Mena Trott 1, Ben Metcalfe 0

Last December, Six Apart founder Mena Trott gave an infamous speech about online civility where she called out one of her critics in the event's IRC backchannel, an audience member using the pseudonym dotBen:

Who is dotBen? All day yesterday you've been an ------- to the people who've been in this town and I want to know why don't you, why, what the ----?

DotBen turned out to be Ben Metcalfe, at the time a technologist at the BBC, who stood up and said that candor is more important than civility.

Yesterday on his blog, Metcalfe got an anonymous comment in response to one of his posts:

Yes google can shove it. And you can go ---- yourself.

Metcalfe called out his anonymous critic for incivility:

Dude, you're not quite as anonymous as you think. And if you want to chat ---- like that without even putting a name to the remark, then I don't feel to bad about giving our your IP address:

Hmmm a quick google (it was google, this time!) and I notice you once tried to add to the Wikipedia Entry for Xeni Jardin and have been trolling the Phoenix Arizona entry (which I notice is where you are from).

Sure, you could be on a dynamic IP but seeing as the only instances of this IP address that I can find is more trolling (like your comment here) it looks like this is you ...

Mena Trott Declares Civil War

Mena Trott speaks at Les Blogs

In a keynote address at the Les Blogs conference yesterday, Six Apart founder Mena Trott cut short her call for blogger civility to put a bleep in his place:

Who is dotBen? All day yesterday you've been an ------- to the people who've been in this town and I want to know why don't you, why, what the ----?

It's hard to fairly judge the situation without seeing the events that led up to it, but that's never stopped me before. Trott showed courage giving a speech at the Six Apart-organized conference in front of screen that projected live online chat, a relatively new phenomenon called a backchannel, but I agree with the point Ben Metcalfe seemed to be making when dragged in front of the whole class -- you can't always be nice if you're being honest.

The comments Shel Israel made right before the confrontation are pretty funny in retrospect:

It's a different world now and it's a new way of expressing things. It's a much faster world we live in, so I guess we got to live with it and every story has two points of view and we have to listen sometimes to see what other people think.

Update: Here's a longer excerpt of Trott's speech (and the transcript), which she intended in part as a challenge to backchannel behavior:

I started to get incredibly nervous about appearing on this stage today. ... The main reason I was scared and I'm still scared, is that IRC backchannel. ... I've seen people make comments on these channels that they would never say to somebody's face.