Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Gina Ford vs the web

Apologies to those who commented on my previous post on this subject: I hadn't actually checked comments before I deleted. And wouldn't have done so, had I realised. It was only later when I saw my email notifications that I realised anyone had read or commented on it.

I deleted because I didn't wholly agree with myself anymore: the stand she is making seems more extreme than warranted. I do still think that personal comments or malicious lies about people should be removed, but it seems that this case is going too far. (One step beyond, da naaa da naa da naa). The law in the UK doesn't seem to be up to the job in this area. I think it needs to be reviewed and more in line with the US. For once. A whole site shouldn't be under threat because of a number of views of the people who use it.

I gather the on-line communities involved have swung into action, emailing and starting petitions*. I hope they succeed and Ms Ford thinks better of her litigation. Some of the national press has taken up the story.

The baby guru who threw her bottle out of the pram Daily Mail - UK. (#Hawk, spit# Daily M@!l)
Mothers' website falls foul of Queen of Routine Independent
Childcare expert threatens to have website shut down Guardian Unlimited
Childcare guru goes to war over website Times Online

I wonder under what circumstances she stopped posting at Mumsnet, as I gather she was once a contributor and poster on there: as 'Ginababe', I think I saw. On the one hand, if she feels she "knows" posters there, I can sympathise with how painful it must be if she feels they are bad-mouthing her and it may feel more personal than perhaps other on-line communities of which she was not part. But she seems to have extended her net towards other UK parenting websites as well.

I guess going after one alone screams personal problem with them? Or maybe not, perhaps she just stopped posting there because of time constraints or whatever.

It cannot be acceptable to attempt to prevent discussion of parenting methods on parenting forums. It's unfortunate when things get personal, but as long as the administration of a site makes reasonable efforts to remove malicious, untrue and spiteful remarks, I don't think it should be running the risk of getting sued unto closure.

*I don't think on-line petitions are particularly effective tools, however. Even if the email addresses are checked by an automatic system, it's very easy to have multiple emails. Also there's usually no verifiable way of knowing the real location of people, (and usually politicians are not too interested in the opinions of people who don't vote in their country/area). Without that kind of location & demographic information, a petition has no power to influence. If someone really wants to make their feelings on an issue clear, writing a letter to, or even emailing the relevant people is more effective. I think on-line petitions just fill the immediate sense of wanting to do something, without actually doing much of anything.

That said, I suppose they do enable the press to say "so many people have signed this".


Hippernicus said...

Hope anonymous didn't mind getting their comment deleted in my haste to tidy up my blog. I reinstate it here as it was sent to me in email notification:

"Derogatory comments regarding the lady in question have always been removed quickly. Her interpretation of what is derogatory however is what is open to question. It is now impossible to even mention her name without the threat of lawyers breathing down your neck.

Her ego is obviously far bigger than her common sense. Unfortunately her wallet is also quite large and she can afford to threaten legal action in the hope that she can gag anyone who annoys her.

Shame on you Ms Ford."

Hippernicus said...

And again, with apologies, anonymous II's comment:

"I followed her advice and I can say that not all comments on those threads were negative ones, the debates were quite balanced. I spent hours putting the record straight, a move I highly regret after knowing the real person who is behind the method.

Last night it dawned on me that the method I highly praised and whose dictatorial tone I always blamed on bad editing, was actually written by a person that is not mature enough to cope with criticism. I have learned last night that probaby she has done to our babies what she is doing to so many mothers today... and I'm ashamed of myself and owe an inmense apology to my child.

Guess she will allow us to cry for us to learn to shut up and go to sleep. Hope our cry for help is not ignored as she so recommends."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reinstating.

The biggest problem now is the pressure MS Ford is putting on the hosting company to actually remove Mumsnet from the web altogether.

All of her requests regarding deletion etc have been met by the MN management team with the exception of a financial demand for costs and damages.

Hmmm, is that why she is still so pi$$ed off I wonder? Is her bank balance not big enough yet?

Anonymous said...

perhaps the lady in question should
a)actually have a child herself so she can actually try and follow her routines as a new emotional and hormone fuelled mother
b)actually release a statemnet to the media as up to yet herself and her legal team have been oddly silent
c)have started this battle when she didnt have a new book on the way out
and finally
d)actually stop throwing her dummy out of the pram and use her own advice form her books to sort out her own behaviour.

Anonymous said...

The lady herself left after drudging up an very old post about herself, which to be fair, was not particularly kind. She started a thread about the comment and became very unpleasant and unreasonable and left. If I recall correctly she was not a big contributor, mostly answered questions regarding her work and did not really strike up 'friendships' as such. I rather think she has more than a few issues and should be spending her money on another service, medical, not legal.

Abby said...

I support Gina Ford 100 per cent. And I'm glad it's her who had that battle and not me. As I am a big old coward, haha.

I think it's out of order to allow libellous and defamatory remarks about anyone. Looks like Mumsnet didn't take her complaints seriously until she had to get the lawyers in. More fool them. It looks like she tried her best to be reasonable about it and warn them what would happen. So if Mumsnet ever closed down I would congratulate Gina Ford heartily. And the people who like making abusive personal attacks will just find another website that suits their tastes better.