Duncan Riley: Lessons in diplomacy


I was going to title this post “Duncan Riley: Lessons in how to be an asshole,” but then I thought that would bring me down to the same level as Duncan, and I really don’t want to do that. I suppose it wouldn’t be a weekend without a Techmeme bitchfest (or what Frederic of The Last Podcast calls a “bitchmeme”), but the one Duncan started is really over the top. Despite the fact that I’m all relaxed from being in Florida for the past two weeks, I feel compelled to comment.

Disagreeing about the value of a Web app is hardly anything new — it happens all the time, and it’s largely a good thing, even if sometimes people get their knickers in a twist over a perceived slight. Differences of opinion can be instructive. But Duncan’s response to Louis Gray’s post about FriendFeed is in a whole different category. If Louis lobbed a hand grenade at Duncan with his post, the TechCrunch writer unleashed what amounts to a fleet of Apache attack helicopters in retaliation.

In fact, Louis lobbed what amounts to a wet squib, by questioning Duncan’s review of FriendFeed with a single phrase: “quasi-analytic.” Duncan then responds by calling Louis a nobody, and calls him a “pious, self-important c*nt.” Not satisfied with that, he goes on to tell his Twitter friends that he “truly held back” because he “only dropped the c word once,” and that Louis is an “uppity, self-important wanker.”

I know that many Aussies pride themselves on their ability to start (and in many cases finish) a scrap with just about anyone, and it could be that using words like c*nt constitute an intellectual argument in Duncan-land — but I think Louis deserves an apology. Either Duncan is so desperate for traffic to his blog that he descended to such depths deliberately, or he’s the kind of person who prefers ad hominem attacks to rational argument. In either case, I think it’s pretty pathetic.

Comments (48)

  1. clay felton wrote::

    duncan riley's post is beneath contempt. if that's the level of intellectual discourse one can expect from tech crunch, it's time to move elsewhere for nourishment. there's no place for character assassination in these debates

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm #
  2. Duncan wrote::

    I'm entitled to post as I please on my personal blog, it wasn't on TechCrunch, but I love how you'll attack me without even reading any of it, from the beginning. Typical of the American lynch mob coming after me on this.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:06 pm #
  3. David wrote::

    As an Aussie I can reassure you that using the word c*nt certainly does not constitute an intellectual argument here or, I hope, anywhere else. I'm just as shocked as you are at Duncan's gross overreaction.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:13 pm #
  4. mathewi wrote::

    Thanks for clearing that up, David :-)

    On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 9:14 PM, Disqus

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:19 pm #
  5. Leigh wrote::

    Yeah and any self-respecting Aussie's I know would have called him a f*ckwit not a c*nt.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 9:37 am #
  6. Frederic wrote::

    As you know , I couldn't agree more with you about this whole, sad affair.

    However, just to clarify, the term 'Bitchmeme' was, as far as I know, coined by MG Siegler: http://www.parislemon.com/2007/10/case-for-bitc

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm #
  7. mathewi wrote::

    Thanks for pointing that out, Frederic — I know that MG coined the
    term, but wanted to link to your post specifically.

    On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 9:50 PM, Disqus

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:54 pm #
  8. Frederic wrote::

    and that is always appreciated :)

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:41 pm #
  9. liza wrote::


    that's a waaaaay no-no word. i consider it as bad as
    the n-word.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:53 pm #
  10. Cam wrote::

    Not so much in Australia. It's often a term of endearment e.g. “You stupid old cunt”. That said, I wouldn't tend to use it around people I didn't know, but it gets thrown around our (very mixed) workplace quite a bit.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 8:42 pm #
  11. Duncan wrote::

    No apology needed, I didn't make this personal, Louis did, a guy I know nothing about who I've never met but who found it necessary to come after me.

    You mention rational debate, but go back to my original post, the one Louis ignored in his attack on me, where none of the core points I made (in particularly duplication) have been responded to.

    As for traffic I couldn't give a shit about it on my personal blog, I wouldn't have logged into awstats for the site in 3 years.

    Mathew, I know in your country openly responding to stuff like this is a foreign concept, but I'd rather respond openly then bottle it all up, eh. :-) Rational argument deserves rational argument, I'm not the person who took it down a peg, or perhaps you can point out where Gray actually put together a rational response because I cant see it. You're just another member of the Gray cheersquad who is cloaking your argument in the belief that Gray has a right to attack me but I have no right to respond.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:04 pm #
  12. mathewi wrote::

    Duncan, I fail to see how Louis “made this personal,” as you put it.
    He said that you missed the point. How is that making it personal? He
    certainly didn't call you a self-important c*nt or a wanker, or
    comment on you in any way as far as I can tell.

    I'm all for discussing things out in the open, but you went way over
    the line this time, mate. If disagreeing with your approach makes me
    part of Louis Gray's “cheer squad,” then so be it.

    On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 10:05 PM, Disqus

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:19 pm #
  13. StevenHodson wrote::

    I'm sure glad Duncan didn't read my post on the whole matter or we'd have he'd be sending those helicopters to Canada and I wouldn't want to be responsible for ruining the warm glow of your vacation :)

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:44 pm #
  14. Jeremy Toeman wrote::

    As a fairly neutral guy here, not knowing either you or Louis, I have to say I think you are picking fights you don't need to pick. Each time you've responded to anything negative, you've been lowering the bar. For example, by calling Mathew a member of some “Gray cheersquad” you are turning a deaf ear to his points, and making it personal yourself.

    I think your original TC post had a pretty fair point. I think Louis' response did include some “personal” items but was not exactly a vicious attack. Your response on your personal blog was quite vicious, and I think Mathew reasonably called you out for it.

    You can go anywhere you want with all this, but I'd suggest a hearty “deep breath” then think about what you really care about before lashing out further.


    ps As a Canadian+American, I am both unbottling it, then declaring war on a small country somewhere as a distraction to the problems I have at home, but in turn, feeling quite guilty about it.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:33 pm #
  15. ianbetteridge wrote::

    First up, you're right about FriendFeed being nothing to write home about. However, you're wrong about Gray “coming after you”. He simply wrote a response to your post. It didn't read as condescending – it just read as wrong, imho. Calling a c*nt just makes you look like an arse.

    Step back, deep breath, etc.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 6:35 am #
  16. Blowski wrote::

    I agree very much with you Matthew. I've noted on TechCrunch a few times that smoe of Duncan's posts seem to carry out a personal vendetta (e.g. anti-US, anti-Google), instead of being rational considered debate.

    I read Duncan's original post, Louis's reply, and thought it was all pretty ordinary. Duncan's response is more like that of a troll rather than the professional, respectable debate that is expected of someone in Duncan's position.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:39 pm #
  17. Eric Rice wrote::

    Isn't this the TechCrunch way? Who cares who the CEO is or how many staffers there are, Mike Arrington = TechCrunch and in the prince's chair = Duncan. Doesn't really matter where it's posted, you are the brand.

    I think I actually agree with Duncan's points, but I dunno, I'm AMERIKUNH and we like bombing crap and watching fights. Duncan, you're a better American than most of the blogosphere. God bless. His original points are lost because of dropping the cunt-bomb.

    Will Gawker please please PLEASE buy TechCrunch already? PLEASE?

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 2:23 am #
  18. The whole thing just feels like we're missing the good stuff by punching each other's shoulder. Who the hell cares? Point your guns on better stories, not each other. Inside baseball isn't especially interesting, least of all when it's bitchslapping.

    < / rodneyking >

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:09 pm #
  19. mathewi wrote::

    Good point, Chris.

    On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 11:10 PM, Disqus

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:12 pm #
  20. JoeDuck wrote::

    Duncan writes:
    Typical of the American lynch mob coming after me on this.

    Mathew, I know in your country openly responding to stuff like this is a foreign concept

    Duncan how many countries and people are you going to try to label nonsensically during this exchange? You obviously had a bad day, then overreacted to Gray's critique of your review of Friendfeed, and now you are clenching teeth and fists as if this was a bar fight. Something is missing from this story … is Arrington treating you OK?

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:20 pm #
  21. KeithShepard wrote::

    Not that I'm anyone in the blogsphere (not) or in the Tech world (I'm a Day Trader), but I happen to like Duncan's posts quite a bit. Personally, I think he fits in rather well over at Techcrunch and he's always there to needle people who can't seem to laugh at themselves.

    His personal blog is is own business. He can posts what he wants. I honestly think his original post was fairly direct and on track, and then he was “attacked”. So he hit back. Big deal.

    From an outsiders POV.

    I'm an American, btw.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:23 pm #
  22. McLarty wrote::

    I hope you're having fun in Florida Matt. Really, your time in the warm south I'm sure is more precious than this.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:34 pm #
  23. mathewi wrote::

    Thanks — I'm actually back in the frozen north now. Maybe that's why
    Duncan's post put me in a bad mood :-)

    On Sat, Mar 15, 2008 at 11:35 PM, Disqus

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:38 pm #
  24. Luis wrote::

    Duncan Riley's a notorious idiot. Everybody thinks that. The only person who thinks Duncan is anything significant, in any way, is Duncan.

    Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 11:47 pm #
  25. Louis Gray wrote::

    Just to clarify… this comment is not from me, before I get associated with it. :-)

    And I know a lot of folks are expecting me to weigh in and continue the conversation… but I think the posts here and elsewhere speak for themselves.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 12:18 am #
  26. gregory wrote::


    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 12:18 am #
  27. howardlindzon wrote::

    how did i not see you in florida MI…as per duncan…this bullshit he pulls has gone on forever. arrington loves it and thats the only reason duncan has an audience. at least he is being used by an american

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 5:25 am #
  28. Bla wrote::

    Dont know Duncan – don’t know Louis – and I’m an Aussie. The word C*NT is worse than the word F*$K here in Australia – and if anyone tells you different, they aren’t aussie.

    That said – people are entitled to their opinions. Duncan thinks that FriendFeed aint all it is cracked up to be – people get touchy would are close/spoken to the founders and lo and behold everyone thinks the world is going to end.

    In Duncans defense – he did say in the post that he might come to love it if he uses it more – but at the moment he doesn’t. Not quite sure why Louis continued with the attack on him but at the same time – I don’t think he really took it to the personal level that Duncan did.

    No need for abhorrent language in all of this. Chill out, have a beer – or meet up and bunch the shit out of each other until you resolve it.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 6:54 am #
  29. jason wrote::

    duncan is a cunt

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 7:03 am #
  30. jason wrote::

    what is it with you people who cant spell cunt and fuck?

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 7:09 am #
  31. Wolke Snow wrote::

    The only reason for Arrington hiring Duncan Riley to write on TechCrunch is that Duncan’s idiotic articles increase the “reader engagement” on the blog. Just watch how Duncan and Michael write provocative articles just before the weekend to make it on Techmeme or at least get more than 100 comments per article. Gabe Rivera, please improve your algorithm: if author == Duncan then ignore.

    TechCrunch is the Fox News of the tech blogs.

    Besides, how can the same person be a c*nt and a wanker? Seems like a bad picture for somebody speaking English as his first language.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 10:21 am #
  32. StevenHodson wrote::

    maybe this is how – http://www.braincellsoup.com/2008/03/04/hey-baby-how-you-dwhoa/ :)

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm #
  33. Peter wrote::

    Duncan Riley is a fuckin asshole – despite being an Aussie.

    Aussie Aussie Aussie – disown that loser!

    and what is it with all the us vs. them language? trying to rally people to your side based on some wack nationalism? isn’t that a bit totalitarian?

    “He’s trying to _destroy_ me!”

    kid sounds like a daytime soap opera.

    Dude thinks he can bust out with the anti-woman language, too, and not be challenged for it. Who is this fool?

    Dare step to to God – blogger for the mighty Techcrunch? I’ll show you! I’m mean, I swear, I’ll fight – I finish you – shrimps on the barbie and shit. Loser.

    We got George Bush and Dennis Miller. Oz has John Howard and Duncan Riley.

    Oz is still my favorite place. Out.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 11:15 am #
  34. StevenHodson wrote::

    don’t worry SheGeeks has challenged him quite nicely for the anti-woman language http://corvida.ilumine.net/pumpkin-duncan-riley-demeans-women/

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 4:32 pm #
  35. Ken Schafer wrote::

    My sense is that Duncan is in classic troll-mode here and all this “controversy” is just feeding the beast.

    I’ve found the interweb a much nicer place now that I’ve learned that trolls are trolls and have nothing to do with me or what matters. I move on and look for more thoughtful, err, thoughts.

    I’m glad these things generally flare up on weekends – much easier to ignore this way!

    (Of course I’ve now allowed myself to be sucked in – but I’m telling myself it’s only because I want to use Disqus commenting a bit more.) :)

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm #
  36. Chris wrote::

    I was going to title this post “Duncan Riley: Lessons in how to be an asshole,” but then I thought that would bring me down to the same level as Duncan…”

    Really, I don’t think you can claim kudos points for not descending to the level of the playground if you also write what you would have written if you weren’t so civilised.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 2:26 pm #
  37. mathewi wrote::

    Ah, you saw through that little trick, did you Chris? Congratulations :-)

    On Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 10:27 AM, Disqus

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm #
  38. Actually, “cunt” is a term of affection in Australia, particularly if used as in “Howyadoingyaoldcunt?” as pointed out in this podcast from 2005 (http://gdayworld.thepodcastnetwork.com/2005/02/05/on-the-pod-with-frank-arrigo/).

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 7:33 pm #
  39. Shelley wrote::

    I’m indifferent to this weekend’s hate-me/love-me/link-me fest, but I’m curious as to why people thought that Duncan Riley’s use of “cunt” is demeaning to women? Especially since you, yourself, Mathew, used “bitchfest” and “bitchmeme”? If the one is demeaning, wouldn’t the other be equally demeaning?

    I find that the only time women are demeaned by these words is if they’re used directly against us. I don’t believe any player in this cat fight is a woman. Thank goodness for small favors.

    (PS I apologize if anyone is offended by the word being spelled out, but I can’t stand these coy, playful uses of characters to re-created a word, which we all know anyway. Call the word the word and damn the consequences.)

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm #
  40. mathewi wrote::

    I never expressed an opinion about whether it’s demeaning to women or
    not — I happen to think that those kinds of terms are demeaning to
    people in general. In any case, my point was that they don’t help to
    advance any kind of rational argument.

    On Sun, Mar 16, 2008 at 4:08 PM, Disqus

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 8:11 pm #
  41. Shelley wrote::

    I was mainly curious as to why others in this thread considered the use of “cunt” to be derogatory to women.

    As for the point, you can use the sweetest words in the world and not advance a rational argument. I look at it this way: Louis Gray’s words, though they be coached in gentle terms, had enough of a negative impact on Duncan Riley that he reacted as he did. Maybe Duncan is in a bad mood; maybe, though, Gray pushed the right buttons in this circumstance.

    Regardless, this struck me as a personal issue between the two that perhaps should have been resolved between the two. Or is saying that an irrational argument?

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 8:23 pm #
  42. Cam wrote::

    As far as I can tell, you are the first commenter to use the word “woman” in the entire thread.

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 8:45 pm #
  43. Shelley wrote::

    Thank goodness, a rational argument.

    I would suggest perhaps new glasses? Maybe?

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 9:26 pm #
  44. Back a day and already a post with 43 comments. You should vacation more often, 'thewie ;)

    Sunday, March 16, 2008 at 10:13 pm #
  45. Andy Merrett wrote::

    “I was going to … but then I thought …”

    Oh I love it when people say they were going to do or say something but then thought better of it, yet still tell everyone what it is they were going to do.

    Fact is, you've still said it. Mind you, you've done fairly well out of Techmeme on the whole thing as well. :)

    Monday, March 17, 2008 at 8:44 am #
  46. Charles wrote::

    It appears that Duncan Riley is trying to become Australia's Mike Arrington. God I hope the startup industry in Australia doesn't put Duncan on the throne and give him an army of wantrepreneurs.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 2:44 am #
  47. SusanMCash wrote::

    There are some models of snow made simply to satisfy the sidewalks, decks and terraces, while others are built for best snow blower removal on the streets about three cars wide.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 4:13 am #
  48. stayhere01 wrote::

    I bookmarked this already dude great work


    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 3:42 am #

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