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Hating on bloggers grows as Arrington takes a break

January 28, 2009 |  1:32 pm

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington benches himself from blogging

There are many perks to being powerful and famous: You can cut to the front of lines, get free drinks and have people create fan pages about you, even if you're just a fifth-place "American Idol" contestant.

But as Michael Arrington, founder of the popular blog TechCrunch, found out, being famous also has its downsides. Tuesday, as he was leaving a conference in Munich, he says, a hater came up to him, spat in his face and walked away. Arrington also has received death threats of late, he said in a blog post this morning. The level of threats and harassment has gotten so high that he's decided to take a break and assess whether he wants to continue blogging. 

"In the past, I’ve been grabbed, pulled, shoved and otherwise abused at events but never spat on," he wrote. "I think this is where I’m going to draw a line."

Arrington says he plans to sit on a beach somewhere far away from his laptop and iPhone, beginning next week, and decide what to do next.

Celebrities receiving abuse is nothing new: They get hit by pies, eggs and even shoes. But blogger abuse is something that seems to be plaguing the tech world of late. In July, for instance, L.A. entrepreneur Jason Calacanis decided to quit blogging and communicated his thoughts in a small e-mail list instead.

"Today the blogosphere is so charged, so polarized, and so filled with haters hating that it’s simply not worth it," he wrote.

Arrington says a lot of the anger is coming . . .

. . . from entrepreneurs who want their start-ups mentioned on his blog. He's certainly irked many in the past: We wrote in October, for instance, about a lawsuit filed against TechCrunch by a start-up called Earthcomber. Earthcomber accused TechCrunch of sponsoring a product that infringed on its patent and stonewalling any attempts to settle the matter.

TechCrunch can't mention every start-up that's out there, and Arrington says he tries to listen to all those he has time to (and so do we). The start-up world is certainly getting tougher these days -- the amount of money invested nationwide in start-ups last quarter fell a whopping 30%.  Start-ups are desperate to get attention -- but desperate enough to make Arrington more of a target?

Not necessarily, said Benjamin Kuo, founder of the website SoCalTech.com. He writes about tech news and start-ups in Southern California. Kuo, who says he's never received any threats, thinks Arrington's a target because he's famous, not because he writes about tech.

"When you get famous enough, somebody hates you," he said. "Just ask Britney Spears."

Arrington's built his blog around his personality, Kuo said, which makes him more of a target for haters than someone like Kuo who runs a more neutral site. That's the problem with creating a blog that shares your personal opinions and thoughts: Sometimes people just don't agree with them.

The Twitter world was, of course, abuzz with opinions about Arrington's decision. They included the celebratory ("We'll all get by fine without your bubble pumping"), the sympathetic ("Will someone please give Michael Arrington a hug?") and the just plain strange ("People need to remember that it's only 1s and 0s. Take the religion out of computing!").

Some called it all a bluff and hypothesized that he'd be back to blogging in no time. There's no way to know -- Arrington didn't return a request for comment.

Maybe it's just an "Arrington thing" this week to sit out the big game?

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: Michael Arrington in Davos, Switzerland. Credit: Robert Scoble via Flickr

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