Duncan Riley> I suppose in any community in the world there is always a mixture of good and bad, and as the blogosphere grows it’s not unreasonable to presume that for all the good in the blogosphere, there will be some people that chose to do the wrong thing. Stalking is even a more serious accusation, but a number of very, very high profile bloggers have joined together to highlight the actions of one blogger, which if proven true could easily be the case of the blogospheres first dedicated stalker.
Leading the charge is Jason Calacanis of Weblogsinc, a man with a lot of respect in the industry. On Friday in a post titled “Jacek Rutkowski, Stalker” he nominates Rutkowski, the author of the MSMobiles blog as a stalker who has been making psychotic threats to bloggers, often at home (including, according to a later comment on the post himself). He states that he is posting this at the request of Russell Beattie, who posts back in November a disturbing list of examples of Rutkowski contacting him at home on multiple occasions. Nick W of Threadwatch also chimes in with support on the claims of Calacanis.
Now, to be honest Im inclined to believe all three on the matter, but at the end of the day until such time they are proven in a court they are allegations and I can only report them as such as I have no personal knowledge that they occurred nor have I been stalked by Rutkowski. I’d also warn any others repeating the allegations to remember that they are allegations of a most serious nature, and unless you have personal experience in the matter I would caution repeating them as proven fact. This does not, however preclude me, and others, from reporting that the matter which may indeed be the case of the blogosphere’s first dedicated stalker.
To be fair, I asked Rutkowski for his comments on the allegations via email yesterday, because there is always two sides to the story. Rutkowski responded in a slightly rambling manner which would suggest that English is most likely not his first language.
In relation to critical comments he has made about Jason Calacanis in the past he writes: “My rationale: I deeply believe that WeblogsInc is bad for the whole blogosphere and that Jason is not only exploiting his own bloggers (i.e. paying them much less than the gets from advertising revenues), but that Jason’s blogs have tendency to destroy other blogs, by censoring the other blogs or news sites and by going to trade shows themselves thus not needed other blogs.”
Now I personally believe that most of this is rubbish, although there are some who allege that Jason Calacanis pays a pittance to his bloggers, I’d note that the people who blog for him do so of there own free will, and surely if Calancis was a slave trader they wouldn’t be sticking around. I know of no example of Weblogsinc blogs “destroying” other blogs although I could certainly think of atleast a couple of examples where they’ve certainly come to dominate their chosen niche, but after all its a free and competitive world, and I’m not sure what the trade show stuff is about. I’ll deal with the censorship issue a little later on.
On Beattie he writes (and I’d note that some of what he writes is potentially libellous itself): “Regarding libel page about me at Russell’s blog: once (in one day, not over many days or so) I called him to get audio interview with him for podcasting purposes, but he reacted angrily (knee-jerk reaction?) – as if I would be attacking his private life or something. Please note: I had audio interviews for podcasting with many people, and I called also other people – like Robert Scoble for example. It was not my intention disturb private life of Russell but just to get audio interview. In fact I called him in the same time when I was calling Robert Scoble and I though that it is nothing wrong (it’s not for Robert but Russell’s has always probelms). Regarding other texts about Russell: I have removed them from msmobiles.com (news website) but if Russell will keep this page with libel about me, maybe I would have to bring them back to my personal blog – to defend myself. Please note also that Russell is posing as deep anti-microsoft activist and since I am big fan of Microsoft cellphones, that was one of big reasons why he hates me.”
Well, in this case it just comes down to a he said, she said scenario, but the reference to Scoble is interesting, although I’d note Scoble’s comments in Beattie’s post in which he recognises criticism of doing the podcast.
So there’s the other side of the story, and as you can see I’m still inclined to believe Beattie and Calacanis, but there is one thing I strongly disagree with in the matter, and more so with Beattie but partially with Calacanis, and that’s their call to censor Rutkowski because they disagree with what he says. To quote Beattie: “MSMobiles is not a valid impartial news site, it’s a personal and biased weblog. If you know someone at Google News who can take him out of their news index, I would greatly appreciate it (I’ve emailed repeatedly).” See, the problem I have is that bias is within the eyes of the beholder, and what I see as bias, Beattie may not, and even Calacanis, who backs Beatties calls (“ask the folks at Google News to take this person’€™s rants at MSMobiles.com out of the Google News index as he is slandering folks and not doing news coverage”) may have a different opinion again. The writing of a right wing blogger is seen as being biased by a left wing blogger and vice-versa. The writings of many in the mainstream media is actually biased, unless viewed by other members of the mainstream media. Get my drift? I even defended Google News back in February for running what was basically a Nazi news site on Google News, not because I agreed with what was being written, but because above all I hold the right of people to write and publish their own opinions, no matter how against them I am personally. Freedom of speech should never be threatened except in the most serious of circumstances.
Whilst it is a fact that Rutkowski deeply dislikes both Calacanis and Beattie, and this shows in his writing, there may be others who agree with his views (although I honestly hope there are not a lot of them). Again, what’s biased to one person may not be biased to another. I respect what Russell Beattie and Jason Calacanis have written, but I think they do themselves a disservice when they call for censorship of anybody, including Rutkowski, and calling for censorship instead of arguing against what he is saying and providing examples there in, can only look like a petty attempt at revenge against a vocal critic. I’ll qualify that I don’t believe either men to be petty, and having not been stalked before myself I can’t imagine how I’d feel in their positions, but perceptions are important and its not unreasonable to believe some may read it this way.
I’d also note that in publishing the allegations that both Beattie and Calacanis risk giving Rutkowski more publicity than he’s ever had, and being from a marketing/ PR background I still believe the old saying, that there’s no such thing as bad news; all news is good news, even when its bad. Over the next couple of days others will repeat the allegations and Rutkowski will get his 15 minutes of fame because of it, and for the wrong reasons. Personally I would have baulked at publicising the matter, for example, I’m currently not publicising a personal matter of copyright with this blog and another site at the moment, because quite simply I don’t want the other guy to get attention, and there are ways and means to get your own back that don’t mean giving the other guy free publicity.
To Rutkowski’s alleged victims, Calacanis, Beattie, and potentially others, if true I sincerely hope that the stalking does not continue, to Rutkowski, if you are indeed stalking them or others, pull your head in son, and get your act together. Remember always, what goes around comes around. To readers be warned, as the blogosphere reflects real life, the bad will always be mixed in with the good. Here we potentially have the Blogosphere’s first dedicated stalker, and there could be more. To quote the Australian Government’s post 9-11 advertising, “be alert, but not alarmed.”