The trouble with doxing

Doxing doesn’t always have the intended consequences. For example, this incident took its toll on me, but I think it hurt others far more than it hurt me. I dont deny that the last two months of my life have been tough, but I will probably look back at this when I am 80 and realize the positives far outweigh the negatives. More on that later, but lets look at who was really hurt.

For nearly the last decade, I spent one to two hours every day answering people’s questions on YouTube, Facebook, my blog, the AskScooby Forum, and 4chan. For many people just getting into fitness (both adults and kids), I was the only place they could turn for free honest, unbiased advice – and not just about fitness. I looked forward to interacting with others every day because I loved knowing that I was making a huge difference for people. In some cases, I felt like I was like a father figure. We don’t have kids and so I satisfied my paternal instinct by helping my extended family, (all 350,000 of them). Mister Rogers was a role model of mine and every time some kid commented on YouTube “Can you adopt me?” I knew I was making a positive impact. I tried not only to answer their questions, but to work hard to help them become self-confident and raise their self-esteem while subtly trying to instill some good values. In my opinion, everyone who depended on my personal advice are the biggest victims. Because of concerns around my personal privacy and safety, I am no longer in a position where I can provide this free public service. As a result of the chain of events started by the doxing, I feel I can only answer questions within the confines of my secure website. Although a month’s access only costs about as much as one Starbucks Venti Latte, unfortunately even that is beyond the means of many :(

The biggest tragedy of all was that the 25,000 member AskScooby Forum had to be shut down. It was the only fitness forum out there that didn’t ram supplements down people’s throats and the only forum where civility and manners were enforced. It was a place where teens ask newbie questions without fear of being made to feel like an idiot, or being called degrading names. Although I was the admin for the forum and paid for hosting fees and insurance out of my own pocket, it was the awesome work of the dozen volunteer moderators who made the forum the special place it was. These moderators had the patience of saints and worked tirelessly to provide loving guidance to kids who needed to be gently taught about manners. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the moderators for their incredible devotion and apologize for the abrupt way the Forum ended. The AskScooby forum was truly an oasis of civility in the internet. And it’s now gone, another victim of doxing. Unfortunately, I felt I had no options, other than shutting it down.

I have always excelled at making lemonade from lemons and the events over the last few months have been no exception. In addition to some new professional opportunities that have presented themselves as a result of this doxing, I recently created the new sweat4health website, (complete with secure online social connections for members), and this new community is beginning to thrive. This is nothing that ever would have occurred to me were it not for the doxing but now that it’s here, I can’t believe how wonderful it’s becoming.

Don’t get me wrong, I am more upset with what has happened than anyone but wallowing in self-pity doesn’t help. I know many of you are upset over what happened, and also over the decisions that I feel I had to make. I would give anything to go back to the way things were, but I didn’t choose this doxing, what has happened has happened and there is no turning back. I have had to make the best of a very bad situation and done so to the best of my abilities. For those who can’t afford $4.99/month to be part of the new sweat4health community, I am truly sorry.

Its not always apparent who will get hurt by the chain of events unleashed by a doxing, and what happened to the online Scooby community is a perfect example. Doxing certainly hurts more than just the subject of the act. Anyone and everyone associated can also be negatively impacted.