Attacks on famous Internet names

As this post and its meaning has been misinterpreted, I want to point out that Joe Clark is only used as an example below for a phenomenon on the web where famous names and their publications get repeatedly attacked in a vicious way just because of who they are, and how this will negatively affect them and also force them to often defend themselves publicly.

First, to those who don’t know who Joe Clark is, let me introduce him. Joe is a beacon in the accessibility field, revered by many and a strong fighter in this field. He’s doing intensive consulting, researching and writing while also making a number of appearances as a presenter.

When you see Joe commenting on a blog post, it’s usually in a very stern and sometimes provocative and feisty manner; he’s defending stances while arguing in an intense way. This has led to my pondering: why does Joe Clark write angry comments? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him in real life (although I really hope it will happen one day) but people who have say that he’s really friendly and helpful, generally a great guy altogether.

However, I guess this isn’t really about Joe, but about a state that many successful bloggers/standardistas/accessibility fighters seem to end up in. They appear to become jaded with a lot of people, instead of showing them the respect that they as well as beginners should always be met with, question everything they say and do their outmost to find flaws in what they do. They get tired of it all and now and then one of them just stops sharing their thoughts and findings for free, and instead become a recluse from the web limelight.

Or, I might be totally off-key here and it’s only Joe’s style and image. ๐Ÿ™‚


PS. I do hope that Joe reads this and if he does, that he writes a nice happy comment about just being in a good mood. ๐Ÿ™‚ DS.


  • Jens Meiert says:

    Well, that’s a privilege for people who do their homework, isn’t it. There definitely are cases where there’s no need to say “so pretty please, with sugar on top”. While I think I’m behaving more diplomatic, I can absolutely understand that “harsh emphasis” pretty well (oh yeah, I do).

  • Hmmm … maby I should start to be arrogant, nasty, obnoxious and so on to get someone to read my blog ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  • Tommy Olsson says:

    You need to stand out in order to be noticed in today's world. One way to do that is to be courteous and really knowledgeable, like Eric Meyer. You really need to know your stuff, though, for this to work.

    A much easier way is to be loud and/or use colourful language and/or be rude and obnoxious. I think it's simply Joe's style to be very direct and don't mince words. It doesn't mean he's a rude or obnoxious person. I've never met him, but we've exchanged emails on occasion, and he seems to be a genuinely nice bloke.

    Others, like John Oxton, deliberately use lots of four-letter words to provoke reactions from their readers. As far as I know, John is also a nice bloke, although you could get the wrong impression from a glance at his site.

    It's about being heard, that's all. If you're quiet and courteous, people will only pay attention to you if you are an outstanding and acknowledged expert in your field. If you're rude and obnoxious, you'll lose some of your audience, but you'll attract many more because people are attracted to conflict.

    (Just to make it clear: I'm not saying that Joe and John are rude or obnoxious, although I'm aware that my ramblings might be read as if that's what I'm saying.)

  • I love Joe's blog, the bitching makes me laugh as does thinking about what trouble he'd cause if he allowed comments on his posts ๐Ÿ˜€

    I don't much care for his occaisonal *queer eye* stuff, but it's his blog and he can write about whatever he likes. I know I've learnt a lot from his observations on accessibility and typographic style that I really ought to put into practice more often ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Karl Dawson says:

    I love both Joe's and John's blogs. For me, I see Joe's writing and presentation style as laden with sarcasm, satire and irony. His "targets" are generally academic types who miss the point with a particular statement about accessibility – and because they think they're high brow you know they won't take too kindly to being shown up in that way. Comic genius him and that fella John! Both qualify for the BBC series "Grumpy Old Men" hahaha (compliment btw).

    Joe's also a bloody nice chap (met briefly at @media) and gets extra brownie points for listing my new site in his account ๐Ÿ™‚

  • karmatosed says:

    Maybe I live in a happy make believe world, but I myself think being polite does get you noticed. Thing is that the example you use of John Oxton is one that works because of many levels : he might be a grumpy man but he is also a comic crafter and insightful poster. There are more reasons than huffying, puffing and ranting that get you to read his blog.

  • Joe Clark says:

    By asking the world if there is a "reason" why I write a certain way (without asking me directly first), you presuppose there is a degree of artifice at work. There isn't.

    One does tire of having to defend his very essence in public so often. Why are you posting this a week after I got attacked for releasing the results of a three-year study? Piling on?

    If you don't like the ill-named "queer eye" content on my personal Weblog, you can manipulate category feeds in RSS never to see it. That, however, is your responsibility, and I don't provide instructions.

  • Sanjay says:

    I get the impression that Joe looks at himself in the mirror at least a few times a day and tells himself he's fabulous, so do we really need to give him more attention? Like my aging mother says "Don't look, you'll only encourage him!" But I do agree with Joe in that there's nothing artificial about him. He's a genuine prick.

  • I have met Joe in person and have spoken to him on the phone, and I can testify that he is a really nice, knowledgeable and helpful person. He is also extremely rhetorically skilled and tells things like they are. The combination of expertise and rhetoric may be intimidating to some, and may also be what makes you interpret his comments as "angry".

  • Robert Nyman says:


    Thanks for your comments.


    I haven't got the opportunity to reply sooner, as I've been away holding a lecture.

    The reason for writing this as a post was, while you indeed were the subject, to shed some light on the problem that high-profile names get overly attacked and criticised for no good reason, and that this can also lead to us losing valuable names in the field.

    I had no idea about your study and the attack on it, and I really don't think I'm obliged to know that either. Only misfortunate that this post came directly after that in time.

    What I do want to apologize about is if you were offended by this and because I didn't write you a personal e-mail. As said above, I only meant to have you as an example for a phenomenon on the web, not for this to be a public forum on dissecting you as a person, and definitely not to open up for personal assaults.

    Seeing how this was incorrectly perceived and the content in certain comments above, I've decided that further commenting is closed.