’m not, I’m apparently a troll. You guys.

        • says

          Rebekah, I would say that much of your behavior fits a pattern which, to my mind, qualifies as trolling — specifically, your insistence on:

          (a) responding only to the most emotionally-couched comments while ignoring the more rational/fact-based arguments offered, and

          (b) consistently failing to address the content of criticisms directed at you.

          Am I wrong here?

  8. says

    The above vitriol was earned more by the sockpuppetry than by the original article. If you can find me an example of inappropriate vitriol directed solely at the article, then we’ll have something to talk about.

    • Rebecca says

      The sockpuppetry is a moot point. His original post under “Disappointed” is ambiguous, and was posted with his own picture. The rest of the “sockpuppetry” consisted of anyone who defended him being redefined as a sockpuppet, giving license to a feeding frenzy of moral indignation.

      As for the criticisms of his story: at least half of it is directed at his effrontery in having a story accepted for publication in a major journal. A grave crime indeed.

      • John Morales says

        His original post under “Disappointed” is ambiguous, and was posted with his own picture.

        There is nothing ambiguous about his post, rather about his identity.

        The rest of the “sockpuppetry” consisted of anyone who defended him being redefined as a sockpuppet, giving license to a feeding frenzy of moral indignation.

        On what basis are you ruling out sockpuppetry?

        As for the criticisms of his story: at least half of it is directed at his effrontery in having a story accepted for publication in a major journal. A grave crime indeed.

        Care to try to sustain this claim, other than by assertion?

        (Or at least, explain how you have determined it constitutes ‘effrontery’!)

  9. Lockwood says

    Second Woozle, and add that ridicule is not the same as vitriol. Looking over the comments above again, what’s happening is ridiculing (and not especially nasty, either) of a childish, dishonest act. Well-deserved, IMO, and I’m not the least bit ashamed.

    • says

      Yes. That too. Calling it “vitriol” is a serious overreaction. Next we’ll be told that we need to be “civil”, and stop rationally criticizing people’s deeply-held beliefs. :-E

      • Rebecca says

        Perhaps one man/woman’s vitriol is another’s ridicule. Certainly the following selection seemed to me to cross the line:

        “…Ed sockpuppeting again? Or is Henry Gee chiming in to lick the bootprint off Eddie’s wrinkled ass?…But even if you’re not Ed or Henry, you’re still a dumbass…Me thinks you’re Ed’s wife, then…God damn Ed, you look hideous in drag…… Smells like toxic socks to me…mewling like a titty-baby…I hope that’s a clean sock you’re masturbating into, Ed….”

        “[regarding his sister]… the person who feels honoured on the basis they came out of the same vagina as that pipsqueak whose farcical efforts are being derided…”

        “If Megan is actually Ed’s sister, and not just another pathetic sockpuppet, I have to wonder how the exchange that brought her here went. / “Mmeeeeeeeeeeeegaaaaaaaaaan people are saying mean things about me on the interneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!” (/cartman) / “Don’t worry Eddie, I’ll tell them all how smart and talented and kewl and awesome you are. They’re just jealous of your awesome talents!”

        Very witty – for second-graders on a playground.

        As for “Next we’ll be told that we need to be “civil”, and stop rationally criticizing people’s deeply-held beliefs”, that is an unjustified extrapolation. Not unlike the unjustified extrapolations being made on this page about Ed Rybicki.

        My message is, pick your battles. If you’re going to use ridicule OR vitriol, save it for – oh – Fred Phelps, Michele Bachman, Ken Ham, Tony Blair, the effing Pope. Why demonize some poor sod who wrote a harmless story, and about whom you know nothing else?

        • says

          Thanks, Rebecca, for reminding us all that if something is just a little sexist, racist, or dishonest, we should just overlook it. Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done.

        • says

          Look, Rebecca, I’m going to side with Lockwood on this one. Why? Because of the things I’ve already said to Meg (aside from the farting noises).

          Things that are a little sexist, or a little racist, or a little classist are still what they are. There is a fine line between laughing at something by mocking it in the appropriate frame (or, dear Christ, mentioning even once outright that it’s mockery) and making the joke out of context.

          Knowing this line is the difference between a Lewis Black and a crazy person screaming at people in the street.

          Telling people who are upset that they’re just a “whining noise” is falling back on first grade politics and just because you’re not offended doesn’t give someone else the right to be.

          • Rebecca says

            So, in your view, casting aspersions on this man’s marriage, his wife, his sister, his honesty, his whole life, and subjecting him to a barrage of abuse, constitutes a fair and rational critique of his story? “Mewling like a titty-baby” is a reasoned and intelligent comment? Just what kind of reaction were you guys expecting from him?

          • says

            And since Rebecca chose to object to the phrase “mewling like a titty-baby” in particular, let me put it back in context for her:

            Damn, if it were my brother writing sexist dreck, announcing that he expected to “catck flak” about it, then mewling like a titty-baby when he did get criticized for it, I’d give him a smack upside the head. I wouldn’t join in the pathetic mewling about getting criticism about something that he himself admits was not well-written!

            But maybe that’s because I’m not my brother’s sockpuppet.

            This seems spot on to me. What’s the problem?

          • Rebecca says

            Did I call you idiots? I said you should be ashamed, in my opinion, but that’s quite different.

            Woozle, thank you for putting “mewling like a titty-baby” in context. When, in your opinion, did the author mewl like a titty-baby? Please post a link.

            Further, it is interesting that you all appear to assume his sister was posting as his sockpuppet, or at his instigation; instead of entertaining the possibility that she was herself choosing to defend a beloved brother whom she knows somewhat better than you do, against abuse that she considers excessive and unfair. That’s rather sexist of you all, in my opinion.

          • says

            Rebecca,

            Okay, the ridicule has had its run; I’m willing to reboot my examination of this whole situation and see what I come up with.

            Let me go back to what Ed actually said under the monicker “Disappointed”:

            You don’t think that possibly, just possibly, the author was attempting satire?

            Here’s how I would have done that so as to avoid all this.

            1. Used the same name under which the piece was published, so it was clear I wasn’t trying to pretend to be someone else.
            2. Referred to myself in the first person, rather than third, for much the same reason.
            3. Not been quite so sarcastic in my first attempt at outreach. (If a sincere outreach fails, then you can get sarcastic.)

            Something like this:

            My piece seems to have been widely misinterpreted as having sexist intent. I apologize for giving people that impression; it was in fact intended as satire — making fun of sexist attitudes, and extrapolating them in (what I hoped was) a humorous way. Despite the story having been written in the first person, neither the characters in the story nor the laws of its parallel physics represent my views regarding women, gender, or knickers.

            Apologies aside, do you think Ed would agree with that rewrite?

            And for those on the other side of this debate, has anything else transpired that this would not take into account? (I haven’t had time to read all the comments on all the posts in question…)

            (For future reference, the story itself is here.)

          • says

            On further reading, I see Ed’s dismissive responses to the sincere attempts to explain to him how he had transgressed.

            It looks to me like he very carefully stepped in the middle of a fuzzy line which he knew would be offensive and yet still offer him enough buffer room so he could say “look — there’s still a part of the fuzzy line that I’m not stepping on, therefore this is totally acceptable!” and dismiss all criticism as being thin-skinned whining.

            So he whacks a hornets nest, repeatedly, and then sends his relatives in to defend him against the hornets.

            I think that says enough.

        • says

          @Rebecca

          Did I call you idiots? I said you should be ashamed, in my opinion, but that’s quite different.

          What?? I didn’t say that you had called us idiots. I was saying that many of us have seen what an infestation of toxic socks looks like and it looks a lot like what happened here! You might be oblivious to it, we aren’t.

  10. says

    I’m new to the group but I have to say, I like the cut of your jib, folks, so expect to see me lurking about more often (*lurk-lurk-lurk*) and throwing in my two coppers.

    It’s worth noting that he’s either been drawing his female relatives into the mix, or he’s sockpuppeted them, too. Both are a little creepy, IMHO.

  11. Rebecca says

    Hmm. There was no little blue “reply” at the end of Woozle’s post upthread, so I’ll paste it here.

    Some of that is rude, Rebecca, but it looks to me like you’ve cherry-picked (or maybe that should be “turd-picked”) the most infantile-sounding phrases out of otherwise-acceptable (if not always terribly witty) sentences and paragraphs and strung them all together out of context so it sounds like we’re all standing in support of unremitting potty-mouth.

    I picked out a few examples of comments that set the tone of the thread. There were more, but you could hardly expect me to paste in the entirety of a very long string of comments.

    Sock-puppetry is seriously unacceptable; if you’re caught doing it (and especially if you don’t apologize), you have no cause to complain about what people might say about you. I don’t understand why you would want to excuse Ed’s dickish (I believe that is the most applicable word here) behavior.

    I agree about the unacceptability of sockpuppetry, but I’m not sure it applies here, despite the inflammatory OP. I commented on this upthread, and repeat it here. The sockpuppetry is a moot point. His original post under “Disappointed” is ambiguous, and was posted with his own picture. The rest of the “sockpuppetry” consisted of anyone who defended him being redefined as a sockpuppet, giving license to a feeding frenzy of moral indignation.

      • Rebecca says

        “Dismissive and disrespectful attitude towards those who tried to communicate with him” – you mean, towards the people who were calling him dumbass, cheap-ass, dishonest, etc, after an OP that described his story as a “loathsome bit of sexist dumbfuckery”. How would you react?

        The charges of both sexism and sockpuppetry were, in my opinion, pretty hysterically exaggerated, and took on a momentum of their own once you guys got your teeth well into them. A large element of lynch-mob-style groupthink involved, from the looks of it.

        • says

          Rebecca asked

          you mean, towards the people who were calling him dumbass, cheap-ass, dishonest, etc, after an OP that described his story as a “loathsome bit of sexist dumbfuckery”. How would you react?

          It’s true that the comments Ed was responding to were rather opinionated, but I find it interesting that he chose those comments to respond to rather than more reasonable ones such as this (Paul Anderson’s comment):

          Ed, you can stick your fingers in your ears all you like and talk about “whining noises” however there are substantive criticisms of your story which any writer who wishes to be taken seriously should be able to address. To ignore them makes you look childish, and just heaps insult onto injury.

          Firstly there is the consistent criticism from many that the story is, simply, not that good. The writing is poor, and badly wanted an editor. It lacks the pace a short story requires to be engaging, it is paragraph after paragraph of you telling rather than showing, and it relies heavily on tired, hackneyed tropes. Now tropes can be used effectively in a satirical way that pokes fun at the convention; to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that was your intent leads to the conclusion that you failed badly and do not know how to write satire. The only other conclusion is that the story was sincere and you were unaware of the tropes.

          There’s more, and all of it seems on-target. I think Ed’s lack of response there is another example of deliberate provocation, stepping partway over the line and then protesting innocence — he responds tauntingly to those who are less reasonable, and ignores the more reasoned voices.

          Do you see what I’m talking about?

    • John Morales says

      [meta]

      Hmm. There was no little blue “reply” at the end of Woozle’s post upthread, so I’ll paste it here.

      Nesting is limited (for obvious reasons).

      Once the limit is reached, use the ‘reply’ at the previous level, which will put it under the last entry at the lowest level.

      • says

        This is one thing I really don’t like about WordPress. It starts with an absurdly narrow column and then rapidly runs out of horizontal room for nesting.

        (On my screen, the white-background area takes up about 2/3 of the screen width, leaving about 3″ of dead space on either side. Why? And then the text area takes up only about 2/3 of that — which I can sort of understand because it leaves room for sidebar stuff… but if it were me, I’d put all that in a right-aligned table so the comments below the end of the sidebar could have the whole width instead of leaving another 4″ of whitespace.)

        • John Morales says

          [OT]

          It’s just a poor implementation; it should at least keep column-widths constant and let the user scroll as required.

          For mine, the worst thing is that, when re-visiting the page, one has no idea of what new comments have been made since one’s last visit short of a full examination.

  12. says

    Since my rude comment has been noticed by the author himselves, perhaps some explanation is in order.

    I read the piece in Nature. I can see how it could be defended as satire, or assailed as sexist drivel, and there is certainly an sense in which we all inhabit different perceptual universes.

    But sock puppetry is a retreat into douchespace. There’s an easy way to tell that using his own picture was accidental: he referred to himself in the third person in defense of his first-person self. That’s practically the definition right there.

    Sockpuppetry predates the World Wide Web; it even existed on Compuserve and GEnie and dial-up BBS forums. In all that time it has received no mercy when rooted out. And deserves none. What it does deserve is ridicule and derision. It is dishonest and utterly wastes the time and attention of other people on the forum. Some forums just refer to it as wanking.

    Ed, is there any chance you could tell us you’re new at this game and you just didn’t know what a faux pas that was? Or will you go on defending it?

    • Rebecca says

      Since my rude comment has been noticed by the author himselves, perhaps some explanation is in order.

      Ah, you’re the guy who made the classy comment about masturbating into a sock. And now you’re saying I’m Ed in sockpuppet form. Which goes to prove one of my points – anyone who dissents from this gleeful group exercise in vivisection is eventually going to be accused of being a sockpuppet. Thank you, george.w, for the confirmation.

      For the record, I don’t know Ed Rybicki, had not heard of him before yesterday, and am not in contact with him.

  13. Rebecca says

    @Woozle, somewhere in the thicket of replies and counter-replies under #14:

    Apologies aside, do you think Ed would agree with that rewrite?

    I have no idea – don’t know him, can’t speak for him.

    So he whacks a hornets nest, repeatedly, and then sends his relatives in to defend him against the hornets.

    Sending in his relatives? How many sockpuppets do you guys suspect? There was Disappointed – with his own picture, and a denial in his next post that he was either praising himself or hiding his identity, though I agree he’d have been wiser to use his own name. Then there was “Disappointed too”, who was suspected of being a sock simply because he defended the author; and then there was the sister Megan, who (as I pointed out above) may well have chosen to defend her brother off her own bat. How does that = “sending in his relatives”.

    I think that says enough..

    And I think enough has been said, at least by me. You guys should listen to yourselves sometimes. Today wasn’t pretty.

  14. Dana Hunter says

    Oh, my. Let’s hope poor delicate Rebecca never ends up in a Pharyngula thread. She’s used up all the words like “vitriolic” and “hysterical” on us, not sure what she’d use to describe some of those conversations. I’ve always applied the terms “robust” and “freewheeling” meself, but I don’t think she’d quite see it that way if she perceives lil ol’ us as so damn mean.

    Note to my regulars: if tone trolls cease to amuse, you may of course vote them off the island.

    And if you return, Rebecca, please find a different tune to sing. You were rather boring there at the end. Maybe you should stop duking it out over the tone of the comment threads and check out some of the links to critiques collected by the Contemplative Mammoth to see why the vast majority of us panned Ed’s tripe so thoroughly. Here ye go: http://contemplativemammoth.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/womanspace-responses-to-rybickis-display-of-male-privilege-on-npg/. If you can respond to the substantive points raised rather than sniffling about how mean and awful everyone is, then there shall be a useful basis for a fruitful discussion.

    • Rebecca says

      Actually, Dana, I’ve been reading Pharyngula for years, followed it over here from Scienceblogs, and also have numerous battlescars from jref. Damn meanness is something I can enjoy, where it’s fair. But this thread, starting with your OP, was pretty much a lynch-mob.

      And if you return, Rebecca, please find a different tune to sing

      In unison, you mean?

      • Dana Hunter says

        Rebecca, indeed, you are a one-tune pony. Dissent is fine. People frequently disagree, and I lose no sleep over it. I’d love for you to explain why your reading of that inane story trumps the offense so many professional men and women took at it. That might even become an interesting discussion.

        It’s the tone-trolling I find wearing.

        I can see why so many believe you’re Ed in sock-puppet form. You seem to have a deep and personal need to defend him, for no discernible reason. You’ve got this little drama going on in your head. You’ve blown criticism and disgust at sock puppetry (and make no mistake, an author not posting under his own name and referring to himself in the third-person stinks of socks. Inept socks, considering the avatar, but socks nonetheless)into some evil mob with pitchforks and torches throwing vitriol. You’d think we’d murdered your puppy rather than engaged in the usual vigorous criticism the internet is so famous for.

        Since you’re not Ed, and since you’ve apparently no relation to him, and since he’s not paying you to be his valiant defender against all the meanies round here, do us a favor: stop whinging about tone and address some substance.

        If you wouldn’t be upset at our tone if we were applying it to someone you consider deserving, such as one of the Phelps, you’re a fucking hypocrite.

        I shall now leave you to the tender mercies of my readers.

        • Rebecca says

          Oh, come on. Look back at your OP. What did it add to the information from the first column, except an entirely gratuitous invitation to heap more abuse on Ed Rybicki’s head? “Have fun, my darlings. No need to be gentle. He is, after all, wearing a sock.” That’s not an invitation to reasonable discussion, it’s an invitation to a pitchfork party.

          If you look back at my first comment, I was objecting to treating that ephemeral little story as if it were an antifeminest manifesto, and the author as if he were the arch-oppressor. when I responded to comments addressed to me, I was labelled as either a tone troll or a sockpuppet.

          I shall now leave you to the tender mercies of my readers.

          Meat’s back on the menu, boys.

          • says

            Rebecca: you were asked to provide a substantive response to our criticism of the story and its author’s behavior. Your failure to do so is noted.

  15. says

    Rebecca said: “Ah, you’re the guy who made the classy comment about masturbating into a sock. And now you’re saying I’m Ed in sockpuppet form.

    My apologies Rebecca; I looked back upthread and that was you and not him who made notice of my question. Scrolling up and down on a tiny screen I just missed your name, but my question was directed at Ed.

    To repeat: Ed, if you’re still out there, is there any chance you just weren’t familiar with the forum convention against presenting oneself as an ally to one’s own point of view?

    And no, I’m not buying that accidentally leaving your picture on gives you a hall pass. Unless you are a regular on a given forum, the picture don’t mean diddly. You used a different name and referred to yourself in the third person. Twice.

  16. Rebecca says

    Woozle asked me to address substantive issues. Let me first reiterate: my initial post had to do with the way this hapless piece-of-fluff story had been inflated into a monstrous offence, and then the author (and any who dared defend him) subjected to a flood of vitriolic abuse.

    However, I’m happy to oblige Woozle. Let’s look at substantive issues. Your corporate indignation at this story and its author, judging by the comments on the two threads, falls into several categories:

    1. It’s a bad story – ineptly written and badly edited. Therefore, the author is fair game. People, I’m a writer, the veteran of decades of writers’ circles, have judged short-story competitions, and edited ,and taught creative writing courses and seminars up the yin yang; in my seasoned opinion, FWIW, Womanspace is not great writing, but it isn’t egregiously bad, either. That, however, is irrelevant, because – listen carefully – the quality of the writing is not a moral issue. To treat this writer as if he had committed a crime by writing a “bad story” is petty and irrational. And the charge of being badly edited is something to take up with the editor, not the author.

    2. It was published in Nature. Again, take that up with the editor rather than flaming the author. If the editor considered it publishable, why would the author quibble? Would any of you wannabes out there quibble if an editor miraculously accepted a story of yours?

    3. It was sexist and misogynist. A matter of opinion. It made a joke of the fact – FACT – that men and women tend to operate differently in performing some tasks. It was gently self-deprecating about the helplessness of middle-aged males in some regards. Hey, I’m married to one of those, and got a chuckle out of the trope; does that make me sexist? It portrayed the narrator’s wife (a scientist) as cooking dinner; does that mean we debase ourselves by cooking dinner or performing household tasks? Now THAT is sexist.

    4. Details, details. I do wonder if some of you read the same story I did; and certainly some of you seem to have confused the first-person narrator with the author, or got the wrong end of several sticks. EG: the narrator/author is mocked for being unemployed while his wife is a working scientist. Read it again. The narrator is unemployed (as in idle, as in not doing anything better at the moment than yammering with his pal) at that moment in the story, and is sent off by his busy wife (a scientist, currently cooking dinner, as some scientists do) to get him out of her hair. (Been there. )

    5. The author employs sockpuppets. As far as I can see, this is based substantially on “Disappointed’s” first post, where he – according to the blogger’s knee-jerk interpretation – culpably wrote of himself in the third person. Read it again. It is ambiguous. The first few sentences are written as a generality, not as out-and-out third person. The last two sentences employ first person, and the “too” reads like a reference to Womanspace. And here’s a question: do you consider this blog so influential that a guy on the other side of the world would take the trouble to sockpuppet it? I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. As for all the other “sockpuppets” : show me any evidence at all that Megan, Disappointed too, and I are posting at Ed Rybicki’s instigation. Altogether, it’s a pretty thin body of evidence to justify the kind of bile that (a) Dana called for, and (b) the rest of you obliged with.

    I’m too old and tired to go on with this. I started in the same spirit as I’d charge onto a playground if I saw a kid being bullied; take that as you will. The OP was ugly, the comments were ugly, and the gleeful rush to condemn and mock was ugly. And now, since I’m clearly unwelcome, I will bother you no more.

    • says

      …my initial post had to do with the way this hapless piece-of-fluff story had been inflated into a monstrous offence…

      Inflated with LOTS of help from the author, his sockpuppet, and two other commenters whom we still suspect may also be sockpuppets. So whose fault is that?

      …the quality of the writing is not a moral issue.

      No, the content and message of the writing is a moral issue. You know this, and you know Dana said this; so kindly quit misrepresenting what we’ve said here — in case you haven’t noticed, it’s still up there, so we can see when you’re getting it wrong.

      2. It was published in Nature. Again, take that up with the editor rather than flaming the author.

      That’s what she did, fool. Read the original post again.

      3. It was sexist and misogynist. A matter of opinion.

      If that’s the case, then given the dishonesty of your comments, I’ll be trusting Dana’s opinion, not yours.

      5. The author employs sockpuppets. As far as I can see, this is based substantially on “Disappointed’s” first post…

      Yeah, that’s the problem with sockpuppetry: once a guy’s been caught doing it, you can’t trust him not to do it again. And when the first instance of sockpuppetry is followed by implausible fawning defensive comments by alleged relatives, a little lingering suspicion is to be expected. So I gotta ask again — whose fault is that?

      • Sarah says

        You’re a cretinous hack Raging Bee. What’s dishonest about her comments? Or does “Disagreeing with Raging Bee” count as dishonesty?

  17. says

    Rebecca,

    Ed wrote a maybe-satirical story on a rather delicate topic which we might have been convinced was well-intentioned had a little diplomacy been involved (and make no mistake, the onus was on him to be the diplomat), but his actions when criticized about it bore out the initial impression that the joke was on us.

    Without some kind of sincere (non-sneering, non-dismissive) attempt to mend bridges, I don’t really see any point in wasting more time on trying to convey our point of view — to Ed or his defenders, none of whom actually give half a damn what we think.

  18. says

    Oh dear, Rebecca is leaving in a huff. And I wanted to ask; why did she think Ed needed defending? Couldn’t he just discuss his piece in Nature under his own name, answering the criticisms made of it? Without resorting to the tired trope of “Oh, I was only joking, can’t you people take a joke?”

    Instead she wound up defending sockpuppetry generally. Not exactly the right bar to be pouring that swill.

  19. A. L. says

    > Actually, Ed, it’s your comment’s metadata that labels you – as the bloody stupid author hisownself. <

    gosh, may i pls. thank you Dana.
    because i thought i couldn't believe my eyes/my brains (aka my own meta-analysis) when i read the trolling-sock-puppet-comments this E. R. has been leaving on various blogs (apart from everything else you have written on this sorry-topic).

    and imho absolutely yes, since he has been e.g. continuously disqualifying himself. as far as i know its usually called "applied science/s" and/or "how to be a decent human being 101".

    (may i add that imho E. R. may take his sorry behind and crawl back into "his manspace" to e.g. "dance with dinosaurs". pls. don't forget the tutu/s for the *womanspace-dancer/s.)

    btw, i have "hope for the future" when i look at this :
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/6208539353/