StalkerGate

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Event
Event: StalkerGate (a.k.a. Stalker Gate, The Stalking War)
Name(s): Cassandra Claire, Jeff, Chryslin
Date(s): November - December 2001
Type: wank
Fandom: Harry Potter
URL:
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StalkerGate is a name for an early Harry Potter wank that began when an anonymous "stalker" started sending Cassandra Claire threatening emails, apparently incited by Claire's criticism of Alpha and Omega, a Harry/Ginny story by Imogen. IP evidence proved that the emails came from Jeff, the husband of Chryslin, a Gryffindor Tower admin who had written a story in Imogen's shared universe.

The Events

In late November 2001, Claire posted repeatedly about how much she hated the popular Harry/Ginny story Alpha and Omega by Imogen.[1] Claire's comments angered many Harry/Ginny shippers, especially those at Gryffindor Tower, where Imogen was an administrator.

It is widely accepted that Claire's criticism of Alpha and Omega was what incited Jeff's anger--possibly in part because his wife's story, Deconstructing Harry was set in the same universe as Alpha and Omega. Claire wrote shortly after Jeff was caught:

"What really weirds me out is that all this was precipitated by the fact that I didn't like a particular story. (The stalker has now reiterated in several places that this was his motivation, so I feel safe in asserting it.)"[2]

Chryslin would later claim that Jeff sent an angry-but-civil email to Cassandra Claire about uncited references in her stories, and that Claire had invented the alleged stalking. This remains unproven (and generally disbelieved). (See Chryslin's Letter, below.)

Threats

Shortly after her posts about Alpha and Omega, Claire began receiving anonymous emails containing blatant threats, such as:

"I DO know what you look like and where you live....but you'll never see me coming."[3]

These emails also included Claire's real first name, which she had never publicly revealed but was considered an "open secret" in fandom and was apparently posted at the Writers University forums.[4] The contents of the emails have not been made public, but according to Claire, the initial messages "threaten[ed her] with all sorts of horrible, painful things" and "seem[ed] to have something to do with being an H/H shipper, and [... allegedly] trying to destroy other fanfic sites."[5]

Additionally, an underage fan named Emily (a.k.a. frown),[6] who had commented on Cassandra Claire's LiveJournal, received death threats on her own journal, including the comment "You're on my hit list too, whore. Shouldn't have posted your address on the front page....knock, knock." The IP address from the comments at frown's journal matched the IP from Claire's threatening emails.[7]

The police were contacted, and Claire's fellow FictionAlley mods, including Heidi and Stacey, worked at tracing the source of the threats.[8][9]

Writer's U & The Sugar Quill

Around the same time, a commenter at the Writers University forums using the name "Ted Logan" posted that he had been plagiarizing Claire's fanfiction by swapping character names and posting them on FanFiction.Net.[10] Another comment at the forum was signed "Pamela Dean" and asserted that Dean had plagiarized from Claire, not the other way around.[11] Writers U owner Michela Ecks confirmed that the IP addresses of both "Ted Logan" and "Pamela Dean" matched the IP from Claire's threatening emails.[12]

Reportedly, Heidi, one of the FictionAlley mods investigating the threats, originally accused the Sugar Quill mods of supplying the stalker Claire's real name, which they had recently learned in a "fandom unity" luncheon in New York City.[8] The Sugar Quill and FictionAlley mods had had a tenuous relationship dating back to their days at HP4GU, but the Sugar Quill mods agreed to make a statement about the stalking and compare IP addresses to confirm the stalker's identity. They confirmed that the IP from Cassandra Claire's threatening emails matched the IP of posts made by Jeff or Chryslin at the Sugar Quill, and they removed Chryslin's fanfiction from their archive.

Aftermath

According to Claire, Jeff admitted to sending the threats, but "persist[ed] in haunting the fandom and LiveJournal" claiming to be the victim.[13]

Charlotte Lennox reports that Claire agreed not to press charges against Jeff as long as he stayed away from Harry Potter fandom entirely and Gryffindor Tower removed Chryslin as an administrator, and "[her] understanding is that Jeff agreed to the terms fairly quickly [...] but that GT resisted, first calling the IP evidence into question and doubting Jeff's guilt, and then not wanting to remove Chryslin as an admin, since she actually owned part of the site, and offering instead to block her home computer and allow her admin access only on her work computer account."[8]

In Cassandra Claire's official statement on December 12, 2001, she wrote:

"[Gryffindor Tower has] removed Chryslin from her administrative position(s). As far as I know, Chryslin's removal from the site administrative team was not because of her personal actions, but because the other administrators of the site recognized that if Chryslin maintained administrative privileges on the site, she would have access to personally identifying information about site users, including IP addresses which can be used to identify individual computers, which are provided to site administrators by EZboard, where their message board is hosted."[3]

Though Claire's statement implies that it was Gryffindor Tower's decision to remove Chryslin as an admin, Chryslin asserts (in agreement with Charlotte Lennox) that it was a condition given by Claire's lawyer Heidi in exchange for Claire not pressing charges against Jeff.[14]

Chryslin's Letter

Chryslin voluntarily retired from fandom, leaving Gryffindor Tower and leaving her work in progress, "Politics of Dancing", unfinished. However, on December 24, 2001, she sent Michela Ecks a long letter, detailing her version of events. Chryslin claimed that Jeff had initially written to Cassandra Claire about an uncited reference in one of her stories, and that Claire responded "spewing of profanity and vulgarity." Furthermore, she wrote:

"What followed was a flame war that spilled over into her live journal as she started posting stories about her 'stalker'. I can't even believe that people believe her when she says that he talked about 'chainsaws' and 'cutting her head off'. I can't believe that CC has the chutzpa to reel off stories like this, though I'm actually starting to think that there is a sort of 'fanfic psychosis' going on here."

She claimed that all of Claire's evidence as well as Jeff's confession was fabricated and that "when one of the admins of GT requested proof [...] it was explained that those messages had been deleted and couldn't be retrieved."[14]

This version of events was met with skepticism, as it didn't explain certain incidents, such as the threats made at frown's journal. white_serpent wrote in 2006:

"If Chryslin was sending out emails like the one she sent Michela, and the stalking was legitimate, Chryslin was almost certainly in it up to her eyeballs. There was enough detail on Michela's messageboard to concoct this entire story. But I can see why GT wouldn't have believed it, particularly if the screenshots weren't there.
[...] If you assume Chryslin's lying, most of her story is hacked together from Michela's experiences during the plagiarism affair-- easily available on Writers U-- and various other posters' comments on the Writers U board. If you have a bias to think it's true, you look at the Writers U board as corroboration. I can easily see how this generated a lot of bad blood [between FictionAlley and Gryffindor Tower]."[15]

Broader Impact on Fandom

These events further exacerbated the preexisting animosity between Gryffindor Tower and FictionAlley--particularly Claire's "Inner Circle." This was later exploited by notorious sockpuppeteer MsScribe.

The MsScribe Story states:

"As a result of [StalkerGate], relations between SQ and GT grew cooler, relations between FA and SQ remained about the same, and relations between FA and GT were damaged beyond repair. Heidi and Cassandra Claire and their many friends now hated GT and its admins with an understandably virulent hatred, and the feeling was fully returned. Being publicly (and, in their view, unfairly) disgraced for harboring a stalker was the last straw for the GT admins and they became isolationists, vowing to enjoy their pairing in peace and not interact with the rest of the fandom -- or at least any part of the fandom that contained Heidi and Cassie. Somewhat amusingly, Heidi and Cassandra Claire's circle at FA fed their anger into increased and oft-expressed hatred of the Harry/Ginny ship, and the GT admins fed theirs into increased and oft-expressed hatred of Draco Malfoy, a favorite character of both Heidi's and Cassie's. Each side deeply resented the other side's attitude. Both sides expressed their mutual loathing in a number of public, private, and semi-concealed ways too numerous and ridiculous to detail here."[8]

External Links

References

  1. For one example, see Post #22689, posted by Cassandra Claire on November 27, 2001. (Accessed 20 May 2013, post now attributed to user "Name Changed 702".) Claire also posted about the story on her LiveJournal (see The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One).
  2. Cassandra Claire at LiveJournal. pointless late night rant. 22 December 2001. (Archived 11 March 2004 by the Wayback Machine.) [WebCite]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cassandra Claire at LiveJournal. Statement. 12 December 2001. (Archived 13 November 2004 by the Wayback Machine.) [WebCite]
  4. bad_penny. Comment thread on "The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One". 16 June 2006. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  5. Cassandra Claire at LiveJournal. :( 03 December 2001. (Archived 01 March 2002 by the Wayback Machine.) [WebCite]
  6. LiveJournal user frown. (Archived 16 January 2002 by the Wayback Machine.) Account has since been deleted and appears as "ex_frown243".
  7. See frown's comment in Cassandra Claire's journal, dated December 6, 2001 (archived 13 November 2004 by the Wayback Machine), as well as Claire's subsequent journal entries, dated December 6-12th. [WebCite].
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Charlotte Lennox. The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One. 15 June 2006. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  9. Cassandra Claire mentions dealing with the police regarding the incident in a LiveJournal post dated December 5, 2001. [WebCite].
  10. Writers University forum. Re: Cassandra Claire. Posted 02 December 2001. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  11. white_serpent. Comment on "The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One". 16 June 2006. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  12. Excerpts from Michela Ecks's locked entries, dated 20 December 2001 and 24 December 2001. Reposted by white_serpent with permission, 18 June 2006. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  13. Cassandra Claire on LiveJournal. Ugh. 19 December 2001. (Archived 11 March 2004 by the Wayback Machine.) [WebCite].
  14. 14.0 14.1 Chryslin's letter, a posted anonymously by Michela Ecks June 17, 2006. (Accessed 20 May 2013.)
  15. white_serpent. Comments on "The Msscribe Story, Preface and Chapter One". 18 June 2006. (Accessed 21 May 2013.)