Of Harassment In The Dungeons & Dragons Community And Other Unpleasant Things

Today I stumbled upon an article by Jeff Rients in which he writes about a rather lengthy Medium post by Dr. Clio Belle Weisman, a psychotherapist and social research scientist. She did a long study about harassment in the D&D community and the focus of her work quickly became Zak Smith. As it turns out – at least according to her research – he was not the harasser but rather the victim. It also seems as if his ex-wife’s accusations of sexual assault were also unfounded. Unfortunately Dr. Weisman quickly removed her post from Medium, but fortunately it has been archived here.

The article is quite long and at times a bit hard to follow, but I think it’s well worth a read. I am still not 100% sure what to make of it. She makes a lot of good points especially when it comes to the harassment against Zak and the supposedly false accusations by his ex-wife Mandy. I was among the people who believed her.

I don’t think or rather I hope I wasn’t actually harassing anyone. I had my issues with Zak Smith and I was mostly taken aback by his rather unfriendly online personality which – at least to me – bordered on being abusive. So Mandy’s claims didn’t come across as impossible. If I ever engaged in any actions that came across as harassing, I do apologize sincerely. I sometimes get carried away, when I think I do the right thing, but I don’t want to be a harasser. Unlike some of the people Dr. Weisman interviewed, I know that this behaviour is wrong.

I think I’ll give the article at least a couple of more reads and let everything sink in. The one lesson I took with me from the article: take everything someone says on social media with a huge grain of salt. Even (or especially) if it was written by someone you consider good people.

That’s enough for today! Take care everyone!

UPDATE: Several people have pointed out to me that the article by Dr. Weisman contain direct falsehoods and misrepresentations. Perhaps that’s why the original article has been taken down so quickly. There’s also an interesting article on the Coins & Scrolls blog about Zak Smith’s lawsuits which includes links to the official court documents.

UPDATE #2: I have read the article by Dr. Weisman again and some things rub me the wrong way. Why would an associate professor of the University of Nevada write such an article in the first place? As far as I could find out it’s not her field of study and she has never posted on Medium before. I also don’t understand why it was important to her to include all the names. Wouldn’t have the article made the same impact – from a researcher’s perspective – if she used pseudonyms? The whole thing gets more bizarre the more I think about it.

One last thing: Harassment is wrong and we should take things on the internet with a grain of salt. And this includes posts like the one made by Dr. Weisman. I really hope someone can shine a light on this whole affair and explain what’s what.