Just a few more comments before leaving this bullying topic for a while: The SFF community isn’t the only group suffering from this issue. Poking around turned up an interesting blog by Oliver Keyes on the response to his resignation from the volunteer R programming community. Before anyone rushes forward with complaints, I notice that Keyes is not blameless in the bullying sphere. At the very least, he has a wacky sense of humor. He is also employed by Wikipedia, another community rife with bullies.

After his report about a bug in the R programming language was shut down by management, Keyes resigned and received a number of comments on his site, including, apparently, 28 death threats. In response, he conducted a study which he delicately entitled “Oliver Keyes Sciences the Shit Out of the Arseholes on his Blog.” He analyzed 183 comments and found 107 users, of which he determined 67 were arseholes. He also traced their referring site and geo-located their IP address, leading to some fascinating results.

The first chart he presents is “Probability of commenter being an arsehole, based on website of origin.” Interestingly, commenters coming from Vox Day’s website had a 100% probability of being arseholes. The next highest probability went to Google at about 80%. The lowest probabilities were Twitter at about 20% and Facebook at about 30%. Keyes noted that commenters coming from Wikipedia also had a 100% probability rating, but the number of commenters was too small to make it onto the graph.

Next, Keyes looked at country of origin. Because of the language involved in the blog, nearly 100% of comments came from English-speaking countries. “Probability of commenter being an arsehole, based on country of origin” showed the UK in the lead with about 75% probability, the US at about 70% probability and Canada at about 50%.

It’s true that people commenting on this particular resignation had an axe to grind, but still this is an interesting sampling of the kind of comments that some people get. I guess you have to be pretty thick-skinned if you expect to maintain a presence on the Internet.