Winergate Followup

The Winergate saga hit the AP wire yesterday. This section from the end of the article is telling:

Still, bloggers who relied on were furious, saying they should have been warned about the cutoff. Their anger spread to other bloggers, too, including Elisabeth Riba of Melrose, Mass., who called Winer “an egomaniacal blowhard with his head in the clouds. So much for his vision of blogtopia.”

Such slams had Winer shaking his head.

“This thing has been blown so far out of proportion,” he said. “It’s just unbelievable to me.” On this point Winer has clearly lost touch with reality. How he could be bewildered by outrage over his heavy handed actions? Even though he was hosting those sites at his own expense he did have an obligation to them to disengage from his arrangements in a competent manner. LawMeme summarizes his obligations to the users:

There’s a distinction you learn in your first semester at law school that sheds some light on the rights and wrongs of the situation. Generally speaking, you have very few affirmative duties towards others. If you see someone lying face down in a puddle, you have no legal obligation to roll them over. However, if you start a course of action to help someone else, you have to see it through to a safe stopping point. If you start to roll the guy in the puddle over and break his arm in the process, you’re in trouble. In fact, once you start rolling him over, you may not be allowed just to leave him lying there, especially if there were other people around who assumed that Mr. Puddle-Face was in safe hands once you started intervening.

Winer was doing the roughly 3,000 people a favor by giving them free hosted blogs. He was doing them a double favor by personally hosting their blogs after he left Userland. For this, he deserves (and generally has received) their thanks. But once he created those blogs and especially after he took over their DNS and their files, he had a serious obligation not to leave them in the lurch. An obligation he completely bungled.The crowning irony of the situation is that Winer now wants credit for creating a transition plan which is what all the people “outrageously” criticizing him suggested he do in the first place! As for being “blown out of proportion”, it’s obvious that without the cascade of criticism Dave would not have made the effort to do right by the users.

Update: I forgot to mention the lighter side of the controversy –’s audio remixes of Winer’s shutdown announcement.

Breaking Their Silence
Finance 101


  1. Lis Riba June 18, 2004
  2. Kevin June 18, 2004
  3. Joe Grossberg June 18, 2004