Anne Wheaton, you’re an idiot

Anne Wheaton, wife of famous Star Trek alum Wil Wheaton, recently announced that for every hateful tweet coming from “Gamergate”, she’d donate $1 to Feminist Frequency. (Archived version here since it appears she deleted it)

Others soon joined in on it, agreeing to match or multiply what is donated. A phrase comes to mind: A fool and his money are soon parted. Though in this case, it’d be a fool and her money are soon parted.

If you could reduce your opponent’s cash by $1 by merely typing 140 characters or less, how many tweets would you write? Apparently Wheaton found out the hard way as she had to cap her donation at $1,000. That ended quickly. On Facebook, Wil made the comment that Anne is a “BOSS!” Sorry Wil, but if she commits to parting ways with her own cash over hateful tweets, she’s an idiot.

Parting with your own money every time your detractors send a hateful tweet? Yeah that’s really showing your detractors who’s boss. But The Mary Sue was implying that they had somehow tricked “Gamergate” into donating money, as if those within “Gamergate” were the ones actually donating money, not Anne. Talk about misleading all around.

The reason she had to cap her donation is quite simple: her detractors would’ve forced her to drain her bank account keeping her promise. I’ve said before: if you sacrifice your livelihood to make a point, you lose your livelihood but don’t make your point. Anne Wheaton’s willingness to part with her money every time her detractors sent her a nasty tweet was a recipe for disaster. They wouldn’t have cared that the money went to Anita Sarkeesian. They would’ve seen it as a quick way to show Anne Wheaton how stupid she is being.

Let’s put it this way: if she had instead said “For every rape threat Gamergate sends me, I’ll donate $1 to a rape prevention charity”, she would be flooded with rape threats — from both her supporters (through sock-puppet accounts) and her detractors (likely also through sock-puppet accounts). The same would have been if Anita Sarkeesian had tweeted that she’d donate $1 to a domestic violence shelter for every rape and death threat she received through Twitter from “Gamergate”. You would’ve had “Gamergate” detractors making sock-puppet accounts in droves to flood them with threats — virtually none of which would be taken seriously — in order to get more money flowing toward charities they support while making “Gamergate” look worst in the process.

As such, it makes me wonder how many of the nasty tweets, now possibly falsely attributed to “Gamergate”, actually came from her supporters, knowing that another dollar was going to Anita Sarkeesian, “Gamergate” was going to look a little worse, and all it took was a few keystrokes, meaning no actual effort or financial loss on their part. Now “Gamergate” detractors can say “Look at all these nasty tweets Gamergate sent to Anne Wheaton”.

Now let’s not rule out the possibility that nasty tweets did also come from “Gamergate” supporters (possibly also through sock-puppet accounts), simply because they’d know that those tweets would cause Anne to commit to parting with another dollar for each one. An organized campaign could’ve caused her to commit to donating her annual income in a matter of hours.

I wonder how quickly someone managed to alert her to that possibility, since it took her only 5 minutes from commitment to cap. Lesson learned. Hopefully.

Hopefully next time anyone thinking of trying this will put a little more thought into this. I’m guessing her decision was spur of the moment with few actually putting any critical thinking skills behind the idea to see if it was a good idea. I think she learned it isn’t.