02:22 AM

Be Careful Of "Dark Territorial Atavism" When Making Changes To Your Web Site

Sometimes some people hate change and the most trivial changes can set them off in ways unimagined.

That's a lesson Richard Dawkins, author, scientist, and professional atheist, learned recently when he made some changes to his site RichardDawkins.net. Here is an extract from his letter to his forum members:

Dear forum members,

We wanted you all to know at the earliest opportunity about our new website currently in development. RichardDawkins.net will have a new look and feel, improved security, and much more. Visits to the site have really grown over the past 3 1/2 years, and this update gives us an opportunity to address several issues. Over the years we've become one of the world's leading resources for breaking rational and scientific news from all over the net and creating original content. We are focusing on quality content distribution, and will be bringing more original articles, video and other content as we grow...

The reaction from some of his forum members was spectacular. Overnight, he became the target of "personal vilification on an unprecedented scale."

The name calling was over the top, ranging from the relatively mild "utter twat" to a "suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat's rectum. A suppurating rat's rectum inside a dead skunk that's been shoved up a week-old dead rhino's twat."

And worse... "a sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails down your throat" and more...

Mr Dawkins wondered "what do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?"

No, it was to write a letter explaining the changes to the forum on his website.

"Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, over-reacting so spectacularly to something so trivial. Even some of those with more temperate language are responding to the proposed changes in a way that is little short of hysterical. ... Have we stumbled on some dark, territorial atavism?"

"...what this remarkable bile suggests to me is that there is something rotten in the Internet culture that can vent it."

There certainly is something rotten and good luck trying to root it out.

You can read the entire post here: RichardDawkins.net Forum • View topic - Outrage

(Hat tip Chris Dymond.