Tempest in a Bitbucket

I read a number of online comics regularly. One of them is PvP. Another is Megatokyo.

Late last week Scott Kurtz, the artist and writer of PvP, made a joke about Fred Gallagher, co-founder of Megatokyo with Rodney Caston. The joke congratulated Rodney and his wife on becoming pregnant and suggested that Fred wouldn’t be able to steal the baby. This refers to the fact that while both Fred and Rodney started Megatokyo, Fred took over the comic and has been doing it solo for a few years now. Some people imagine that Fred somehow cheated Rodney out of his share of the comic and Scott was joking about that speculation as much as anything else.

Alas, things soon grew out of hand. Scott Kurtz phrased things in such a way that one could easily read it as an attack. Fred Gallagher (who apparently has read all too many attacks of this kind) responded with an explanation of the breakup process. It didn’t stop there. Fanatic followers of both comics took potshots at each other in online forums and called each other (and their favorite artist/writers) nasty names.

Apparently Scott Kurtz and Fred Gallagher also both got a lot of emails on the topic.

At this moment, both artists’ sites have messages saying the equivalent of “please stop caring about this. Nothing to see here. Move along…”

Funny how one attempt at humor can blow up into so many wasted words.

Part of it might be the medium. When people say something like that in person, they can see the effect of the words and immediately apologise and explain their motivation. On the web you say it, people get offended and never get to say something to you directly. In fact they can go back to the same object and re-read it and it’s just like it was before. With an in-person problem, the details blur and when you feel better you can reinterpret your memories.

Thanks to the web, if you tell people about it, they can read it and get angry too. They, in turn, can tell even more people.

It would be interesting to track how people found out about the comments, if they made a response, and what sort of response they made.

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