EDIT: On the advice of Susannah Breslin, I tweeted Tara Tiger Brown about the story. I may not agree with Brown’s article, but I just feel awful for her now. She wrote this article for no compensation at all. The reward, she says, is “knowing who [her] friends really are,” but in my opinion, that’s no adequate payment for the trolling she now faces.
In my opinion, this article is the divisive sort of argument that harms the geek community. However, according to Brown, it’s not link bait but a message she truly believes. For that reason alone, I can’t write it off completely.
As a geek and a girl on the Internet, there’s no way I could have missed today’s drama over Tara Tiger Brown’s Forbes post: “Dear Fake Geek Girls: Please Go Away.”
This is the Internet, and Brown needs hits. Today, I learned that geek feminists are no more immune to geek-rage link bait than self-described angry fanboys.
As some people who’ve been reading for a while know, I’ve got a very slight connection to Forbes blogging—thanks to Susannah Breslin, whom I regard as a mentor, I’ve gotten the chance to try it myself. And one thing I know from Susannah is that Forbes bloggers get paid by the hit.
In her recent post about how to be successful without really trying, Susannah encourages bloggers to go for the lowest common denominator, the stuff that is guaranteed to get clicks:
When you blog for dollars, which is what many of us do here at Forbes—that is, our page views dictate our paycheck—you pay a great deal of attention to what works and what doesn’t.
What works for me? Tits and porn.
Forbes’ Chief Product Officer Lewis DVorkin confirms that this is how Forbes bloggers are paid:
It’s a simple deal: there is a flat monthly fee, a bonus for hitting certain unique visitor targets, and a fee per unique user after bonus targets are achieved.
In other words, raging at Brown is playing right into her hands. If people keep linking her article, she’ll reach her unique visitor target and won’t have to put out another blog post for the rest of the month. Think of it like paid vacation.
I’m exaggerating a little here. Forbes blogging doesn’t pay enough for it to be Brown’s full time job, or at least that’s my guess since Susannah, who regularly gets tons of hits, often blogs about her other freelance positions. Speaking of which, Susannah is a blogger who constantly pushes people’s buttons—and she only encourages them to come back for more. Insisting that Brown’s credibility or readership is lost after one controversial article wouldn’t be reasonable.
If you really need to rage, there are plenty of examples all around us about the ways female geeks get shafted in our own fandoms. We’re confronted with sexism and geek elitism at every turn already. You don’t need to read a sensationalist article that’s been crafted to garner your clicks in order to figure that out.