Derek Smart Incident
The Derek Smart Incident happened on September 27th, 2015. In it, Derek Smart, the head of 3000AD, an Indie Game studio, revealed that he had a long conversation with Brianna Wu, roughly a year previous, in which he gave her advice on how to handle her trolls and alleged harassers. This was before the truth about this harassment started to become more well-known.
The article itself is a perfect example of Wu's ego on full display, in which she ignores the (practical and correct) advice of someone with significantly more success and experience when he tells her something she does not want to hear. Wu outright, in this exchange, states that because of how Smart chose to word his advice, she didn't read it and instead chastised him for bothering to give it, accusing him of "Mansplaining." When Smart tries to discuss this civilly, Wu instead doubles down, culminating in her essentially ignoring all advice given and complaining about how GamerGate is a threat to her life, specifically citing Brianna Wu's myriad disproven hoaxes as the reason she is under threat.
The fact that Smart provably has more experience (and qualifications as a developer) are lost on her, as is the fact that Smart himself was considered a pretty major lolcow back in the 1990s and early 2000s, before mellowing out and shaking off the tag in the years since, thus doubly making him someone whose advice she should be listening to.
There is a bittersweet irony in the fact that had Brianna Wu actually heeded his words and taken his advice to heart, her Lolcow Wiki Article would, in all likelihood, never have happened.
- 1 Transcript
- 1.1 Brianna Wu, October 31st
- 1.2 Brianna Wu, October 31st, 11:36 AM
- 1.3 Derek Smart, October 31st, 7:11 PM
- 1.4 Brianna Wu, October 31st, 7:21 PM
- 1.5 Derek Smart, November 1st, 10:02 AM
- 1.6 Derek Smart, November 2nd, 3:59 PM
- 1.7 Brianna Wu, November 2nd, 4:04 PM
- 1.8 Derek Smart, Novemebr 2nd, 6:22 PM
- 1.9 Brianna Wu, November 2nd, 6:38 PM
- 1.10 Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#1)
- 1.11 Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#2)
- 1.12 Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#3)
- 1.13 Derek Smart, November 3rd
- 2 Gallery
- 3 References
The following is a transcript of the back-and-forth dialogue between Brianna Wu and Derek Smart on Facebook, revealed in this incident:
Brianna Wu, October 31st
(NOTE: This transcript has no timestamp)
As a software engineer, I don't like broad, never-ending goals. I like to focus on smaller, attainable goals. In that vein, I'm ready to announce something. I am in the process of setting up a legal defense fund for women targetted by Gamergate.
One of the biggest ways Gamergate operates is character assassination. Well, we have laws protecting you against that. I'm not a lawyer, but the fund will pay lawyers to find cases on libel and defamation and prosecute them in civil court. These cases might be mine, or they might be other women targeted by Gamergate. It will be cases the legal team feels they can win.
Sadly, fighting back is all these bullies understand. I'm in the process of making sure the fund complies legal and tax structure. My suggestion to ANYONE IN GAMERGATE is to think very carefully about saying something libelous or defamatory about the women you target.
If you are a lawyer, or you know a lawyer who would be good at these cases - or you'd just be willing to give professional advice in setting this up, I would appreciate talking to you.
Brianna Wu, October 31st, 11:36 AM
I'm sure with all the sewage flowing from Gamergate, a legal team will find something. But, I'm not a lawyer. That's up to them to determine.
Derek Smart, October 31st, 7:11 PM
It won't work.
These cases can cost up to $250K to get to trial. I should know. Been there, done that.
Plus, defamation cases are the single most difficult cases to bring about. Assuming you can get it past discovery.
Then what happens if the perp is not on U.S. soil?
Also, once it is civil, law enforcement won't engage. Which menans you have to pay for digital forensics experts to find the person behind the digits.
It's messy. It's expensive. It's harrowing.
Brianna Wu, October 31st, 7:21 PM
With respect Derek, I'm going to prove you wrong.
Derek Smart, November 1st, 10:02 AM
Oh, I'm always open to being proven wrong. Confiden people never let something like ego get in the way of progress. And if someone succeeds in actually setting up a fund that ends up making a difference in this online discourse, then that's a mark of progress.
And the only way I can be proven wrong is if this fund gets set p and does in fact yield any results associated with bringing any of these nitwits to justice (criminal or civil).
Having the money (as per said fund) is one thing. Said money yielding any meaningful results worthy of the effort, is clearly another.
It's not unlike game development. It doesn't matter whether or not you have the money to do the game, it's about what you achieve in the end that matters. In this regard, whether or not the game is successful and makes back its investment.
The number of defamation cases that make it to trial, let alone yield any meaningful results is so small that this particular demographic doesn't even register on the legal scale of those types of cause of action.
Also, most defamation cases end up with a slap on the wrist. Those who find themselves at the end of an actual judgment, just file for bankruptcy since any/all civil judgments can be discharge. They create another alias and go do it all again because now they strengthen their resolve in fighting back.
And in the case of bringing about criminal action against "identified" people, that's up to law enforcement. But given the sheer nyumber of those that occur on a daily basis, compared to the number of arrests, let alone convinctions, my guess is that - again - setting up a fund (with other people's money) to do this sort of thing is largely inconsequential because you can't get law enforcement to do anything.
And in all these pursuits, assuming that you've got past the EFF, ACLU, and everyone in the chain associated with individual rights and Free Speech, then the real battle begins. Oh and there's that little thing called the CDA (or the single worst piece of online legislation ever devised).
And the minute word gets out that the aforementioned action (in any stage) has been brought up against one of the posse, now you've riled up the rest and started a cascading problem which the fund is barely going to be able to fund, let alone manage. At that point it becomes a public relations nightmare that no amount of money is going to fix.
And on the off-chance that you do find and identify one of these perps, the time you should be spending on, you know, MAKING GAMES, you're busy with attorneys, investigators, ISPs, discovery process, and everything in between because, you know, these things don't manage themselves.
Just because something sounds like a good idea doesn't mean that it is. When it comes to legal action, there's lots and lots of challenges, most of them financially and legally insurmountable when it comes to defamation cause of action.
I have many - many - lawyers in my LinkedIn and Facebook contacts, several of which I have worked with on something or another over the years, and who I am certain - as gamers - will be more than happy to chime in. Here are a few. Perhaps the others will see this post in my feed and chime in.
Please note that I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form, trying to make you change your mind nor tell you want to do. I'm simply saying that it won't work let alone yield the expected results.
Derek Smart, November 2nd, 3:59 PM
Fair point. But as I pointed out, I am not discouraging it either way. I am just pointing out just some of the obstacles something like this will face and why I think they are insurmountable and thus destined to fail.
Brianna Wu, November 2nd, 4:04 PM
For what it's worth Derek Smart, I read your comments as unconsciously aggressive and very mansplainy.
Many of the assumptions you're basing your remarks upon are flawed and incomplete. But, since your syntax is "THIS IS THE WAY THINGS ARE," rather than "this has been my experience with wrestling this," it doesn;t leave much room for disagreement. So, I've chosen not to engage rather than discuss.
The reason I've mentioned this isn't to get into a FB thing with you. Rather, I'd encourage you to read through your remarks and think about the message I and others are interpreting that you might not be intending to send]]. It's likely you're doing this in other areas of your life as well.
If you're talking to me, I expect to be given the same respect I show you.
Derek Smart, Novemebr 2nd, 6:22 PM
Sorry you feel that way but your assumptions are incorrect and misplaced.
And you know nothing about my life nor me and there was seemingly no need for you to make this a personal thing; I didn't.
And by making this personal, you are doing the same thing that those GG nitwits are advocating and which you are decrying.
With that, I respectfully withdraw. Forget I said anything; I was just trying to help by pointing out a myriad of things you may not be aware of in pursuing the course of action you hjave described.
Good luck with it and I hope that you succeed where others have failed.
Brianna Wu, November 2nd, 6:38 PM
It's not personal. It's honest, open, and direct. It's the same conversation I'd have with you if we were in an office working together. And if you'd like to follow up, I invite you to DM me.
Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#1)
(NOTE: This post cuts off due to being image format)
This afternoon, a leader of Gamergate put together a piece on Medium about me, about my cars, about my house's location. Ask Amanda Warner, it was straight up terrifying. Any reasonable person would be freaked out by this level of stalking and obsessing. It made me feel very unsafe. In addition - in the last 24 hours:
1. People have been requesting on Steam that the women targeted by Gamergate i...
Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#2)
If I quit, and I'm close today, it will be because I got almost no support from the industry itself. They don't care.
Brianna Wu, November 3rd (#3)
It's been deleted, but the damage is done.
Derek Smart, November 3rd
(sigh) against my better judgment, here goes...
Briana, I don't speak for the industry. But as someone who's been in it a long longer than most and who has lots - and lots - of friends, peers, and colleagues in it, I take issue with these comments:
"I'm bitter at the industry forces that created this monster and are choosing to ignore it while it devours the women who stood up to it whole."
"If I quit, and I'm close today, it will be because I got almost no support from the industry itself. They don't care."
a) had nothing to do with this "monster" b) already cautioned you, time and time again, to take a step back.
Instead, you've done what you want to do and you've seen the results of that.
It doesn't get better.
And it won't until and unless you disengage from this madness - completely - and go focus on what is the most important thing you can do: make games.
At the end of the day, we're all victims of an industry that has a bunch of loose cannons in it. But for as long as most of us - men and women - have been under the gun, the reason is that it rises and ebbs like a tide, is because we know *when* to disengage.
Fighting fire with fire only results in an uncontrollable inferno. Nobody wins. Least of all the "known" entity (that would be you) who is more visible than the anon tools who, for whatever reason, do this sort of thing all day, every day. You simply cannot compete with that level of commitment while still maintaining a clear head and focusing on earning a living.
Been there, done that, got the Grey hairs to prove it.
I remember a similar discussion (linked below) we had back in October in which I offered advice on what I thought was something you could learn from when you were talking about setting up a fund to fight this sort of thing. You discarded what I took the time to write for your benefit as "unconsciously aggressive and very mansplainy."
In short, you discarded it out of hand.
And as if that weren't enough, you capped it with "It's not personal. It's honest, open, and direct."
According to you. Because that's what works for you.
I invite you to go back and review and similar missive missives by mysle fnad others who have - for years - been in this "industry" proper.
What you may or not be aware of is that people are reading everything you're writing because you are part of the cycle of abuse against women in games. And if it's one thing that these idiots like, it's a live target that engages them on a consistent basis. That never - ever - ends well as you have seen since this whole farce started.
Some nitwits want your likeness in a game? So what? Have you actually looked online to see how much crap is out there in that vein? Most of us who either are in the limelight, have been or even worthy of note, have been there. Nobody cares. And neither should you. If I went on social media - or even on my blog - and lamented about some nitwit writing some shit about me, creating a meme, video, or whatever - I would NEVER get any work done, let alone be where I am today. Most of us have been there. It's a badge of honor. We wear it well because it proves that we can rise above the noise.
You need to learn how to rise above the noise.
While I appreciate the fact that being suddnely thrust into the limelight - and for the wrong reasons - is akin to a deer in headlights, it should be the moment that allows you to think about your actions and how they will impact your life.
You will never - ever - know what happens to ANY of these dimwits. But I guarantee you - as you have seen - that if you spill your coffee while balancing a piece of toast on your head as you ride a bike down a one-way street during a clown festival, they'll know about it. They'll write about it. And only because they know you'll see it. Then you'll respond. And the fun ensues.
Coming to social media for a group hug isn't going to solve your problems. Especially if you find yourself surrounded by people who, for the most part, are only going to say what you want to hear and not what you need to hear.
Hear this: Get on with your life. Stay off the social media side of this fire and focus on your work. Let the "industry" hold you in the esteem with which we do the men and women who are a part of it, contribute to it, and are part of the cycle that is progress. Be remembered in the "industry" at large for your games and for your contribution to the "industry" and not for this farce that, by all accounts, is well past its expiration date.
I hope that you rethink your approach and in so doing, stop blaming the "industry" for something we didn't have a hand in. Nobody is going to bother trying to help someone who thinks they have it all figured out.
This may all just come across as being "unconsciously aggressive and very mansplainy." In which case, feel gree to disregard and discard it out of hand.