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My users have threatened me with disembowlement

I made a small sports-related shareware game over about six months, and ended up with a few dozen active users in my forum and about $2,000 in sales for the year.

I kept posting about an upcoming upgrade, and worked on it when I could, but life events happened and I was unable to finish it when I said I would. (Oh well, it's a hobby, right?)

I just didn't anticipate the violent reaction. I got death threats on my answering machine, and very explicit and lengthy messages on my forum about my disembowlement and death of my children and other things, admittedly mostly from just two people, but it was very disturbing.

Who are these people trolling the internet? It's a frigging game. This has really frightened me. I have considered holding my kids back from school, as the one psycho googled me and emailed me all kinds of details about my life, and definitely knows my home address. (And I googled his return email that we've corresponded over, it turns out he's a sportcaster with a small-town TV station -- WTF?!).

Is this kind of crap normal with shareware?!

Monday, July 26, 2004


What a bunch of psychos. Get the police onto them. Seriously. What kind of a jerk makes death threats over shareware?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Sell your story to a rival network.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Yeah make sure you don't erase the answering machine message and tell the police.

Matthew Lock
Monday, July 26, 2004

"Is this kind of crap normal with shareware?!"

No.  It's normal when you have an Internet presense.  You don't even have to sell something to get that kind of treatment.  I've seen it over and over.  I'm just happy that I'm "almost anonymous" here because you never know what kind of psycho is reading and will get pissed off.

I wouldn't worry about your personal safety unless it really moves beyond the Internet.  You did say that you got some calls -- perhaps you should actually call the cops.  Nip it early.

The other thing is -- something simple -- is to keep your usebase informed.  Literally, just type out whats going on and how you are feeling.  It works surprising well to quell the dissent.  People just move on...

Almost Anonymous
Monday, July 26, 2004

And sign it ""


Monday, July 26, 2004
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

May I ask what kind of game it is to have developed such a cult following.

As for your tv presenter stalker. Call his boss!

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Probably a soccer simulation.

Er, sorry..Football to all you hooligans.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Yes, inform the police.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Lol Philo, it should be written in a sans-script font too :p

Seriously, I think you should call the police.  Don't make your kids suffer for these wackos.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Report the nutballs and turn over all the information to authorities in you area and have them contact authorities in his area.

And ban him from your board.

Then, put up a notice on your board that "due to the respone" you're going to delay development indefinitely.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

He threatened to kill your childeren and you know who he is?
Wow.  I wouldn't have to ask a message board what to do.

I'd go have a little 'talk' with him.

Tony Soprano
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Must be a great game, please post a link.

Get the police onto it. Internet crime is still a crime, although you wouldn't believe it from the way some people act.

ps. I bet that return address was forged.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Even if the return address was forged, the answering machine messages might yield useful clues.  It is usually against the law to threaten to disembowel someone, threaten his children and then offer evidence that you know where to find him and his children.  I second, third or fourth everyone else's advice-

call the police.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

You're getting death threats, and you tell the JoS forum before you call the police?

Please, do call the police, and if the locals don't give it much weight, call your local FBI field office (or the approriate organization if you're not in the US) - I've found that outside of kids knocking over your mailbox, local police outside major cities aren't worth much.

I'm sure I'm already on a list, but still - no name
Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Well I deleted the phone messages as soon as I realized it was the psycho, since I didn't want to panic my wife. I also considered the cops, but I don't have anything for them now except some profanity-laced emails and posts. 

And the phone caller didn't say "I'm going to kill you" directly, it was more "I'm going to laugh as 'they' kill you" and some convoluted thing about the Arabs, beheading, car crashes, and "making promises you don't keep." (I had the impression at the time he seemed wired or high on something).

The messages on the forum were after the calls, but were similar in content. They were done with newly-registered nicks, and I checked the logs and one IP was new, but the first one belonged to a registered user (the TV guy) who had logged in about five minutes before under his other name. So I emailed him and said I had the IP's, why would you post something like that, etc, and he responded that it wasn't him, but then went into some unusual reasons why the "guy" was probably mad at me, which included several phrases the phone caller had also used (like "making promises you don't keep").

Then about an hour later he emailed me again, and again insisted the anonymous poster wasn't him, but that "anyone" could get my personal details (and he gave me a cut-and-paste dump from google, my phone number, and some property report that included what I paid for my home).

That's when I googled his email (it wasn't forged because that's the one I emailed him with) and was right at the bottom of "his" page on that small-town TV station. (He's an older guy probably in his late 40's, I'm sure as flaccid as an old sock, so I guess I shouldn't be too worried).

I don't want to give out the game site yet because it would be easy to figure out who that guy is, and I could see him trying to sue me for defamation if anyone bugged him. (But it's a fantasy-league kind of game based on downloadable weekly stats -- I wouldn't call it "fun" so much as a passionate hobby for some). 

I'll see if he tries anything again, maybe it was just a cocaine fueled frenzy of his and he'll go away now that I know who he is. And I will save the messages and involve the cops next time... but mostly I was just curious if this was the norm with customer service or internet games.

Apparently not!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

It think we're missing something.  How did the game user get a home phone number?  I think the post is a troll to get us to go check out the web site he mentioned.  If so, kudos on the subtleness.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I'm sure he just went to an online directory (or google has it), since my number is listed and my name and town were openly displayed in the forum.

It's not a troll or a marketing thing, and I'm not going to mention my site (although that would be a pretty sleazy, yet intriguing scheme... hmmm, thanks for the idea!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A few years back somebody had a mainly unjustified altercation with the wife of the owner of my local cafe in Barcelona.

He regularly used to phone the cafe and breathe heavily down the phone. One day I asked the wife to pass the phone to me. He never called back.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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