This article was originally posted in 2006 on my handbag.com blog, which is now no longer operational.
Things move very fast indeed in cyberspace.
When blogging yesterday about Gina Ford’s tantrum-like behaviour towards Mumsnet, I didn’t think much more of the story, finished work and went home for an evening of TV watching.
Which was fascinating in many respects; I thought What Muslims Want was a very neutral and applaudable attempt by C4 and Jon Snow to present how British Muslims feel about the UK and I found myself, as an atheist/occasional agnostic, considering their religious views on lifestyle as more than a dated societal framework. Good on C4, following the Wankfest this weekend.
This made watching Big Brother even more morbid in a sense, and demonstrates clever scheduling on the station’s part.
Finally, My Child’s Psychic reminded me that spirituality can be truly absurd. The main character, Mother Nicola, insisted that her children were Indigo Crystal Children. Her eldest son disagreed, summing up the whole programme nicely with this exchange: “Do you think your mum’s making it all up?” – “Yeah” – “Why?” – “Mid-life crisis, innit?”.
Anyway, back to Gina.
Looks like what she no doubt considered to be a good PR move might yet turn to career suicide. The daily newspapers have picked up on the story and of course bloggers have been quick to track the unfolding events. TV and radio networks are also carrying the story - I’m already looking forward to the Technology section of the Sunday papers.
And to top it all off, her book reviews on Amazon.co.uk look as if they are getting sabotaged, with some damning criticism appearing en masse since yesterday.
I have included historical comments posted on the original article in 2007, my views do not necessarily correspond with those posted below and the comments are owned by the posters. Feel free to use the comments box below to add any thoughts!
08 Aug 2006 14:57
regretting it now. Nothing worse than a mother scorned
Mumsnet is amazing
08 Aug 2006 15:09
I’m a mumsnetter and I want to post to tell you how much the site helps parents. The human kindness displayed on mumsnet is incredible: members sent presents when a father let his son down on his 6th birthday; mumsnetters have supported many women leaving violent and abusive relationships; midwives and doulas and others have talked women through anxiety in early labour online and mumsnet has made a lot of us laugh, even when we came on to post crying. Mumsnet’s members are a diverse and intelligent bunch, it’s not surprising they (we) didn’t take this threat lying down. I hope this doesn’t read back as trite, typing fast before children need me!
08 Aug 2006 15:30
One of the biggest issues facing famillies today is a lack of support systems. So when Mums find a useful and supportive refuge, you would think the professionals would applaud it.
A brief look at Mumsnet (and yes I am a Mumsnetter) shows that education, food, special needs and behaviour and amongst the most popular forums used for advice, advice that is often hard to obtain elsewhere.
However hurt Ms Ford may or may not be by certain comments, one has to question the humanity of wishing to remove this network for everyone else.
Big Up Mumsnet and Free Speech
08 Aug 2006 15:44
Mumnetters are a fantastic bunch of women. They made the first difficult 10 weeks of motherhood bearable. They continue to educate, amuse and even annoy me since then and I have also been passing on advice to other new mums. I have read Ms Ford’s book of routines so I do know that it is not for everyone. Criticism of her books on MN is, by far, measured and reasonable. By asking the website to remove all threads mentioning her and her books or face legal action is stifling Free Speech and this is what all the hoo-haa is really about.
Gina Ford may be forgetting that it was mums who made her. By the way, my daughter is NOT a ‘Gina baby’ though she is ever so a Contented Baby.
About those amazon reviews
08 Aug 2006 16:31
A lot of the negative reviews are dated well before this started. I am amazed that the book retained a 5 star rating after reading all four hundred and thirty odd reviews.
I would be lost without the help, support and advice from mumsnet members. I have made some very good friends through the site and would be sad to see Ms Ford win and close the site.
Yay! Big up the mumsnetters
08 Aug 2006 17:18
As a relatively new blogger, it’s very interesting to see how mums’ comments are available through their own journals – much more democratic than some of the media talking heads.
Power to The Mothers
08 Aug 2006 17:49
Its truely a sad day when a petulent bad tempered toddler stamps her feet and scream “NOT FAIR” worse still when the toddler is a grown woman without children who finds crisitism hard to swallow. Sure initially it was the name calling that started the ball rolling, but after that whats her excuse?
Dont bite the hand that feeds you is a phrase that springs to mind. Personally I found I managed to raise 8 children perfectly well without resorting to books, and relied on the good support of places like Mums net and Bad Mothers Club
It’s a crisis communications for disaster
08 Aug 2006 18:07
Those that have never heard of her will now think she is trying to control the internet where so many have failed.
Not even bigwig music and film companies can stop peer-to-peer file sharing. Do you really think you can stop every mother and blogger or interested person in censorship, free speech and new media from taking a pop at you now?
Oh dear. You’ve just created yourself one hell of a mess.
I love crisis pr disasters and follow them avidly. I will be blogging about you.
08 Aug 2006 18:16
I have been a mumsnetter for 3 or so years and like posters above me have been continually amazed at the depth of support available using the mumsnet discussion forums.
Sad as it may sound I have actually made a real life very best friend through it as well as never ending information, support and debate.
I can honestly say it has made me a better person, better listener, better cook (!) and a more well rounded person.
The variety of personalities and views on there is priceless.
The irony of another supposed mother “supporter” willing to take this all away from the many thousands of people that benefit from Mumsnet merely because she has had a sense of humour failure!
the online community revolt
08 Aug 2006 22:21
i am so very proud to be part of this online revolt. ALthough mumsnet seems to be at the forefront in terms of press, lets not forget that this is affecting other parenting sites too.
We have all come together to fight for our right to an opinion. Free speech. The term is banded around a lot but. STOP. think about it. take 3 seconds.
This isn’t about some ansty writer who is in a bit of a pickle at a bit of name calling. It represents something fundementally more important.
my right to a view, an opinion, the right to discuss it openly without fear of reprisal, incrimination or financial loss.
This importance has not been lost on the wonderful online community of mothers. but its not just about us – its about you.
When you can’t comment online in a forum or in chat or blog about someone who has put themselves forward into the public eye, someone who has made lots of money off the back of YOU. You bought it, watched it, read it. but you wont be able to say its rubbish. or you think the celebrity is rubbish. you will only be allowed to be fed one side.
but you wouldnt compare it to communist china or even associate the word propoganda.
Anybody who knows mumsnet should know better
09 Aug 2006 04:33
Mumsnetters are an amazing bunch. Supportive, knowledgeable and very intelligent. They are not ‘just mums’ they are bankers, lawyers, doctors, geneticists, stay-at-home mums with years of childcare experience, experts on special needs, midwives – and as you may have noticed, they are also fairly knowledgeable about the media. They are also a community.
Interestingly Gina Ford’s legal team monitors all online mentions of her and you’ll find any online mention deemed defamatory swiftly excised after threat of legal action.
I think mumsnet’s David has just met her Goliath.
I got a definitive legal point of view
09 Aug 2006 08:38
which is on my blog at the moment. I would say we are all on our own and this is where the internet and print media differs so much. Because the internet is so new, just the threat of litigation is too much for most of us small sites to handle.
09 Aug 2006 09:44
Thank you for taking the time to comment on this blog entry.
Emily, I agree with your blog that there have been precedents, with Scientology especially. This makes it increasingly difficult to conduct a frank and open debate about certain issues and any controversial conversation can cause me to end up fretting over the potential legal repercussions, even if the opinions expressed by participants are legal.
The Online Community Manager’s Association (emint) have already made great inroads in formalising the status of Online Communities, with the publication of Good Practise guidance for moderation following consultation with the Home Office. I’m sure that this issue is something that is being monitored closely.
It’s a minefield
09 Aug 2006 12:53
I wrote for The Register a while ago about online publishing and where limited liability ended. It is a matter of consultation at the moment. You might be interested in reading this
Well done Gina Ford
10 Aug 2006 13:57
I don’t think Gina Ford went far enough. I think that parenting websites are rife with libellous and defamatory comments and this incident might actually make the moderators on them sit up and take notice. If I had my way they should all get closed down because too many people are getting hurt and suffering in silence – not all bullied women have the money for lawyers that Gina Ford has.
11 Aug 2006 23:16
I have been a member on Mumsnet for many months and witnessed not ‘a handful of posts’ but hundreds of posts on various threads relating to Gina. I have read vicious disgusting comments toward Gina herself and the mothers that choose to use her routines…like myself. According to Mumsnetters, gina is another Hitler…a Prostitute…A child abuser…comments about her looks and her weight is a regular thing.
It infuriates me to read such nonsense like Gina Ford cannot accept critisim of her routines and methods, that is NOT the issue here at all, she is choosing not to accept the PERSONAL defamatory attacks that have been long standing on mumsnet which ironically is supposed to be a support site for ALL parents…but dare to post that you folow Ginas routines and you are immediately attacked. Perhaps if i had the money i would be sueing many a member for comments made to me personally! even worse, Gina Ford warned Mumsnet time and time again about these posts before she even took action, i wouldnt have been so patient! Even more interestingly Mumsnet had many voluntary moderators who stood back and let this campaign carry on, then they miraculously disappeared when Mumsnet said they couldnt possibly moderate such a big site…coincidence i presume.
When a victim wins a court case…damages are awarded. Gina is victim and she will win. I have seen the sort of evidence she must be in possetion of…the hundreds of slanderous defamatory posts about her as a person..and if Mumsnet cannot pay those damages and has to close then perhaps they should have taken heed to the many warnings they were issued with.
to sum up, i dont have an issue with folk critisising gina fords methods which worked great for my 16 month old and 6 week old, funnily enough i never had to leave them screaming for hours either to settle to sleep or to wait for a feed, nor did i not cuddle them or make no eye contact…they are happy little girls in a routine that suits them…the gina one, i have issues with the very personal disgusting attacks that were permitted by mumsnet over a period of many months. My interpretation of the situation is that Gina Ford feels the same…critise her methods by all means, but not her as a person. fair enough to me.
Relentless & Anonymous
13 Aug 2006 14:38
<a href=”http://whoisthatparentingguru.blogspot.com/”>Who Is That Parenting Guru </A> is like all of the 1,000′s of mothers out there doing their bit to curtail Gina Ford’s favourite past time…intimadting support systems for mothers.
I wish I’d thought of the idea, s/he’s brilliant. Things sure do move quickly on the web. I bet Ms Ford will be doing more back pedalling soon.